Letters to the Editor January 12

Some omissions in that property tax explanation

Property owners in Sullivan County just received their tax bills. Accompanying each bill was an explanation, provided by the legislature, showing how state and federal mandates affect the taxes. Let me start by saying that I don’t blame the legislature for our high taxes; most of the problems are out of their control. What I do criticize is the tone of their explanation.

It begins with the point that that New York is one of only two states that does not accompany mandates with help from the state to pay for these expenses. No question there. There is another point that extra costs for the jail (strangely unmentioned), salaries and benefits, etc. combined to raise our taxes even higher.

Then it goes on to implicitly make the case that that Medicaid and welfare costs are responsible for the bulk of the bill and therefore should be cut in order to reduce the taxes. “New York has the most expensive Medicaid program in the nation,” and “spending per recipient is the highest in the country,” and “State legislators have authorized optional services for recipients that exceed what is required by federal regulations,” without any further explanation.

What are these “optional” benefits? No doubt if they were unpacked one would see most “options” are really “necessities.” This part of the explanation came across more as spin than elucidation of fact.

Where is the conscience of those members of the legislature who underwrote this explanation when they use the poor, elderly and most vulnerable as whipping boys for some self-serving agenda?

Alvin Shoop

Callicoon Center, NY

(There is a link to the tax message at the bottom of the page.)

 

An election mess

I am responding to a recent letter from John Hahn of Shohola, PA. While I agree with his criticisms and concerns about the president-elect, I would like to point out that only 56.5% of eligible voters went to the polls during the last election. Millions of Americans who were eligible and registered to vote chose to stay home. This is after 14 states, including Wisconsin and Ohio, installed new voting restrictions in 2016 leading up to the elections. Top that off with Vladimir Putin placing his finger on the scale trying to destabilize our country and the election process and Hillary Clinton beating the president-elect by nearly three million votes, and what you have is a mess. Now we have a president-elect that is assuming office as the least popular president in the last 20 years.

All of this has happened before. At least four times (1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000) out of the last 56 presidential elections (or 7% of the time), the candidate winning the popular vote ended up losing the election. The problem is with the archaic Electoral College system formulated in 1787 to protect the less populated south from the more populated and abolitionist North. So some 230 years later, it is still in use.

I remind Mr. Hahn of a quote by French diplomat Joseph de Maistre who wrote in a letter in 1811 that “every nation gets the government it deserves.”

God bless America and all of her people.

Paula Campbell

Yulan, NY

Could the U.S. go fascist?

Thanks to TRR for giving voice to that cry of distress from Grey Basnight [in a My View in the December 22 issue]. This was hardly sour grapes from a citizen whose candidates lost a fair-and-square election. It becomes increasingly clear that November’s debacle was anything but: Clinton was the resounding winner of the popular vote (by nearly three million), yet still we persist in the falsifying Electoral College numbers. Where from here?

Impeachment can’t be the solution, since the politicians in line of succession are as delusional and immature as the clown they’d replace. And, alas, the two-party system that has governed our nation for 240 years seems to be destroyed. How could a party capable of (however reluctantly) embracing the least-qualified candidate in presidential history be taken seriously in the future? Could there be a clearer proof of its incapacity than its race—as the first order of business—to strip power from the independent ethics office established in 2008 in response to corruption scandals? ‘Twas too blatant even for The Donald! 

And the entire system of checks and balances lies in tatters with the GOP in control of executive, legislative and (soon) judicial branches. Is there any hope that a grass-roots movement of sensible young voters such as those who flocked to Bernie Sanders might emerge to replace the discredited Republicans?

At any rate, the recent election finally answered the troubling question that has haunted previous presidential campaigns. Could a charlatan bamboozle enough of our electorate to ride to victory by appealing to their worst instincts, corrupting an entire party into voting against its best interests by sowing seeds of division and hate? By broadcasting outrageous lies to feed their discontent? In short: Could the U.S. ever go fascist?

It just did.

Alfred Lees

Callicoon, NY

 

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