Virtual taxes only seem too highThe Sun (Nov. 27) reported...

LETTERS

December 05, 1996

Virtual taxes only seem too high

The Sun (Nov. 27) reported that business at soup kitchens is thriving. At the same time, business and political leaders in Maryland are clamoring for a reduction in the state personal income tax rate.

They say that Maryland is perceived to have high taxes, and that cutting the personal income tax will change this perception and stimulate economic growth.

Most of those business and political leaders also agree that, in reality, Maryland's taxes are not high when compared with those of other states. The residents of 35 states pay higher taxes than do Marylanders. Corporations in 45 states pay higher taxes than do those in Maryland.

Even in the mid-Atlantic region, Maryland's tax burden is relatively mild. Marylanders pay less taxes than residents of Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Few would argue that the average family could use more money in its pockets, but a flat cut in the personal income tax rate gives far more to wealthy individuals than to the average family (less than $3 per week).

If elected officials want to give tax relief to middle class families, then make the personal income tax more progressive.

But if the goal is to end the perception that Maryland's taxes are not competitive with other states, then we need only the perception of a tax cut -- a virtual tax cut.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce are surely capable of a national marketing strategy to show that Maryland's tax burden is very competitive. ''We're 36th'' might be a good slogan.

And the advantage of a virtual tax cut is that it might leave enough money to truly stimulate economic growth: investment in ''human capital,'' our relatives, friends and neighbors.

Then, perhaps, soup kitchens will become obsolete.

Jeff Singer

Baltimore

Muffin lady is an inspiration

Kudos to Linda Fisher of Westminster, whose story of self-reliance and hard work was related in The Sun Nov. 26. Mrs. Fisher was laid off from her job in food service; rather than going on welfare, she chose to set herself up as a lone baker. She rises early each morning, bakes tasty muffins and peddles them in a cart to small business throughout the community.

As mother of a school-age boy, she is proud that she has not accepted welfare, not even food stamps. With the exception of a one-time rent subsidy, she makes do with what she earns.

Linda Fisher might be interested to learn that the original founder of Pepperidge Farms bakery did exactly the same thing during the 1930s Depression, starting out baking her goodies and peddling them house-to-house in Connecticut where she and her husband (who had been laid off from his job) lived.

Perhaps Linda Fisher may be an inspiration to others, proof that hard work and a goal can pay off.

Dorothea T. Apgar

Baltimore

2nd District voters transcend race

Your recent editorial, ''Schism in the 2nd District,'' raised various interesting assumptions.

I was privileged to represent the people of the Second District for 13 years. I was first elected in 1983, and subsequently re-elected three more terms.

In each case, I received nearly equal support from all races of people in my district.

I believe the people of the Second District live by Dr. Martin Luther King's admonition, to judge people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. The people here care about quality of representation and nothing more.

Bernard Young, who is an African American, is a fine man, who I believe will represent all people well.

As for the alleged aloofness regarding the incumbents, time will tell. Aloofness is specific to the server and becomes in time evident to all of whom they serve.

One thing for sure, ''the people'' are much wiser than you think. They will sort it out and decide for themselves and the results will be evident in the 1999 elections.

Anthony J. Ambridge

Baltimore

Hunt Valley Mall has what others don't

As a merchant in Hunt Valley Mall, I am writing to request a little more evenhanded reporting. You ran a feature (Nov. 23, "Hunt Valley Mall will be redeveloped") that should have been presented as the first positive news about Hunt Valley in a while. But the accompanying photograph of a blank wall and no customers, and the implication of the article that whoever wrote it didn't believe it, were a disservice to the mall.

Then I read the column by Michael Olesker (Nov. 26, "Hunting for shoppers at Hunt Valley Mall"). What was the point? We know things are bad. As a single-store owner/operator, my wife and I are struggling to stay open and meet our lease. But the personal misfortunes of individual store owners aren't really the concern of the shopping public.

I don't expect a customer to buy from me because I need the sale. However, I think I have the right to expect to have a fair opportunity to present my product to the public and let the customer decide if I offer a fair value and good service for the price.

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