No to Tuition Hikes -- After four years of service in Washington State Univeristy's student government, there is one thing that I have learned: politicians and legislators are interesting creatures in that they cannot stomach any bit of pain or discomfort. This is the specific reason that we are facing a possible 18 percent tuition increase. We are not telling the legislature that they will face consequences for raising our taxes by $1,000 per year.
Tuition, to the legislature, is one of the last acceptable taxes to these people. I guarantee that if every student and every voting age family member of a student of higher education called their legislator and said, "If you raise my tuition by $1,000 next year, you'll be looking for a new job" this tuition increase would become a thing of the past.
Think about it: there are about 150,000 students in higher education in the state of Washington. If each of them found seven people of voting age and convinced them to call their legislator, the Washington State capital would get 1,050,000 phone calls telling what they had to do to keep their job.
But instead of taking action, students are just whining. I ask you this: What in the hell does this accomplish? I'll tell you: An additional $1,000 out of each of our pockets next year.
Students have to act. Call your legislator today. Call every family member and friend you have and tell them to call their legislator as well. The state of Washington needs to realize that students cannot afford their tax increase.
ASWSU Budget Director
There is No Right Opinion -- In the Feb. 28 edition of The Inlander, Mark Silver, president of the local Spokane synagogue, seeks to appoint himself commissar of the letters page, decrying publication of a letter critical of Israel.
I am grateful that The Inlander does not follow the repressive policies of The Spokesman-Review, which continuously suppresses legitimate information about newsmakers and issues critical to our community.
I would like to remind Silver that the criteria for dissemination of dissenting viewpoints that comprise the backbone of out civilization were illuminated by John Stuart Mill in the early 19th century:
Mill wrote: "First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for all we know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.
"Secondly, though the silenced opinion be in error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of the truth, and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of the adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied."
I look forward to such "collisions" in every issue of The Inlander, as Mill envisioned, however much they may discomfort the "infallible."
Michael A. Hoffman II
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Not Hate, Truth -- After wiping the spit from my face, I attempted to find substance in Mr. Silver's attack on me, in the Feb. 28 edition of The Inlander. He says I promote hate and that my letter is promotes hatred and lies. Am I hateful because I question Israel's (or any other power's) aggression? It is American tax money that fuels the Israeli juggernaut, not righteousness, not human rights. I am well aware of the unfair treatment Jews have suffered at the hands of so-called Christians, atheists, Communists, nationalists and fanatic Muslims. Seems Jews could do nothing to please their tormentors and be left in peace. Nothing.
While I understand the timeless longing for a land where they could be free and happy, I cannot condone the rapacity and injustice that Zionists have pursued to establish Israel. Make no mistake, Israel is a nation built like any other, and it cares nothing for the ideals that so many of my Jewish friends uphold, like truth, fairness, dignity of life, equality and, most importantly, forgiveness.
I cited two URLs in my original letter. One was to a document produced by Jews for Justice in Israel and Palestine, www.cactus48.com/truth.html (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the other is a clearinghouse for letters to Congress and the Administration (http://congress.org/). Are these fronts for hate groups as Silver alleges?
Noam Chomsky (who is Jewish) is staunchly against U.S. support of Israel. Recently, a group of Israeli rabbis called for the dismantling of Israel.
In fact, the momentum is growing against the one-sided press given to Israel. Even pro-Israel Mike Wallace infuriated viewers when he and the 60 Minutes staff exposed deadly media lies against Palestinians.
I am an American, and I have no beef with Jews; however, when forced to pay for criminal conduct anywhere, I am opposed to such extortion.
Spokane has Lots to Offer -- I read with interest Shane Mahoney's commentary ("Silicon Valley's Lead," 2/21/02) with regard to the economic development of the Spokane area, in which he indicates that the development plan of Silicon Valley as a good example to follow.
However, I think there are a number of advantages that the Spokane area already offers over other areas of the United States in terms of economic development.
I feel that the major advantage that the Spokane area does offer in development is the relatively low cost of living as compared to other areas, and in particular Silicon Valley. This is evidenced in real estate (home) prices, which are about one-third to one-quarter the cost of similar housing in the Silicon Valley.
In terms of universities and faculty support for research, I do agree with Mahoney in supporting world-class research in Spokane. Spokane is not lacking in terms of universities, as we do have both good state-supported universities and community colleges and private institutions. We must have flexibility to allow these institutions of higher education to recruit and compensate faculty in the university systems to bring in top-notch faculty (lacking in some institutions) which can support corporate research in the area, and will ultimately bring in new businesses.
