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Everybody's Column

America sorely needs simplified tax system

I know that readers of The News have been sufficiently informed of the specifics of the value added tax and the flat tax that our congressmen and congresswomen have been mulling over for quite awhile now. There is no doubt in my mind that a new, fairer, simplified system of taxation is sorely needed.

Following is an idea I have constructed after much thought and study of the problem, thinking of the best possible solution that may be agreeable to all congressmen and women.

First: There would be a level of income below which no tax would be due, say $50,000. This would give young singles, young marrieds and new business start-ups a chance to build a foothold in our economy. Further, we would be giving our elderly a chance to survive old age.

Second: A progressive tax would begin for income above $50,000. It could start from a 0 percent tax rate and go up to a 30 percent or 35 percent tax rate at $300,000 of income.

Third: A flat tax rate at 30 percent or 35 percent would kick in at income above $300,000.

All income would be gross income. There would be no deduction for any reason. There would be no death tax.

Franklin J. Battaglia

Batavia

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U.S. should stop giving billions in aid to Israel

The killing by Israel of humanitarian workers in international waters again highlights the ruthless methods the Israeli military has used in order to maintain the siege of Gaza. The fact that the attack on the Turkish aid mission occurred outside Israel's territorial waters has led some to compare the deadly attack to an act of international piracy.

In this light, we must question the wisdom of the United States providing $3 billion in aid to Israel, much of which is used to take private land from Palestinians for settlements and to commit human rights abuses against civilians in the illegally occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. At a time when communities across the United States are reeling from the ongoing economic downturn and drastic cuts in education, libraries and other public services, why are we sponsoring war crimes such as the Israeli attack on humanitarian workers?

Jean Dickson

Buffalo

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'Humanists' intended to break the blockade

What happened with the flotilla has become clear. A group of ships with "humanists" on board headed to Gaza, ostensibly with the sole goal of delivering humanitarian goods to Gaza. That pretext soon gave way to their clear intention -- breaking the Israeli blockade. Otherwise, they would have readily accepted Israeli offers to deliver the goods -- turned down repeatedly. And the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, has been documented to have been laden with scores of steel pipes, knives and even guns. Those passengers were not focused on delivery; they clearly wanted a confrontation and got it. (Multiple ships have been stopped before and after without violence and there was no violence on the other ships of the flotilla.)

The Israelis were lured into the trap, had poor intelligence and poor planning for the possibility of violence. For that, Israel is paying a tremendous price. The issues of the legal boycott and prevention of additional weapons flowing into Gaza have been overtaken by the tragic loss of life that resulted from the trap.

Why don't the people of Gaza demand that their leaders accept peace and the immediate improvement to their lives that would follow?

Leonard A. Katz, M.D.

Williamsville

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Many like big portions 78 Degrees West serves

I love reading the Gusto on Friday and usually look forward to the restaurant reviews. But I found a recent one a little hard to swallow. My husband and I have been to 78 Degrees West several times and have enjoyed our meals at every single visit. I'm uncertain how large portions at great prices is a problem. It's tough for restaurant owners to stay in business -- kudos to these brothers for doing such an excellent job. Small and intimate is nice, but that is the reviewer's consistent choice of venue and her opinion, granted. The size of the building doesn't always make a restaurant great. The food, service, servers and owners do.

Maybe it's time for a newer and fresh set of eyes visiting our local eateries. I find it's always better to be encouraging to entrepreneurs. They are our future.

Karen Okonowski-Dunlap

Williamsville

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Obama faces criticism no matter what he does

In regard to the verbal barrage surrounding President Obama, my view is: He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. That sums up what Obama faces in every decision he makes every day. If the likes of John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell, et al, think they can hold a candle to him, they can begin by showing some class, which they sorely lack.

Priscilla Wright

Tonawanda

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Political candidates should take high road

Unlike many who have become numb to the political process and the personal shortcomings of a growing minority of our elected officials, I see it from a unique perspective.

During my three-term tenure as a senior staff member for Rep. Steve Israel, I saw firsthand that, contrary to stereotypes and current public opinion, most elected officials on both sides of the aisle are good, honest people who are focused on the issues of concern to their constituency and not interested in providing material for late-night comedians and political adversaries.

Although I believe it is highly unlikely, I truly hope that elected officials will take the high road in this coming election season and campaign on platforms of their individual achievements, without letting loose the bloodhounds to dig up irrelevant personal issues. We would like to believe that our elected officials are superhuman. No one among us is perfect.

If the race for governor is any indication of how this campaign season will play out, I am going to put my News subscription on hold, keep the television off and buy a few good books to get me through November. I am interested in what Robert Duffy accomplished during his tenure as mayor of Rochester and how he will serve us as lieutenant governor, not his political opponents' spin on his legal retirement benefits. I hope that the Lazio campaign and others will spend their resources in elevating their candidates on their qualifications for the job, not on dirt their emissaries come up with to knock their opponent down for a little political traction. Voters deserve better.

Nick Crocco

Town of Tonawanda

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