Printed letters, October 2, 2012

After I read Jim Spehar’s column on the county’s jobs and economy, an image of two pyramids came to mind.

The first pyramid consists of a ranking of top employers. The apex is almost entirely made up of the public sector. The broad base is the private sector with about 9 percent missing. My fear is that the public sector will sooner or later crush taxpayers.

If the public sector creates private jobs, as Spehar asserts, let’s have it go out and create those jobs and lower the county’s unemployment rate to the state level or, better yet, to the historical average of around 5 percent.

Once again, repeat after me: The government doesn’t create jobs. Only the private sector creates jobs.

The second pyramid is Social Security, affectionately known to the politically incorrect among us as a Ponzi scheme. A base of 42 workers supported the first retiree in 1940. Today Spehar is supported by fewer than three. Theoretically, he knows each of them. They are his two children and son-in-law.

Every month, Pharaoh Spehar and the other 55 million of us receiving Social Security checks are borrowing $500 each and sending the bill, with accrued interest, to our grandchildren.

Neither pyramid can be sustained. The latter is also immoral.

JOSEPH A. LUFF

Grand Junction

National debt will eventually 
be too heavy for the economy

Jim Spehar’s Sept. 25 column touting public-sector jobs mysteriously ignored the $16 trillion national debt government has run up in part to pay for them.

The private sector produces a profit that is taxed by government to fund necessary public-sector functions. When money paid by taxpayers in the private sector equals money received by those in the public sector, the budget is in balance and citizens are paying for what we get.

This should be the norm, with occasional exceptions for items such as capital improvements and national emergencies, when debt is justified and will be paid off.

But for decades government has routinely spent far more than it takes in to fulfill endless vote-pandering promises and entitlements. It makes up the difference by printing and borrowing money. We are living far beyond our means in this country, and Spehar’s column confirms we also have our local fingers deep in that federal pie.

The accelerating growth of debt to support this standard of living is not sustainable. As tax receivers continue to levy demands that taxpayers cannot afford, whether for make-work government jobs or pure handouts, we move toward the precipice. This will eventually crash down on us like a house of cards with an anvil on top.

BILL MARVEL

Grand Junction

 

Exactly what tax loopholes 
would Romney eliminate?

Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan have proposed reducing taxes. They say that they plan to pay for this reduction, plus balance the budget and reduce the national debt, by closing loopholes in the tax system. I’m in favor of closing loopholes, but what loopholes are they planning to close?

Romney and Ryan have stubbornly refused to discuss what they plan to propose to Congress. The amount that can be gained by eliminating oil depletion allowances, carried interest and similar preferences that are taken advantage of by only a small number of taxpayers (generally higher-income ones) is far too small to produce the revenue needed to accomplish their goals.

It would seem that the loopholes they have in mind must be items that apply to a large number of taxpayers. It seems probable that they are concerned that revealing their plans would cost them a lot of votes. A likely loophole is the home mortgage interest deduction. Another might be that from charitable contributions. To get to really big savings, could they have in mind taking away the deduction for state income and property taxes?

If, indeed, they took away these common deductions, then it’s likely that all taxpayers would revert to the standard deduction. So, for this approach to be effective, the standard deduction would also have to be eliminated.

Admittedly this is entirely speculation, but until Romney and Ryan produce specifics, we are left guessing as to what their election would do to the common man’s taxes, or for that matter, the other aspects of our lives.

JACK KINGSLEY

Grand Junction

 

GOP efforts on spending, 
voting are common sense

Paul Didier’s recent letter lambasting Romney, Republicans in general and anyone who wants balanced budgets and elections neglected the common-sense element of the dilemmas.

Politicians serve their constituents by insisting that we stop spending ourselves into a Greek scenario and demanding a balanced budget.

It is also a no-brainer that these millions of people who supposedly can’t get an ID to vote can offer one to cash checks, get on a plane or collect food stamps and the like, but just can’t find one to vote. Think Acorn.

R.M. SHERMAN

Grand Junction



COMMENTS

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Bill Marvel’s Tuesday letter – “National debt will eventually be too heavy for the economy” – fatuously accuses columnist Jim Spehar of accurately chronicling Mesa County’s extensive dependence on public sector jobs while “mysteriously ignoring the $16 trillion national debt government has run up in part to pay for them”.

Marvel is off-base for two reasons.  First, while almost half of the jobs created by the top 25 employers in Mesa County are public sector jobs, only 12.5% of those are attributable to the federal government (which has accrued the $16 trillion debt).  The rest are state, county, and local government-created jobs – paid for by local taxpayers. 

Second, little of our $16 trillion federal debt was “run up to pay for” public sector jobs.  President’s Reagan and Bush I doubled the national debt by cutting taxes for the already wealthiest while exorbitantly increasing military spending.  President George Bush inherited a “surplus”, then increased the debt another 50% by again cutting taxes for the already wealthy, waging two unfunded wars, and failing to pay for Medicare Part D.

Thus, while equalizing expenditures with revenue should indeed “be the norm” (as it was under Democratic President Bill Clinton), Republican “FCINOs” (Fiscal Conservatives In Name Only) created virtually all of our current $16 trillion debt (with annual interest payments approaching $400 billion) – either directly (as under Reagan and the Bushes) or indirectly (leaving the mess resulting from of two wars, gratuitous tax cuts, and failed economic policies for President Obama to clean-up).

Thus, since 1980, Republican FCINOs have routinely spent far more than they took in – expecting the fantasy of “VooDoo Economics” and “trickle-down” economic growth to make-up the difference (which is exactly what Romney-Ryan would also do.)

Readers interested in better understanding these complex issues should try the “Federal Budget Challenge” exercise at http://federal.budgetchallenge.org/respondents/summary#.

                Bill Hugenberg

Tuesday’s mail—which included a colorful item from Americans for Tax Reform (“ATR”), Grover Norquist’s extremist anti-tax group that sponsors the Taxpayers Protection Pledge and advocates for regressive “flat taxes”, Paul Didier’s letter in Thursday’s Sentinel – “Signing Taxpayer Protection Pledge verges on sedition”, and R.M. Sherman’s simplistic Tuesday response—“Why is it easy to produce IDs for food stamps, but not to vote”, all aptly focus attention what’s wrong with Republicans.
By signing the “pledge”, Tea Party Republicans (including Paul Ryan and Scott Tipton) subordinated their constitutional oath of office to fiscal irresponsibility.  It was Norquist who equated “closing tax loopholes” to “tax increases”, thereby scuttling the Simpson-Bowles Commission—the last bipartisan effort to responsibly address the national debt.

Having deliberately prolonged the debt crisis for partisan gain, ATR (and, apparently, Sherman) falsely blames President Obama for tneir own handiwork.

Republicans (Ronald Reagan and both Bushes) “served their constituents” by preaching “fiscal conservatism”, but “neglected the common sense elements of” fiscal responsibility and handed President Obama a $10+ trillion national debt plus “structural deficits” (two wars, two tax cuts, TARP, Medicare Part D, and an urgent need for a “stimulus” to preclude total economic collapse) that have increased it to $16 trillion.

Sherman’s dubious “common sense” is also revealed in his distortion of the “voter ID” issue.  Voting is a constitutional right guaranteed to all citizens – and the Constitution makes no reference to “identification”.  While the Constitution does empower states to “prescribe” the time, place, and manner of elections, they are also expressly subject to regulation by Congress – which has prohibited discriminatory barriers to voting.

Thus, even if it is a “no brainer” for most of us to produce the required identification, the right to vote is guaranteed to all citizens equally – including those who can’t.

                Bill Hugenberg

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