November 20, 2012
To the Editor,
Recently, we were able to secure our second consecutive Suffolk County Class A Championship. This achievement was part of a community effort and we are indebted for the cheers of support you provided us as we reached one of our goals. Thank you, thank you!
We are indebted for the amazing parade of trucks led by the East Hampton Volunteer Fire Department as we drove back through our fantastic community in celebration of winning the Class A Suffolk County Boys Soccer Championship for the second consecutive year. The celebration the volunteer firefighters provided for us and the waves and shouts of support from the community members on the streets was an experience we will never forget as we chanted and sang, with the sirens and horns, our cheers for “Bonac!” Thank you, thank you!
We will work hard for continued success and we dream big about another celebration next year with the community as we reach for higher goals.
Thanks so much!
East Hampton High School
Boys Soccer Program
November 26, 2012
To the Editor:
Thank you for your coverage and photo of the team of everyday citizens who love East Hampton Village so much that they spent a day fine-tuning and cleaning up around the village. A walk through town on Tuesday Nov. 20 left me concerned, as the storms had left quite a mess. Combine that with the significant impact humans leave on our streets and the village was looking rather shabby.
The community cleanup had been planned for Saturday. Last Thursday, a walk through the village left me dumbfounded. Flawless and pristine sidewalks, storefronts, and tree boxes lined the streets. The village crews had done an amazing job!
We still met on Saturday, forming teams and heading off to different locations and jobs all over the village. The warmth and mirth of our gang was a throwback, reminiscent of how the community used to share in these small, joyful projects. The company was delightful and the impact of our endeavor was still quite impactful. We filled bag after bag with leaves, papers, cups, and cigarette butts. We cleaned alleyways and open driveways that were overgrown with four-foot-high weeds. We picked up refuse and broken fences that some businesses had left derelict and that were spilling onto public walkways.
It was a great sense of the positive in life. No one complained or showed anger over these insults to our village’s dignity; rather, a cheerful sense of camaraderie and accomplishment with our efforts and sharing of time and ideas.
I hope this group will continue these good works through the spring and summer months when traffic, indifference, and abuse cast a sad cloud over those of us who recognize the special nature of our town and village and mourn the change.
I have always felt the village to be a living entity with the personality and attributes of a gracious lady. She is always a welcoming sweet spot to visit and spend time with. For almost the past 15 years my dogs and I would visit early in the morning before the streets began to bustle. We would enjoy egg sandwiches and coffee, sit and people-watch, then stroll leisurely through the town taking in the tranquil, familiar charm of every tree and shop. I began collecting garbage and weeding the tree boxes at random. I found that the anger I had felt toward the hordes of violators turned to acceptance and deeper tolerance of human nature. I was aware of the love and joy I felt as I took her well-being into my own hands. It is truly the best part of our day.
I really enjoyed being part of this L.V.I.S. project and thank them for letting me be part of their team. Thanks also to the village crew who “beat us to the punch” but ultimately did the real dirty work these past few weeks.
All the best,
Makes No Sense
November 26, 2012
Dear David Rattray:
Puzzled by the juxtaposition of two contradictory articles in this week’s Star. One offering 25 timber-frame homeowners in the village an added bonus of a “guesthouse-accessory structure” on their properties, whether they seek it or not, and the side-by-side article about the village stopping the Cartier family from building a “second house” on their two-plus-acre Main Street property, even though the Village Zoning Board of Appeals determined that they have every right to do so under the existing code.
You quote Larry Cantwell: “One house, one lot, period.” That makes no sense in light of the other Cantwell-approved proposal, basically “two houses, one lot, period.”
Mrs. Cartier’s parents generously gifted their street-front home to the village in the mid-1970s for the Historical Society’s Osborne-Jackson House. Their reward: being sued by this very same village.
Wouldn’t our beautiful village be best served by a simple “Two boards, one village, one decision, period”?
