LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Tax hikes wrong way to solve the shortfall

Not surprisingly, The Sun's editorial "Exploring the taxabilities" (July 31) offers praise for some tax-hike related trial balloons to help wipe out the $1.5 billion budget shortfall Maryland is facing.

The governor and some legislators are now talking about increasing taxes to solve the shortfall. With all this talk about tax increases, it must be the right thing to do, right?

Before taxing us further, has anyone in the government stepped back and considered just why Maryland has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country?

Just maybe that's because this is a friendly state to do business in and to live in.

And raising taxes for both residents and business is not the solution to the state's shortfall.

Less state spending is the answer.

When private industry does not meet its financial obligations, it cuts staff, services, products, salaries, sells off unprofitable subsidiaries, etc.

Before any taxes are raised, the state should prove to its citizens and businesses that its spending level is at bare bones.

If the governor and the legislature continue down this tax, tax, tax road without making much deeper spending cuts, I suspect it will be time to make changes in the next election.

Ron Wirsing

Havre de Grace

Raising sales tax is regressive option

I'm afraid that The Sun's editorial half-heartedly supporting a more progressive income tax ("Exploring the taxabilities," editorial, July 30) may help lay the groundwork for an increase in the state's regressive sales tax rate.

By stating that none of the income tax proposals "will by itself come anywhere near close to solving the looming budget deficit," the editorial by default points to a 20 percent sales tax increase as the likely savior for the state's budget woes.

The editorial notes that adding a point or two to the income tax rate for the wealthiest tax filers would only add about $200 million in revenue and that, if it is coupled with a reduction in the tax rate for middle- and low-income earners, the plan could generate substantially less revenue.

But keep in mind that this modest increase on the wealthiest taxpayers would be offset by increased deductions on their federal taxes.

There is no such offset for money spent on the sales tax and reducing the lowest income tax rate would do little for low-income earners.

The editorial does not mention a proposal to reverse the 1998 reduction of the top tax rate, an action which would raise about $400 million according to most analysts.

The editorial also neglects to mention the substantial revenue which could be gained by expanding the sales tax to cover non-essential services.

George F. Harrison Jr.

Bel Air

The writer was Harford County coordinator for Martin O'Malley's gubernatorial campaign.

Murdoch's purchase a blow to journalism

I am quite saddened by the news of the Bancroft family's approval of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.'s bid to buy Dow Jones & Co. ("Dow, News Corp. deal approved by boards," Aug. 1).

While I usually disagreed with its editorial positions, the Wall Street Journal has been one of America's great, independent newspapers.

Given Mr. Murdoch's history of interfering with the editorial independence of his newspapers, it is only a matter of time until he does the same with the Wall Street Journal.

This is a very sad day for journalism in America.

Steven M. Clayton

Ocean, N.J.

Telling the thieves where booty lies?

Once again, The Sun has told every drug addict, thief and other criminal intent on getting a couple of bucks at someone else's expense how to do it ("Precious metals ripped from cars," Aug. 2). Way to go.

Simply go out at night and hack off the catalytic converter from the first car you see.

It's easy money.

Emma Pompanio

Catonsville

Account for billions in gear lost in Iraq

Almost buried in Wednesday's Sun was a one-column item on Page 6 titled "Pentagon loses track of billions in gear" (Aug. 1).

The item concerned $19.2 billion worth of U.S. equipment that was supposed to be provided to Iraqi security forces. The U.S. Department of Defense cannot fully account for this equipment.

This $19.2 billion figure is a number that should have been in a front-page headline - and probably would have been if it involved missing state tax revenues or missing funds for the city schools.

But unfortunately, despite the huge dollars involved, stories of this sort have become almost routine, and therefore not very newsworthy, in the four-plus years of war in Iraq.

Before the next supplemental request for billions of dollars for the war in Iraq or for billions in weapons in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc. is passed, Congress should get an accounting of this $19.2 billion.

That sum would go a long way to help patch leaky school roofs and develop training programs for youths in our city.

If such monies can't be accounted for in Iraq, they should be spent more properly in the United States.

Dave Schott

Baltimore

Humans opt to climb into the fight ring

In reply to the letter "Punish promoters of human fights, too" (Aug. 2), I would simply like to say that humans choose to participate in fights - while dogs, or other animals for that matter, do not.

I think that makes all the difference in the world.

Irene Heath

Lutherville

Not hard to classify the dogfighting fans

After reading "Dogfight fans aren't so easy to categorize" (July 29), I would reply that dogfighting fans can easily be categorized by one word - sadists.

Sharon Drescher

Glenelg

For-profit care serves us badly

I appreciated very much Laura Vozzella's column "Save it in the ER, spend it in the penthouse" (July 29).

In this country we have a crippled health care system, because the motivation of so many in the system is to make money, not to heal.

I hope we will change that.

When I had an appendicitis attack in France many years ago, French doctors saved my life and didn't demand any money beforehand. I paid them back years later.

And a few years ago when my husband fell ill in Spain while we were exploring a castle town and eating in a restaurant, the owners of the restaurant gave him one of their bedrooms to rest in while we waited for the doctor to come.

Yes, the doctor came to him, examined him with care and tranquility (which was very different from the 10 minutes of attention we usually get with our doctors at home). She treated him and then gave him a pass so that if he had another attack he could go to any hospital on our way home without questions.

She charged him nothing. It was her job, she said.

We are most grateful to France and Spain for healing us.

Jeanette E. Sherbondy

Chestertown

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