Regarding the March 9 article, "Which bell should the NAACP answer?": The NAACP needs to change its approach, but not its purpose. Speaking about Bruce Gordon's departure as president of the NAACP, the chairman of the civil rights group, Julian Bond, said, "We want [the NAACP] to be a social justice organization; [Gordon] wanted it to be more of a social service organization."
The real problem with the NAACP is that many black people have benefited from the NAACP's work but have forgotten how they got their start.
It is these people who would change our organization's purpose, yet many are not even dues-paying members. I say to those well-off black people: It's time to give some of that wealth within the black community.
As it is, we find ourselves begging white corporate America to donate money and then letting those corporations or executives tell us when and when not to speak out for justice!
Millions of poor black folks have no jobs or no health insurance; are poorly educated, homeless, drug addicted, incarcerated, or are dying from black-on-black crime. This is clear evidence that there's continued need for social justice advocates. We need the NAACP to ensure justice for all. And we need more black people to show gratitude for how far they've come by giving back to their community.
Jimmie L. Griffin
President, Waterbury chapter, NAACP
Robert Walker's March 14 Opinion piece, "Tax energy use, not employment," presents a good argument.
Consumption taxes are fair taxes because they allow for individual choice, as opposed to income taxes, which are compulsory.
Perhaps our policy should be to calculate the total annual cost of our government's activities that go to support the flow of oil and add that as a consumption tax at the pump.
In this way we could see the real cost of fuel. Currently, the true cost is being hidden by income taxes, which are higher than gasoline taxes.
This has effectively constituted a subsidy for oil companies, which have come out with a great deal in the past: Taxpayers funded part of oil companies' costs, and the companies kept the extra profits.
Regarding Robert Walker's Opinion piece on taxing energy use: His rather simple solution sounds as if it could work and would place us more in tune with the gasoline tax rates in nations such as Britain.
There are, of course, large hurdles to the plan, the most evident one being people's aversion to change.
The US has a predominantly travel- oriented culture. The suburban lifestyle has placed fewer and fewer leisure sites, or at least fewer truly interesting ones, in the heart of suburbia. Try finding on the Internet a list of things to do on Long Island in the summer besides going to the beach, going shopping, or going into New York City.
As a result of this, people would view an increase in gasoline tax as an affront to their leisure, and I would expect stiff opposition to any increases.
A solution to this could be creating public-works projects that will build more of a sense of culture inside drab suburban landscapes. This would encourage people to drive less.
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