AYSE MANYAS KENMORE
November 26, 2012
Tomorrow (Friday) there will be a screening of the film “The City Dark” at Bay Street Theatre at 4:30 p.m. It will be free to the public as part of the Take Two Film Festival.
The film was partly filmed in Montauk and shows the effects of excessive and misdirected night lighting on our view of the night sky, our health, and the health of our environment. It is entertaining while being informative and is suitable for the entire community.
Hope you can come.
Dark Sky Society
November 26, 2012
If I didn’t feel smug, I certainly was proud of myself during the week we had electricity following Hurricane Sandy. When I built our house seven years ago I was prescient enough to include a generator that would power the essentials: oil burner for heat and hot water, well pump for water, refrigeration, lighting in our bedroom and kitchen, and even the security system. I never gave a thought to the social or environmental issues that were involved in the decision or that I was part of the “3 percent.” A recent Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof opened my eyes.
Home generators are owned by 3 percent of United States homeowners, many of whom are no doubt part of the famous 2 percent. The initial cost averaging $10,000 and the annual cost of $600 to $800 for maintenance, plus the cost of fuel (my cost was around $500 for the week LIPA failed to provide electricity), is no small amount to me who is not among the 2 percent. What I learned was that if all of us paid a little more in taxes to enable the government to improve public utilities there is a great likelihood that we would not have lost power and a great deal of suffering could have been avoided.
Mr. Kristof argues that the same principal applies to pre-K and all education. Well-educated children don’t become criminals, and so we become a more productive society and save on the huge cost of the criminal justice system and the imprisonment of two million Americans.
The role of the federal government in providing aid to New Jersey and New York through the emergency management agency exemplifies the need for the federal government’s involvement. Remember Katrina! All of these involvements cost money.
I believe that we need to join together to help each other rather than just taking care of ourselves. Finally, the generators are big contributors to global warming.
DAVID J. WEINSTEIN
Leave the Dune
November 6, 2012
To the Editor,
I wish to thank East Hampton Town Highway Superintendent Stephen Lynch, who had the good sense and foresight to build a dune at the Napeague Road and Marine Boulevard parking area before Hurricane Sandy hit the area. The act saved many homes in the Amagansett dunes area from being flooded.
As an afterthought, why not leave the dune in place? Surfers and swimmers can walk over the dune on an as-yet-to-be-built set of steps or ramp to use the beach. Even when we don’t have a hurricane, we get the ocean running down Napeague Road at a high tide and strong onshore wind.
Thanks again, Mr. Lynch, for a job well done.
ROBERT G. RENNIE
November 26, 2012
As Hurricane Sandy’s devastating destruction of our shoreline shows, nature continues to demonstrate a callous disregard for property rights and human life — especially in low-lying coastal areas. Adding insult to injury, any hard structures placed to protect individual properties have an inevitable and toxic side effect: they cause the destruction of public and private property near them.
So, while it is certainly understandable that individual owners of low-lying coastal property are frantic to protect their at-risk buildings given nature’s horrifying attacks on them, it is also understandable that all of Montauk is concerned when a wall of septic rings appears on a public beach. Why is this a community issue, one might ask — because every location where hard structures have been installed has inflicted severe damage to neighboring properties and has eroded public beaches.
The expanded jetties and the bulkheads along Soundview Drive caused the destruction of the Culloden waterfront properties. The armoring of the ocean frontage at the trailer park condominiums resulted in erosion of both the beach and dunes to the west that had, at least until Sandy, protected the East Deck Motel. The jetty to the west of the East Deck has caused the deepening of the Ditch Plain cove and the erosion of the dunes in front of the houses along Deforest Street.
The Town of East Hampton is not ignorant of the forces of nature and their merciless effects. It spent almost 10 years preparing a plan, the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, or L.W.R.P., that was finally approved by New York State and that in turn gave the town — not the state — the right to govern our local waters and beaches. This law clearly recognizes the short and long-term danger hard structures pose to the health of our coastal resources and the property rights of neighbors.
