Roped in In the Tribune’s April 14 Views section the subject was the high rate of incarceration in the United States and its overwhelming costs to the taxpayer (“It’s time to rethink America’s rate of incarceration”). In Highlands Today the day before, we were informed that convicted felon William Hamilton received a ridiculous 30-year sentence for butchering a horse, and accomplice Wendi Cox received a 60-year sentence for stealing five horses whose estimated value was $75,000. They could have and should have had their assets seized and sold to reimburse the prosecuting jurisdiction and compensate the horse owner, and been required to do some additional community service work.
Do the math, folks. It is costing taxpayers $2.5 million to incarcerate these horse thieves, when back in the Wild West Judge Roy Bean would have ordered them taken out back and had their necks stretched, all for the price of a new rope.
Pure hypocrisy Regarding “It’s time to rethink America’s rate of incarceration:” Although Mark Rankin’s initial target is mandatory minimum sentences, the meandering essay makes it clear that the existence, not to mention the enforcement, of criminal laws is objectionable. Rankin’s essay lacks the intellectual depth or honesty to question why, if young black males are disproportionately affected by unreasonably harsh sentencing guidelines, the criminal laws are at fault for causing so many young black children to grow up without fathers. Far be it for Rankin to ask why so many ill-equipped young males are fathering babies when they are still in the crime-committing stages of their lives. It is far easier to blame society at large for making a relatively feeble effort to protect itself from predators.
Rankin’s cost argument is pure hypocrisy. One way or another — either with three squares and a cot in prison or via a welfare system run amok — society is paying for personal and familial dysfunction. The problem is not mandatory minimum sentences. The problem is that criminals are committing crimes and getting caught and sentenced. Given the intellectual dishonesty that characterizes the criminal defense bar, they should just join with their philosophical cousins at the ACLU and argue that mere enforcement of criminal laws is a violation of the U.S. Constitution because such enforcement has a differential impact on young black males than on other demographic groups. Although that sounds absurd, it is the logical culmination of the argument advanced by Rankin.
Jeffrey P. Meyer
A fair tax Regarding “A BOLD solution to Tax Day angst” by U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (Views, April 15): Why not a really bold tax change that is really fair? It is called the “Fair Tax.” It has been presented for years, and no one wants to talk about it. I think it’s because it would simply take away power from Ross and others. It is absolutely fair and would be so easy to implement, your head would spin.
Ross’ plan removes a lot of those 74,000 pages from the tax code, but the Fair Tax would reduce it to only a few hundred, at most. How about that? Why? Because it does away with the IRS, which not one person I know likes or trusts. After all, who would trust someone who is wrong 50 percent of the time and still holds you responsible? Not me.
The Fair Tax removes a lot of nonsense that Ross’ plan would keep, such as capital gains tax and a multitude of other things.
I am so sick of people thinking a little modification here and there will really do any good.
Many — most? — people don’t know about it. Why? Because it will remove power and prestige, and take away money — that is key — from those who are getting a bunch they don’t deserve.
Land O’ Lakes
Not a BOLD act I am not sure I would call the idea by U.S. Rep Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, a “bold” act. He writes about a solution to Tax Day angst — a flat tax of 10 percent to 20 percent, eliminating the minutia of the current tax codes.
He further extols his introduction of the “BOLD Act” in January. The bill was referred to committee, where it will languish and eventually pass away quietly.
According to GovTrack, the bill has a 3 percent chance of getting out of committee and a zero percent chance of being enacted.
The flat tax idea is not new. Neither is a politician touting his activities — even though they do not have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.
The only tax code change we will see will come from either a cataclysmic event (hopefully not) or from elected officials who have the ability to enact change no matter what it might cost them politically.
Take a look in the yellow pages at the number of tax preparation companies and tax lawyers, not to mention the number of IRS employees (5,000 recently hired). Revenue is king; the ponderous tax code is a money-maker.
I suggest we follow the activities of our elected officials, not just by their hopeful presentations but of their ability to enact positive measurable change. What is the follow-up to introduced bills? Which committee has it? When can we expect activity on it?
Not a BOLD Act — it appears more like smoke and mirrors to appease voters.