Page 20 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • March 25, 2009 For an economic revival, cut taxes. Cut taxes big time because taxes only impact the middle class in any case. The rich have tax shelters and quite often they do not pay anything. The poor (other than kids just starting out or people who have taken a temporary hit) are plugged into The System and do not pay taxes either. The working poor, who are trying to make things work while they help the rest of us by staying off welfare, are caught in a double slam: They do not make enough money to make it in any case, and a substantial portion of what they earn goes for taxes. Some people who try to work at really low wages discover they are better off letting the government support them, instead of supporting the government and those who are just plain lazy. The next step is to raise the minimum wage. Make it worthwhile for people to go to work if they can find a job. What we pay to non-union, low-skilled workers is preposterous compared to European countries, yet our inner cities are the places that look like we just lost a war. It is cheaper in the long run to pay people fairly than it is to pay them unfairly and let the middle class subsidize the working poor by offering them tax-funded programs to fill the gap between what they earn and what they need to live. The main obstacle to a fair minimum wage is that the people who do not want one are the same people who “own” the politicians through their campaign contributions. The third step is to stop illegal immigration, the main source of cheap labor that impacts American-born working poor and immigrants who got here legally and play by the rules. My credentials as a non-racist are in good order, so I can dare to say that a lot of the people who get stuck in wage-hour jobs because they do not have papers are not exactly the same sort of immigrants who came here to get away from Bismarck, the Tsar, Stalin, or Hitler. The sticking point is that the most restricted immigrants of all were those who came from China or the Japanese Empire, which once included Korea and Taiwan. People from these points of origin were either forbidden or subject, after 1924, to an absurd quota: 100 Chinese allowed out of a population of 400 million; 100 Japanese or Koreans allowed out of a population of about 80 million. That particular restriction did us more harm than good, because it kept out intelligent people with a superb work ethic at a time when we needed them. We should take all the legal Chinese and Koreans we can get because they are hardworking entrepreneurs and scholars of renown, and we should take all the Japanese we can entice – they don’t much like it here because of the racism – because they are not only smart and hard-working but also the greatest soldiers in the world. A few years ago, the government issued Congressional Medals of Honor to people who had been denied the medal because bigoted officers did not recommend them. The fourth step is to stop out-sourcing. It is wonderful that having people take phone calls for industrial orders or to give computer advice are revitalizing India and the Philippines if you happen to live in those areas. I would rather see the jobs go to people who pay taxes in the same country I do. It’s selfish, I know, but charity is about being a nice person. Work is about supporting your family. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to export half the office jobs in the United States to other countries where the people speak English, but it’s a heck of a revenge for Colonialism. The fifth step is to reduce make-work jobs in the public sector. Some of the towns I cover are already consolidating their work forces by not hiring replacements for people. I once worked at a company that choked on its own middle management: too many people there did not perform useful work and did not have executive power. They spent all their time backstabbing. They were counter-productive, and in their malice they tended to drive away people who had real talent. We should not engage in witch hunts to fire people who are doing their jobs, but we must be careful not to let the public sector serve as an expensive safety net for people who cannot find work elsewhere. Last step: If you have it, spend it! Every dime spent in a coffee shop, a restaurant, a toy store, clothing store or a shoe store here in Bergen County puts money in some fellow American’s pocket and helps the owner of the store defray everyone’s property taxes. The news nobody talks about is that more than 90 percent of the population is still employed. If the people who have money stop spending it, we are all sunk. The reduction in cash flow will put more people out of work – which means that, in the end, we will all be working for the government and completely under that government’s control. It’s all Obama’s fault. Before he got into the White House, there had been a hiatus of several years when almost nobody sent me junk mail by fax. I was comfortable not knowing about all those great vacations I was missing, skipping bargain-priced repairs by contractors with no forwarding addresses, and not getting the kind of insider-trading tips that could have made me a millionaire. Now all that stuff is suddenly back. It must be Obama’s fault! Don’t tell me that I am in any way to blame. It is true, of course, that a week before this tsunami of junk mail arrived I had briefly started to fill out an e-mail offer that told me I had won a $1,000 gift certificate to a store where I never shop. In the throes of greed, I gave them my telephone number and e-mail address. I did not give them my Social Security number or credit card information, which even I realized would have been an act of economic suicide. The avalanche engulfed me about two days later. There are people who want to sell me berries that burn fat, people who tell me I just made $197 by opening my e-mail, and that no matter how dumb I am, I too can own a Rolls-Royce and a Ferrari and have two swimming pools and a live-in security guard if I just send in $49.95 immediately. It is all Obama’s fault for allowing this sort of thing. Okay, I