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A fairer tax

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says that he has to have more money ("Comes out shooting," News, Sept. 5). He immediately concludes that this means that we must increase the county sales tax.

I beg to differ. The USA already has the third-highest concentration of wealth of any developed nation (behind only Switzerland and Denmark. See the listing of Gini values at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_distribution_of_wealth).

Our nation's Wealth Over People curve is fast approaching the "L" form of a "perfect tyranny." In that situation the top percentile owns all the nation's wealth. A regressive sales tax tends to widen our already excessive wealth gap.

In this extremely Republican county, is has become a knee-jerk reaction to increase sales taxes whenever new revenue is required. This is because the wealthy know that sales taxes are the most regressive way for the government to gain revenue. That is, sales taxes are a much heavier burden on the poor than on the rich.

Unfortunately, as we have just seen, when a recession or depression comes, sales tax revenue drops like a rock. This necessitates laying off police, firemen, street workers, etc. These layoffs spiral the local economy further into depression.

Write, e-mail or call your county commissioners today. Tell them that if they must raise revenue, they should do it by raising the mill levy on property taxes ... not by raising the sales tax.

— Joseph Mitchener

Black Forest

That Neumann deal

One of the ways to finance a fledgling entrepreneurial company is to raise venture capital. Many great technology companies, including Digital Equipment Corp., Apple, Sun Microsystems and Compaq raised venture capital in their early days before becoming household names.

Venture capital firms manage money from investors for startup companies, entrepreneurs' inventions, and innovative ideas with perceived good potential for development. In the past three years, venture capital has not come to Colorado Springs. It is not clear whether Neumann Systems Group has been considered by venture capitalists, who always are on the lookout for seeds fallen on good ground to bear fruit. We do know that VC firms have devoted and continue to provide many millions in funding to the Boulder entrepreneurial community.

The $73.5 million cost-plus contract between Utilities and Neumann Systems, to test Neumann's "coal-scrubbing" technology, raises some serious questions for which ratepayers deserve answers. What justification is there for Utilities (i.e., ratepayers) to act as a venture capitalist, then provide the working laboratory to prove an experimental process, and then guarantee Neumann a profit whether his process succeeds or fails?

We've heard of sweetheart deals. This one is an arrow to the heart of ratepayers, making them unwitting angel investors. Small wonder Mayor Steve Bach calls this contract "alarming." Not even mentioned in repayment terms is interest on the bond Utilities has issued.

Note: This issue of Utilities and venture capital funding is separate and entirely distinct from the issue of the Martin Drake Power Plant.

— John A. Daly

Colorado Springs

Be like Europe?

Those smart Europeans! As economies are slowing and causing painful cuts in jobs, benefits and pensions, some countries are eyeing a huge source of wealth — the Roman Catholic Church.

A Washington Post report ("Financially troubled parts of Europe consider taxing church properties," Sept. 13) describes how a city council member in Alcala, Spain, is leading an effort to tax all church property used for non-religious purposes. As one of the largest landowners in Spain, the church could now owe up to €3 billion in taxes each year on its various holdings: schools, homes, parks, sports fields and restaurants. At least 100 cities in Spain have passed resolutions supporting municipal taxes on the church, and several thousand more cities are debating them.

And that's just Spain. In Italy, the prime minister has called for a tax on church properties that have a commercial purpose. In Ireland, the minister of education wants to end church control of many of the country's primary schools, and the government has already cut in half the grants it gives poor families for first communions. Even in Britain, over half of city councils have eliminated state subsidies for transportation to faith-based schools, leading to sharp drops in enrollment.

In 2010, European Union regulators launched an investigation into the Catholic Church and the taxes it pays in various countries, considering tax breaks to be state aid that illegally distorts competition in the market.

How ironic! Here Europe is finding a need to split church from government, while in our country the constitutional principle established to keep church and state separate is under attack from religious forces wanting more government support for their religion.

This we can't afford. Our country needs money just as badly as European nations do. Let's follow their lead and end the tax-exemption for church property/businesses used for non-religious purposes.

— Janet Brazill

Colorado Springs

Report card

Let's take stock.

During the past four years, Barack Obama first got elected president.

Then he rescued an American economy in free-fall, and started a slow recovery. He signed legislation designed to give equal pay to women and advocated female control over female reproductive laws.

He appointed two brilliant women to the Supreme Court. He legalized stem-cell research. He ended the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and stands for civil rights for homosexuals across the board.

He helped pass legislation regulating banks, and legislation extending health care to millions. He backed anti-dictatorship movements in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. He outlawed torture. He stopped a new missile weapons system in Eastern Europe.

He renegotiated the START treaty and reduced nukes in Russia and the U.S. He is winding down the Afghanistan war.

He has advocated a nuclear-free planet. He ended the Iraq War. He won the Nobel Peace Prize.

By contrast, during the past four years, what has Mitt Romney done?

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

The big picture

The super-rich hide trillions in taxable money in foreign countries, yet these same people say my Social Security check of $882 is upsetting the stability of the American financial structure.

