Gas tax: unpalatable but necessaryIn concept, balancing...

the Forum

December 23, 1992

Gas tax: unpalatable but necessary

In concept, balancing the budget and reducing the deficit are not difficult. Expenses need to be decreased and revenues need to be increased in a combined amount that brings them into balance, even after new investments are added.

The difficulty is political; having a wildly diverse democracy, based on checks and balances and local self-interests, to accept the discipline of shared sacrifice is not an easy task.

Cutting defense, entitlements, health-care costs, government waste, agriculture subsidies, interest on the national debt and dozens of other areas won't, by themselves, produce the $600 billion needed.

When you add vitally important investment costs that create jobs, improve productivity and competitiveness and help generate real growth (such as education and retraining, infrastructure projects, indexing capital gains, investment tax credits, enterprise zones and incentives for saving and investment) it's clear that there must be tax increases or, euphemistically, revenue enhancements.

Any examination of the net amount derived from taxing foreign corporations, increasing the tax rate on millionaires and high-income families, sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco or other cosmetic steps reveals that they simply won't raise sufficient revenue to get us to the objective.

Each penny of additional tax on gasoline generates a billion dollars of revenue. A $1 tax increase $100 billion of additional income phased in over a five to eight year period would make U.S. energy costs comparable to other industrial nations.

It would also have the effect of dramatically increasing fuel efficiency, making energy alternatives viable, stimulate high-quality/high-speed mass transportation, save our environment and, in conjunction with expense cuts and other revenue sources, enable us to reduce the deficit.

Ross Perot's economic advisers were correct. The gas tax may be politically unpalatable but it is necessary, and it ultimately provides the greatest good to the greatest number both for this and for future generations.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Why Question 6 passed

In his Other Voices column "Churches should stick to what they do best" (Dec. 2), Tom Bisset stated that: "The clear lesson for churches in Question 6 is that political activism is a failed ZTC strategy for achieving moral objectives in society. The numbers simply aren't there."

Mr. Bisset errs when he talks as if the contest over Question 6 were between the religious and the secular. He doesn't realize that there is no monolithic "church" or "religious" position on abortion.

There is no consensus against abortion within religious groups (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) nor is there any consensus among them. The Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights and other pro-choice "religious" organizations fought for passage of Question 6.

The main reason Question 6 passed was that the majority doesn't want governmental interference in private medical and moral decisions.

No one has the legal or moral right to make procreative decisions for someone else unless that person has provided for that right to be exercised on their behalf under certain medical emergencies. In a pluralistic democracy, the most widely shared value is freedom of choice in all aspects of life.

Another reason for the overwhelming passage of Question 6 was that people were tired of hearing the lies and distortions from anti-choice groups, and they viewed passage of Question 6 as a way to reduce the barrage of unmitigated noise. Mr. Bisset's column was an example of the perennially self-delusionary and distorted views of the anti-choice groups.

Mr. Bisset also said that "people living out the gospel in the real world are the church's only hope for effectively influencing America in the years to come."

People should be living out good ethical role models, concerning themselves more about good deeds rather than creeds. The obnoxious, non-peaceful, vociferous, anti-choice protesters at family planning clinics certainly portrayed negative role models and this may also have influenced the voting on Question 6.

Dan Bridgewater

Westminster

Goodbye, WITH

Regarding the sale of WITH-AM radio and its change to a childrens' format, the station brought joy and pleasant memories to many of us as one of the best easy-listening stations in the country.

The approaching death of the station as we now know it will leave a huge gap in Baltimore's music scene. We will have classical, rock-and-roll, country -- and children's.

Those of us over 60 want a program of "nostalgic" music. WITH filled that need so well and for so long. Goodbye, dear friend, we shall miss you.

A. Christopher

Baltimore

'Dumping ground' editorial unfairly dumped on company

The Dec. 16 Evening Sun editorial, "North Arundel's dumping ground," is based on erroneous and incomplete information.

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