Jim Sherman Sr. is correct that cutting expenses is a viable alternative to raising taxes, and I certainly support his recommendation to vote NO on the extortion proposal in the upcoming election to raise the Michigan sales tax (already one of the highest in the nation.). But simple cost-cutting is unlikely to fix the systemic economic problems faced by Michigan's increasingly impoverished middle class. The reason is that Rick Snyder and much of the state legislature cannot be trusted to make difficult but equitable and transparent spending and budget cutting decisions to strengthen the middle class. In fact, the recent business tax credit debacle shows that Snyder's own party members have been hoodwinked by the governor as he gave away millions of more dollars in tax relief to his elite base. Retired pensioners and middle class workers were easy targets for budget cuts and tax increases, but this pool is pretty much tapped out. Indeed, Michigan is full of unemployed, under-employed and discarded workers who, as they continue to age, face a reality of no pensions and otherwise insufficient retirement income for the economic security they deserve. Of course, Republicans can argue that these legions failed to save and build their 401 accounts. And of course, if current trends continue, these workers may have no option but to work til they drop before eligibility for social security. What has been ignored is that stagnate and dwindling middle class incomes, and rising tax burdens, simply do not allow for significant middle class savings. To many, saving is difficult to impossible, and often seems futile. Moreover, if current economic policy generated sufficient economic growth as promised by the trickle-down advocates, there would be no reason to raise tax rates since current rates applied to growing wealth and incomes would yield corresponding growth in tax revenue--if all who benefitted were taxed in a progressive and fair way. Instead, though, the inevitable and ridiculous result of current tax policy is that tax rates must be incrementally raised over time until the meager growth is taxed at 100%!
There is no denying that the nation's wealth is being increasingly concentrated, at an alarming rate, among a relatively small portion of an economic and politically powerful elite. While sometimes referred to as "one percenters", this group can be as large as 15-20 percent of the population. They take advantage of a complex tax system geared by the politicians they serve which grants them special schemes, loopholes, deductions, credits and shelters to limit their taxes so that their wealth can be preserved and enhanced for themselves and their progeny. Sometimes they are called the "job providers", but rarely do the jobs they purportedly create correspond in number or pay proportional to the gains realized by the investor. In fact, it seemingly it is to their economic advantage to have access to as many workers as possible so long as this labor force is cheap.
The economic survival of the middle class, as well as the nation overall, requires immediate attention to our tax system to ensure greater equity. Those who have benefitted most must pay their progressively proportional fair share. While they label inheritance taxes as "death taxes", the reality is that every year billions of dollars are transferred untaxed to new generations, with no public benefit. Our tax system must reward entrepreneurs and investors, but not exclusively and to the detriment of the middle class who make different but also important resource contributions to the nation's economy. Unfortunately, though, middle class workers get used up and die, and there are limited opportunities for them to accumulate substantial wealth for low or no tax transfers to their children.
Our tax system must apply fair but progressively higher tax rates to incomes above the national median, and must proved for enhanced taxation of expensive luxury homes, properties and other assets which are perks and not truly investments for which tax relief was initially intended. And greater attention is needed to examine the use of purported business assets for personal uses, and to guard against abusive deductions for real estate, travel, vehicles and other goods and services disguised as business expenses but used largely for personal and family benefit.
I never fully understood the rationale for tax privacy. It just seems in the public interest that we are all upfront about where and how income is generated and what taxes we pay for the public good. But I also see why some would be embarrassed to disclose. The real question, though, is why are our political leaders so loathe to equitably tax those with the wealth and provide for greater economic opportunity and security for those in the middle class who work hard, or would if they could find a job? No one wants to soak the rich. We just want to make sure that all the fluids in the system are clear and flow in all directions. More sales, fuel and consumption taxes which disproportionately impact the middle class and working poor are not the answer. Look for the money. While we appreciate all the tax-deductible charitable contributions and named hospital wings provided by the economic elite when they choose to give and to whom, wouldn't it be better if their economic windfalls were fairly taxed and put into the pot?
February 20, 2015
Hi my name is Scott, father of the Wolf (little Scott) from the Oxford Middle School play "Fairy Tale Courtroom".
My wife Machelle and I just wanted to drop a note and say thank you so much for the article and appreciation you've shown for our boy's performance.
We think we saw you at Thursday's night's performance, if so you may remember I was the one who yelled out "not my baby" after his guilty conviction. (thought it would add something to the performance). The Bailiff looked like she didn't know what to do for a moment and I hear the kids are still talking about it.
Oh well, just wanted again to say thanks. These pictures have been posted all over Facebook and laminated in his room. Great memories for years to come.
Much joy and happiness with your journalism. You've definitely brought it to us.
February 07, 2015
McLaren Small Hospital is Good News for Clarkston
I was pleased to read, after repeated denials, that McLaren will proceed with a phased project at the Clarkston Medical Group campus. The battle for healthcare services in Clarkston has been long and arduous. Many passionate and dedicated Clarkston citizens spent years evaluating the larger scale hospital plan – before involvement by the courts and legislature that ultimately denied a transfer of hospital beds from Pontiac to Clarkston.
Now, we can expect a plan calibrated for our needs that will provide for balanced growth in the future. Township officials will be deeply involved in the development of these plans and I hope they will continue to be informed by the physicians that serve our community.