Finally, I do agree with Mahoney pertaining to instituting a progressive system of taxation as California now has. Business surveys have constantly indicated that Washington state, in part due to its regressive state and local tax structure, has one of the worst climates to start either a new business or develop existing businesses. Taxes such as the sales tax and the state Business and Occupation Tax are designed to be regressive and provide little incentive for new start-up businesses. Perhaps, given the unemployment situation right now and businesses leaving Washington state, there should be some serious consideration of replacing the Business and Occupation Tax and part of the sales tax with a general state income tax on individuals and businesses which is progressive in nature.
Spokane DOES have the capability to grow and get out of its shell, and it can attract new business. It just has to try.
Henry G. Huests
Spokane is Not Silicon Valley -- While I agree that there are lessons to be learned from the economic development "plan" of Silicon Valley circa 1994, I'm not sure that I find it a viable "template" as suggested in The Inlander's guest column by Shane Mahoney on Feb. 21. Events subsequent to 1994 indicate, at least to me, that it serves more as a lesson in "don't let this happen to you."
I admit that I haven't read Saxenian's Regional Advantage. But I did live in the area during that unprecedented tech boom, and I observed a lot of red flags during and after this apparent economic surge, which, because of their later occurrence, could not have possibly been part of Saxenian's book. The early to mid '90s saw the spawn of dot.com madness. Actually, in hindsight, it wasn't so much dot.com madness as much as it was IPO fever. Those Initial Public Offerings were a source of stock income to the fledgling dot.coms, and investors couldn't line up fast enough to throw their money at these new companies.
Then, in 2000-01, the bottom fell out of the tech market, and everyone that had invested in these dot.coms took a blood bath. I saw absolutely no evidence that the higher education institutions in the area, Cal and Stanford, had anything to do with the onset of this IPO mania or the market crash that followed a few years later.
Looking at the plunge that Silicon Valley took, Spokane would do well to study the mistakes made then, but not emulate them. Spokane needs, also, to consider the socio-political and geographical differences that it has as compared to Silicon Valley, since these differences have a direct impact on Spokane's ability to attract the types of businesses that flourished, albeit briefly, in 1994 Silicon Valley. Spokane is, for all intents and purposes, land-locked. Land-locked urban centers traditionally do not do as well economically as their seaside counterparts.
Also, California has a personal income tax that Washington state does not have. The California income tax served as a pool of funds to lure companies with. The pool of cash that the tax created served to buy energy vouchers with Pacific Gas & amp; Electric and other "bennies." This, in turn, enticed business into the area with the promise of cheap energy prices.
Spokane needs to find its own solutions. It is a unique place with its own set of problems and promise. The best we can do with the advantage of hindsight at this later date is learn from it and try to avoid making the same mistakes.
Reaganomics Worked -- Anthony York's analysis of President Bush's budget ("That '80s Show," 2/21/02) simply regurgitates the tired tirade against tax cuts by leading Democrats.
York portrays Reaganomics as bad economic policy, but President Reagan's tax cuts resurrected our nation from the malaise of the Carter-era and launched the longest peacetime expansion of the economy in its history. As tax rates went down, annual revenue to the treasury increased, doubling by Reagan's last year in office.
And it's a mistake to saddle Reagan with the huge deficits of the '80s. In fact, Democrats, who controlled Congress, spent $1.40 for each dollar of income.
And York writes critically of President Bush's spending on the military and Reagan's buildup in the '80s at the expense of social programs, while leaving unsaid that spending those dollars hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union and allowed us to win Desert Storm.
Compare those victories to Carter's impotence in the Iranian hostage crisis or Clinton's disaster in Somalia.
Leading Democrats quoted in York's piece want us to believe that each dollar of tax relief results in a "cost" to the treasury and has to be "paid for." That Orwellian logic ignores the fact that it's not the treasury's money; it's our money. And Reaganomics proved that if we have more of it in our pocket, the economy grows and creates more tax revenue, not less. We can't tax our way to prosperity.
But the most humorous section of York's piece contains the quotes from pollster John Zogby, saying that the public favors more government spending over tax cuts. If York took a little more time with Mr. Zogby's data, he would discover that a third of the public pays no income tax. Another 25-30 percent are Democrats who are indoctrinated from birth against tax cuts. That leaves a distinct minority of the rest of us to defend the balance of our income from those who want to redistribute it to their constituents.
Spare us the fantasy that high tax rates are good for the economy and are necessary to protect social programs. As President Bush might say, "That dog won't hunt."