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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 11, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas Page 6A— HERALD-ZEITUNG — Saturday, January ll, 2003 best avmjuje copyForum Contact Managing Editor Gary E. Maitland, 625-9144 ext. 220 Nkw Braunfels Herald-Zeitung New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852; New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The rwo papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958. Doug Toney, Editor and Publisher Gary E. Maitland, Managing Editor (830) 625-9144 Other views Houston Chronicle on volunteers: There are plenty of things to fret over and criticize in this nation in this new year, but the findings of one Labor Department study offer encouragement about America. Volunteerism is alive and well here. Despite widespread cynicism about corporate America, paid-off politicians and the like many in this country are thinking and acting selflessly. More than a quarter of Americans are spending their extra hours in useful volunteer work. Between September 2001 and September 2002, some 59 million Americans volunteered, doing things such as mentoring and tutoring children, building affordable housing and cleaning parks, the Labor Department found. More than 27 percent of the civilian population over 16 worked as volunteers to help others. Americans, on average, performed 52 hours of volunteer work a year. ; Religious, educational and youth-related organizations attracted the greatest number of volunteers, with employed persons doing more volunteer work than the unemployed. A lot of people are willing to help others, solely for the good such volunteerism does and the satisfaction it gives. Maybe too many of us have forgotten that.Today In History- By The Associated Press Tbday is Saturday, Jan. ll, the eleventh day of 2003. There are 354 days left in the year. Today's history highlight: ; On Jan. ll, 1935, aviator Amelia Earhart began a trip from Honolulu to Oakland, Calif., that made her the first woman to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean. On this date: In 1757, the first secretary of the U.S. treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was bom in the West Indies. In 1861, Alabama seceded from the Union. 1-In 1913, the first sedan-type automobile, a Hudson, wont on display at the 13th Automobile Show in New York. In 1942, Japan declared war against the Netherlands, the same day that Japanese forces invaded the Dutch East Indies.Policy The Herald-Zeitung encourages the submission of letters. Letters must be 250 words or fewer, and the Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. An address and telephone number, winch are not for publication, must be included so authorship can be confirmed. Mail letters to: Letters to the Editor c/othe Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax: (830) 606-3413 e-mail: [email protected] Difficult choices must be made by community In 1943, the United States and Britain signed treaties relinquishing extraterritorial rights in China. In 1964, U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry issued the first government report saying smoking may be hazardous to one’s health. In 1973, owners of American League baseball teams voted to adopt the designat-ed-hitter rule on a trial basis. In 1977, France set off an international uproar by releasing Abu Daoud, a PLO official behind the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Five years ago: The Denver Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-21, to win the American Football Conference championship; the Green Bay Packers defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 23-10, to claim the National Football Conference championship. The holidays this year seemed so rich in community spirit. From Wurstfest to the lighting ceremony to Wassailfest to the choral programs, the New Braunfels community seemed closer than before. The worries of the year weren’t so big. All shared good cheer. None of the activities seemed to be about economics, but about rejoicing of our time together. Considering all the troubles that were suffered by family, friends and the country as a whole, there is always the thought that we were lucky — or blessed with what we had. I feel New Braunfels lies between the choice of preserving a strong community and building a strong economy. We need jobs. We need growth. The task is to create a vibrant future without sacrificing what makes New Braunfels so special — the community texture. We can look at Seguin, San Marcos and even San Antonio to seeWrite’Em President George W. Bush 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, D.C. 20500 U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Dallas Room 284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 8023 Vantage Drive, Suite 460 San Antonio, TX 78230Donald Talley Guest Column what they have sacrificed in return for continued economic development. I don’t believe the sense of community has to be sacrificed to growth, but it will not be maintained by itself. It takes making active choices, decisions about how we will live and what we will expect of those that join our community. When we become locked up ovet the desire to place a stop sign in a residential neighborhood, it is because we do not have a purpose or guidance to help us prioritize the choices. Is it better to have free-flowing vehicular traffic, or paths for safe pedestrian activity? Will our town and the new development guidelines we are developing be designed for autos or people? A community for the public is not contrary to eco- (210) 340-2885 Fax: (210) 349-6753 U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio Room 2231 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 225-4236 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio, TX 78209 (210) 821-5024 Governor Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 nomic growth. The Plaza and downtown were thriving on those nights when we blocked off the streets and turned them over to us for visiting and strolling and shopping. It would be beneficial for us to create more, than less, of these special events. Many lament the tourists that come to town, whether we call them the Schlitter-bahn crowd or the Snowbirds. Often, we long for the time when they will leave us to our peace. Then we complain about the condition of our streets, our drainage, our rivers, our taxes and our utilities. The tourist industiy offers the greatest economic impact to our community. Their money mostly goes to the local business, not to a national chain that will pay a little tax then send the money out of the community to the corporate