Readers comments 10.24.12
In response to my October 17 letter in defense of Proposition 30, Joe Farrell presented a rambling discourse that is fraught with errors and irresponsible conclusions (COURIER, October 20).
Mr. Farrell’s first sentence refers to me as “the sage of Sumner.” This is very interesting and humorous, since I have never worked at Sumner School, and I have never lived on Sumner Avenue. Mr. Farrell obviously wants to make a point, but he does not seem to be very concerned about accuracy.
The frivolity continues with Mr. Farrell’s assertion that I “set up a Halloween strawman [sic] to attack the logical conclusions of [a previous letter writer’s] opposition to Prop 30.” However, he doesn’t provide any explanation or examples of what he’s talking about.
Mr. Farrell twice presents the phrase “viable explanation” in quotation marks and uses it in a derogatory manner, as if he is quoting from my letter. Either his reading or his writing is careless. I stated that the previous letter writer did not provide a “viable alternative in support of public schools.” Mr. Farrell does not address that concern.
Aside from personal animosity, the main point of Mr. Farrell’s letter is to oppose Props 30 and 38. That is a legitimate motive, but his awareness of political reality and possibility continues to fall short.
Mr. Farrell’s central thesis seems to be that we should not support Prop 30 as a means of preventing major “trigger cuts” to public school funding, because our state government is dishonest and incompetent. He encourages us to reject Governor Brown’s solution to the budget crisis, but he does not provide a politically viable alternative.
Mr. Farrell essentially says that we should just call Sacramento’s bluff, and then great solutions will eventually develop. Why should anyone believe that? And why would a former school board candidate recommend rolling the dice to fund our schools?
Mr. Farrell offers a sliver of dubious data comparing education budgets in California to those of Connecticut, the small and relatively homogeneous state where he was a school board member a few years ago. More comprehensive and accurate statistics would be necessary for any responsible analysis comparing those apples and oranges.
Props 30 and 38 would both provide relief to our public schools (although 38 does not include community colleges). Prop 30 is the better choice because it would prevent immediate trigger cuts, and it would involve a less painful tax increase over a shorter period of time.
If Prop 30 passes, state income taxes would not be affected for individuals with incomes under $250,000. Sales taxes would increase by one fourth of one percent for 4 years. That means if you were to go to Costco and buy $40 worth of toilet paper, probably a year’s supply, it would cost you an additional 10 cents.
Let’s do this, Cailfornia. Maintain public education. Vote yes on Prop 30.
The one percent logic
Disturbing, in an education town, the recent spate of letters to the COURIER by men against Proposition 30. While this proposition may not be perfect—we live in a complex state, with a complex legislative system—Proposition 30 is the best engine we’ve got right now to keep us from facing yet another round of devastating cuts to education.
Education in this state is in crisis, and those who don’t work in it every day, those whose kids are already educated, do not fully understand that the educational system of today is not what it was 5 years ago, let alone 10 or 20 years ago.
Right now, California’s class sizes are some of the biggest in the nation. Every district in the state has witnessed devastating cuts to teachers and support staff, summer school and arts programs, libraries and support services. Many schools are already operating with a shorter school year. Teachers in Claremont are picking up a portion of their own health care costs. More cuts will follow if Proposition 30 is not passed.
Do not be fooled by those who state that our educational system will not necessarily be affected by the passage of Prop 30. Over 50 percent of California’s budget goes toward education—it is our government’s highest priority—raising revenue will help maintain a consistent flow of money to our schools.
Anti-30 campaigners are willing to take a gamble on this generation of kids. They are involved in a very serious game of wishing and hoping that there could be some kind of quick fix to our legislative woes but, in fact, there are no quick fixes, just good, level-headed policies that eventually lead us to better systems.
These no on 30 advocates are living in their own bubble—it seems like no amount of press discussing the cuts in classes at community colleges, and the raises in tuition at our state colleges has any kind of affect on their willingness to have all of us wait until we find the “perfect solution” to California’s educational woes. But our kids are only 8 years old once, teenagers once and, for young adults pursuing career dreams, they only have a brief span of years before family obligations kick in.
Here in Claremont, we have a private foundation that raises $200,000 a year (or more) to augment public education. It is commendable what they do and how far they stretch this money to supplement what our state cannot provide. However, few communities in California can afford to raise that kind of money when 1 in 4 schoolchildren are living and learning in poverty. It is important that we create systems that fund all schools in our state.
If Prop 30 passes, the costs to us just wouldn’t be that high. Steve Lopez in his October 21 Los Angeles Times column states that “the only cost to 98 percent of Californians would be an extra dime on a $40 purchase.” It’s about all of us contributing a little for the public good.
A recent political cartoon by Ted Rall ran in the LA Times on October 17. Titled “1% Logic,” it stated the fact that Charles Munger, Jr., a Stanford physicist and GOP activist, recently donated $2.3 million to defeat Prop 30. The cartoon reporter sitting in his office says to him, “But you’d pay less if Prop 30 won than you’re paying to kill it.” Cartoon Munger’s reply? “Watching infrastructure crumble and young dreams shatter is its own reward…”
Pure pandering and bad math
As the 2012 election draws closer, we have heard of former Governor Mitt Romney’s plan to hire 12 million workers. The details are a bit sketchy, to say the least.