am kidding. It is my own fault that I got inundated with junk mail, and it is the nation’s fault that we blundered into the worst economic downturn since 1929. How is it the nation’s fault? We elected politicians to fulfill the favorite fantasies of both the extreme Democrats and the extreme Republicans. Bush & Bush fulfilled the Right’s fantasy of reviving the glories of World War II by beating up on Islam at the behest of the oil industry and special interest groups. Clinton fulfilled the Left’s fantasy of making fiscal responsibility irrelevant to obtaining credit. The depression did not start on Obama’s watch. I think it started when Bush & Bush and a lot of other people got in the habit of blaming the Arabs for whatever went wrong while the oil companies were getting obscenely rich. (Have you wondered where the Bush money is invested?) Things tanked when Clinton’s policies led to no-down-payment purchases of houses postulated on easy credit and no demonstrated long-term income. The theory follows: Buy a house for $500,000 with no down payment and a year later the house is worth $600,000 so you have made $100,000. They had a name for that in the 1920s: buying on margin. You did not have to pay for the stock for a good long time, and when you had to pay, you could sell some of the stock to pay for the rest of it. The first shudder of reality toppled the New York banks that were getting fat on all those real estate loans. As the crunch expanded, the unqualified borrowers started to lose the houses, which was especially easy when they had already started to use the non-existent equity to secure loans for more things they wanted. Then the value of inhabited houses with substantial equity started to fall. Having said this, we should all understand that the Stimulus Package is not going to work because it deals with what is good for political contributors rather than for Americans with productive jobs, but that is a bipartisan policy and always has been. Politicians are in it for the money. The Blame Game Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: I attended the Wyckoff BOE meeting on March 16 and was shocked by the ugliness that emerged. There were many words thrown around in the cafetorium, spoken by citizens expressing their concerns regarding the proposal to privatize custodial services. While I believe in the freedom of speech, it is unfortunate that not all who spoke did so with knowledge of the issues or with any respect for the individuals sitting in front of them. Someone asked what we were teaching our children. After consideration, here is my response. I teach my children it is rude to point, never to mock or boo a person who is speaking, to investigate rumor before making accusations, to try to see issues from a different perspective, never to laugh when someone is crying, not to stand by (let alone applaud) when others are attacked, and that sometimes good people are forced to make excruciating decisions. I thank those who came in peace, to ask questions, express concerns and offer suggestions. But I ask of you who spoke and who attended, are you proud of your behavior? What lessons would your children have learned by watching you? I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but there must be limits to these excuses. I urge people to continue asking questions. Get the facts. Explore all the possibilities. But by all means, please do so with dignity and respect. Many of us are guilty of denial. We have been informed repeatedly about the inequalities of state legislation and how it is constraining our education system in unfathomable ways. Maybe we chose not to recognize that not only was it was going to happen, but that it had already been happening. Ironically, the downfall of the BOE is that through hard work, they have thus far managed to magically find solutions so that the cuts wouldn’t hurt so much. I am incredibly appreciative of those efforts. I regret that the magic show had to end. No more denial. When you have to cut over one million dollars of spending, it is going to hurt. Last but certainly not least, extend my thoughts to the custodians. I am greatly appreciative of everything you do, and I very much consider you a part of our Wyckoff family. Calls for respectful discourse It is my hope that we will find a way to prevent privatization. If we cannot, it will be a tremendous loss for our children, our schools and our community. Jennifer Cole Wyckoff Dear Editor: We are currently suffering from an unprecedented economic crisis. Many families in our community have lost their jobs or are in danger of future layoffs. Many of those who are still employed have experienced reduced pay, depleted retirement savings accounts and reductions of benefits. Our home values have decreased, although property taxes continue to rise. Homestead rebates from the state will be eliminated for many families and greatly reduced for others, thus adding more to an oppressive property tax burden. Additionally, most taxpayers will be confronted with higher state income taxes with the loss of deductibility of local property taxes. In the spirit of shared sacrifice, our elected township officials have agreed to forego their modest stipends. Nonunion township employees will not be receiving pay raises this year. State employees are facing the possibility of layoffs and/or unpaid leaves. Since the majority of our taxes are used to fund the operation of our schools, it is mandatory that the upcoming school budgets be capped at last year’s level. Currently, teachers have negotiated substantial pay increases for the next three years. They enjoy a level of job security and health and retirement benefits seldom available in the private sector. I urge our elected school board and the Wyckoff Education Association to consider the following: maintain teachers’ salaries at last year’s level, take a one-week unpaid furlough, make higher contributions to health care insurance, eliminate payments for sabbaticals. Undoubtedly, the escalating taxes will force families to leave our community. What will happen to their children? Don Fairbairn Wyckoff School board suggestions