Iraq Fixes, Taxes, Rent Controls

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - February 14, 2007
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A U.S. soldier gets a thumbs up from an Iraqi boy
A U.S. soldier gets a thumbs up from an Iraqi boy

OK, so nobody in our Congressional delegation is going to rush onto the floor of the House or the Senate and shout “Have you seen what Bob Jones wrote about Iraq and taxes?”

Still, MidWeek is a newspaper of general circulation and a source of some public opinion formation and so, why not this writer’s input?

What to do about Iraq? I see only two choices and not those we’re getting fastballed with from Hillary, Hagel, McCain and Bush.

No. 1 is to admit defeat, pull out as quickly as militarily possible and say “sorry we screwed your place up, guys, but this thing ain’t salvageable.”


No. 2, if it’s militarily possible, is to pour another 50,000 to 80,000 troops in and effectively wage a new war to silence insurgents, install an Iraqi army and police force over two or three years, and confront everyone with the fact that we are there as an occupation force.

The latter solution should not be dismissed with a laugh. It might be the only workable one.

You know 21,500 new troops won’t cut it. You know making faces at Iran and Syria won’t help because we have to leave sometime and they’ll still be next door.

Partitioning will make Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia pick sides.

Just clinging by our fingernails until a new American president makes a decision is killing more U.S. troops for almost two more years with nothing to show for it.

 

three star

Every couple of years people in Congress talk about new ways to collect taxes from the people who figure out ways not to pay very much.

Taxpaying is not voluntary. It’s enforced by laws with prison for evasion and interest penalties for mistakes not in the govern-ment’s favor.


We all agree one problem is the complexity of the law and the forms. Another is the loopholes and exemptions written to favor those with the most money. Billionaires pay a bigger percentage in tax than a family living on $60,000, but they also shelter tens of millions from any tax.

Even us wee folk can get a tax break by putting unlimited money in an annuity and paying not a cent of tax on earnings until you must start a payout at age 90 (not 70-and-a-half like your IRAs.)

My longtime support of a graduated flat tax has gone nowhere.

So why not some of the compliance ideas floating about? More involved mortgage interest forms to catch those slipping through extra properties. Make Hawaii send Uncle Sam a computerized list of all our state deductions for cross-checking. Make real estate agents send the state and the feds a detailed breakdown on every sale. Make unreported cash payments to hired in-home workers a felony. Make banks report all cash and/or checks-made-to-cash deposits, not just interest.

But the rich and the big companies will still find holes, and while paying a bigger percentage than me hide a lot more than I ever could.

That’s why the graduated flat tax - here’s everything you made and here’s your tax percentage - makes sense.

But, as Neil Abercrombie once scolded me when he was a state representative: “Who the hell elected you to tell us what to do?”

 

three star

That bar owners’ lawsuit to reinstate smoking and Rep. Coleen Meyers’ bill to repeal the anti-smoking law don’t make an iota of sense to anyone concerned with workplace health.

I suspect the courts and Meyers’ colleagues (minus her co-sponsors Rida Cabanilla, Karen Awana, Tom Brower, Cindy Evans and Gene Ward) will and should ignore this one.

Toadying to bar owners while ignoring the health of those who would have to again work in the smoke is a shameful thing to do.

 

three star

Yes, I do wish the Legislature would give a full hearing to the idea of rent controls/stabilization. I know all the arguments against it - cheating by sub-leasing tenants and landlords who say to hell with it and sell the property just before controls take effect.

True, there is no state rent control anywhere - it’s solely a city option in New York, California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. But in our case, lawmakers might consider special rent control districts where landlords are evicting renters in order to gorge on the condo-buyer market.

Maybe it’s not doable, but we’ll not know unless the topic gets a full airing out, will we?

There are some social situations where submitting to market forces isn’t just, right or acceptable.

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