So now what? Increased erosion, climate change, and sea level rise are facts. Outrage and denial are not planning tools. If short-term emergency measures taken by individual property owners are allowed to devolve into a de facto, long-term “plan,” our precious beaches will be replaced by sandless, walled fortresses. If this should happen, the entire Montauk residential and business community will suffer.
What is needed is a plan that recognizes the new realities and natural forces. It must take into consideration everything from the financial threat faced by oceanfront and harbor business owners to the value of every home in Montauk.
Nature is what it is, not what we wish it to be. It is utterly indifferent to a debate on whether or not an individual “ought to have the right” to defend their property by any means they choose. That being said, while nature is indifferent, it doesn’t mean that we have to be.
C.C.O.M. believes that people of good will can face the facts together and design a sustainable future for Montauk and every person who works here, lives here, or just visits for a day.
Concerned Citizens of Montauk
What Has to Be Done
November 19, 2012
I am convinced that our supervisor and the town board will address the very complex difficult long-term issues that have been violently surfaced by Sandy. Beach erosion, retreat from the beaches, renewable energy sources, federal, state, and county support, to name a few of the items on the agenda. These problems are not new but with the obvious impact of global warming, they, if anything, have been worsened.
The purpose of this letter is clearly short-term — what has to be done now. The needs were practically all spelled out at the last town board meeting. If our supervisor is aggressively putting them in place, please disregard this letter and have a nice day.
But if he is not moving rapidly enough to provide practical, available items, procedures, to a worried public in the very near future, then this letter should be read and result in pressuring him to act. There is no reason to believe that Sandy was “it” for the next six months.
Our planning has to be based on the assumption that LIPA will not surprise us and that power will be out for a protracted period. My power went out early Monday afternoon, hours before the storm hit. Clear, updated communication via WLNG and other sources, powering and provisioning shelters, establishing a protocol for coordinating the efforts and role of such groups as the firehouse, the Ladies Auxiliary, the Red Cross, emergency medical, and, of course, effective leadership from our supervisor are some of the critical needs of our community when events like Sandy occur.
These actions, while they must be done carefully, do not require extended study. They can be initiated now. To add to Ms. Muse’s comment at the board meeting, “You can’t win with the ocean‚” that goes double with Mother Nature when she is angry.
Leadership Is Needed
November 17, 2012
Most of East Hampton was unscathed by the devastation of Sandy that our neighbors UpIsland suffered. Having grown up in Far Rockaway, I feel a natural bond with those suffering. Coincidentally, my 50th high school reunion was scheduled the weekend of Sandy.
First, Hurricane Irene hit last summer. As we watched local TV stations during the week leading up to Irene, we saw each town official across the Island appear and communicate to their residents about preparations taken: shelter locations, suggested evacuation routes if necessary, etc. We diligently kept watching for East Hampton Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, to no avail. Finally a day or so prior to Irene’s landfall, he appeared, but offered little information.
So here comes Hurricane Sandy. The governor, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, county supervisors, village mayors, and town supervisors all get in front of the storm along with their emergency teams. They give locations, hours of operation, phone numbers, and so forth. Where is the East Hampton town supervisor? Once again, at the last possible moment, he was on LTV briefly informing us that the Red Cross would open a shelter at the high school, and nothing else! Nothing about what the town was planning to do about food, evacuations, contact people, phone numbers, etc.
At my house we lost power for a week. During the day we sought refuge in the East Hampton Library. It was packed, warm, and welcoming. While there we met a young mother of three children, who had moved here a few months ago. She had no heat, electricity, or much food. With no family or close friends, she sought shelter at the high school until it was closed down. She had heard that the Y.M.C.A. was letting people take hot showers, so that would be the family activity later that evening. This mother could not afford to take her family out for dinner. She could not afford to stay at one of our motels or inns. The library gave her a food pantry number but there was no answer. It was very sad, even more embarrassing that one of the wealthiest towns in America was not providing the most basic necessities to those who needed help during a disaster.
