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Ethical behavior rests with individuals

Shameful is the behavior of Wall Street barons who had the audacity to ask for tax dollars to rescue their company from their own folly. To make matters worse, these same individuals skimmed money from the bailout to pay themselves bonuses totaling $16 billion-$18 billion.

This dismal picture of greed, dishonesty and theft might have been different had lawmakers listened to Sen. Bob Corker speak against giving bailout money without accountability. Hopefully, President Obama's loud protest against the CEOs will have an impact on those who feathered their own nest at the expense of the American people.

Unfortunately, our government gives billions of dollars yearly for worthy projects without plans for accountability. Illustrations include private contractors who are rebuilding Iraq, various "pork projects," subsidies and benefits to illegals. It is odd that doing business with the government involves so much detailed paperwork that weightier matters of truth, justice and mercy are ignored.

The Cryptoquote in Thursday's paper seems appropriate for inclusion in the context of my concerns. "Our Aim Is Not To Do Away With Corporations - We Draw The Line Against Misconduct, Not Against Wealth" - Theodore Roosevelt.

In the final analysis, the responsibility for ethical behavior rests with individuals and only God can transform the heart.

EUGENE GASCAY

Ooltewah

Joke's on seniors on

state taxes

Friday the 13th the Free Press stated that there is no state income tax in Tennessee. But I have lived here for 16 years and I have paid taxes - state taxes and federal taxes - all those years.

Why? Only people who are old and retired, who saved their money and bought a few stocks to have a little more income to tide them over because Social Security doesn't pay for property taxes or house insurance, car insurance, etc., and being a widow to boot, I just love the way Tennessee treats seniors (retired) citizens. All our lives we did the right thing, lived within our means, hoping one day to retire and be able to live a nice quiet life and not have to worry about too many things. I guess the joke's on us.

IRENE ROSE

Hixson

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Tennessee has no general income tax, but does tax some dividends and interest.)

Time to modernize

state tax system

We have had three commissions, created by the state Legislature, to study Tennessee's tax system and to make recommendations. The latest, which reported its findings at the end of 2004, mirrored the earlier ones in cutting and reforming sales taxes, while making up lost revenue with a graduated individual income tax.

The present sales tax-dependent system cannot increase revenue by enough to finance current services, thereby producing periodic revenue crises met by further increases in sales tax rates.

It may be convenient but it is wishful thinking to blame the recession for all of the state's revenue problems.

The time is overdue to scrap all the old anti-income tax cliches and to reform and modernize the state's archaic revenue-raising system.

THOMAS F. DERNBURG

Nashville

Tell legislators you

don't want income tax

I confess to impatience when I continue to read articles and editorials implying that Tennessee has no state income tax. We do!

All dividends and interest over $1,250, derived out of state, are subject to the 6 percent "Hall tax." Many of us, as retirees, depend on dividends and interest.

Our city is trying to encourage more retirees and older citizens to settle in Chattanooga. We are already taxed! And I do not for a minute think that a general income tax would replace the Hall tax. It would no doubt be added to it.

Please contact your state legislators, and tell them you do not want a general income tax.

JO COKE

Signal Mountain

State's archaic tax

system needs change

The Free Press continues to publish tax mythology. Nothing in the state Constitution prohibits a Tennessee income tax. And nothing in the state Constitution requires the citizens of the state to receive such abysmally poor government services as those they currently enjoy. Nothing, that is, except an archaic tax system that produces nothing but pennies to pay for services that require dollars.

Tax fairness requires that all Tennesseans pay the same rate of tax, vis-a-vis their incomes. That means that the current system, whereby, as a percentage of their income, the poorest people pay 11.5 percent in state taxes and the wealthy pay about 3.5 percent, is unfair.

And I have to laugh at the notion that, in some strange way, the income tax is the only tax that would automatically be increased in the future. Look what's happened to the sales tax. It surely didn't start out at its present high.

Enough! Let's get serious and modernize our tax system so as to produce the revenue required to lift the state of Tennessee out of its pit, and reduce the tax burden on 60 percent of Tennesseans. See the TFT Web site for complete explanations as to how this can be done - www. fairtaxation.org.

RONALD NAYLOR

Soddy-Daisy

Income tax would

lower other taxes

I notice that you are against a state income tax.

Here are some arguments in favor of an income tax:

Yes, the state and local food tax will be repealed ... entirely.

Yes, the sales tax on everything else will be cut by nearly a third to a new combined rate of 6.75 percent.

Yes, 60 percent of Tennesseans will pay less under this plan.

Asking those at the top to pay at least the same amount of taxes as a portion of their income is not soaking anyone. That's just plain fairness.

Finally, while $1 billion may sound like a lot, it will move Tennessee up only four spaces, from 49th to 45th in state and local taxes as a percentage of income. It would take $3.4 billion to bring us up to the regional average in public investments (education alone accounts for $2.1 billion of that), and even more to bring us to the national average.

Oh ... and yes, and a state income tax is constitutional.

So what do you have to say about each of these arguments.

DOUG JACKSON

Knoxville

TELL YOUR LEGISLATORS

Let your legislators know your views on the issues. Area legislators are:

Sen. Andy Berke (DChattanooga): local 423-266-5171; 615-741-6682; fax 615-253-0209.

Sen. Bo Watson (RHixson): local 423-488-2353; 615-741-3227; fax 423-741-4917.

Sen. Dewayne Bunch (R-Cleveland): local 423-472-9181; 615-741-3730; 615-253-0243.

Rep. Tommie Brown (DChattanooga): local 423-622-7474; 615-741-4374; fax 615-253-0203.

Rep. Vince Dean (REast Ridge): local 423-867-2857; 615-741-1934; fax 615-741-4917.

Rep. JoAnne Favors (DChattanooga): local 423-624-5088; 615-741-2702; fax 615-253-0351.

Rep. Richard Floyd (RChattanooga): local 423-877-0163; 615-741-2746; fax 615-253-0304.

Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga): local 423-443-1574; 615-741-2548; fax 615-253-0305.

Rep. Mike Bell (RRiceville): local 423-829-0058; 615-741-1946; fax 615-741-0704.

Rep. Kevin Brooks (RCleveland): local 423-478-7102; 615-741-1350; fax 615-253-0346.

Rep. Jim Cobb (RSpring City): local 423-365-4848; 615-741-1450; fax 615-741-4917.

Rep. George Fraley (D-Winchester): local 931-967-3564; 615-741-8695; fax 615-253-0314.

Rep. Bill Harmon (DDunlap): local 423-949-5100; 615-741-6849; fax 615-253-0264.

Rep. Eric Swafford (RPikeville): local 800-727-1904; 615-741-2343; fax 615-253-0230.

Rep. Eric Watson (RCleveland): local 423-339-0939; 615-741-7799; fax 615-253-0252. You also may write them at the State Capitol, Nashville, TN 37243 or call toll free at 800-449-8366. Or you may contact them by e-mail. For a senator, the e-mail format is sen.(first name).(last name)@capitol.tn.gov. For a representative, the format is rep.(first name).(last name)@capitol.tn.gov. Example: sen.bo.watson@ capitol.tn.gov.

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