Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the hurricane Katrina aftermath, suburban Chinatowns, Los Angeles as a literate city, campaign fundraising, and the proposed carbon flat tax.

Renters left stranded after hurricane Katrina

I read with great interest the July 10 article, "As recovery lags, spirits sag in Gulf," which described the problems faced by the survivors of hurricane Katrina. I swam out of my rental home in Mississippi, one week to the day after undergoing surgery. Needless to say, I have had a rough go of it. Your story put light on the frustration that eats at so many of us.

What you failed to mention and may well not be aware of is that there has been no effort to provide a way for those of us who were renters when hurricane Katrina hit to afford to get out of these trailers and mobile homes so graciously supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. No local entity appears to be willing, nor able, to tell us where all the money raised by charities has gone, only that Governor Barbour seems to have hijacked millions from the former presidents' funds to be used only for homeowners in their recovery. This on top of the millions in state-issued Homeowners' Grant programs.

I am happy that many of my good neighbors have been granted funding to help them put their lives back together, but I question the fairness in ignoring the huge bloc of hard-working, tax-paying citizens who just happened to be renters.

Bill Cummings
Waveland, Miss.

Suburban Chinatowns

In the July 10 article, "A land squeeze in America's Chinatowns," about changes to the Chinatowns in major American cities, the article failed to mention that there is phenomenal growth of Chinese populations in the Chinatowns of Vancouver and Toronto in Canada.

At the same time, in certain cities such as Los Angeles and San Jose, new immigrants are moving straight to the suburbs where a significant number of stores, restaurants, churches, and supermarkets have sprung up over the past 20 years that cater specifically to the Asian community.

Chinatowns are slowly turning into tourist spots – the same is happening to Japanese communities in the States, too. However, major enclaves of new immigrants are going straight to suburbia to start their lives in a new community.

Steven Lee
Tiverton, R.I.

Los Angeles enjoys reading

I disagree with the assertion made in the July 2 article, "Jay Levin tilts at print mills." The article describes the challenge Jay Levin faces launching RealTALK L.A., a brand-new print magazine, and asserts that Los Angelenos do not read.

This theory is a tired cliché that should be put to rest (so should the one about nobody walking in L.A., but that's for a different letter). For the past 12 years, the Los Angeles Times has hosted a festival of books in association with University of California Los Angeles. It is the largest book festival in the country, with approximately 130,000 attendees and 100 author panels each year.

The Los Angeles Public library system consists of 72 interconnected local branches, with plans to improve, renovate, expand, and construct 36 library projects throughout the city. The Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove, an outdoor mall in Los Angeles, is the western region flagship as well as the largest Barnes & Noble west of the Mississippi. Last but not least, in "The Misread City: New Literary Los Angeles," essayist and novelist Marcos M. Villatoro reports "... what New York publicists already know: Angelenos buy more books than New Yorkers in any given year." Los Angeles as an illiterate city is simply not true.

Sarah Skilton
Los Angeles

Less focus on campaign fundraising

I was relieved after reading the July 10 opinion piece, "Wastefulness of the early presidential campaign," that I am not the only person concerned with the amount of money and press coverage already dedicated to presidential campaigns.

Personally, I am disgusted each time a new figure for a candidate's fundraising efforts is released. Elections should be about the voice of the people, not the amount of money each candidate is able to raise.

Lake Oswego, Ore.

Carbon flat tax will not hurt the poor

In response to the July 5 editorial, "Al Gore's inconvenient tax," I agree with former Vice President Al Gore's plan to replace the current payroll tax with a consumer tax on fossil-fuel use. I believe that a flat carbon tax is not a hot political sell at the moment. However, the editorial perpetuates the myth that a carbon flat tax must hurt the poor more than the rich.

If the tax replaces the income tax, it could increase the rate of taxation on the poor. If the carbon tax revenues are redistributed to everyone as an tax rebate, the tax would simply punish those who consume more than the average American. Everyone would receive the same rebate regardless of their consumption patterns.

Those who have larger and more numerous vehicles, homes, and appliances would pay more carbon taxes than they receive as rebates. Since the rich presumably consume more carbon than the average American, they would pay more under this new system.

The poor and conscientious middle and upper classes would pay less. Carbon taxes are strictly concerned with carbon output, not class.

Michael Collins
La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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