Letters for May 5, 2011

A small slice of a big tax picture

Re “‘Free’ money to low earners” (SN&R Letters, April 28):

Nick Schrier’s letter attacks my April 14 piece as one-sided, without considering the parameters, stated in the article, of what I covered: little-known aspects of taxes and the economic theory behind our tax policies since 1980.

You can’t cover the whole tax system in 3,000 words. I have written two best sellers on taxes and still have much to dig into. I didn’t cover fake taxes Californians may soon be forced to pay, for example (see my columns at Tax.com), or sales taxes that are diverted from paying for police and schools to subsidize big-box chain retailers (see my book Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill)).

Mr. Schrier’s letter shows he somehow missed the news that President [Bill] Clinton and Congress killed Aid to Families with Dependent Children, our major welfare program, in the last millennium. That 47 percent of Americans he cites from my article? That number will fall back to under 40 percent this year, because President [Barack] Obama and the Republicans made a deal to raise taxes on 51 million taxpayers—one in three—who have jobs paying less than $20,000 if single or $40,000 if married heterosexuals, using that increase on the working poor to cover 10 percent of a $60 billion tax cut for higher income workers (details under my name at Tax.com).

It was Republican-sponsored legislation in 1997 and President George W. Bush-sponsored tax cuts in 2001 that cut millions from the tax rolls via the child tax credit. The Obama tax cuts that added to the number of non-income taxpayers, but only for two years.

David Cay Johnston
via email

Don’t pick on the Yellow Pages …

Re “Are phone books obsolete?” by Leilani Clark and Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, April 28):

Why pick on the poor Yellow Pages? They create jobs in their publication, their usage and their recycling. There are more important things to tackle that impact the environment, like the development that encourages use of the automobile and the endless accumulation of energy-driven products, like computers.

And how does Supervisor David Chiu see Yellow Pages as “neighborhood blight”? Does he not see speed humps, roads with cracks and ruts, sidewalks torn apart by trees, trees chopped apart by SMUD or PG&E, really ugly hanging big black cables all over the place and gigantic electronic billboards?

The priorities need to be realigned to make this a better community rather than a focus on a cubic foot of paper, neatly bound, and left at someone’s front door.

Larry Layne

… or don’t deliver ’em at all!

Re “Are phone books obsolete?” by Leilani Clark and Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, April 28):

How about not delivering the phone books at all? If you want one, go get it.

I’m a manager of an apartment building, and three different companies delivered three different sets of phone books, unsolicited. All three times, I took all of the phone books and threw them in the recycle Dumpster because no one wanted them.

Tom McDowell

It’s all about the green

Re “Red light, tough fight” by Anthony Pignataro (SN&R Frontlines, April 21):

Four California courts have ruled red-light camera evidence inadmissible, yet the scam continues. It’s all about the money.

Ryan Denke

Stigma-busting program

Re “Emotional rescue” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Frontlines, April 21):

It is wonderful to see that positive, stigma-busting programs are starting to develop for the community at large. As someone who has lived with anxiety and [post-traumatic stress disorder], as well as depression, and experienced some very negative situations due to lack of understanding, including homelessness, it always makes my day when I see that the issue is being tackled in a positive way instead of a negative one. We feel bad enough when we go through what we go through, and the very last thing we need is to be unaccepted. Kudos to you for printing this!

There are many, many people who live with hidden disabilities that do their very best to contribute to society and maintain a happy, healthy life. Education is the key, as always.

Elizabeth Anne Edwards

No money for death penalty

Re “Death penalty’s end” (SN&R Editorial, April 21):

I wholeheartedly agree with your call for an end to capital punishment in California; our current fiscal crisis is already taking a toll on our state’s ability to provide its citizens with vital services, and we can no longer afford the luxury of spending $125 million dollars on a death penalty which has not even been used since 2006.

In Sacramento County alone, $7.7 million has been spent on pursuing capital sentences since 2000. For this investment, the county got zero executions, an increasing homicide rate and a decreasing rate of solved murders. With that same amount of money, 17 more homicide investigators could have been hired.

In a time of limited resources, we cannot continue to shell out millions on purely symbolic commitments to justice, especially when doing so actively trades off with our ability to prevent violent crime.

James Brockway
via email

A total (nuclear) waste

Re “Rancho Seco shutdown a waste” (SN&R Letters, April 14):

Regarding the letter which was submitted recently by Jim Daley, I would like to make a couple of corrections to the cost figures for the plant.

A new nuclear plant would not cost $10 billion to construct in today’s dollars. [SMUD] spent over $400 million between 1985 and 1989 to retool critical systems at the plant that would keep it from tripping off-line. There was never a problem with the nuclear side of the plant systems, but rather on the steam side that led to many of the shutdowns when the plant would trip off-line.

After the voters of Sacramento County were lied to by The Sacramento Bee and all of the anti-nuclear activists that were hell-bent on closing the plant, SMUD spent around $800 million to decommission the plant between 1997 and 2010, probably just $200 million short of what it would cost to construct a new plant today.

Yes, the shutdown of Rancho Seco was a total waste, in that the plant could have at least finished running out the new fuel rods which had just been replaced for a new fueling cycle, and to give the plant a chance to operate after having spent that amount of money to make it run right.

Michael. A. Stinson