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Letters: Wipe out arrests for meager amounts of drugs

It’s difficult to read the editorial “Use drug field tests to improve justice, save money,” and counterpoint “Pilot program needs assessment” (May 5), where both accept the premise that adults caught in possession of small quantities of substances — “a typical ‘dime bag’ of cocaine or heroin weighs around one-tenth of a gram” — should be arrested or incarcerated at all.

Such trifling quantities of drugs should not be tested as provided in a pilot program provided by House Bill 356 that seeks to avoid a three-year, $58 million taxpayer nightmare unnecessarily caused by bad drug laws.

What’s the point?

Testing and criminal charges don’t effectively deter drug use. United Nations authorities reported to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna last month that an estimated 3.5 to 7 percent of the world’s population, ages 15 to 64, used an illicit drug at least once during 2012.

Public revenue-taxed Illinois and Cook County need drug testing and small-time drug case arrests like it needs another pension hole in the treasury. The point here is that government needs to give small-time drug arrests, testing and incarceration the boot.

Jim Gierach, Palos Park

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Reform Illinois tax code

Now that the 67 percent increase in the state of Illinois income tax has expired, having failed to be the panacea for all this state’s financial woes as promised, we are being told that the tax burden for Illinois’ citizens is really not so bad, because Illinois supposedly falls in the middle of what other states expect from their respective citizens for the privilege of living there. In fact, considering Illinois’ average property taxes, gas taxes (Springfield is considering an increase in those too), taxes on utilities, sales taxes (the highest in the Midwest), transfer taxes on real estate and other taxes, fines, and user fees, Illinois is the worst state in the nation to be a taxpayer.

Illinois citizens are not all that prosperous, either. According to the 2013 census, Illinois per capita income is a mere $29,666 prompting the question, “Just where is the average Illinois taxpayer supposed to get the money to pay those prospective tax increases, anyway?” According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Illinois ranks 5th highest in the nation in regressive taxation, just behind South Dakota and Texas.

Prior to any anticipated tax increases, Illinois needs tax reform. Illinois needs to replace its flat income tax with a progressive one. It must seriously consider an additional surtax on its highest earners. Property taxes should be indexed to the homeowners’ adjusted gross incomes from their most recently filed tax returns to reflect their current ability to pay.

The Illinois economy will not thrive if it continues to bleed its lower middle class dry for tax revenue. Citizens don’t mind paying fair taxes for efficient, effective services; they only object when they know they are paying more because others, who have substantially greater financial resources, are paying less.

Richard A. Kosinski, Edison Park

A case for a mother and a father

There is only one question in the gay marriage debate; the rest are all distractions. Does a child have a right to its mother and father? With gay marriage, we are saying as a society that we can remove the mother or father from a child’s life and call this just as good as if we had left them in. This is what equal means. I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.

Larry Craig, Wilmette