Modes of transportation all receive some subsidies
The recent Marin IJ editorial about the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit system’s budget surplus (“SMART must become more affordable, fulfill election promises,” June 2) reminds us that opponents rail against the system’s reliance on subsidies. Their outrage ignores the subsidies that support all transit methods.
Auto travel is subsidized through road design, construction and maintenance. It’s subsidized through the California Highway Patrol, emergency medical response, the Department of Motor Vehicles and enforcement of vehicle safety standards, to name a few examples.
Air travel is also heavily subsidized. Airports are built with public funds. Air traffic control and airport security are provided by federal agencies. Publicly funded government entities also monitor aircraft design, ensure appropriate maintenance and investigate aircraft failures.
These are just partial lists of subsidies of just two popular transit options.
It’s neither logical nor wise to insist that SMART must be self-sufficient when other transit options are not. Metropolitan areas need rail transit to reduce congestion and fossil fuel emissions. SMART is an efficient means of travel that — with fare reductions — can meet the commuting needs of both service workers and professionals.
— Dr. Will Meecham, Novato
Help suffering children before fighting for unborn
I am impressed by the amount of energy some people expend to protect the helpless unborn by working to stop abortions. However, I must ask, what about the helpless born?
I don’t think most anti-abortion activists know that the United States has an infant mortality rate that is much higher than anyone would expect. It is significantly higher than most developed nations. Anti-abortion activists should also be aware that half the children in our rich country are malnourished. Our country has the highest maternal death rate than any other western country. More than 2 million American children are homeless.
Perhaps that energy would be better spent trying to help these suffering children rather than forcing unwanted children on the world.
— Ted Janko, San Anselmo
Congress must help ease burden of gas prices
Gasoline now costs an average of $5 per gallon nationwide, nearly $2.50 more than it did a few years ago. This rise in price costs the average taxpaying motorist more than $1,200 extra per year.
Organized Democrats could help taxpayers recover most of this cost by eliminating the 10% federal income tax on the first $10,275 of income ($20,550 for couples). This would save each individual taxpayer more than $1,027 per year. Although this tax cut would cost $150 billion per year, it could be paid for by enacting a billionaire asset tax of 3% from $1 billion to $20 billion, 5% on $20 billion to $50 billion and 7% over $50 billion.
Yes, 50 Republican senators (and several Democrats) would object to giving 150 million Americans a modest tax break at the expense of 700 billionaires, but no one else would. Legislators should schedule a vote on it every week between now and Election Day on Nov. 8.
— Philip Quadrini, Marin City
Sheriff’s Office needs an oversight committee
It’s way past time for Marin County to organize a civilian board, team or committee with subpoena power to follow up on activities of the sheriff’s department.
Recent data shows, for example, that traffic stops and other arrests disproportionately affect people of color. It is extremely traumatic to be pulled over when you’re just minding your own business. The Marin City Ministerial Alliance has collected first-person stories of this.
People of color already experience housing discrimination, poorer educational opportunities than White residents, lower lifetime earning capacity and poorer health right here in liberal, Democratic Marin County.
Law enforcement discrimination could be an important tool to help remedy this disgraceful situation.
— Barbara Rothkrug, Mill Valley
Vote out those who refuse to secure safer society
Have you felt a new fear of going to public places, like the grocery store, a movie theater, your school office or even a hospital? Recently, I have. Our rights to life, liberty and happiness are thwarted when fear rules our choices.
How can the Second Amendment, written in the time of muskets, take these inalienable rights from an entire country? The military-use assault weapons — the AR-15 now for sale in many states to anyone — were unimagined back in 1791. Hand grenades and bazookas and currently banned. Why not also ban assault rifles that mutilate the victim?
The 14th Amendment declares that “individual states shall not deprive any person of life or liberty … nor deny to any person equal protection.” This is everybody’s problem. It is highly unlikely that anyone bent on killing cares if the victims are Republican or Democrat, yet one party supports gun safety and the other appears to advocate for assault-rifle access without strict enough laws to protect us.
Most people in the U.S. want this protection, but all are denied it. That means we are living under the tyranny of the minority. Vote out the people who refuse to secure a safer society. Elect those who will protect us and give us back what we have lost — freedom from fear.
Let’s turn our awareness and anger into action. Write “old school” letters and send postcards. Flood the mailbags of senators in the states you love, where you have relatives or friends. At the very least send an email. All correspondence is counted.
— Alice Cochran, San Rafael
Protect firearms from those who misuse them
Many gun advocates assert the primary cause of gun violence is the people using the firearm rather than the gun itself. I agree.
Therefore, I want to suggest passing something I’d like to call the “Firearm Protection Act.” It would contain such things as universal background checks, two-week waiting periods, required training prerequisites, raising the age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon to 21, “red flag” protocols and requiring firearms be empty when stored or transported.
We really need to protect our firearms from the people who abuse and misuse them.
— Kevin Lozaw, San Anselmo
Weapon advancements demand recalibration
Back in the 18th century, when our forefathers were writing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, their weapons were cannons and single-shot muskets that took a while to reload. They had no way of imagining the firepower available for purchase today.
The Second Amendment was not written so 18- year-old boys could acquire semi-automatic weapons loaded with huge magazines capable of killing large numbers of children quickly and efficiently. In the years since the Bill of Rights was written, weaponry has continually increased in deadly power.
We now have a wide spectrum of tools of war. At one end are atomic bombs and ballistic missiles, then tanks and short-range rockets. Further down the spectrum are flamethrowers and hand grenades, high-powered assault rifles, automatic pistols and the list ends with revolvers, small pistols and knives.
As a society, we already recognize that citizens should not be allowed to possess bazookas and hand grenades or atomic bombs, but we have failed to move the line between what is permitted and what is not permitted as the ability of small arms to kill and maim has gotten more and more deadly. It’s time to reconsider where we draw the line.
— John Hammond, San Rafael