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Taxes, safe drivers and more in Sunday's Forum

Staff Report • Aug 23, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Can anyone list the different types of taxes that are imposed on our citizens? I am sure those who smoke have noticed a significant jump in the price of cigarettes. Did farmers vote themselves a higher price for tobacco they grow?When a select few are given the power to vote for the amount of income and benefits the taxpayer will provide for themselves and their supporters, the temptation to exceed their value becomes too great. If I had been given that power, I might have been tempted to award myself with a higher salary and great health insurance. But if I had been given that power, I would have sent my employer into bankruptcy and wound up with nothing. A large government cannot resist the temptation. They will eventually drive those who truly produce real wealth out of business, have no one to tax, and we will all have nothing.In the history of new taxes, they have been sold to the public as filling a need for the common good. In actuality taxes raised for schools, police, firefighters and all of those things we want to support find their way into other causes. These desirable items are always the things that need more support but another tax does not fix it.DON WHITTAMOREJohnson CityAdd to gas taxIn response to a vehicle miles-traveled tax: How will a vehicle be tracked when it crosses state lines? The Tri-Cities are so close to Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. Just add another penny or two (to the gas) tax and all vehicles can pay. It’s not fair for us to be “fined” when Interstate travelers help wear the roads out.TRAVIS BURCHAMKingsportSafe Drivers ProgramI’m a senior at Science Hill High School. Recently, I received my first, and hopefully last, speeding ticket on North Roan Street in Johnson City going 45 in a 30-mph zone. Terrified at the thought of making an appearance in Juvenile Court, I paid my ticket fee and signed up for the Safe Drivers Program class for June 3.I was fully anticipating a boring, monotone cop who would scare me into never wanting to drive again. I entered the classroom of approximately 15 young drivers around my age. The two cops introduced themselves and began informing the class of the results of speeding including slideshows and videos of real-life accidents. They also informed the class about consequences of texting and driving. We were also given handy note sheet with blanks to fill out to keep us involved.The class was divided into multiple teams; at the end of a section, points were awarded to the team that got the answer correct over the reviewed information. The classroom environment was exceptionally friendly and responsive. The officers were approachable if students had questions, and I felt as though they genuinely cared about instructing the class. Near the end of the class, we went out to the parking lot of the building where we were provided the opportunity to try on drunk driving goggles that simulate the effects of alcohol consumption or drug impairment to the body. The activity was an eye-opener to say the least, as well as entertaining. In 2010, the latest year for which data was available, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death among 13- to 19-year-old male and female drivers. I really enjoyed this program, and I think it should be mandatory for all new drivers to take before taking the driver’s test at the DMV to keep the roads of Tennessee more safe.COURTNEY MORELOCKJohnson CityPolar warmingThe media’s fascinated with global warming in our polar regions. For example, it’s commonly stated that the poles are warming. But Antarctica (the southern pole) has had a slight cooling trend for the last 30-40 years, contrary to global warming theory (see www.climate4you.com). It’s also setting records for increased sea ice, with the Aug. 1 amount being 400,000 square miles above average. It’s never warm. The record high for the South Pole is 9.9 degrees and the world record low of negative 128.6 degrees at Vostok.The Arctic’s supposedly heating twice as fast as the rest of the world. However, that warming is occurring during the cold months (at 10-40 degrees below, no melt can occur) and not summer (see the Danish Meteorological Institute’s temperatures since 1958 at ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php). In summer, temperatures barely get above freezing. This summer, it experienced record cold. The Arctic’s being attacked from below by volcanic action and by warmer Pacific waters coming through Alaska’s shallow Bering Strait. Arctic gyres and winds push the ice around, bunching it up and flushing it into the Atlantic. In 2003 Andrew Revkin of The New York Times watched the ice move at 400 yards per hour (his book, “The North Pole Was Here”) and a North Pole buoy/webcam released in April has moved 275 miles in three months. The sun creates real problems for the Arctic. For 55 days in Arctic summer, the North Pole receives more daily solar energy than any place on earth, due to 24 hours of sunlight. The much-trumpeted ice loss of 2007 was due to a high pressure system that exposed it to continuous sunshine, not man-made warming.RON McCARLEYJohnson City

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