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SANTA FE, N.M. — Drunken Driver And Teens in the Wrong

Re: the Scott Owens vehicular homicide verdict:

In regards to “Found Not Guilty,” the Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the parents of the teens killed should be doubly mad, as let’s not forget that the teen driver of the car hit was also driving illegally.

So, in all rightness, the teens wouldn’t have been dead or the drunk driver facing drunk driving charges had they not been out that night.




Owens Verdict Has Us Left To Ponder

Scott Owens acquitted? No real surprise. This was the inevitable convergence of drunk driving with erratic teenager driving. Sooner or later it was bound to happen that the two circumstances would meet and cause a tragedy.

While driving in Albuquerque one can lose count of the number of young drivers talking or texting on cell phones, coasting (through) stop signs, rapidly accelerating from traffic signals, tailgating, speeding and failing to maintain lanes. The rare citation might produce an appearance in Metropolitan Court with the resultant usual slap on the wrist.

The unseen factor in the Owens trial was the jury instructions noted in the Journal story. No matter how many times the Legislature attempts to address drunk driving in New Mexico, our appellate courts, most notably the Court of Appeals, stand ready to give any new law the weakest possible interpretation in a continual effort on the courts’ part to impede and hamper effective prosecution. On top of that, jury instructions are written by a Supreme Court committee that is heavily weighted with criminal defense lawyers. It is they who write the instructions that the judges must give to the jurors. It’s no wonder these instructions are often ambiguous and even downright confusing, seemingly on purpose.

So, in the end of the end, Owens walks, the families grieve anew, the governor postures and the rest of us are left to ponder.




Taxing the Rich Isn’t Universal Cure-All

We hear over and over that taxing the rich will be the end to all our financial problems. Not true. No matter how high the tax rate on the rich, there will never be enough revenues generated to decrease our debt substantially.

Based on IRS statistics in 2008, the top 1 percent paid 38 percent of the taxes — that’s up from 25 percent in 1991 — and the top 10 percent paid 69 percent. Back when the top tax rate was 70 percent, the top 1 percent paid only 18 percent of the taxes. So the percentage paid by the rich decreases as the tax rate increases.

Thus, if taxes are increased on all incomes of $250,000 and above, the so-called rich will find more ways to avoid taxes; they’ll invest in tax-exempt or tax-free investments, move their money off shore, or just leave the country. Small businesses are included in this group and represent 27 percent of the top 10 percent. They would be forced to either increase costs or go out of business. Therefore, the answer is not a tax increase on a certain part of our society, but a simplification of the entire tax system.

Right now there are 70,000 pages of tax code. How can the IRS understand all the exemptions, credits, industries subsidies and so on, let alone implement them? Even a simple tax filing, with no deductions, can be difficult and time consuming. One way to reduce the complexity and simplify the code is to eliminate all the loopholes and credits for individuals and eliminate all subsidies on businesses.

The Bowles-Simpson National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform recommended not only simplification but the reduction of the taxes to three rates, with the highest being 25 percent. Result: Revenues will increase.

However, even with increased revenues, the government still needs to reduce spending. The commission has recommended various different types of cuts; for example, the government could raise revenues by selling some of its real estate.

Our government needs to get serious instead of playing politics.


Santa Fe

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