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Kudos to Jack Lessenberry and Metro Times for again bringing us news and views not reported or buried by other newspapers — the League of Conservation report on Michigan legislators which reported that the Democrats in Lansing and Washington rated much higher than Republicans on environmental and public health issues ("Nature betrayed," May 26). The report characterized Pete Hoekstra's environmental record "abysmal." —Ralph Deeds, Birmingham
Really hates taxes
Does Jack Lessenberry know anybody who works for a living and pays taxes? I find it hard to believe he does, based on his opinion pieces, including his "Kill the Illegals" screed (Metro Times, May 19). While ostensibly about the illegal immigrant issue, Lessenberry inevitably meanders off into childish attacks on one of his most cherished bogeymen — people who have the nerve to suggest that government should live within its means.
I'm a life-long Michiganian, co-own a small business, live in a modest condo and am by no means affluent. By the time I'm done paying my property taxes to local government and my school taxes and my state income tax and my federal income tax and my Social Security tax and my Medicare tax and my sales tax and my gasoline tax and my Michigan Business Tax and any number of other levies and fees (including the hidden corporate taxes included in nearly everything we buy), I figure I'm probably splitting my income about 50/50 with the public sector. That's not enough?
Despite this huge tax burden, every government entity in sight is wallowing in red ink. Curiously, in my own lifetime, I can actually recall a time when Michigan had neither a state income tax nor a state lottery — and yet our state was among the most prosperous in the country. Now, we've sunk to the middle of the pack in median income, yet we still have among the most generously compensated teachers and public employees in the country, and a fiscal mess in Lansing that is a national embarrassment. Can't concern about spending and high taxes be a legitimate political opinion held by an intelligent, rational citizen? Or are we all, per Lessenberry's recent name-calling diatribe, "right-wing government haters," "seriously daffy" and "tea party dingbats"?
The grade-school level name-calling doesn't end there. Politicos he doesn't like have "bizarre hair," are "whack-jobs" or are somehow discreditable because they made their money in honest, productive ways, such as selling auto parts. And God forbid that people who hold these views should actually run for public office! Apparently, it's a lot more honorable to have virtually no experience in the private sector, and clamp on the "state-funded tit" while acting as an eager-to-please bellhop to the trial lawyers, the NEA and public service employee unions — like half the Democrats in Congress and the Michigan Legislature. Yep, just turn over a bottomless till to the unions, raise taxes through the roof behind the guise of a "more progressive" tax code and, Behold! Per Jack Lessenberry, Michigan will again be the land of milk and honey in no time!
And the cow jumped over the moon. —Al Zawacky, Macomb Township
It's the institution
I am tired of the mentality Larry Gabriel advocates to deal with violence ("Time to get involved," May 26). "Look at the man in mirror," he quotes the Rev. Al Sharpton. I say, look at the auto companies who devastated Detroit by pulling out and then getting billions in taxpayer bailouts. Look at the mortgage companies, banks and hedge funds who have stolen people's homes, and are charging local governments usurious rates on their debts, while also getting billions in government handouts. Look at Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Robert Bobb, who have closed half the schools in Detroit, creating a school-to-prison pipeline described in a recent Michigan ACLU report. Look at Bing and the City Council, who just proposed huge cuts in youth and senior services, as well as recreation, parks and public lighting maintenance, health, fire and police. More jobs lost to privateers to add to our 50 percent unemployment rate and the desperation and anger of our youth. Then listen to Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, who has called on the mayor, the council and the people to converge on Washington, D.C. to demand a federal bailout of Detroit, an urban Marshall Plan. Do that before you blame our oppressed, depressed and brutalized residents.
—Theresa Ellis, Detroit
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