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Letters to the Editor

Expunge small-time pot convictions if it’s legalized

At 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Michigan turned green and became the 10th state in the nation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use.

Marijuana cigarettes. | Adobe Stock Photo

As the state of Illinois discusses legalizing recreational use of marijuana, it is important to also discuss what must accompany the conversation.

I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana (I am a child of the 1960s and, yes, I inhaled). With the bill for legalization, there must also be a bill dismissing convictions against individuals still incarcerated for selling marijuana, unless it is massive quantity, and expungement of their records and the records of those who already are out of prison. Not just for those in the last two years but for all who were ever convicted.

Also, with the consideration of legalization, there must be an aggressive commitment and concrete plan to equal the unequal playing field of the West and South sides with investment and opportunity.

Where marijuana has been legalized, often the arrests of white youth have decreased while the arrests of black youth have increased. Why? Because for white youth in the middle and upper-middle classes, marijuana is indeed considered truly recreational. In neglected and abandoned communities, where many black and brown youth live and unemployment is in double digits, possession of marijuana is considered a job! Thus, youth are arrested because of larger quantities in their possession.

Until we can promise release and expungement, and deal with the high unemployment in abandoned and neglected communities, legalization really needs to be put on hold.

In the pursuit of justice ….

Rev. Michael L. Pfleger, Faith Community of St. Sabina, Auburn-Gresham

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Why rent control would fail

I have been surprised by the push for rent control that I have been reading about in the papers. I’m old enough to remember that this was tried before on a large scale back in the 1970s, though I didn’t pay as much attention to it as I would today.

I do know that it didn’t work out well. You want to control the income of landlords, but will you also control their taxes and maintenance costs? What will probably happen is that you will see a mass conversion of rental apartments into condos.

People become landlords to make money. If you make that more difficult, they will adapt. And you will end up with fewer apartments to rent. And people will still be displaced.

Larry Craig, Wilmette

The super-rich drain our country

From their very inception, income taxes in this country were based on the ability to pay, or progressive taxing rate. Gov. Pritzker, in keeping with that policy, is proposing a higher tax rate for the six- and seven-figure income families. It’s puzzling, however, that those who make the most from our economic system and benefit the most from it, are the ones who object the most. It has to be considered that one of the reasons for economic woes is that the super-rich have manipulated the tax policies in this country for so long. Resulting debts should come as no surprise. As Warren Buffett said, it’s wrong when his secretary pays more in income taxes than he does.

Daniel Pupo, Orland Park

Give tax breaks on mortgage interest to those who need it

While there are many factors driving inequality, there is one area easy to correct: tax breaks. One of these, the mortgage interest deduction, costs the government tens of billions of dollars a year, yet the rich — the top 20 percent of earners — receive most of this money. This tax break was sold as a way to encourage home ownership, yet those receiving the bulk of the benefit have no reason to be so incentivized. In fact, this tax break also applies to second homes, which again there is no reason to incentivize. Rather than lining the pockets of the rich, this tax break should be limited to first-time home buyers and those who have lost their home to foreclosure.

Lee Knohl, Evanston