Gimme (Tax) Shelter
Concerning the article by John Dougherty about the economics of Fife Symington ("Fife's Myth," October 9): This is one of the few times that I have found a serious omission in factual data in an article in New Times.
As a disabled person living on a limited income (social security disability), I generally owe no federal or state income taxes. What I must pay, every day of the year, are sales taxes, real estate taxes (in the form of renters tax), taxes on the food I eat (being forced economically to have many of my meals at restaurants) and (I'm sure) hidden taxes levied by the state that I have no direct knowledge of.
Lowering of income taxes, resulting in persons paying (perhaps) $50 or $100 less each year (or, as in my case, $0 difference), while increasing the other various tax bases with a resulting increase in taxation of, in my case, more than $325 per year does not, by any known form of mathematics, indicate a decrease in taxes.
As with his business "empire," J. Fife Symington III has played with the figures to show the picture he wishes us to believe, not the reality of the situation.
As John Dougherty's "Fife's Myth" pointed out, 80,000 new residents are added each year to Arizona, but, at the same time, the poverty rate has increased 2.3 percent. Part of that growth is because of new companies being lured to Arizona with tax subsidies. The new companies either bring low-paying jobs that do nothing for the poverty level, or they bring skilled, high-paying jobs. These go to new residents because we don't have a labor pool of technical skilled workers. This also does nothing to raise the poverty level.
The mistake is in putting tax dollars in the wrong place. Instead of the subsidy being the business lure, it would be more profitable if that tax money was used for the education of in-state skilled workers. Let the business lure for location in Arizona be a dependable supply of highly skilled employees.
The investment in training a skilled worker is a lifetime asset. A subsidy investment in business that brings low-paying jobs or high-paying jobs that can only be filled by those out of state is no asset at all.
Those promoting growth as good business are looking at the wrong type of growth. They are looking at business and population growth from outside the state. Our growth and strength should come from educating and providing a dependable skilled work force.
His So-Called Life
Artie Martinez, you're not alone ("Deaf and Damned," Paul Rubin, October 2). This is for you, Artie. In life, often we feel alone. But we are not alone.
I'm sorry you were put away for 40 years of your life, through our stupidity. I know it's our stupidity because I worked for five years in a state institution. I also started and oversaw what we called the Residents Association at a state hospital.
Our association gave the residents a place--a meeting place to voice their opinions. These voices said what they liked and what they didn't like at their meetings. I'm very proud to say that we helped in some small way to better the lives of people who were often put away just to get them out of society's so-called normal life setting.
I enjoyed very much working with my brothers and sisters, who felt like they were the outcasts of so-called normal society.
Like I said, Artie, and all of you we haven't properly cared for in Jesus' name: It's not you that's the problem--it's us.
Howard Stansfield's article "The Master Bilkers" (September 18) was extremely well-written. Stansfield undoubtedly did a great deal of research on the matter, as he uncovered many facts I did not know, and I have been working on this subject for more than two years.
Congratulations to Stansfield on a very factual, well-documented presentation. To one who does not normally find factual information in the average local daily newspaper, or even in most magazine articles, this was a very welcome event. In fact, I would rate this caliber of journalism as professional, if not more so than what I find in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.
New Times is not distributed in our community at present, but I now seek out a copy when traveling.
Man and Astro-Man
Tony Ortega's "Sky Writer" (September 25) is a fascinating, comprehensive profile of Robert Burnham Jr. Each week I turn the New Times pages to see what Ortega has written. No matter the subject, it is objective, thorough, compassionate.
Ortega's remarkable "Sky Writer" will remain among my favorite historical Arizona articles. New Times' journalists are excellent. John Dougherty's Fife Symington (and John Dowd) coverage was tenacious. Will Tony Ortega tell New Times readers of his own journalistic background?
Who is Tony Ortega, and why can't I read his work in my newspaper? His story about Robert Burnham Jr. was the stuff of good biography. The super-sad-sweet story brought several bits of history together for me, a reader of RB's Celestial Handbook.
I must respond to Jen Hagen's letter about her favorite band, Pollen (October 2). As someone who goes to a lot of shows, it bugs me to have to sit and listen to Pollen open up for some great bands. Pollen opened up for the Descendents and played way too long. The band's songs are repetitious and boring, to say the least.
Believe me, if Pollen had a shred of talent and/or energy to its music, I would dig it, too. Just because the guys from All produced the band's album, it doesn't make it good.
Out of Round
I have never read a more incorrect review of a CD than Keith Moerer's review of OK Computer from Radiohead (Recordings, July 3). I believe that CD and Pavement's Brighten the Corners are the two best of the year so far. It was good, though, to realize that I cannot trust critics to do my thinking for me. I had a lot of trust in New Times to give me the straight scoop, and maybe it did. If so, it was plain wrong. Everyone has an opinion. Thankfully, mine is right. OK Computer is incredible.
In "A Fine Mess" (Amy Silverman, October 9), a photo cutline misidentified Arizona School Administrators lobbyist Mike Smith as environmental attorney Jeff Bouma.
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