To the editor:
You get what you pay for. Republicans are turning the United States into a third world country.
To save money, the Post Office (that was created by Benjamin Franklin) will no longer deliver mail the next day to most locations. Schools are laying off teachers. Cities are closing parks, playgrounds and swimming pools.
In California, many of the most scenic parks in the world are closed - all so we can have a tax break for the very rich. In the San Francisco area, several cities are saving money by abolishing their police force. In New Orleans to save money, the levees were built one and a half feet lower than the engineers recommended. We all know how that turned out. In Minnesota, a bridge across interstate 35W collapsed into the Mississippi River killing 13 people and injuring 145. The Federal Highway Administration estimates one out of every nine highway bridges in the United States is "structurally deficient." The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our infrastructure a grade of D. They grade our roads, levees, dams, schools, hazardous waste and wastewater facilities at either a D or D-.
Before Ronald Reagan was governor, California gave everyone a free college education. Today, it spends more on prisons that on education. The state's elementary and high schools were the best in the nation. Today, they are among the worst ranking 47th among of the 50 states.
The rich get to have their cake and eat it too. Hedge fund speculator John Paulson made $5.2 billion last year. Those who make their living from the sweat of their brow pay up to 35 percent in taxes on their earnings. Paulson pays a lot less. If you make your money playing the stock market, your taxes are 15 percent at the most. This explains why financier Warren Buffett says he pays a lower percentage on his income than his secretary does on hers. Buffett also notes that he pays lower taxes on his beach front property in Laguna Beach, Calif., than he does on his property in Omaha, Neb.
Things are upside down. Adding up all state and local states, 12 percent of the income of the poorest third of us goes to pay taxes. The middle third of us pay 10 percent. And the richest third, only pay 8 percent of their earnings for taxes. That's not right. But try to fix it and the Republicans have a conniption fit.
The truth is federal taxes are lower than they've been in more than 50 years. And that's before Medicare or Medicaid. But you won't get that impression from the propaganda machine that dominates the mainstream media.
The Republicans are on a tax cut binge. The truth is we couldn't afford the Bush tax cuts in the first place. Feeling voters must be bribed with tax cuts, Democrats take only little bitty baby steps. We should be taking bold steps.
Imagine what we could do if we invested more in society. The rich get all sorts of benefits from society. They need to put some of what they make back into the game so the rest of us have a chance. The rich should pay the same tax rate as everyone else on first million dollars they make each year. Each dollar they make over $1 million each year should be taxed at half. That's one for them and one to invest in society.
The retirement age used to be 65. Then it was raised to 66 and then 67. Now, some want to raise it to 70. They say people are living longer. Do you want to spend those extra years enjoying life, or working so the rich can have a tax break?
William Du Bois