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LETTERS to the Editor Take the jigsaw maps off the table

To the editor,

We, as Americans, love choices. Where to shop._What we buy._Who we vote for. Unfortunately, we have less to say about where we live. I know you’re thinking, “I chose to live here,” and you did._ However, you didn’t have any choice in where your voting district boundaries lie._ Republicans and Democrats alike are being horse-traded by politicians as they gerrymander our legislative districts yet again. If you’re like me (part of the 76% in Pierce County), you want our district maps to be drawn fairly, not like the weirdly conoidered districts we’ve lived with the last 10 years. In Wisconsin’s 2020 election, 54% of votes only elected 36 of the 99 Assembly seats._Hmmm._How is that representation?

I know it may seem like a lot of work to contact your state legislators. But remember, THEY WORK FOR YOU!_ Assembly Rep. Warren Petryk (888-534-0093) and Sen. Jeff Smith (877-763-6636) need to know you want to use maps created by working with Wisconsin residents like you — the Peoples Maps Commission maps. To be more specific take the latest jigsaw puzzle maps off the table in Assembly Bill 395 and Senate Bill 389.

When the maps are fairly drawn, we can choose our representatives. Not the other way around.

Tammy Tollefson Town of Clifton

Flat tax puts a higher burden on lower-income tax payers

To the editor,

An earlier column in the Pierce County Journal suggested shifting the current federal income tax system to a flat tax would be more fair to all taxpayers. In fact, however, that’s simply not the case.

To measure fairness in taxes, one must consider taxpayers’ ability to pay. A fair tax is defined by economists as one that has different tax rates for individuals based on their income. As the previous columnist pointed out, the current federal income tax takes a larger percentage of income from high-income groups than from low-income groups.

The columnist claimed that a flat tax would be more fair because all citizens would pay, for example, the same tax rate on their income. So let’s say a person making $20,000 with a 10% tax rate would pay $2,000 leaving $18,000. And someone making $200,000 would pay $20,000 with $180,000 remaining. The person who has $18,000 after paying income tax has much less ability to pay for life’s necessities than the person with $180,000.

The existing U.S. income tax takes a greater percentage from high-income people than from low-income people because it’s based on their ability to pay. A flat tax does not take into consideration taxpayers’ ability to pay. A fair tax is one that is based on people’s ability to pay, not on one flat rate for everyone from the poorest people to the wealthiest in the nation. And as long as we’re considering taxes, I’d like to point out another common misconception. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 107 million people paid no federal income taxes last year. That’s a point often expressed with horror by some politicians who adjust the phrasing to say, “They paid NO taxes last year!” Nearly half of those paying no federal income tax, according to Forbes magazine, are retirees living on Social Security. And despite having low-income, everyone pays other taxes including state sales taxes, local sales taxes, property taxes and state income taxes.

But let’s not forget about the second richest guy in the country, Elon Musk (Tesla founder). He managed to pay no federal income taxes in 2018. And Jeff Bezos, who is the richest man in the world, paid no federal income tax in 2007 and in 2011. Just google Propublica’s investigation “How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.”

Sandy Ellis River Falls

Tackling climate change

To the editor,

This week President Biden has traveled to Glasgow to take part in the COP26 (Conference of the Parties) global climate summit._What a relief to know that the United States is once more taking an active part with other nations to tackle climate change. It’s heartening to see our President stand with Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and the UK’s Boris Johnson to responsibly address this problem that threatens the survival of all.

Science has long confirmed the human role in climate change. Recent congressional hearings reveal the extent to which the giant fossil fuel companies have knowingly disregarded science and sown misinformation and doubt in the public mind for the sake of short-sighted profiteering.

Our current proliferating weather disasters are a logical outcome of rejecting climate science and persisting in an oblivious “business as usual” mentality._Less obvious than the numerous floods, fires, and storms costing us billions is the impact climate change is having on populations most at the mercy of those catastrophic events._Tragically, the countries that contribute least to climate change tend to be the ones most injured and impoverished by it, conditions that also significantly contribute to the growing immigration crisis. So it is better than good to see the US fully represented at COP26 with the rest of the international community, hopefully to shoulder our share of the burden._I applaud President Biden for signaling at home and abroad that our lapse into irresponsibility is over._Meanwhile each of us should find ways to encourage elected officials to join in collectively solving this problem so our children and the generations coming after them can inherit a livable planet.

Thomas R. Smith River Falls

November 3, 2021