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Vote No on Question 1

10/7/2008, 6:32 a.m.
“Well, I guess the voters don’t...

Vote No on Question 1

 “Well, I guess the voters don’t care too much for us homeless folks …”

Question 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot is an intriguing proposition — the elimination of the state income tax. No one likes paying taxes of any kind, but the sophisticated citizen will give this proposal considerable thought.

Political conservatives have consistently opposed any program that would benefit working-class and middle-income citizens if it would increase the budget. President Ronald Reagan even opposed Medicare — a health insurance program for the elderly. The conservative philosophy is that everyone is supposed to take care of himself and his family. If he is unable to do so, well, too bad. It is not the responsibility of the rest of us through the government to lend a helping hand. That is indeed a cold-blooded attitude.

If that is the way you feel, then your wishes will be answered if the state income tax is eliminated; 40 percent of Massachusetts public revenues will be gone, a reduction of $12 billion. There would have to be cuts in public education, health care, public safety and infrastructure repair.

Massachusetts would be forced to do what other states have done. New Hampshire has no income tax, but real estate taxes are exorbitant. There would be no local aid to help finance the administrative costs of cities and towns, so Massachusetts would certainly have to increase real estate taxes.

Alas, taxes are a necessary evil. When calculating an individual’s total tax burden as a percentage of personal income, Massachusetts ranks 32nd in the nation, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation. The elimination of the income tax would disturb a well-balanced tax policy and deprive citizens of necessary support from the government.

Vote “no” on Question 1.

Vote Yes on Question 2

Possession of even a small amount of marijuana is a crime, but that doesn’t discourage many Massachusetts citizens from pocketing a little toke for later. The consequences of being apprehended and convicted of an illegal drug offense are unreasonably severe.

Question 2 on the Nov. 4 ballot will provide some relief if approved. The Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative would replace the present criminal penalty for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana with a civil violation. The new penalty would be a $100 fine.

A major advantage of this approach is that the offender would not have a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) report. Although drug abuse is serious, it is even more serious for the petty offender to be precluded from gainful employment because of a CORI.

The proposed policy would not change the criminal provisions for trafficking, selling, growing or driving under the influence of marijuana. Civil penalties are even more severe for minors. They will be treated as inveterate juvenile delinquents.

Marijuana is not good for one’s health — it is reported to be a more dangerous carcinogen than tobacco — but its use can hardly be deemed an act of great moral turpitude. Yet a small-time user is now liable to be sentenced to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Common sense calls for a “yes” vote on Question 2.