Our readers' views
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Call for parents to reconnect
A March 4 Columbian headline read, “Vancouver schools brace for shake-up,” because of low test scores. How about a shake-up of the parents of these students? Parents, you are the first and foremost teachers of your children. Do you lead by example? Do your children see you reading each day? We have access to public libraries where books can be checked out, free of charge.
Start reading to your infant child. The sound of the human voice stimulates the infant’s brain. Read to the infant child each day. Check on the homework of your child each day. Attend parent conferences. Volunteer at your child’s school.
Education is a three-legged stool — parent, child, school. Parents, you brought these children into the world. Take some responsibility for raising them.
Another burden for small business
As a small-business owner, I oppose the new custom software tax included in the House version, HB 3191, of Senate Bill 6143. (March 11 Columbian story “Software tax may hit hard.”) Custom software has traditionally been considered a professional service, similar to attorneys, engineers, management consultants and other similar professions. This tax is a major departure from that classification system and puts us on a slippery slope to tax other professional services.
A new burden is put on small business. Custom software providers aren’t set up to take payments from customers by credit card, do not have e-commerce systems, and converting to a sales tax collection system will be burdensome, resulting in frustration and likely business closures.
It’s putting economic development at risk. Large customers of custom software companies will surely seek to lower programming costs by going to offshore providers, which could lead to job loss among local custom software providers. Custom software providers may decide to locate themselves in a neighboring state, thereby avoiding the burden of being a tax collector for the state, and instead put the burden on the customer to pay use tax, where compliance is traditionally less than for sales tax.
Pursue revenue to advance prosperity
Now is a humbling time for our state. We’re facing the worst economic outlook since the Great Depression. Our lawmakers need to make tough decisions. When I look around in my community, I see all of the people who need our state’s essential programs: the children going to school, the low-income families walking to the local health center, young men and women visiting the neighborhood family-planning clinic. These programs aren’t wasteful handouts. They are an essential part of a healthy society.
I believe Winston Churchill said it best, “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” If we cut funding for education, we have fewer skilled workers to move our economy forward; if we cut access to health care, people are forced to turn to already overwhelmed and costly emergency rooms; if we eliminate family planning services, we have far greater state costs due to unintended pregnancies.
We can’t afford to be short-sighted. We need a real, sufficient revenue package so we can protect our future prosperity and our shared values.
Removing exemption is a bad idea
I had hoped Rep. Deb Wallace’s proposal to do away with sales tax exemption for Oregon was a dead issue, but again this foolhardy ideas has surfaced again in the state Legislature with SB 6873 and HB 3176. I understand that we are a sales-tax state and our essential services are funded by the revenue from retail sales. However, why would any legislator expect Oregonians to come over here to shop and pay the sales tax? What do we have in our retail markets that is not available in Oregon?
And how can there be an estimated increase of $60 million in state revenue and $22.2 million in local governments if there are no out-of-state retail shoppers? The reality is that tax on zero sales is zero. What did I miss here? The focus should be on the Washington residents who shop in Oregon to avoid the sales tax but benefit from the services that the sales tax provides.
Willa T. Brooks
Complex plan designed to confuse
President Obama is at it again. He is talking out of both sides of his mouth to (a) convince us that he is doing something for the American people, and (b) not reveal that he is quietly taking care of all the vested interests in the health care industries at the expense of the people who put him in office.
A single-payer system is the best opportunity to significantly expand coverage and reduce the cost of health care in this country. A public option follows as a close second. The complexity of the president’s proposal is designed for one purpose — to keep the electorate confused while he engages in yet another shell game, admittedly not of the magnitude of Wall Street, but close. His campaign promises do not jibe with his actions. It’s time to simply say “no” to the president.
Move reform legislation now
I support national health care reform. Join me in asking our federal legislators to pass reconciliation now. Health care reform has been one of the top issues in domestic issues for 25 years, and this process is the best way of achieving change. Health care reform, as proposed, is a long way from perfection, but it is the best we can do and we need it now.
I’m tired of obstructionist politicians and leaderless legislators. I have talked to Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., and urged him to pass this legislation. He has stepped up in the past on difficult issues, and I hope he will do so again. This reconciliation process is the last best way to move legislation to the president’s desk. It needs to be done now.
Many retirees happy to share load
In her March 4 letter, “Most of us pay taxes to benefit all,” Heather Cowley’s concerns that retirees “bite the hand that feeds” are a bit off. In the 1950s, the favorite line of retirement plan salespeople was “Buy now, because Social Security won’t be around when you need it.” Hogwash — I’ve been on Social Security now for 10 years or so with no problems.
As for school levies, with six great-grandchildren in school systems, it’s my duty to share the tax load for schools with you. A lot of other retirees I know feel the same way, so Cowley shouldn’t worry about her hand — instead, work toward joining us. It’s pretty good.