When my wife and I moved to Saugerties four years ago, one of our first outings was to a movie at The Orpheum. It was a Friday night, and it was packed with teenagers. Having come from Brooklyn, we were amazed at how all the kids seemed to know each other, and moreover, how respectful and quiet they were once the movie started. We left the theater that night with a very strong impression of what kind of community Saugerties is.
This weekend, four years later, we were taking the kids to a matinee at The Orpheum, and once again, it was a packed (albeit much younger) house. We’ve been there many times, but this time it dawned on me that we knew half the people in the theater. People were swapping seats, making room for each other, sharing popcorn, and parents felt free to let their young kids sit off with their friends. In short, it was a perfect example of a close-knit, nurturing community. That’s just not something you get at the mall, where your admission dollars fly off into the hands of foreign investors and corporate tycoons with no stake in our community.
As the March 3 cover piece in this newspaper made clear, there is a strong feeling that by patronizing local businesses, we strengthen our community, both economically and socially. Saugerties is a small town, and that’s the way we like it. I think by playing to the strengths we already have – an active and nurturing community that supports local businesses – we will continue to be an attractive destination for visitors and home buyers alike.
Fair tax, not income tax
American citizens have been oppressed by the Federal Income Tax system for almost a hundred years. Even Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” This, from the 20th century’s greatest genius at a time when the rules were simple compared to today.
The founding fathers in their wisdom made it illegal in the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, for the federal government to directly tax an individual citizen. Article I, Section 9, begins, “No Capitation (in 1789 that meant counting of heads for a tax), or other direct, tax shall be laid…” Yes. Taxing your income was illegal!
In 1909 in a moment of massive legislative misjudgment and extreme lack of foresight, the U.S. Congress proposed Amendment XVI, overriding the Founders’ wisdom, and opening the way for direct taxation. They couldn’t have had any concept of the consequences. They never would have dreamed that their naïve action was going to evolve into over 70,000 pages of incomprehensible, burdensome tax code. Many politicians at the time strongly opposed the radical change, but wanted to appeal to the voters. They (mostly misguided Republicans) thought, if they publically approved of a tax on the rich, it would bode well for them at the voting booth. They never thought it would actually become law, because they believed there was no way three quarters of the state legislatures would ever pass it. Now, 98 years later, the jokes on us – big time.
After Amendment XVI became law in 1913, income taxation began almost innocently. The tax levy was as a .01 % tax on net annual income over $3,000. Hmmm, let’s see…that’s $70, if you made as much as $10,000 a year, a high income at that time. It was seemingly inconsequential.
Now, as April 15 looms ahead, we spend billions of cumulative hours and dollars on preparation, and billions more on a gigantic, still burgeoning, governmental bureaucracy, the IRS, which has to administer and police it.
It’s all so unnecessary. The same amount of income can flow into the Federal Treasury by the Fair Tax system, which completely replaces the current system and lowers the tax rate.
It’s accomplished by taxing what we spend, not what we earn. As you buy something, you contribute to our country’s economic health. Purchasing a product at the retail level becomes a patriotic act. When you get, you give.
Paying our taxes would be easier than driving through an EZ Pass lane. April 15 would become just another beautiful spring day.
Please, friends, look into it with an open mind. Go to www.fairtax.org or email email@example.com.
It is said of grand concepts that “the devil is in the details.” In the Fair Tax, there is an angel in the details. We would all be blessed.
School taxes must be cut
Saugerties Schools are proposing a 10 percent property tax increase. If you look at the last 10 years, the average school tax increase is about 8.5 percent. If you own a median house value of $225,000, the 2011 school tax is about $3,150. Assume for simplicity’s sake that you have already paid off your mortgage and own your home outright. Also for simplicity sake, assume that your house value never increases, but stays right at $225,000.
If you expect to keep your house 30 years, and the school tax rate stays the same as it has for the last 10 years, you will need to have about $400,000 just to pay your school taxes during that time.
There is no question, do the math. The taxes must be cut. Not a reduction to the increases, but actually cut.
Ban candy cigs at parades
Please note that at the end of the St. Patrick’s Day parade route, where the crowds were the largest, a vendor had a table filled with St. Patrick’s Day hats, necklaces and other festive goodies for the children including horns, and a array of toys including a box of pretend cigarettes that were being sold for $1 (for a pack of 2). The label read “Not for children under the age of 5.” I am outraged that toy cigarettes were sold at this event, and I urge the parade organizers to ban such products from being sold at the parade next year.
Michelle Diano Rosenbaum
The safest solution to fracking
The devastating effects of horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on the environment and public health has been widely reported and most recently in the New York Times. Steve Hargreaves in a recent CNN.money.com article called “Fracking Blowback Spooks Energy Industry” writes “Industry representatives seem genuinely convinced that the practice is safe, and that the problem lies with the public relations message, not the technology.” The full article is at tinyurl.com/4ez9s8r.
Environmental groups are calling for stronger federal regulations for extracting natural gas from hard-to-reach ancient shale deep under the earth’s surface. At the same time there are members of Congress who want to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and even dismantle federal regulations to drill for natural gas. Many Congressional political campaigns are financed by the oil and gas industry who along with their lobbyists are constantly influencing politicians to legislate against the interests of their constituents (protecting their health, water, air and land). The site OpenSecrets.org is a nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.
There is a tug of war over the extent of the regulations on both the federal level with the EPA and the state level with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Regardless, documented consequences of fracking include earthquakes, radioactive wastewater, polluted rivers and streams, ruined infrastructure (including roads), destruction of landscapes, elimination of biodiversity, range of illnesses especially cancer, poisoned water, air and land and more. And still, the industry representatives are convinced fracking is safe.
The solution? No matter how many regulations are eventually put in place the current technology can never be safe. The safest solution is to ban fracking for natural gas. We the citizens of New York State must call for a statewide ban. Go to the Action Center at frackaction.com and learn how to make your voice be heard. Do it now!
Burden of proof is on frackers
We’re drawn to products labeled natural, hoping that they won’t contain anything lethal. Natural gas is not one of those products. There’s nothing wrong with the natural gas, but there is something very wrong with the current method of hydrofracking used to extract it. So I’m not ready to buy into it, and neither should you, until it’s been proven safe for you, your children, and your Mother Earth.
Last year, on NPR a hydrofracking engineer stated that the gas companies were exploring new and improved methods of extracting this gas. Fine. Let’s hope they’re better than the current methods, which are an environmental disaster, polluting our drinking water and the air we breathe. (Why are these guys exempt from The Clean Air and Water acts?) Good science takes time. That’s why we need a moratorium on hydrofracking until we can figure it out. We need to stop those trucks from barreling down upon us in their deadly haste to get the gas out of the ground... for what? Clean energy for the Catskills, or quick bucks for the gas companies?
On May 2, there’s a rally scheduled in Albany for a statewide ban on hydrofracking for natural gas. Consider attending.
Prevent illegal weapon sales
I am grieved to hear about a young woman’s recent tragic suicide by a weapon purchased illegally. All people who grieve with the mother and with thousands of other families and friends who have lost loved ones because of weapons sales and abuses, please make your voices known. Come to our vigil for safety and security and to prevent the illegal sale of weapons. Bring placards or hold ours. Tuesday, March 22, noon, 9W in front of the sign for the Hudson Valley Mall, Kingston.