We are told that the keys to this economic growth are a tax cut for all to the tune of 20 percent and oil and gas development domestically.
Romney’s tax plan is eerily similar to the Andrew Mellon tax giveaway to the affluent before the Great Depression and the Reagan and George W. Bush plans that blew up the national debt. Talk about pandering to the voters! Who wouldn’t like a 20 percent tax cut? But someone will have to pay for it. If we have a gap in revenue already to the tune of 1 trillion, 200 billion to 300 billion dollars, how on earth would this plan do anything other than blow up the debt further.
Do we really want to drill, baby, drill? If we produce more oil domestically, we would have to build more refinery capacity. And no one seems to want a new refinery in their neighborhood. The oil pipeline Romney talks about would hire a few thousand workers but the oil would not be used for domestic consumption; it would go to Asia.
Do we want to rely on just 2 forms of energy in his plan, oil and natural gas? Do we want oil drilling off the coast of Florida, Virginia and California? With tourism such a major industry and with the dollar being cheap, we are having a lot of Europeans tour America now. That might change if your sunbathing in Santa Barbara is disturbed by an oil slick or the sight of a rig.
To my way of thinking, we need to invest in America, in our infrastructure, if we are to grow more consistently. We need a balanced approach to energy production with a greater impetus towards solar energy. Germany has done a great job in having such a growth in solar energy and they are number 1 now in solar usage. We should be number 1.
Tax cuts are not free. After the failure of trickle-down economics, the last thing we should want to do is to vote for a man who would double down on trickle- down and put us in debt, so much so that government will cease to exist. Some voters would be happy with that scenario, but be careful what you wish for.
The ‘real’ Mitt
Will the “real” Mitt please stand up?
Candidate Willard Mitt Romney has said trillion dollar deficits are immoral.
He has said that he will lower tax rates across the board for all Americans by 20 percent, a policy that would predominately favor upper-income taxpayers. Mr. Romney claims that closing loopholes will make the tax cuts revenue-neutral.
He has said he won’t cut any of the top 10 individual tax breaks, including:
Exclusion of employer health insurance ($164.2 billion); exclusion of employer pensions ($162.7 billion); mortgage interest deduction ($99.8 billion); exclusion of Medicare ($76.2 billion); low tax rates on capital gains ($71.4 billion); earned income credit ($58.4 billion); deduction of income taxes ($54 billion); tax breaks for estate assets ($51.9 billion); child credit ($51.7 billion); and deduction of charitable contributions ($51.6 billion).
If you don’t eliminate any of these, there simply aren’t enough loopholes left to make a tax cut revenue neutral.
Mr. Romney has also said that he wants no change to Medicare for seniors or for those nearing retirement.
He wants no change to social security for seniors or for those nearing retirement.
He wants to continue to provide training programs.
He wants to increase defense spending even more than the Pentagon has requested. Etc., etc., etc.
Mr. Romney wants us to believe that reducing taxes while spending the same or even more will somehow reduce the immoral deficit. It’s simply not possible. Mr. Romney is willing to say anything to get elected.
Let’s not forget what Mr. Romney said in a room full of supporters, when he thought he wasn’t being recorded:
“There are 47 percent…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
And now he says that he didn’t mean it. Which do you believe? The Willard Mitt Romney that knows he’s speaking publicly or the one that thinks he is talking only to his supporters?
Right to life
Along with the presidential election this November, one of the propositions that will come before voters is Proposition 34. If passed, Prop 34 would rescind California’s long-standing death penalty provision, which would purportedly save the state $100 million dollars annually.
Proponents of the “Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act” or SAFE California initiative object to executions for moral and religious reasons including fears that an innocent man or woman could be executed. One supporter of this measure is blogger Mary Kay Raftery, who was recently featured on the Death Penalty Focus website because she continues to oppose the death penalty even after her own son was shot to death by 2 thugs in 2006.
I admire her consistency in supporting Prop 34 in spite of her tragic loss. Like her, I also lost a son. I watched in abject horror as he died in my wife’s arms ending his gut-wrenching 2-year battle with leukemia. From this tragedy I had a renewed appreciation for how tenuous human life can be, but I also felt grateful for having my beloved son in my life even for such a short time.
Although Ms. Raferty and I both have lost sons, we are clearly very different in how we regard life and, accordingly, how we view the death penalty. She prefers that convicted murderers serve life sentences without the possibility of parole, while I make no apologies for wanting them to be executed at the earliest eligible opportunity. I think the engine that drives our opposing opinions about this question is how each of us regards the fundamental nature of life itself.
She seems to believe that the state has no right to execute a prisoner and that only God Himself is the final arbiter of life or death—that even the most violent, sociopathic felons have a right to live. From an idealistic standpoint, I don’t necessarily disagree with this view but, in the name of public safety, I think we have to make serious choices when it comes to punishing those who commit capital crimes. For me, life is a privilege, not a right. Although we were privileged to celebrate our son’s first and second birthdays, he had no intrinsic “right” to reach his third and, much to our immense grief, he didn’t.
However, when a criminal callously murders another human being, denying his victim the privilege of continued life, I believe he forecloses on the same privilege for himself and, if only for the safety of others, the state has every right to end his life.