We in East Hampton can do much better; Steve Lynch and the Highway Department showed us how.
What areas of the town are located in a flood zone? Someone mentioned that Southampton created an emergency map which indicates areas by zone. This would be used for evacuation purposes.
Where is the Business Alliance? These food purveyors, restaurants, and related businesses are first to get electricity restored. It would be neighborly and compassionate, not to mention good P.R., for them to organize a “neighborhood network.” They could help those in need with meals on a rotating basis. The motels could provide empty rooms to a family for a night or two.
A headquarters location (or one per hamlet) could be designated for able individual residents to gather in order to offer their skills and help. After 9/11 there were calls for help prepping food for first responders in some of the downtown restaurants.
It is critical that the town supervisor takes the lead in planning for, organizing, and communicating emergency procedures. Leadership is needed to harness town resources. Leadership means showing empathy for people in need of help. On behalf of all the good people of East Hampton, I apologize to the young woman we met at the library for the lack of leadership at Town Hall.
November 26, 2012
Now that life has returned to almost normal for most of us, it is time to thank those who gave so generously of themselves. After my house was surged by the bungling of a LIPA connection, I used the house of Lois Hamlett on Flaggy Hole Road who was busy dealing with the flooding of her house and car in Oakdale. I slept, showered, and prepared and ate my meager meals there.
When I wasn’t chasing down LIPA and Cablevision, I spent my days in the house of my neighbor Carolyn Abrams-Dyer across the street from me, as I watched and waited for LIPA to return to connect my house correctly. These people, Lois and Carolyn, never once made me feel anything but welcome and their generosity when I was feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck was extraordinary and will never be forgotten.
As we hear and read of the tales of hardship and destruction of property and lives caused by this monster storm, I am keenly struck by the spirit of people who respond to others almost without a thought to their own safety and/or the time and energy they will expend on behalf of others. It brings up something I have often pondered: What makes some people willing to give and care for others and others selfishly look out only for themselves? I am grateful for the people I know who are of the first ilk and allowed me to lean on them in my time of need.
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
Job Well Done
November 19, 2012
The people of East Hampton should be very thankful to have Len Bernard as budget director.
Maligned repeatedly in these pages during various campaigns, Len has more than proven his competency and worth.
In my otherwise bleak assessment of the current state of East Hampton town government, the only thing that is clear is that an able person is taking care of the money.
Though some members of the town board seem, at times, not to understand where we have been, where we are, and where we are going in regard to various issues, financial or otherwise, I find Len’s presentations to the board to be one of the few portions of the meetings I can actually watch without getting angry.
I expect that in the coming election year some of the same people who maligned Len before will find some cause to chastise him again, but the record of a job well done is clear. Let’s make sure we don’t go back to the nonexistent budget direction of the past.
November 26, 2012
Dear David Rattray:
The town board has now completed the 2013 budget. However, the budget only provides for the current operations of the Town of East Hampton and does not provide for the capital investment needed to maintain, preserve, and enhance the town’s infrastructure and water resources.
We all know that without an eye on these important elements the town as a special place to live will degrade exponentially over time. A more robust capital plan is needed as part of the 2013 budget to begin to counter the many years of neglect. The East Hampton Budget and Financial Advisory Committee (B.F.A.C.) has recommended that the 2013 budget include $1.3 million to develop long-term action plans in the areas of water quality, technology, and roads to arrest and correct the neglect of the past 10 years.
The town has endured years of significant setbacks due to fiscal mismanagement but thankfully, the current town board has done an excellent job of steering us back to financial health. But the board’s mission for a full recovery will not be complete without an accelerated plan to make up for a decade of neglect to infrastructure and water resources.
