In the hubbub of the budget crisis, the Arizona House and Senate agreed to provisions of a "flat tax." Although the deal was killed, I am glad to see the conversation getting attention ("Another Republican Triumph: Help the Rich, Screw the Poor," The Skinny, July 2).
The progressive—more appropriately called the "deterrent"—income-tax system that Arizona boasts is counter-productive to current and potential taxpayers. Arizona currently has five income-tax rates, with the "penalty" increasing based on one's level of income. The "flat tax" or "flat rate" is not a great plan, but far better than the current system.
By taking away the "penalties" of success, a flat-rate income tax provides incentive to succeed. For example, if I work hard to make $2,000 a year, it is taxed at 5 percent; if I work harder to make $4,000, it is taxed at 10 percent. Where is the incentive to work harder, create jobs, etc.?
A flat rate would level the playing field and, in effect, cut the taxes of more than 50 percent of Arizona taxpayers. More than that, an equal rate done correctly encourages much-needed growth and expansion in our economy.
We are likely to see a nationwide push toward tax-policy reform. It is an extremely timely discussion, considering most states' financial woes and the federal government's extreme abuse of public funds. The last thing we need is for Arizona to follow in California's footsteps and become victim to the pitfalls of overregulation and taxation.
If there is one ray of sunshine to come out of this legislative session, it's shedding some light on this issue.
In defiance of Tucsonans' 1992 rejection of a similar proposal, the Arizona Legislature has—along party lines—passed Senate Bill 1123, forcing us to use nonpartisan ballots in city elections. Despite their best efforts, state legislators have failed to provide a colorable reason for a state interest in our ballots, or to justify even proposing such a bill.
As you reminded us ("Who Gives a Crap?" June 25), Tucson/Pima County is the biggest blue pocket of Arizona, and Tucsonans are low-information voters when it comes to City Council elections. We can surmise that in city elections, many Tucsonans vote for their party—and we know that many of them are Democrats. Without party information, we would expect low-information votes to be more evenly distributed between the parties, benefiting the party with fewer voters of its own.
We have to conclude that SB 1123 is nothing more or less than a move by the majority party to defeat party-line voting in our City Council elections, consolidate its power in Southern Arizona, and even improve its chances of carrying future statewide (even national) elections and decisions.
What's next? Gerrymandering Tucson (like Texas) into little patches of Democratic influence, embedded in and overwhelmed by Republican strongholds?
We have had more than a decade to watch how a determined party, once in power, can largely eradicate opposition and run roughshod over constitutional rights. If we let it happen here, we can't say we weren't warned.
T. Vaughn Henry's guest commentary on the "sexting epidemic" (July 9) made some good points. Megan's Law, although designed to promote safety from sex offenders, misses the mark. Providing child education, parental guidance and treatment for offenders would be a more effective use of taxpayers' money.
The law's effort to prevent crime actually encourages it. Citizens, including past prison inmates, have a right to feel safe. But the online registries and community notifications the law requires can result in assaults on offenders and their families, and murder and suicide of and by registrants, according to a 2007 report from Human Rights Watch. These tracking methods make them outcasts who have difficulty finding places to live and work. These are factors which can promote reoffending by promoting secrecy and social withdrawal.
The law also provides a false sense of security. Since 68 percent of child sexual abuse is never reported, the police can't possibly be aware of and notify us of every sex offender living in our community. Child sexual abuse is usually committed by someone the family knows and trusts, states advocacy-group Stop It Now (www.stopitnow.com).
There are other factors at play, too. We live in a society that markets products to 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds based on sex appeal. Kids learn they should want to be sexy, but don't know enough at that age to handle their sexuality. Parents and caregivers need to make it safe to talk about sexuality at home, so if a child is approached, they know how to avoid abuse.
Of course, offenders should be held responsible for their actions. But they are also treated as scapegoats for larger, unaddressed issues in our society. Even murderers are not required to continue to pay the consequences of their crime after their prison sentences end.
Organizations like Stop It Now offer sane, effective solutions for victims, offenders and the general public. Efforts such as these can truly promote the public's safety.
Anne M. Dalton