A fairer way
Marc Eisen says it may be fair for the governor to triple furlough days for state workers (Opinion column, "We Can't Keep On Like This," 12/24/10). But is it fair for state taxpayers to get less service for their taxes?
A fair way to fix the state deficit would be to tax the rich and corporations more reasonably. Why should those who live on the passive gains from their investments not pay a fair contribution to keep this community going? Over 20 states tax capital gains like wages, but Wisconsin does not. And how about bringing back the estate tax in Wisconsin? (For more fair tax options, see the Institute for Wisconsin's Future website.)
We cannot view the private sector as a stand-alone economic development engine. Many private-sector businesses rely on public-sector clients and government contracts, as well as the services public agencies provide.
There is another fundamental socioeconomic reality that affects not just Madison, but the whole country. A recent study reports that the top fifth of the population now owns 84% of all wealth. That's about 60 million people. The lower two-fifths - 120 million - own less than 0.5%.
With this concentration of wealth has come the growing influence of Big Money over politics. The two trends have been reinforcing each other for the last 30 years, with the major media playing an essential role through their silence.
Your article on Kaleem Caire ("Change Agent," 12/24/10) stated, "Black and Latino males have a 52% high school graduation rate," which raises some troubling questions.
Does having minority students drop out of school raise district test scores as a whole because those students are no longer dragging down the scores?
Why are no teachers of those 48% of the minority dropouts speaking publicly for better resources so those students can graduate? After all, it is their job to provide an adequate education for their students.
What would happen if minority students were enrolled in the classes of higher difficulty at the same rate as whites, with the express goal that the graduation rates for all ethnicities would be comparable?
Is the district's reputation as being an excellent place for an education based on skewing resources so that whites have better outcomes at the expense of minority students?