Other municipalities have a large head start. Southampton has assessed its water quality and is now working on a program for corrective action. Southampton maintains and repairs its roads at a rate four times that of the Town of East Hampton and has done so over the past 10 years. Southampton and East Hampton Village have automated many of their operations using proven computer systems whereas the Town of East Hampton continues to rely on antiquated paper files.
There is a huge and growing gap between where the town finds itself today and where it should be. The Town of East Hampton needs a meaningful capital budget to move forward and every citizen who cares about the quality of its water, roads, operations, and other infrastructure should be deeply concerned about the neglect of these basic elements which have made East Hampton what it is.
If action is not taken now by the town board they will have only achieved part of the mission to which they were elected and the quality of life that the citizens of East Hampton have enjoyed to date will be jeopardized. Those who care must advocate and insist that the town board take immediate action to adopt a strong capital budget such as the one recommended by the B.F.A.C.
Years of Neglect
November 19, 2012
It may shock your readers to learn that Accabonac Harbor, Lake Montauk, Northwest Creek, and now, Georgica Pond, are polluted. Yet some people still swim in these waters. The town has convened a 15-member force to develop a comprehensive approach to mitigating storm water runoff pollution, and some improvements have been made. Modest funding ($15,000) of this effort is anticipated, for the first time, in 2013, and some work is being done to mitigate runoff. Much more needs to be done to restore our ponds, lakes, and harbors to their former pristine condition. The town’s budget and finance advisory committee has recommended that the town invest $300,000 to develop a comprehensive “MS-4” plan as the first step in this process.
We do not even know the extent of pollution resulting from 25 years of operating the scavenger waste plant with inadequate environmental safeguards. Moreover, antiquated and malfunctioning septic systems of many of the town’s 20,000 homeowners and businesses, some dangerously close to the water table, pollute our bays and harbors in untold ways. The B.F.A.C. has recommended funding a town-wide comprehensive wastewater management plan, which is expected to become part of the capital budget.
Our roads have deteriorated due to years of neglect. To maintain 270 to 300 miles of roads with an estimated average life of 20 years, the Highway Department would have to repair 14 to 15 miles of road a year. But in recent years, just four to five miles of repaving had been the norm. The good news is that the new highway superintendent has substantially increased the annual miles of road repaired and requested a modest $150,000 budget allocation to develop a cost-effective long-term road repair and management plan. And Supervisor Bill Wilkinson has proposed a $1,500,000 bond issue to reconstruct various roads damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The B.F.A.C. supports this approach and has recommended a $500,000 increase in the Highway Department’s annual budget for road repair.
East Hampton’s information technology is primitive by today’s standards and compared to the Town of Southampton. As a result productivity and services suffer. The B.F.A.C. has implored the town board to invest in information technology to bring the town’s use of technology into the 21st century.
The town’s cellphone service is iffy with many permanent “holes.” This can be dangerous in the event of storms like Hurricane Sandy when residents lose power and landline service. It is also a deterrent to the conduct of business and pleasure in this otherwise world-class resort. After investigating potential solutions for several months, the B.F.A.C. has recommended that the town board retain telecom professionals to develop a town-wide plan to improve cellular service and increase non-tax revenues.
Each one of these areas — water quality, roads, and technology — will require a capital investment by the town. Yet for many years prior to 2012 the town had no capital budget. The town made a first effort last year, and the B.F.A.C. has encouraged this town board to develop a more robust capital plan and budget for 2013. And Hurricane Sandy raised some additional long-term issues for the town to address. A long-term town capital budget needs to address these issues before the next big one hits.
Nearly all of the capital investments recommended for 2013 are for planning purposes such as cost-effective long-term programs to improve water quality, technology, and roads. The town does not need to issue bonds as it expects to have over $4.8 million of excess (spend-able) reserves in the whole and part-town funds alone at the end of 2012.
