Letters to the editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the editor

Tax and spend

I am disappointed by Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone’s tax and spend proposal for recreation within the County. Commissioner Stone proposes a new tax for Eagle County property owners in order to fund recreation.

By this proposal, Mr. Stone seems unwilling to make tough decisions when it comes to the Eagle County annual budget. Because he is unwilling to fund all programs, including recreation, out of current tax dollars, Mr. Stone takes the easy route and advocates taxing the citizenry more so that he has more money in the county budget to spend.

Tax and spend is not the answer, Mr. Stone.

Mr. Stone, you and your commissioner colleagues control an annual budget that must pay for services for the public good. Although I agree with you that recreation is a public good and one that should be funded in part by public dollars, the property owners in this county only have so much money to contribute to the public good. Our property taxes and sales taxes are already a tremendous burden on the taxpaying citizenry.

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Please include recreation spending in the Eagle County budget if you believe that it is a worthwhile expenditure. However, in order to fund recreation to the degree that you desire, you may need to cut other spending on existing county programs, or not expand existing programs to the degree that the Eagle County bureaucracy would like, or not fund new programs desired by the county staff.

We the citizenry look to you, our elected representative, to spend our tax dollars wisely. You are skirting your representative responsibility by asking the electorate to fund a new tax. This gets you off the hook and makes you smell like a recreation rose. If a new county recreation tax were to pass, you could claim that you support expanded recreation programs in this county.

You could claim that you did not raise taxes, but that “the people spoke” by passing a new tax on themselves. You are trying to have your cake and eat it too, Mr. Stone. Instead of letting taxing run rampant, support recreation by cutting current spending on existing county programs.

This is an example of the age-old economic and political concept of “guns and butter.” With only so many public dollars to spend, you as the elected fiduciary of our tax dollars need to divide our dollars between the guns and butter programs of Eagle County. Big government is not the best government!

As a Republican you should understand this. You should focus on what this county needs, not what the county may want.

Yes, we can build affordable housing for everyone; house all of our senior citizens; operate airports; build new roads and bridges; purchase open space; build and operate skating rinks, skateboard parks, and new ball fields; fix every pothole; provide for everyone’s retirement; feed every child; and give universal health care. And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on!

But how to afford all this?

You can tax and spend, or you can decide what we can afford under our current tax income. Mr. Stone, treat our hard-earned money with the respect that it deserves. Decide what Eagle County needs and not what it wants. Make the hard fiscal decisions and live within our means. Fund recreation if you think that it is important, but pay for it out of the current budget. Please, do not advocate new taxes on top of what we already pay.

Rich Howard


Sorry, Butch

Although it may appear otherwise, my intent was not to insult Vail Daily columnist Butch Mazzuca’s integrity or to imply that he was personally responsible for the death of innocents.

I wrote a rash and angry response to his column and should have more thoroughly examined my wording before pressing “send.” I humbly apologize for saying that Butch Mazzuca was personally responsible for the deaths of women and children. I made the most common mistake of anyone who is passionately anti-war and blamed the soldiers who fought the war rather than the political leaders who sent them there.

Also, I have been reading his column for two years now and I knew in the back of my mind that he had been a med-evac pilot rather than a gunship pilot. However, it is difficult for me to understand how someone who has seen the horror and tragedy of war first hand can still advocate military force as the first solution to political and socio-economic problems.

My rash insults aside, whether or not Butch was personally involved in the deaths of civilians does not change the basic facts. I was trying to point out that many times over the last century America has intervened with the best intentions, but because of poor planning and lack of a clear strategy these military actions have gone wrong with horrible consequences for America and the countries involved.

From 1954 to 1975 hundreds of thousands of American troops fought valiantly in Vietnam. However, even official Army histories of the war admit that the failure to provide basic security for the populace, the heavy and indiscriminate hand of U.S. firepower, and the failed strategy of attrition negated the courageous efforts of the American soldiers to win the war.

As a result, after 20 years the country was still unified under the government of the north and in the meantime over 50,000 Americans were killed, 500,000 were wounded and low estimates put the cost to the Vietnamese people at over 2 million killed (north and south, soldier and peasant). Beyond the dead and wounded, the war also irreparably damaged both the reputation of the United States and our national psyche.

These mistakes of the past cannot be changed, but their lessons must be learned to prevent their tragic reoccurrence. Over 125 Iraqi civilians have died this week alone, along with several Americans. Thirty years have passed and we are still making the same mistakes. We are not providing the basic security Iraqis need to live their lives as witnessed by the dual suicide bombings that slaughtered 100 Iraqis this week.

As I write this letter there was an attack today on an American convoy and when we returned fire an Iraqi bystander was killed and several wounded. Once again the overwhelming firepower used to protect American lives is turning the hearts and minds of the people against us. Finally the brutal counterinsurgency tactics we are using (nighttime raids, mass detentions, roadblocks) may protect American soldiers but are doing nothing to help the Iraqi people.

The Israelis have been using these strong-arm tactics for 40 years and are less safe today than they were when they started. The history of successful counterinsurgencies (America in the Philippines, British in Malaysia) have shown that the key to success is not brute military force, but rather a long slow process of securing the populace and improving their standard of living to remove the basis of support for the guerillas.

Once again I apologize to Butch for my baseless accusation. –

Jon McMaster


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