— Brien Whisman

Colorado Springs

Vouchercare

If you want to know more about Medicare vouchers or "insurance premium assistance," as the Republicans now label it, and if this is an issue that is important to you, your family, relatives, friends or neighbors, all you need to do is to ask a victim of the Waldo Canyon or High Park fires (to paraphrase Sarah Palin), "How is it workin' out for ya?" You will soon find out: badly!

I just had lunch with a close friend, a victim who lost his house in the Waldo Canyon Fire. From the intransigence of the insurance company, to the HOA, to the city of Colorado Springs it is not working out for my friends — and they don't love their insurance company.

The insurance companies and the Republican politicians will be the only winners in the Medicare voucher con. Think!

— James M. Hesser

Colorado Springs

Checking facts

Several months ago I received a previously debunked e-mail from an employee from Blue Cross of Alabama. She claimed "that under Obamacare our Medicare Part B premiums will rise to $247," so we need to elect Mitt Romney in the election.

The fact is that the cost of Part B premiums has been set by Congress for decades at 25 percent of the cost of services.

Medicare recipients have already received additional benefits since the Affordable Care Act was passed. They are now eligible for free preventive checkups, including mammograms and colonoscopies. The Medicare Part D "donut hole" will gradually be eliminated by 2020.

These new benefits will be financed by reducing fraud and overpayments to private insurers through Medicare "Advantage" plans. The measures will also extend the solvency of Medicare for an additional eight years until 2024 according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Paul Ryan included these savings in his budget. With the repeal of the ACA, though, new preventive health services and donut-hole coverage would be lost. He would also increase the age for Medicare benefits to 67 and replace it with a voucher of $8,000 to purchase insurance from private companies. The average Medicare recipient will need to pay an additional $6,400.

If Romney were to repeal these cost savings, premiums and co-payments would increase by an average of $577 by 2022.

It appears that seniors would be voting against their interests if they voted for a candidate Nov. 6 who would repeal the Affordable Care Act, as they are guaranteed higher out-of-pocket costs while losing health services, while Medicare will start to go broke again in 2016.

According to the AARP, "these fictitious e-mails are just another attempt to scare older Americans."

— Linda Mulka, M.D.

Buena Vista

Fearing minorities

I believe that it would behoove each of us to learn more about the changing demographics in America, and what they mean for our future. Do Americans need to fear the fact that so-called minorities are fast becoming the majority? Is it fear of becoming a powerless minority that drives the relentless effort of the top 1 percent to maintain control of the rest of us?

What if we were to develop laws, public policy and a clear public sense that equity and equality for all assures the well-being of everyone? Then it would not be necessary to fear being or becoming a "minority."

What if we were to welcome diverse perspectives and ideas as resources for new solutions to old problems? Perhaps there is actually strength in diversity, with "minority" points of view actually contributing unique solutions to the challenges of the future. This is a much more positive view than seeing minorities as a threat to the status quo.

I see that on Sept. 21, Maria Hinojosa is airing a program, America by the Numbers: Clarkston, Georgia on PBS, that takes an intimate look at how changing demographics are reshaping the American political landscape. I, for one, will be watching.

— Dr. Cara E. Koch

Colorado Springs

 

About that draft

Regarding John Moss' letter ("Bronco pessimism," Letters, May 9) telling us all what idiots John Elway and John Fox are for the worst Bronco draft in team history: I'm glad coach Fox and Mr. Elway aren't as smart as you. If they were, they would have passed on Derek Wolfe because he was a fifth-round or later pick. He looks like 300 pounds of bad attitude that goes WFO every down to me. Who cares if his combine rating was 47.5 or 400.75?

Brock Osweiler is a second-round pick who some say had the strongest arm in the draft. Did you think he would come in and compete with Peyton Manning for the starting job? Sure, he's going to sit for a few years, how many second-round quarterbacks don't? Fox and Elway have forgotten more about football than you'll ever know, so be careful about labeling them idiots until after the playoffs. Oh, I forgot: There's no possible way for Denver to make the playoffs.

— Randy Pierce

Colorado Springs

Like, it's irritating

Uh.

Actually, the word actually is like the word like. Like you actually have no reason to like even say it because like if what you're saying like isn't actually actual, then it's like actually false. And like who needs to be saying things that are like actually false? Both words are substitutes for uh. If uh you don't uh know what I mean, try uh dropping both words and uh you'll find the listener lost uh nothing of what uh you were saying. If you don't believe that, substitute actually or like in place of all the uh words above and see if it doesn't sound like (similar to) you.

— Jim Inman

Colorado Springs

Correction

The north-side Cheddar's Casual Cafe location is owned by franchisee Roaring Fork Restaurants, not the two private equity firms that own the parent company, as was reported in Aug. 8's Dine & Dash column. We regret the error.

  • Sheriff Makita's tax initiative, the Neumann Systems deal, taxing the church, and more.

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