Letters for December 7, 2006

Checkbook balancing
Re: “Uncommon wealth” (Letters, by Joe Bahlke, CN&R, Nov. 30):

I agree with Mr. Bahlke that there are a few people who have an immense amount of wealth. The disparity is greater than it has been for the past 70 years. Having said that, the current increase in state and federal income once again demonstrates that when taxes are lowered on the upper income groups, tax revenue increases.

Taxes on the four main categories (income, capital gain, dividends and corporate) are at an all-time high in actual dollars and as a percentage of the total income picture, and this is after the tax rates on all these categories were lowered. The wealthy are paying a larger percentage of the total tax paid than ever before.

Many people in the upper income levels will work hard and earn more money if they feel they will pay a reasonable amount of tax. When they feel the tax is unreasonable, they decrease their activities and earn less and pay even less tax. So increasing the capital-gain tax (or any other) might make some folks feel better, but it would decrease tax revenue.

Lastly, lower-income groups now pay an extremely low level of tax on any of the income they earn. Just over 50 percent of income tax payers pay slightly less than 5 percent of the tax. It is hard to see how that could be lowered much, and the fact that so many folks pay so little tax is one of the reasons that our elected officials are not held more accountable.

Tim Edwards

Decriminalize life
Re: “Prison policy is just criminal” (Guest comment, by Helen Harberts, CN&R, Nov. 30):

I just read Helen Harberts’ editorial on prison reform in California, and while I appreciate her thoughts on the matter, I must still disagree with her. Throwing more money at the problem is like saying that spending more money on the war in Iraq will solve that dilemma.

We put our uneducated minority males in prison in this country. Prisons are big business, and they need recruits to fill those cells to overflowing. They need patsies.

Seventy-one percent of the anti-drug money in this country is spent against marijuana. If we decriminalized pot, we could cut our police department budgets in half and spend that money on much-needed civic betterment.

A law professor once remarked we could have as much crime or as little crime as we wanted. So let’s have as little crime as possible and stop making every stupid little thing a criminal offense.

Michael M. Peters

Reweighing loads
Re: “Time to look at ‘released time’ “ (Guest Comment, by Richard Ek, CN&R, Nov. 16):

Ek provides an analysis of wasted resources in his perceived abuses of Assigned Weighted Teaching Units (AWTUs). He asserts that this system is put into place to arrange for assigning tasks that are not directly related to in-class instruction. Ek failed to include key variables in his analysis regarding faculty workload issues. These cast doubt on his conclusions.

There are two types of AWTU, reimbursed and unreimbursed. In the former, outside agencies can “buy” faculty expertise through grants and contracts. The department receives funding offsetting the faculty member’s classroom absence. Temporary instructors teach those classes. The latter AWTU model is funded internally, compensating faculty for large classes, internship programs, and independent studies. These are needed for responsible operation of any academic unit.

Ek overlooked faculty engagement in “voluntary overload” where professors teach more than the required assignment of 12 Weighted Teaching Units (WTUs). These data are available in Five Year Self-Studies each department or unit must file. The report prepared for the Communication Design Department revealed that tenure/tenure-track faculty averaged 13.02 WTU from 2000 to 2005. By Ek’s numbers, that is approximately 37 classes over assignment, providing services over $300,000 to stakeholders. This department is not unique in its dedication.

Clearly, Ek’s analysis of AWTU is flawed and illiconceived. His projection of $3.7 million lost is based on wrong data. What is interesting is his admitted use of his AWTU while an instructor. He asserts that “history needs minimal updating,” a statement so absurd that it defies comment.

John Long

Editor’s note: In a Guest Comment, a writer has a maximum of 450 words to explain his or her point. Edited out of Richard Ek’s piece, for instance, was a note from Provost Scott McNall that “most unreimbursed AWTUs are for the positions of chair and/or program director.” That would have developed Ek’s point that chairs receive faculty released time for administrative duties.

New view adopted
Re: “The blessing of adoption” (Newslines, by Leslie Williams, CN&R, Nov. 22):

After reading Leslie Williams’ touching article on adoption, I have seen adoption in a whole new light.

When people think of adoptions, they think to adopt newborns or infants. The truth is that there are so many teenagers that need a loving family just as much if not more than infants.

Women or families who are able to have children probably don’t put much thought into adoption until someone tells them about a first-hand experience that they have had. Although I’m not anywhere near ready to care for another life other than my own, I can honestly say that after reading “The blessing of adoption,” I will seriously consider adopting an older child.

Laura Kelly

Thank-you notes
Re: “Dreaming of a green Christmas” (Holiday Gift Guide, by Christine G. K. LaPado, CN&R, Nov. 22):

Thanks to Christine LaPado and the News & Review for featuring the Fair Trade Project at the Chico Peace and Justice Center in the sustainable-gift guide.

The Fair Trade movement ensures a fair wage to artisans but also promotes many other business and human-rights programs. One such program teaches environmental stewardship so that the craftspeople understand the importance of protecting the natural resources in the area where they live and work.

A fair-trade present is a gift that gives twice.

Tom Spofford
CPJC Free Trade Project

I was excited to see that Christine LaPado included Heifer International as a gift-giving option for the holidays and beyond. As a new volunteer for Heifer International in Chico, I am looking for a core of volunteers in the North State to expand the capacity of Heifer to meet the burgeoning demand of poverty and hunger around the world, including the United States.

To volunteer, please contact me at (530) 897-0226, <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script>, or www.heifer.org.

Suellen Rowlison

Impending doom?
The election is over. Democrats are celebrating. Celebrating is fine, but we all must deal with reality eventually.

Bear with me a minute and imagine there are four cleverly disguised container ships just off the coast by New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Inside each one of them is a lead-lined container with a nuclear missile, programmed to launch at the same time. In three minutes, our country would be changed forever.

Forget higher wages, better health plans, saving Social Security—they won’t matter. We now have a weakened presidency, Congress split on how to proceed in Iraq, and Russia delivering its first shipment of missile systems to Iran.

I’m not digging my bomb shelter yet, but I am checking my emergency family plans and stockpiling food, water and medicines.

Loretta Ann Torres

Re: “Of charity and cheer” (Festivities Guide, CN&R, Nov. 30): A photograph from a Chico production of The Nutcracker got placed next to the item about a Paradise production. We regret this oversight.