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LETTERS: Public school taxes make private schools unaffordable

A school funding reform measure being negotiated between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Legislature could include vouchers for private schools. | Justin Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

When our kids were growing up, we would have loved to have sent them to a private school. But we couldn’t afford it. And every year, whether I was working or not, we had to come up with our property taxes, which in Wilmette are not cheap. Turns out most of them go to pay for our public schools.

Years ago, I proposed that people get a tax credit for private school expenses up to the amount that they would be paying on their property taxes for public schools. Now they want to give people vouchers, so that even poor people can send their kids to private schools. I can live with that, but I do have a problem with a system where I have to contribute to public schools to the point that I can’t afford to send my kids to a private school.

I think of all the Catholic schools that have been closing over the years, and I am sure this is the primary reason. This has to change.

Larry Craig, Wilmette

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Trump and Kim’s ‘foolhardiness’

North Korea’s Kim Jung Un and Donald Trump seem in a foolhardiness contest. Kim saber-rattles, threatening to rain missiles, nuclear-tipped or not, on our Guam air base. Trump counters by promising not that our anti-missile missiles would foil that, but either retaliation or pre-emptive strikes including nuclear-weapon readiness. The stakes are daunting.

While North Korea’s nuclear threat must be neutralized, going all-out nuclear would make much of the Korean peninsula and surrounding sea into another radioactive, uninhabitable Chernobyl. Our nuclear bombs are 300 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. They could affect China and Japan. If it should come to that, on prevailing winds, radio-activity into the stratosphere could drift at least halfway around the planet, poisoning indiscriminately for thousands of years, unless Trump switches to conventional weapons. Though that would be the lesser tragedy, even a non-nuclear war would obliterate civilization as both countries know it, with conventional artillery, missiles and air power already zeroed in on each other. A virtual mutual suicide pact.

The onus is on crisis-prone Kim, who thrives on threats that can no longer be dismissed. His brinkmanship and Trump’s volatility are a recipe for Armageddon. A nuclear holocaust is the ultimate threat but whose collateral damage unavoidably harms both receiver and sender, with no victory in the conventional sense. Pray the issue can be finessed without monumental tragedy and the ruination of our mother-ship called planet Earth.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

Drop the soda tax and start making cuts

I didn’t say anything when they taxed cigarettes heavily. Why? Because smoking kills. If I could pass a law, I would make all tobacco illegal. It’s disgusting and causes cancer. But when you tax it heavily, the thought goes, people will stop. Well, some do.

But just as we’re seeing with this outrageous, naked money grab called the pop tax, people are just going to the next county. Just as was predicted before it came into being and has taken place in Philadelphia, people will travel a little farther to not be ripped off.

Repeal the soda pop tax. You need to balance the budget so bad? Make some cuts. There has to be some waste in there somewhere.

Michael J. Medley, Rogers Park

Preckwinkle’s reforms brought out a successful government

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s terms in her office should not be defined by the opponents of the recently enacted tax on sugared drinks. Reforms in the hospital system, reduction in patronage and increase in service and efficiencies in many Cook County departments under her supervision have been dramatic, effective and long overdue.

The dual benefits of the new tax in raising revenue and ideally reducing consumption of highly sugared drinks have found vocal and determined naysayers in her political enemies and the producers of the taxed beverages.

Revenue raised by this tax will offset other potential tax increases while producing long-term health benefits if given a proper and realistic period to succeed and to overcome administrative difficulties and missteps by vendors in collecting the tax.

Ms. Preckwinkle’s tangible, valuable and many faceted efforts and reforms in county government have transformed Cook County’s administration from a backwater of patronage, inefficiencies and wasted spending of tax dollars to a more progressive and successful government in service to its citizens.

Fredric Stein, West Loop