Dr. James O’Neill was the Clarkston physician voice for this project in the beginning. Though he has retired, many fine doctors continue his tradition of excellence in patient care at Clarkston Medical Group. I can think of no other physician voices I would trust as much to hear about the new hospital plan than those of Clarkston Drs. Timothy O’Neill, Dean Moscovic, and Renny Abraham, who continue to tirelessly care for patients at Clarkston Medical Group every day.
I think we are all looking forward to enhanced services for the community.
February 06, 2015
Ms. Ethelyn Hyde's recent letter to the editor regarding her work era when there were no jobs Americans would not do was heartening, and there is no doubt that it reflects an idealized American can-do, will-do work ethic that Americans admire. Still, notwithstanding our pride and nostalgia, there are some realities, past and current, which undermine the idealized, stylized American Dream vision. First, there were some jobs Americans were just not willing to do, at least not for the wages and conditions American's wealthy business owners and industry were willing to offer. The nation's labor history, reviled by Governor Rick Snyder and his state legislature, reflects this. The reality is that our history reflects that indentured servants and slaves were openly embraced to fill the void left by Americans who refused or were just unable to be further exploited. Note that Asians, too, were "imported" and exploited to meet the American demand for railroad construction, service and infrastructure. The fact is that ruthless American capitalists often exploited their own countrymen and women, as well as minorities and foreign immigrants, to make their own selfish version of the "American Dream" come true for a few elite. Many of these capitalist elites have descendants who even today continue to prosper based on the sacrifices and exploration of their ancestors, often with unabashed or acknowledged pride. They are the entitled who benefit most from our educational, political and economic systems, with no apology or appreciation.
While a schoolteacher's pension may have been a nugget "back in the day", teachers were subject to summary dismissal for "infractions" as minor as marriage or the interest of a board member in having a relative employed. Even a meager teacher's pension has been marginalized by Governor Rick Snyder's pension tax which was unethically applied to already retired pensioners on fixed incomes, all while Snyder's wealthy friends got new tax breaks and l
February 05, 2015
This article says that I stated at the January 26 city council meeting that the city manager has been bullied online over the Depot Park bridge project. That is not what I said. I said that the city manager has been accused of being a bully, a liar, and incompetent--all of which I believe are untrue.
In any event, I hope this matter is now behind us, as the more temperate recent comments from Tammie Heazlit seem to indicate. Notwithstanding her latest post characterizing the city manager as "a spiteful, vengeful, deceitful, nasty human being," the city staff will continue to consider her comments and work to assure that the bridge project is being properly completed.
January 31, 2015
I wish the Clarkston News would have more coverage about the plight of the area's middle class and working poor to better inform readers about the real condition of the national, state and local economies as the Michigan legislature appears to once again embark on an agenda hostile to the middle class. The nation's wealth continues to be increasingly concentrated among the very wealthiest while middle class incomes stagnate and decline. There appears to be little legislative interest in rectifying a tax system that rewards the wealthy with a plethora of tax breaks, deductions and loopholes while failing to have them taxed at progressive rates which reflect their growing in incomes and wealth. Meanwhile, the legislature purports to be interested in saving taxpayer money, it does this by imposing new taxes on already retired pensioners on fixed incomes, attacking the prevailing wages of skilled workers, and supporting increases in fuel and sales taxes which disproportionately and adversely affect the middle class. Legislators claim to be reluctant to make purported "job creators" pay their fair share. Never are the state's wealthiest looked to for more revenue via taxes they can afford to pay. Instead, the middle class stagnates among low wage jobs and sinking financial security. Of course, there is a need to educate and skill-equip workers, but not just so they can labor in what is fast becoming the futility of middle class life, with its legions of relatively low paid workers whose labors mostly benefit the wealthy while the legislature contemplates more ways to squeeze the already repressed middle class. Voters must make their voices heard, not just through voting, but also through decisions about how and where they spend their (diminishing) incomes.
January 26, 2015
When I was at LOHS in the 50's there was an outhouse that made it to the steps of the High School every Halloween. No one knew how it got there or whatever became of it. Is this race include any of the lost outhouses?????
January 16, 2015
Let us remember that the families and siblings of those who made wrong choices on the AfterSchool App are not the ones who made the wrong choice. They are hurting and need our compassion and prayers, not our criticism, especially this time of year.
December 11, 2014
I just received notice from the city of the village of Clarkston. They've voted down taking care of the sidewalks and want to charge $130 if they shovel your sidewalk and can fine a homeowner up to $500 if they do not shovel 2" of snow within 24 hours.
They also then attached an opinion form (a little late) asking the homeowners/tax payers of the city of the village of Clarkston what we think is important (including shoveling the sidewalks).
I work many hours, live alone, don't know my neighbors (one is an empty lot next to me and the other is someone that lives out of CVC). I also travel on business for weeks at a time, but know there are a lot of older folks as well. Does the CVC have any ideas for those that are not able to shovel the 2" of snow within 24 hours? Does anyone have any recommendations for us so that we are NOT slapped with fines and charges in addition to our taxes and assessments that we pay currently?
Any recommendations would be appreciated. Are there any local kids or folks that would be interested in doing this service for the folks that are affected by this decision? I'm sure we're all willing to pay for the help.
December 10, 2014
I am disappointed in the attitude of the many Oxford residents not wanting gravel trucks on Burdick. The gravel pits are what built Oxford, and in my opinion, since they were here long before most of us, they should be able to continue to use the roads as they always have. Having grown up in the area my entire life, I personally am tired of people moving here because they find the area charming and then they want to change things. Do your research before you buy a home.
December 09, 2014