headquarters. The sales tax benefit, itself, will pay for many needs. The Outlet Mall in San Marcos draws over 4 million visitors per year. If P.O. Box 12428 Austin, TX 78711 (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 Texas State Representative Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin P.O. Box 911 Seguin, TX 78155 (830) 379-8732 Fax: (830) 483-5896 Texas State Senators Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 720 they spend $100 each, they contribute $4 million a year to that community. We have choices to make. We need more economic generators. We can welcome the national chains that siphon much funds away and will not adapt to the local community’s architecture and it’s values — unless forced. We can close our doors to businesses seeking to create jobs with more than minimum wages. We can seek not to invite outsiders — tourists — to our events. We can resolve to become a bedroom community to serve another community and pay all the costs of running the city with our property taxes. We can choose to let development take the lowest path of resistance and wake up in a town with no community texture, but lots of business signs and all the cars zooming by in anonymity. Or, we can choose not to. (Donald W. Dilley is a New Braunfels resident). San Antonio, TX 78209 (210) 826-7800 Fax: (210) 826-0571 Judith Zaffirini D-La redo P.O. Box 627 Laredo, TX 78042-0627 (956) 722-2293 12702 Toepperwein Rd #214 San Antonio, TX 78233 (210) 657-0095 Fax: (210) 657-0262Politicians rubbing our nose in dumb tax cuts AUSTIN — One interest ing aspect of the Seriously Dumb Tax Cut we are watching develop in Washington is that we are simultaneously witnessing the effects of Seriously Dumb Tax Cuts at the state level. The states are plotzing right and left, caught in hideous binds — whether it is better to release dangerous prisoners or cut back the schools, cut back health qa're for kids or nursing homes for old folks. • Politically, its notoriously diffi-CuIt to oppose tax cuts precisely because the trouble doesn’t show Up until after the next election, but this time we have are having Our noses rubbed in the results even as Bush proposes to do it again at the federal level. And what a tax cut it is. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the wealthiest I percent of taxpayers, those who make over $356,000 a year, will get almost 50 percent of the benefit of eliminating the tax on dividends and 45 percent of the money from accelerating the rate cuts. The 80 percent of the households making less than $73,000 a year would get less than IO percent of the new tax breaks. The Bushies have various ways of justifying this monstrosity, noneMolly Ivins of which holds up under scrutiny. The first claim is that the rich pay more in taxes in the first place. Well, yeah, they do: They have more money. The richest I percent have 18 percent of all the pretax income and they pay 36 percent of all personal income taxes. But one of the many disingenuous tricks with statistics you will see used by the Soak the Poor school is to ignore the rest of the tax burden. Most of us actually pay more in payroll taxes than we do in income taxes, but FICA taxes cut off at $87,000 — you make more than that, you don’t have to pay on the rest. And, of course, the sales tax is notoriously regressive — rich families and poor families alike pay the same sales tax on a refrigerator, but it’s a much bigger chunk of the income of the poor family. Despite all the screaming and yelling, the progressive income tax is the fairest form of taxation ever invented (unless you want to count the wealth tax used by most European countries). When Dwight Eisenhower left office, the highest marginal tax rate was 95 percent and no one thought Ike was a communist. It’s now down to 38.6 percent and due to drop to 35 percent. For 70 years, the income tax has made at least part of the total tax picture here progressive, rather regressive. It’s not only unfair to change that, it’s stupid Bush is now arguing that we need a tax cut because the economy is in recession (originally, he argued for a tax cut because the economy was so good). It is true that a balanced budget is not the be-all and end-all of good governance — that’s one of those panaceas we occasionally fall for — and running a deficit at the federal level is not the end of the world or necessarily even bad policy. Tax cuts can stimulate the economy. But note the long, circuitous thinking about giving tax cuts to the rich: If the rich have more money, they will invest it — and that investment will allow compa nies to expand, and then they will hire more workers, and that will end the recession. Whereas, if you give tax cuts to the middle and working classes, they go out and spend the money because the baby needs new shoes. Presto, demand is up, factories back in action, end of recession. There’s no guarantee that rich people will do anything economically productive with more money. 'Their major strategy seems to be stashing it in offshore banks so they don’t have to pay any taxes. As Leona Helmsley so famously remarked, taxes are for “little people.” The dirty little secret about taxes in this country is that rich people and corporations mostly don’t pay them now — they have a whole system of shelters and offshore deals. We don’t need to raise taxes in this country, we need to collect them. The centerpiece of the Bush tax cuts is eliminating dividend taxes, effective immediately, on the grounds that the dividends are “taxed twice” — by the corporate income tax and then the dividend tax. This one has absolutely nothing to do with economic stimulus, it’s a pure give-away to the rich. One reason dividends should be taxed is because the people who get them don’t work for the money. In the old days, people who lived off their investments were known as “coupon clippers” and generally despised as nonworking parasites. Granted, it takes some smarts to do well enough in the stock market to live high (and somebody, like your granddaddy, had to make the money in the first place), but the fact is most investors don’t spend their lives poring over company prospectuses — they pay someone else to do it. They’re making money off other people’s labor. Why shouldn’t they pay taxes on it? The final reason it’s dumb to cut taxes for the rich is the problem of social justice. We’re already in trouble because the income gap between the rich and the rest of us keeps getting worse and worse. The rich buy their way out of our public institutions — schools, hospitals, parks — and then contribute money to politicians who let the public infrastructure go to heck. It doesn’t work. (Molly Ivins is a syndicated columnist.) ;