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May 6, 2009 Letters to the Editor

On tea and taxes

All across the country and in Maine we had Tax Day Tea Parties to show our displeasure with the amount of money Congress is spending. By April 15, everyone should have filed a true and correct tax return and paid the required taxes. I have some questions regarding a “true and correct” tax obligation. I have been unable to get satisfactory answers from the IRS.

In the 1895 Pollack case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a direct income tax (a tax on labor) was unconstitutional. In 1913 the Sixteenth Amendment, the income tax amendment, came into being. An official IRS publication says “the 16th Amendment to the Constitution requires you to pay tax on your income.”

However, several Supreme Court rulings after the 16th was passed said the amendment “conferred no new power of taxation” (Stanton, 1916), “does not extend the taxing power to new or excepted subjects” (Peck 1918 and Evans 1920), “did not authorize any new type of tax” (Brushaber 1916), and as recently as 1988 the Supreme Court upheld those decisions; “the sole purpose of the Sixteenth Amendment was to remove the apportionment requirement for whichever incomes were otherwise taxable” (South Carolina v. Baker, 1988). In addition, the Brushaber decision said the 16th Amendment authorized an indirect tax, a tax on privilege. Other decisions confirmed our right to the fruits of our labor and that rights cannot be taxed.

So, if a direct tax on income was unconstitutional in 1895, and if the 16th Amendment did not extend the taxing power to new subjects, then how is our income taxable?

Joy Metcalf



Confront rationing

Charles Krauthammer’s recent column raises the very important issue of “health care rationing.” But it’s important to recognize that this charge is being used as a scare tactic to discredit proposals the author may not like. We are just kidding ourselves if we think we can establish a truly national health care program without squarely facing the issue of prioritizing or rationing.

It is an inescapable fact that we as a nation just do not have the resources to provide every citizen with all the health care that they might deem desirable. Hence some sort of “rationing,” or prioritizing is essential in every proposal.

Today, we do health care rationing largely by price. If you have enough money you can get the best. If you are 65 or older or destitute you have pretty good access to health care. But if you are middle-class uninsured or working class, even though “insured,” a serious health crisis can put you in bankruptcy, as many of our fellow citizens are discovering. And administrative costs eat up a huge portion of the medical bill in private plans that could have gone for medical expenses under single payer.

Since the 1990s, Oregon has had a very specific experience with health care rationing, as have a number of countries with “single-payer” systems. We need a vigorous national discussion of health care rationing to determine what system is the fairest, most open, most democratic, most centered on quality of life and most financially responsible.

Edward S. Snyder

Bar Harbor


‘Little GTO’ credit

While it is regrettable that General Motors has chosen to sacrifice Pontiac in the midst of its staggering economic troubles, a minor error appears in the BDN’s April 28 article that I feel compelled to point out: “Little GTO” was sung by Ronnie and the Daytonas, not the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys had “409” and “Little Deuce Coupe” and many car-inspired songs and are closely associated with the entire 1960s car genre.

Jim Chandler

Presque Isle


Senators, step forward

It is time for our Republican senators to step forward to lead the party that no longer seems to want their moderate stance, as Sen. Specter’s change of party indicates.

We are presently dealing with a partisan defense of crimes. The Republican Party is being defined by its full bore defense of torture. It is not a partisan attack to wish to investigate these crimes, but it is a partisan defense being mounted. Criminal acts of torture ordered by members of our past administration need to be prosecuted.

Are we a country of laws? We must be. We need a Republican senator to step forward and lead a call for moral and legal accountability. Our senators can help redefine the Republican Party through such actions.

Otherwise, the pro-torture, anti-American rump of the party will remain its public voice.

Michael Wittmann



Mother’s Day peace

Mother’s Day was not invented as a way to market cards, flowers and chocolates. It was actually established by mothers determined to wage peace and make a safer world for their children.

Founder and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe proclaimed on the first Mother’s Day in 1870: “Arise then … women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm! Disarm!”

President Obama once said: “And so sometimes I think that if you just put the mothers in charge for a while, that things would get resolved.” Did he really mean it? Why is his military budget higher than ever, with plans to expand the war in Afghanistan and into Pakistan? Does he know of the recent Pentagon study showing U.S. air strikes kill 85 percent women and children?

CODEPINK Maine is joining with mothers around the world to knit a cozy for the White House fence to remind the president of his promises.

Knitting parties occurred on Easter Sunday, at libraries, and in many homes, producing pink and green knitted squares. Drawing on Howe’s ideas, the cozy will spell out: “I will not raise my children to kill another mother’s child.”

Michelle Obama and her mother have been invited to join us, to help make the world safer for their beloved children, and for every mother’s child. Won’t you join us, too, in making Mother’s Day an occasion to wage peace?

Lisa Savage



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