Gun Violence an Epidemic
I disagree with Robert Underwood (Letters, February 14, 2013). Gun violence meets all the technical definitions of an epidemic. Ironically, the gun nuts who complain about a lack of statistics are those very same individuals and organizations who fought so hard to prevent any such research from being legally conducted by government researchers. Not only is this intellectually dishonest, the best way to right the problem is to take the opposite perspective and compare results.
Just as there is never a valid and morally justifiable reason for shooting another human being, there is no valid and justifiable reason our society has allowed private ownership of firearms of human destruction.
Obama Sending Arms to Egypt
President Obama is providing 20 F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, which brings its total to 260; and 200 M1A1 Abrams tanks, bringing its total to 1,200. These arms are offensive weapons which could be used against Israel or resold to other Arab countries or organizations for use against Israel.
Given the instability in Egypt and the ascendance of Mohammed Morsi, a devout member of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the presidency in Egypt, we should not be building up Egypt’s armed forces. The Muslim Brotherhood is committed to the destruction of Israel and the imposition of Sharia (Islamic) law in Egypt, in other countries in the Middle East and throughout the world.
Israel, a democratic and Western-oriented country surrounded by totalitarian and anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-Buddhist and anti-Hindu regimes, must be kept strong to counter threats emanating from various countries in the region. Israel is the only friendly and trustworthy country standing in the Middle East. It needs to be able to purchase U.S. arms, and needs our diplomatic and moral support.
Donald A. Moskowitz
Income Tax Revisited
This year is the hundredth anniversary of the income tax (the 16th Amendment). In 1913, only a very small percentage of wage earners were subject to the tax. Over time, practically all of us have come under expanded provisions, including withholding and payroll taxes.
What started so innocuously in 1913 has become a dead weight on our economy. John F. Kennedy said, “The largest single barrier to full employment of our manpower... and to a higher rate of economic growth, is federal income taxes.”
In an era of sluggish economic activity and depressed federal revenues, Congress is turning a critical eye to the income tax. Right now we have several “fixes” vying for the spotlight, including tweaking the current system, various flat tax plans, VATs, and the Fair Tax.
The Fair Tax replaces the personal income tax, the corporate income tax, capital gains tax, payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare withholding), the AMT, and the estate tax, in favor of a one-time federal sales tax at the point of purchase. It would have brought in more federal revenue in 2009 and 2010 than all those other taxes combined because of the slump in employment. To quote JFK once again, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”
Your Congressman, Richard E. Neal , has a critical role to play in these discussions, sitting as he does on the House Ways and Means Committee, where all tax reform must start. Ask him to support the FairTax and report it out of committee for Congressional debate.
A Fuel Whose Time Has Come
Tom Leue, chemist and energy conservationist, has spent the last 14 years developing biodiesel. Biodiesel is a product made from waste vegetable oil. Many restaurants pay to have it removed, and some of this waste actually goes overseas. This waste product can be recycled into fuel.
Biodiesel is made from waste materials, specifically used vegetable oil. It’s a good lubricant for diesel engines. It’s non-toxic. It has 50 percent less carbon monoxide, 84 percent less global warming gases, 50 percent less soot and 92 percent less nPAH carcinogens than petroleum fuel.
It all began for Tom when he read From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank. He decided to convert his sugar house into a biodiesel processing plant and fill his diesel tractor with a product he made. He made many small batches of 40 gallons each and focused on selling his biodiesel product as a degreaser. Production was going smoothly, but after over 500 batches, something went wrong and the factory burned to the ground.
Tom decided to purchase and distribute biodiesel at local stores in Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont. He sells five-gallon jugs of biodiesel at stores such as Neighbors in Ashfield and The Solar Store in Greenfield under the brand name Yellow Brand Premium Biodiesel. Jugs can be exchanged, an empty for a filled, so the customer doesn’t have to pay for packaging. You can use the biodiesel as a de-greaser or amendment to your home heating oil or for any diesel engine.
Now Tom is also offering biodiesel fuel tank installations for farms and other facilities that can use on-site tanks. He sells under the trade name Yellow Brand Premium Biodiesel. You can reach Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From spring through fall, Tom brings 100 percent Yellow Brand Premium Biodiesel to his customers’ tanks, and during the winter he mixes onsite a diesel-biodiesel blend. He also delivers biodiesel heating oil to homes in the region. To think that fry oil could go from trash to treasure is inspiring.
On March 13 at 4 p.m., Tom Leue will speak on biodiesel and how to turn used fry oil into a useful, reusable resource at the Western Massachusetts Green Consortium’s Green Night, the Clarion Hotel, Northampton.
Arianna Alexsandra Grindrod
Naturalist Educator, Special Projects Organizer