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April 27, 2011

Inbox — April 27, 2011

Letters to the Editor

LEO Jones

I’ve been reading LEO for the past six months. I like it! You’re becoming the Mother Jones of Louisville. Keep up the good investigative reporting.

Peter E. Tanguay, Louisville

Not So Taxing

Rich (in name only) Mills in his letter last week assumed that all of the poor are families who get the Earned Income Tax Credit. Not true. Singles must be 25 to 64 to get the credit, which maxes at $457 for someone earning $7,500. At $13,200, it would be $50. Net, the bottom fifth pay 4.3 percent of their income in four federal taxes, the Congressional Budget Office says.

In 2007, the poorest fifth of Kentuckians — average income $8,300 — paid state and local taxes totaling 9.4 percent, or $780 on average. That means total taxes of 13.7 percent less the credit (at full value) of 8.3 percent. Working singles under 25 do not get the credit. The poor do not live tax-free. Some do, but so do some at the very top. The Federal Insurance Contributions Act is a tax, contrary to what Mills wrote. Social Security is not voluntary and is enforced. His assumption on benefits paid out in old age misses the fact that higher-income earners live much longer than low-wage workers.

As for the top 398/400 taxpayers, if income (in 2007 dollars) goes from $13.6 million (1961) to $345 million (2007), the tax paid goes up even as the tax rate falls from 42.4 percent to 16.6 percent. This shifts the tax burden down the income ladder. When you examine after-tax dollars from 1961 to 2007, each taxpayer in the top 398/400 got $71 more for each dollar going to each taxpayer in the bottom 90 percent.

If Mills likes that, he should vote for those who will see to it that the richest among us make more and more while shouldering a shrinking tax burden. But he should also worry about the inevitable result (see France, 1789). Readers interested in understanding how the tax system actually operates can visit www.tax.com, where some of my columns are posted and new ones go up every few weeks.

David Cay Johnston, Rochester, N.Y.

Storm of Anger

Dear LEO and respective residents of Louisville,

I am scared. Who knew that it could happen here? It’s 4 a.m. on Sunday, April 17. I decided to sleep in due to the cold weather. I was awakened by the sound of a jet flying low over my house and was instantly paralyzed with fear. Greg Fischer has let us down. This is why I voted for Chris Anger.

When people think of evil dictators, Gaddafi, Mubarak and Hitler will all be replaced with the unspeakable evils done to this sleepy little-big-town by Greg Fischer … kind of a medium size … well actually, though it’s the 16th-largest city, it’s pretty spread out. I’m sure the fine folks at Metro Louisville have all that figured out. But how could they expect these cruel events to unfold … oh how?! We were so naive.

I’m hunkered down in a pool of my own urine in my basement in Old Louisville. Curiously, my power is still on. I write to LEO in hopes that there’s civilization still beyond these walls, because tonight, I heard unspeakable evils. Jet planes flew over the city all day. Then, at around 9:30 p.m., I heard a bombing raid that, though I hope with my heart hit Jeffersonville, I know in my head it was downtown Louisville. Oh! A sick realization — I may never go to Fourth Street Live again!

As the raid came to an end, I heard a rush of refugees begin fleeing the city. Just as I was about to join the exodus, I saw the LMPD rounding up the survivors and funneling them to the East End, where I’m sure they’ll be sold into suburban slavery. I read about that in LEO.

I can only think that this catastrophe may have been avoided had we elected mayoral candidate Chris Anger as our humble leader …

The El(l)iots, Old Louisville

Revised History

While I applaud Bob Moore’s enthusiasm and desire for real change, I feel I have to address some gross inaccuracies in his letter (LEO Weekly, April 13). While Charley Reese was indeed a journalist for the Orlando Sentinel, the column referenced is not, in fact, his from March 31. Reese retired from public life in 2001, and the column was originally published in 1981, then later updated many times, most recently by Reese in 1995. This is also a heavily edited, drastically altered version of Reese’s work. The language, structure and overall tone of the column has been drastically altered to a great disservice to the original text. The original can be found here: www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/reese.asp, with an analysis of the hoax by the wonderful people at Snopes. I don’t wish to malign Moore, but I would hate to see false information distributed as fact by a publication as wonderful as this. (As an aside, I may agree with recalling those officials who prove to be ineffective, but I feel much of the blame assigned to legislators can more rightly be distributed to us, the people, for our dedication to apathy, civil negligence and overall lack of participation in a system that is, after all, only for the people if it is also by the people.)

Ian Beilman, Old Louisville

Just the Facts, Ma’am

The dissemination of news is essential to democracy. It is from facts that we draw our own opinions, not those of pundits. That is how we become serious voters.

However, such straightforward news is becoming rare, even on national TV. Last year alone, ABC announced 20- to 30-percent cuts in its news staff. Radio and newspapers are doing likewise by cutting their reporting staff up to a half.

Not so with National Public Radio (NPR). It has increased its reportage to 17 foreign bureaus and 16 domestic ones. Here in Louisville, our public news station, WFPL, has increased its audience by 51.5 percent between 2005 and 2009. Along with its sister stations for classical and contemporary music, our Public Radio listeners number 150,000. Yet only 9.1 percent of those listeners put their money where their ears are.

These are the facts. Draw your own conclusions.

Caroline Krebs, Audubon Park

Well-Versed

Prior to the Civil War, the people of the North opposed slavery, yet they liked the cheap cotton they received from the South. The same situation can be applied to today’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Many people, when they learn how these animals are raised, as described on www.factoryfarming.com, oppose the cruelty of the way they are confined in filthy, overcrowded conditions and the mistreatment they receive, but they like the cheap meat, milk and eggs.

Proverbs 12:10 tells us we should care for our animals, and Luke 12:6 tells us God doesn’t forget the animals. These verses can be applied to all CAFOs. Even though Genesis 1:28 gave us dominion over the animals, I believe that’s no excuse to commit cruelty to them.

This is not only about treating these animals more decently, it’s also about our health and safety. The way these animals are raised is a breeding ground for disease. We’ve already had mad cow, swine and bird flu scares, and we seem to have regular recalls due to tainted meat and eggs.

Proverbs 23:20 speaks of over-eating. The USDA recommends no more than 5 ounces of meat per day, yet their own statistics show that the average American is consuming twice that much. The consequences of this over-consumption are increased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancers.

If more people were to start buying only organic meat, milk and eggs, this would be an incentive for CAFOs to change the way they operate. Please go to www.care2.com/greenliving/why-buy-organic-dairy-meat.html for more info. The end result would be a better life for everybody and everything.

Harold Wilson, Corydon, Ind.