Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Feb. 10

Taxes

They fund some critical services, like the ferries

I know that my position on taxes contradicts the business community’s standard wisdom, but I continue to assert that there is no ironclad connection between tax cuts and business profitability or business climate.

Taxes fund services. When a tax is cut, the service that was funded goes away. If a business or its customers are users of that service, they must then provide that service on their own at whatever cost the marketplace establishes. That cost may well exceed the savings that were achieved through the tax cut, depending on what the service was and how much the business or its clients use it.

A Vashon example will be familiar to Islanders. When the license tabs were dramatically reduced through the Eyman initiative, businesses and consumers on Vashon paid less to license their vehicles. So their tax costs went down, but other costs went up, because the license tabs funded the ferries, on which all of us as Islanders depend.

As ferry costs rose and schedules were reduced, Vashon businesses found the costs of their goods rising. They had to price that into their business model and raise prices or reduce profitability. At the same time, all Islanders saw their ferry costs rise also. They had less disposable income and shopped less on the Island. There was more incentive to make that trip to the big box store on the mainland to avoid the higher-priced Island goods. The net effect on Vashon business climate turned out to be higher costs, more business expense, fewer customers and less business.

When looking at the relationship between taxes and profitability, it is critical to look at what the tax is providing, who is using those services, and what the costs of providing the same thing privately will be. Only then can you estimate the impact on profitability and/or business climate.

— Steve Graham

Spelling bee

It’s a blast

Do you wonder how a spelling bee can be entertaining, fun and worth your time on a Sunday afternoon? Well, you are in for a great surprise.

A new kind of fundraiser has emerged through the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation, incorporating stage entertainment and academics. Local characters form teams with costumes readying themselves for the challenge of spelling many arduous and impressive words from a variety of sources.

As an audience participant, you can sit back and enjoy the show or take the spelling challenge. We (being former teachers) chose the latter.

We were totally focused on using our linguistic intelligence for the entire event. The words became more complex and unfamiliar as the rounds continued, and we found ourselves amazed at the words the contestants were able to spell correctly. We finally decided that we would not form our own team but attend this year’s event as audience participants and see if our spelling finesse has improved any. Hope to see you there.

— Ann Hamlin and Terri Allman

Quartermaster

There’s much we can do to help

In response to “Looking for answers in Quartermaster Harbor,” where was everyone in 1992 when I started hollering about styrofoam particles? Pulverized styrofoam is poisoning us.

The styrofoam carvings are all over my beach on Vashon Highway on Burton Beach. 

I hollered when Uncle Johnny told me that after they closed off the Back Bay at Portage in 1916, the huge oyster beds went away.

I hollered when the kelp on the mouth of Quartermaster went away.

And I am still hollering about everyone flushing into our precious harbor so we can’t have a shellfish industry.

Boaters are still flushing into Back Bay and Dockton Park.

Vehicle emissions, brakes, tires and leaking liquids are the worst polluters on the Island. 

Dog poo on the beach dumps fecal coliform in the harbor, too.

There is a problem with potable water on some Island properties that stops them from upgrading their septic. We drink and cook with filtered or bottled water, anyway; what’s the problem? Give them a permit — no charge, please.

I am not a Ph.D, but I have a brain. We all pollute, and we all need to pollute less.

• Stop selling or using styrofoam, and don’t replace it with more plastic.

• Stop dumping oil and everything else on the road and in the water.

• Drive electric cars and drive less.

• Open up Portage and preferably generate electricity with the tidal energy flowing through.

• Have a mandatory septic pump boat going to each occupied boat every day.

• Give free permits to repair the septic systems all over the islands.

• Change the rules so all property can get free permits to update their septic system.

• Pick up dog poo from beaches and dispose of it properly in a working septic system.

— Bill Rowling

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