Tired of Tirades
I was shocked at the nasty vitriol directed towards film critic Jack Brown in several recent editions. I haven’t always agreed with Mr. Brown’s opinions, but I’ve always found his work informed, honest and thoughtful. So he (or a copy editor, or a proofreader) had the audacity to make several minor and quickly corrected errors; the letter writers make it sound like he’s some kind of war criminal. Do these mistakes undermine the otherwise enjoyable content? You obviously knew what he really meant, right, Mr. Angry Film Buff? Anyone who hasn’t served up a few fat-fingers in their writing career simply isn’t trying hard enough. I suggest the complainers start their own popular, mistake-free arts newspaper and discover the joys of unhinged “expert” critics.
Reform Before Tax
Following up on your editorial about recent tax hikes (“DeLeo Dollars in Fantasy Land,” Aug. 8, 2013): The House should have taken steps to enact fiscal reforms before asking cash-strapped taxpayers to dig deeper in their wallets. There are a number of areas crying out for reform, including:
1) The MBTA. The T is the nation’s fifth-largest system but has the highest debt burden of any U.S. transit agency. A June, 2012 report from the Refund Transit Coalition called Riding the Gravy Train—How Wall Street Is Bankrupting Our Public Transit Agencies by Profiteering Off of Toxic Swap Deals concentrated on local transit systems, and some of its numbers are stunning. Wall Street banks have swooped in to take advantage of a financially desperate transit agency—and its riders—by roping the T into risky interest rate swap deals. The study found that the T is losing about $26 million a year on five toxic swaps still outstanding with Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase and UBS, and suggested that the MBTA will “lose another $254 million on these swaps” before they lapse. The study added that the MBTA was losing money on swaps even before its financial crisis, with total losses running in the “hundreds of millions” of dollars.
2) Massachusetts is losing billions of dollars in tax revenue to offshore tax havens. A new report (www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/hidden-cost-offshore-tax-havens) shows Massachusetts ranked seventh among states losing tax revenue from corporations and wealthy individuals—to the tune of more than $1.6 billion.
3) From 2010 to January, 2013 the state has spent more than $2.4 million on bottled water. WTF? If Quabbin Reservoir has some of the best public drinking water in the nation, then let state workers fill up their glasses with tap water. If Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Colorado, Maryland and Illinois have already banned government spending on bottled water, then it is time for Massachusetts to do the same.
4) Let’s get rid of the Governor’s Council and save more than $500,000 annually.
Matt L. Barron
Who’s the Nanny Now?
I spotted an upsetting editorial in a Bangor, Maine newspaper this summer. The piece rightly opined that, because of the illegal overthrow of the Morsi regime, we should stop giving military aid to Egypt, which, along with Israel, receives billions each year. But then the editorial went on to say that this would have a detrimental effect on jobs in the U.S., with military contractors such as Lockheed not getting contracts.
I was furious. We constantly hear from the “liberal” media how Obama’s attempts at stimulus programs are socialist, an abuse of taxpayer money. Any attempt to help people out with food stamps or Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid, we’re told, stinks of socialism and the nanny state. Now I’m supposed to worry that cutting aid to Egypt would cost the U.S. military-industrial complex jobs? Who’s the nanny here? I’m supposed to fork over my hard-earned money to Egypt and Israel so they can go out and buy weapons from us to terrorize and abuse their citizens and neighbors? This stinks of a warped welfare state to me.