- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

‘Le mini baby boom’

The analysis of Europe’s current and future health in yesterday’s Commentary column “Farewell to Europe?” was one-sided and apocalyptic and broad enough in most socioeconomic forecasts that it could not be refuted.

However, the authors stayed in the present tense just long enough to be refuted on some key facts. For example, the authors seem unaware that birthrates in Europe generally are rising, and, in the case of France, are doing so by dramatic amounts. So, one can easily point to the example of France when the authors assert, “There are only two possible solutions that could theoretically prevent the projected demographic crisis: (1) increasing the birthrate or (2) increasing immigration. The first is virtually impossible in the short- to medium-term and unlikely in the longer term.”

From a low of 1.4 children per woman in 1994, the French birthrate has surged by more than 30 percent in the past decade, to the point where it now matches Ireland at nearly 2 children per woman. France’s population is projected to rise from 60 million to 75 million by 2050 — hardly the sign of a nation in decline.

The cause of “le mini baby boom” is not clear, but most French observers credit spontaneous changes in social attitudes in addition to new subsidies. Could this not occur throughout Southern Europe? The authors just repeat American conventional wisdom on this score. The rest of the column is similarly a projection ad infinitum from what they take to be present trends.

DAVID WINCH

Ferney-Voltaire, France

Hunting safely in Maryland

According to the article “Young hunters prompt debate” (Metropolitan, Monday), Heidi Prescott, a vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, found Maryland’s hunter-safety course to be easy. This is a tribute to the quality of her instruction. In her particular course, participants fired at stationary targets, but in many, if not most, courses, the live firing is done at moving clay targets. It is unfortunate, but many courses do not have a safe area for wing shooting (shooting game birds that are on the wing).

We moved to Maryland in 1966, just in time for me to teach in the first official Maryland Hunter Safety Course. At that time, there typically were double-digit hunting deaths each year, sometimes more than 20, and twice as many accidents. In the years since, the training program has reduced hunting shooting fatalities to less than one a year, on average. With the rise in tree-stand use, we saw increasing numbers of deaths from falls. Quickly, tree-stand safety was added to the training, and there has been a steady decline in tree-stand accidents and associated deaths.

Is the course easy? Perhaps, but clearly it is effective, and hunters of all ages have become safer because of it.

Though Maryland hunters are not required to have a license to hunt on their own property, they are required to complete a Hunter Safety Course.

JOHN J. KODAK

Lanham

Why not tax all windfalls?

I am all for a special tax on the additional profits made by the oil and gas companies of late… if several conditions apply (“Skip the gas profit tinkering,” Commentary, Tuesday).

The first is that the special tax, over and above normal taxes paid on income and profit, would be applied to everyone who gets an increase. In other words, if you or I get a raise in salary, that raise requires a special tax over and above the income tax on that money. If a serviceperson, waiter/waitress or commission salesperson gets a bigger tip or a bonus for doing good work, he or she should pay a special tax on that money, just like the oil companies. If a business has a better month than seems allowed, it should pay an excess-profit tax over and above its regular income tax. In other words, all increases in income or profit, on all persons and businesses, no matter what the reason for the increase, should have a special windfall tax levied.

The other condition should be that the tax collected should be distributed as a tax refund to anyone who did not get a raise, bonus or extra tip. The refund should be given in inverse proportion to the person’s current income. The less a person makes, the more money he or she would receive. In addition, no business would qualify for this refund.

Finally, anyone who has had a job-related expenditure such as for a car repair, uniform or tool repair or replacement and is reimbursed or compensated for that expense should pay a windfall tax on the reimbursement.

That tax payment would be redistributed to others as outlined above.

If these conditions sound absurd to you, especially if you would be the one to pay the extra tax, remember that there are people calling for just that with the oil companies, both in our state legislatures and at the congressional level. If they can do it to the oil companies, how can we stop them from exacting the same wrong conditions on the rest of us? If we support the excess tax on oil companies, we also agree to tax ourselves in this ridiculous manner. We harm ourselves by hurting businesses large or small that make a little extra once in a while.

PAUL KRESSIN

Los Alamos, N.M.

Still a bright future for the GOP

While Democrats gleefully opine that President Bush cost Jerry Kilgore the election (“Bush ‘sank’ GOP in Virginia,” Page 1, yesterday) and “Chicken Little” Republicans think the sky is falling, let me offer a realistic assessment.

Timothy Kaine’s victory was not a repudiation of Mr. Bush, as so many have suggested. Mr. Kaine ran not on his own record, but on that of Gov. Mark Warner. Save an unnecessary massive tax increase, the general consensus is that the commonwealth hasn’t done too badly under Mr. Warner’s watch. Mr. Kaine’s victory, therefore, was a victory for the status quo.

Beyond that, Mr. Kilgore and the Republicans did themselves and their supporters a disservice by producing ads that exploited personal tragedies for political gain — and all on an issue that was so far down on the list of voter priorities that the only effect these ads had was to alienate voters.

Democrats should temper their enthusiasm, and Republicans can take heart in the victory of William Bolling in the race for lieutenant governor and the apparent victory of Bob McDonnell in the race for attorney general. Ignore the spin doctors and use your own judgment. The future of conservatism is still very bright.

TOM RAUB

Roanoke

I disagree with yesterday’s Page One article that says President Bush “sank” the Republican Party in Virginia. Jerry Kilgore sank the Republican Party with his unnecessarily negative campaign and his despicable “death penalty” ads. The election was not a referendum on Mr. Bush or his declining numbers. That is a fallacious excuse. Mr. Bush doesn’t run Virginia, and Gov. Mark Warner is a Democrat.

The simple fact is that the ticket offered by the Republicans was too far right for moderate Republicans and independents. The fact that the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general were so close supports my position. Moderate Republicans and independents simply are fed up with the antics of the far-right wing of the Republican Party, which is in control at the local, state and national levels. Democrats didn’t offer any better solutions than Republicans; both parties offered solutions that were laughable.

Mr. Kilgore wasn’t going to expand Interstate 66 inside the Beltway, and regional transportation authorities would only be another unnecessary layer of government that would push decisions away from those elected to make those decisions. Mr. Kaine’s proposal to limit property taxes constitutionally could only take effect eight years from now and would tie the hands of local governments. The far right of the Republican Party and Mr. Kilgore’s stupid “death penalty” ads sank the Republican Party on Tuesday. That’s all.

JOHN S. GRAY

Lake Ridge, Va.

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