Letters to the Editor

Sales-tax plan should get more scrutiny

My answer is "I hope not" to your Aug. 21 editorial, "Will FairTax popularity get notice in D.C.?"

While it is politically popular to favor dumping the income tax and abolishing the IRS, we need to ask ourselves: What are the intended and unintended consequences of enacting a national sales tax? Who wins and who loses? While these questions are debatable, some aspects of the FairTax are crystal clear.

First, is the clever but disingenuous name FairTax. The fairness of any tax depends on circumstances and point of view. What's fair to you may not be fair to me. However, a number of nonpartisan groups have concluded that the FairTax would raise taxes substantially on most Americans and cut taxes substantially on the well off. You can call an ugly duckling a swan, but that doesn't make it so.

Second, the 23 percent tax rate is disingenuous. Most people reading your editorial would probably assume a 23 percent sales tax means $23 in tax on a purchase of $100. In fact, the tax is really $30 (or 30 percent) on a $100 purchase.

Even a 30 percent rate is misleading and likely inadequate to replace all corporate and personal income taxes, and payroll, capitol gains and estate taxes. By some estimates, a rate of 50 percent or higher is required. In all fairness, nobody really knows. That is a major problem with enacting such a drastic change.

But there are many uncertainties about Rep. John Linder's FairTax that cause concern. Will state sales taxes have to be added to replace income taxes? What will be the impact on new construction since new home sales are taxed but existing homes are not? One could devote an entire article to discussing the pros and cons. What a great idea! Instead of endorsing such a radical proposal, your newspaper should devote an entire page to a discussion for and against the FairTax and let your readers decide for themselves.

- Allan Burns


Lawrenceville man took risk to save life

My letter is to apprise the citizens of Gwinnett County of the courage and character of one of your residents, Mike Board of Lawrenceville.

On Aug. 8, Board was traveling east on Interstate 16 near Savannah. On an otherwise bright and sunny day, he encountered a very heavy afternoon thundershower in which he notices a vehicle hydroplaning from the inside lane across to the shoulder of the road, rolling over and ending up in a roadside pond with the vehicle upended.

After futile attempts to call 911 and flag down help, Board realized that any effort to rescue the driver or others was entirely up to him.Without hesitation, he plunged into the pond in this storm, opening the hatch on this upside-down SUV, searching for the occupants. As the vehicle was filling with water, Board determined there was one person, the driver, inside the automobile. He led her out of the rear of the car and out of the ever-deepening pond.

Because of his actions, our daughter survived the accident with lacerations and bruises in what could have been a tragedy. In this emergency, Board reacted without regard to his personal safety; he knew it was up to him. This is the character of a man whose actions make us proud to be Americans and one who will have the enduring gratitude of the family of Rachel C. Banks.

- Ray A. Banks

Sylvester, Ga.