Need reasonable plan to avoid fiscal disaster

Regarding President Barack Obama's plan to require household earners to pay an additional 4 percent (from 35 percent to 39 percent), I have several observations:

First, the $250,000 threshold is unrealistic. There is no adjustment for high-cost-of-living states/jurisdictions such as California. The spending power of that amount in California in contrast, for instance, to Tennessee is remarkably different with higher taxes, mortgage payments, gasoline prices and the like. Perhaps, the threshold should be raised to at least $500,000.

Second, the maximum tax rate under President Bill Clinton was 39 percent with very little resistance. President George W. Bush lowered it to 35 percent. Therefore, there is the perception that there is a significant proposed raise in rates when it is in fact a restoration of the tax structure under a previous administration.

Third, given that we are in difficult times, perhaps a better option would be to require the wealthiest of Americans to give to a list of government-designated charities with no tax deductions and avoid pass-through government waste.

Congress needs to devise a reasonable plan to raise reasonable revenue and avoid the fiscal cliff.

Kurt Kleier

Oakland


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Support of Israel not in our best interest

Israel has mastered the art of professing peace while continuing its occupation and colonization of what little remains of Palestinian land.

Palestinians realize the futility of continuing negotiations when those endless negotiations only provide a cover for Israel to go about its business of gobbling up more and more Palestinian land, thereby foreclosing the very possibility of a viable Palestinian state.

That is why the Palestinian Authority decided to seek nonmember status through the General Assembly of the U.N., the very body that 65 years ago voted to admit Israel as a member state.

Israel's rejection of the Palestinians' U.N. bid smacks of arrogance and hypocrisy. And its decision, in the face of that U.N. bid, to announce the building of yet another 3,000 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem makes clear that Israel is absolutely determined to thwart the national aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign state of its own no matter what the cost to regional peace.

U.S. unconditional support of Israel, despite its violations of international and U.S. law, is detrimental to America's long-term interests and the security and well-being of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.

David Glick

Berkeley

Yearbook photo case not free-speech cause

The article on the turmoil over Kenton Koos' intended yearbook photo says he "wanted to leave his mark with his final yearbook photo."

Maybe he should do some self-examination if this is what he has amounted to at this juncture in his life.

Maybe he should also consider, as the principal rightly has, that for many, the yearbook is a meaningful, lasting memory of an important time in life. He might consider exhibiting some respect for that instead of demanding the right to act like an immature fool.

His mother would do well to re-examine her support and encouragement for the ways he misdirects his energies.

There is way too much self-centeredness in the demand for so-called free speech. It has been expanded ridiculously to be applied to having the right to trample on others' rights.

And, as is so often the case, the ACLU can't see the forest for the trees, once again unable to apply common sense to temper an obsession with technicalities. And yes, this is a pseudo-intellectual technicality that distorts the correct application of the legitimate rights to free speech.

And we wonder why people don't get a proper education in our schools any longer?

David Horn

Oakland