Civilization is like character: It can't be bought

Your July 21 editorial "Kamikaze tax-cut votes" repeats the tired adage that taxes are the price of civilization. Civilization in a society is like character in a person in that a good one cannot be bought, but must be earned by constant adherence to the highest ideals of mankind.

Along those lines, we read in the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived...." Note that it does not include heritage or marital status as taxable items.

Redefining the word "income" to include these or other considerations engenders cynicism amongst the people, one of the most powerful destroyers of civilization. Marital status is not income, nor is wealth that is owned by a family and passed on within the family.

We should all fully support the elimination of the "marriage tax" and the inheritance tax as being a stand for principle and the correct reading of the Constitution, and continue the work of making our tax code, and all the operations of our government, constitutionally correct. Such work is part of the true price of civilization.

Rod Barto El Paso, Texas

Texas not like the rest of US

Texan's love affair with guns is completely out of sync with the rest of America, particularly the Northeast and the West Coast ("Texas tussle over proper place of guns," July 20). With all the guns in the Lone Star state, it is not surprising that Texas has more executions for violent crimes than all the other states combined. Thank goodness there are some enlightened Texans like Wendy Davis and Becky Hasken, Fort Worth city council members who favor a ban on gun shows in their city. Women throughout America are taking the lead in advocating gun-control legislation through events such as the Million Mom March.

It will be interesting to see how Gov. George W. Bush can reconcile this gun culture and record number of executions with his compassionate conservatism.

George A. Dean Edgartown, Mass.

Some precautions to cohousing

I read with interest the July 26 articles on cohousing ("United we stand" and "Life as a parent in cohousing"). I live in a similar type of project - a neighborhood of 13 moderate-income homes on leased land with a shared well, septic systems, and common land. The project is headed by a local nonprofit with the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) ultimately in charge. We have a neighborhood association, and pay monthly fees to cover the cost of grounds upkeep, taxes on the land, etc.

Here is the downside of living in a shared community: What do you do when your neighbors don't pay their fees?

One-quarter of our residents are seriously delinquent. This is demoralizing in such a small community. We've tried everything, including going to the nonprofit several times, writing the VHFA to follow through on sending out mortgage-default letters, and going to small claims. I would highly recommend that if anyone moves into this type of project, they carefully look into the association to see how it is governed, and if things get done.

Nancy Turner Katz Norwich, Vt.

Beyond banning video games

Regarding your July 25 editorial "Vigilance on violence": The attempt by the city of Indianapolis to curb violence is commendable. However, separating minors from "violent" video games is well-intentioned, but paternalistic and ultimately ineffective. Most of the young people playing these games will probably never join a street gang, buy handguns, and kill people. This looks like an attempt to get at a much deeper problem without striking at the roots.

Eric V. Stone Chicago

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