As 2012 winds down, East Hampton’s town board has an opportunity to reverse years of neglect of the town’s water resources and infrastructure. If you share our concerns about the future of the town, keep an eye on the town board during the month of December as the capital budget is finalized.
PETER A. WADSWORTH
November 24, 2012
I hope and pray the town will come to its senses and not spend my tax dollars on the most despicable practice of engaging in the horrendous practice of maiming innocent animals with guns and bows and arrows under the guise of protecting us from them. They do us no harm.
When drivers and bikers realize the road is not a race track, perhaps less collisions will occur.
PATRICIA ANHOLT HABER
November 26, 2012
It seems the “dog ate the homework!” The town board has budgeted more money for yet another noise study? I think the obvious is obvious!
What happened to the extensive study that placed noise monitors (14) and technicians in strategic areas all over town? It was determined that there was a serious noise problem that had to be addressed. Of course it wasn’t, because of the sacred cow and oops, cannot mention that.
The wizards only have to look at those findings, that cost a considerable amount of taxpayer money. So why the “instant replay?” Doesn’t anyone pay attention to a report that is already written?
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
Sex Abuse Victims
November 26, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I’ve been made aware that you gave coverage to the questions I had hoped to pose to Senator Ken LaValle and Ms. Bridget Fleming at their East Hampton Firehouse debate but had been, unfortunately, prohibited from asking. I want to thank you for putting my issue to print.
It is criminal that while there may be thousands of New Yorkers listed as victims (their names are redacted to “protect” their privacy, we are told) in the Boy Scouts’ recently released “Perversion Files” covering the years 1965 to 1985, not one New Yorker listed therein has recourse to legal action due to New York’s archaic statute of limitation. As it stands, childhood sex abuse victims have until the age of 18 to file criminal charges and must file for any civil remedy prior to turning 23. One can almost imagine that these absurd age limitations were written into law by pedophiles. People would be shocked to know how many gravitate to positions of power. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va., told me I faced a nearly impossible task in trying to rewrite or eliminate the statute.
Those sex abuse victims who have or had forgotten what happened to them were the children like me whose very existence was threatened with obliteration yet survived somehow in a state of dissociation; their mind separating from the reality of what was happening; too shocked to recall a numbing and distant trauma. Once experienced, it becomes an ingrained survival mechanism with long-term untoward consequences. The victims, from that point on, are stamped into a mold not of their making which imprints on any and all conscious and unconscious decisions: drinking and/or smoking (usually to the extreme); poor health and dietary habits; along with an overindulgence in dangerous behavior ranging from participating in the most violent and dangerous jobs, sports, and military service to placing one’s self in harm’s way by an unconscious drive to self-destruction that can result in crime, mayhem, drug and sexual addictions.
Detectives who specialize in tracking and stopping serial killers readily admit that the one form of abuse every serial killer has in common, given all the forms and combinations of abuse possible, is sexual abuse. It is now being hypothesized that many super-charged corporate CEOs, hedge fund managers, and sports heroes, among others, are borderline socio-psychopaths: Maddow and O.J. come to mind. Were they sex abuse victims as children who may or may not remember?
In many ways we are cannibalizing ourselves if one considers the sex slave underground, Internet child porn, snuff films, and unspeakable cruelty to animals and each other, and think of the national and global repercussions as our consumption of each other escalates geometrically. One pedophile creates others, perhaps many others. Remaining victims self-destruct, sometimes taking others with them . . . or they become protectors-crusaders like me. And thus my cause for the past 13-plus years.
Too many lives are being damaged, many irreparably, with grave consequences for ourselves, our society, and humanity to not make great attempts to find solutions. We should be putting pedophiles on notice that there will be no statute of limitation shielding them from prosecution anywhere, anytime. Some states already have abandoned their statutes; others, like New York, have not. The result is that there can be no equal justice under the law for all until this changes.
