In Search of Fair Taxation
The Work & Money article "Scrap the Code? It's Not So Easy" (March 9) misrepresents the National Retail Sales Tax (HR-2001) supported by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R) of Louisiana. Your tax expert calls it "inefficient and inequitable," and says it "would damage low-income people."
The bill, in fact, provides for a "Family Consumption Refund." Each family is eligible to receive a full rebate equal to all wages up to the poverty level times the sales tax rate.
The costs of the current income tax system are passed on to all consumers, including the poor, in the form of higher prices. The poor now pay this hidden tax of 15 to 25 percent on necessities - from food and clothing to rent and health care.
HR-2001 would ax the IRS bureaucracy, delegate federal sales tax collection to the states, and reimburse states and businesses for collecting taxes. That sounds both fair and efficient to me. The bill is co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans.
Paul E. Chaney
San Bernardino, Calif.
Member, Citizens for an Alternative Tax System
Australia's national dialogue
Thank you for your coverage of Australia's Constitutional Convention in "The Queen's Defenders Down Under" (Feb. 11).
May I add to the article to highlight the broader context within which the convention was based: It is indeed true that the queen is Australia's head of state, but all powers and responsibilities of the office rest with the "queen's representative," the governor general, who is an Australian. Whether the title "head of state" is held by a foreigner or a resident is mainly an emotive issue.
While opinion polls favor the republican cause, a large proportion of Australians are not in such a hurry to change, particularly when they understand the difference between the mechanical and emotive issues.
The convention also debated issues such as the need to codify the powers of any new presidential style of statesman (or states-woman), how this person should be elected, and how a president may affect the mandate and balance of power between two houses of parliament and the executive government.
The public has for some time been considering issues such as Aboriginal reconciliation, environmental responsibilities, the prosperity gap, social welfare, and rights versus responsibilities: Discussions permeating Australian society at present have considerable depth and humanity.
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
Winnie-the-Pooh in reality
"Too Much Bother About a Bear" (Feb. 23) on the Home Forum page contains the statement, "Winnie-the-Pooh is actually NOT REAL." Well, further research may be in order. My son Roger visited Winnipeg, Manitoba, the hometown of the cavalry regiment in which I fought during World War II. The full story is told on a bronze plaque accompanying a statue there:
"On August 24th, 1914, while enroute overseas during World War I, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, V.S., of the 34th Fort Garry Horse Regiment of Manitoba, purchased a black Canadian bear cub at White River, Ontario. He named her Winnie after Winnipeg, his home town. The bear became the pet of the soldiers.... In 1919, [Lieutenant Colebourn] gave her to the [London] Zoo where she was visited and loved by many, including the author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher.
"In 1926, A.A. Milne gave the fictional character Winnie-the-Pooh, named after Lieutenant Colebourn's bear, to Christopher Robin and his friends for posterity. Winnie died at the London Zoo on May 12, 1934."
It behooves the world to know the true origins of this lovable creature. Neither London nor New York should be the repository of Winnie, but rather Winnipeg, Manitoba, or possibly even White River, Ontario.
Frank P. Davidson
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