Did the Time, Not the Crimes -- I've just read John Kerry's 1971 testimony to Congress, where he accused our Vietnam troops of widespread crimes against civilians. I was in the Central Highlands during that time with the 577th Army Engineers. I didn't see major combat. My job involved daily contact with civilians and gave me a ringside seat for the war. We hired local workers at above-market wages to build roads, we "souvenired" presents to kids and donated clothes from home to the villagers. We did not "rape, cut off ears or cut off heads" on "a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command," as Kerry alleges.
Those were awful and abnormal times. None of us wanted to be a part of the war. Bill Clinton avoided Vietnam by dodging the draft. President Bush hid in a Guard unit. Sen. Kerry served honorably, then allied himself with an ignorant and intolerant "peace" movement that spit on returning GIs. This included a publicity stunt where he tossed another veteran's medals over the White House fence while keeping his own medals for future political show-and-tell. Meanwhile, we peasant soldiers did our duty, came home quietly, went back to work and, over time, put the war behind us. Now these puffed-up politicians are dragging up Vietnam for political gain. Needless to say, this low-ranking Vietnam vet is not impressed.
Business of B & amp;O -- In her lead-in piece to "Manufacturing Jobs," (2/26/04) Pia Hansen raises the issue of the state B & amp;O tax, remarking, "and what business owner would possibly consider locating a business in a state where you have to pay more taxes than anywhere else?"
With this reiteration of conventional wisdom, Hansen is, at best, treating a complex issue with misleading simplicity and, at worst, downright wrong. On the one hand, there is little doubt that the B & amp;O tax, because of its pyramiding effect, is unfair to some businesses and easy on others; for its impact is very uneven. Moreover, many businesses are exempt from portions of the B & amp;O tax and the state sales tax -- while facing no income tax. Interested readers might want to consult the Washington State Department of Revenue for a list of these exemptions -- or simply go to www.a-p-e-x.org, where it is reproduced.
As for careful analysis of the matter, the Washington State Department of Revenue has examined the state tax climate in some detail (Economic Vitality study), using hypothetical firms that were then tested in the tax environments of different states. Related work has been done by the Office of Economic Forecast Council. As it turns out, Washington looks quite competitive. Finally, the best econometric work that has been done on firm location and state taxes tends to conclude that taxes are not the deciding factor in this type of calculation. What counts for more are other variables, such as environmental aesthetics, transportation facilities, tolerance of diversity, good roads, low energy costs, low crime rates and good schools -- including, within easy proximity, a research university.
With respect to the B & amp;O tax, while its impact on businesses is clearly uneven -- so that some bear little or no burden while others a heavier share of the load -- business has been curiously unsupportive of change. Washington is one of very few states without an income tax. Though the Gates Commission recently recommended an income tax, business has not rallied to its support. Obviously, someone in the business community is supporting the present system. Of course, merely paying less tax or no tax at all seems to be what is preferred. But that begs the critical question of how government is going to pursue those things that clearly do attract businesses to a given location -- the very things that businesses say they want.
Dying for the Draft -- I see a pattern developing in this country. Our soldiers are being killed faster than new soldiers are enlisting. We've come to sending our "weekend warriors," the National Guard, who have trained for years in case we need "National Defense," to take the place of the veteran warriors.
The oil-fueled gang war we call Iraq, in my opinion, is a real threat to this country. But the threat and very real danger is right here, in our White House. They need an army. The next step, with our dwindling troops, is to reinstate the draft.
If this is a good and just war, why aren't you parents already out there signing up your children in droves? C'mon, we need the oil and Halliburton needs the profits. If you want your children to serve a tour in the Middle East, it's easy -- just don't vote ... or else vote Republican. They'll be sure to sort it out for you.
Goodbye to an Era -- The Inlander's article "Final Stretch" (2/26/04) about the closing of Playfair Race Course came at a time of reflecting on my life of 70-something years, bringing sadness and tears to my heart.
Going to the track to watch the magnificent animals race from the bottom of their souls brought such joy for all these years. So now, I say goodbye to the horses, the track, the jockeys, and the persons who made the races possible. I have also said goodbye to leaving my car and house unlocked, to mom and pop grocery stores, and to the days when neighbors had the time to chat and have coffee with me.
Each time I say goodbye to a favorite beverage or food, I wonder if anyone in this century stops to watch the grass grow or smell the roses?
It would take a lot of money, influence, energy, marketing and faith in a Creator for a person to make another start at running Playfair. Since I do not move with the "powers that be" in the State of Washington, I say "thanks for the memories," "whatever will be, will be" and "adieu."
Yvonne D. Farrell
Memory Lane -- Imagine my surprise upon reaching "The Last Word" of last week's Inlander ("Budget Art," 2/26/04), to discover "Hangin' on the Telephone: a Self-Portrait." Could two people have actually have painted the same picture? As I read the caption I realized that my mother had painted this watercolor of Opus years ago. She was an amateur (but prolific) painter. This particular still life was of a small portion of the desk in our kitchen -- I even remember the phone.
My parents lived in Spokane for more than 50 years. When they decided to move to California, Mom gave many of her paintings to her children; I inherited Opus. Just recently, I decided my home did not have nearly the room to accommodate the rat-pack gatherings and this painting made the cut into the Goodwill pile.
I sincerely hope the painting's new owner is happy with his or her one-of-a-kind find. The Inlander has always been a favorite of mine -- and naturally this issue will hold a special place for me. Oh, and of course, I'll be sending Mom a copy.