A federal remedy using civil rights laws to protect children as a special class would be an excellent move in that direction. However, our state government has no less an obligation to protect the children. To not seek these changes in law would be to ignore the threat pedophilia poses in undermining the fabric of our society. It’s common sense; it’s the right thing to do; and it’s my cause to pursue.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
With best wishes,
P.S. Know any good lawyers interested in using our RICO laws against the continuing cover-up across state lines of ongoing criminal conduct? Law is what we make it!
Sale of Firearms
November 25, 2012
To the Editor,
I have never seen a gun for sale in The East Hampton Star before. Is it your policy to advertise the sale of firearms? No license? No background check? How is that legal? Moral? Why would you allow such a thing? Anyone there remember Columbine or Arizona, or the movie theater massacre? Anybody home at The Star these days?
An Equal Voice
November 20, 2012
To the Editor:
I have just read your editorial in the Nov. 8 edition of The Star, and find as most populists you fail to understand the significance of the Electoral College.
While the founding fathers were setting up our system of constitutional law, they went through several different ideas of allowing the citizenry to vote for the president and vice president. To simplify their dilemma, they had 13 states (colonies), some very small (Delaware) with limited population, and some large (Massachusetts).
Their problem was a simple one. If they allowed the election to be decided by a popular vote, then the large states (New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia), with their large populations, would always decide the elections, and it would still be true today. The smaller states, with limited populations, would never have a say in who won the presidency. So the Electoral College system was devised so that even the smallest states would have a say in who won the presidency, and the last two elections have proven them correct.
Going to a national popular vote would disenfranchise the smaller states in our union. What candidate would campaign in Wyoming, New Hampshire, Colorado, or any of the low-population states if they were able to get enough votes from the large-population states?
If you shifted to a popular vote, the political view in those highly populated states would dictate what policies our government followed. With the Electoral Collage system, no candidate can take any state for granted, because, as you have seen, even the smallest of states can sway the outcome of an election.
I think that our founding fathers had the correct idea. Give each state an equal voice in our elections.
Fairness in Taxation
November 25, 2012
To the Editor;
It occurs to me that most of the 98 percent in this country want only fairness in the tax laws. That the wealthy pay income tax on the income of all no matter how that money is earned. I daresay that the guy who works as a plumber or electrician, a builder or salesperson, a doctor or nurse, feels that they work damn hard for the income they are paid. The 2 percent should pay a tax on all income whether salary, bonuses, dividends, capital gains, any money paid by a company that depends on the United States for the sales of its products or the protection of the United States wherever they are.
It seems also that the loopholes and perks should be the same for all levels of taxation and the wealthy can pay the taxman rather than the lawyer and accountant.
The higher the earnings the more easily the wealthy can afford the taxes. Fairness is the primary goal.
Common Sense Fixes
November 26, 2012
To the Editor,
The election’s over and the two national parties will be working hard on strategies to stay relevant in the coming months. Who knows, they may even try to govern. During this past election season we heard a lot about issues relating to the economy and “fairness” from both sides, particularly in the Bishop-Altschuler contest, which, if you were to believe the ads, was a race between “the top 1 percent-loving outsourcer” and the “pay to play” crook who personally chased away thousands of jobs from Suffolk County during his last term. At the presidential level there was “I like to fire people” Mitt’s 47 percent and “worst president in history” Obama’s failure to create more jobs‚ if only he had loosened all those pesky regulations so businesses could get off of their pile of cash and start hiring!
But there was one actor whose ideas got drowned out in all of the noise: the Occupy Wall Street movement. I know. You’re probably thinking, why would those pot-smoking (now legal in two states!) hippies have anything to say that I’d want to listen to? Well, as our leaders take their places back in Congress and the executive branch this January, perhaps we should revisit the list of demands to Congress the group put together exactly one year ago.
Here are my top six:
1. Prosecute top-level bank execs who committed fraud and set off the largest banking crisis since the Depression. Many believe that just one of these guys doing a perp walk will have a greater pre-emptive effect on risky behavior than any legislation passed to regulate them. Speaking of which,
2. Reinstate some of the smarter provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act, which would again separate banks that take our deposits from investment houses making huge unregulated and secret bets on those deposits (and, had it been in force, most economists believe would have prevented the recent economic crisis).
3. Create laws that help reverse the effects of the Citizens United ruling which has allowed unlimited dollars to be spent by corporations and rich casino magnates to influence our elections and ruin the enjoyment of our favorite cable TV shows.
4. Eliminate “personhood” status for corporations. This one is particularly onerous. Corporations, wanting to gain more power over individuals, are claiming rights under the 14th Amendment. Meant to guarantee rights to African-Americans after the Civil War, is it fair that over half a million people gave their lives to enrich corporations?
5. Pass the “Buffett Rule‚” which would remove loopholes that allow entities like G.E. and Mitt Romney Inc. to pay lower taxes than Warren Buffett’s secretary.
6. Pass “Revolving Door Legislation,” which would eliminate the ability of former government regulators to work for corporations they once were supposed to be regulating.
Crazy ideas, dontcha think? These are not Democratic or Republican issues or policies. They’re just common-sense ways to fix what’s been broken. Even older, conservative folks might recognize that passing all six would make our laws look a lot more like they did when they were young. If you agree, send Rep. Tim Bishop this link.
Just don’t tell him where you got these crazy ideas from.
November 26, 2012
To the Editor,
Americans for Tax Reform, otherwise known as “Cretins for Tax Reform,” Grover Norquist’s simple-minded organism to control U.S. tax policy, is at the heart of our struggle to figure out the solutions to our economic malaise. We often confuse simplicity with simplemindedness, and at the root of our economic, climate, and social problems lies this confusion.
A.T.R. has organized groups of conservative legislators and convinced them to sign a pledge that will never allow any tax increases. A single idea to rally conservatives around an idea that is aimed at reducing the size of government and expanding the unequal distribution of wealth in the country. Like creationists and every fundamentalist group who believe that they are especially chosen, A.T.R. perpetuates the same blind obeisance. Despite a humongous body of evidence that calculates the world as millions of years old, creationists cling to the 5,000-year-old concept. Not calling them retarded cretins does a disservice to rational minds.
A.T.R., like its creationist allies, falls into the same category of intellectual dystopia. The genesis of this genetic malfunction is filled with a small dose of half-truths that serve as the icing on a cake filled with lies. The first bite tastes good as long as you don’t eat much of the cake.
The body of evidence that lower taxes, including capital gains rates, don’t stimulate growth is not as exhaustive as the theory of evolution, but it is irrefutable. So much so, that The New York Times business section and the Wall Street Journal have actually published articles stating this. For the simpleminded A.T.R. cabal, the comparisons of capital gains rates and growth from 1987 to 1996 were 28 percent and 3.4 percent, and from 2003 to 2011 were 15 percent and 1.5 percent. Job growth was easily 10 times greater with higher capital gains.
Odder than the denial of statistical evidence is the harsh economic reality of 95 percent of A.T.R. members. Not one of these states pays more in taxes than it gets back from the government. States like Mississippi and South Carolina get between $1.50 and $2.50 for every dollar they pay in. In a rational world, without socialism, they would be defined as self-loathing parasites. Without government support they would make Greece look solvent. Yet they are the ones protecting the wealthy from paying higher rates, as if it would have the slightest effect on their own taxes.
The illogic is staggering. If it isn’t possible to counter irrational belief with fact, then there is no discussion to be had. No capacity to compromise. No reasonable expectation for a solution. For the good of the country, the question of incompetence is perhaps the only alternative. Declaring them incompetent and confining them to some institution to deprogram and rehabilitate. Better than a needle to the brain, which would be more cost-efficient and humane.
What’s the choice?