Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, April 23, 2011

MVNews this week:  Page 13



 Mountain Views News Saturday, April 23, 2011 

STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE

HAIL Hamilton My Turn



Publisher/ Editor

Susan Henderson

City Editor

Dean Lee 


Patricia Colonello




Richard Garcia


Lina Johnson

Chris Bertrand


Teresa Baxter

Pat Birdsall

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Stuart Tolchin

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Hail Hamilton 

Rich Johnson

Chris Bertrand

Mary Carney

La Quetta Shamblee

Glenn Lambdin

Greg Wellborn

Ralph McKnight

Trish Collins

Pat Ostrye

Dorothy White


John Aveny 


Income for 400 Richest 

Americans Soars, Tax 
Rate Falls

I keep 
about the 
future of the 
planet and, 
when I’m 
not thinking 
about that, I’m 
about the origins of life. The 
problem is that while I’m 
thinking about distant pasts and 
unforeseeable futures, the present 
seems to be falling apart. For me 
it feels something like being a 
child whose parents have gone out 
for the evening and have forgotten 
to call a baby sitter. It feels like I’m 
all alone and I don’t feel safe and I 
don’t know what to do or who to 

 It’s like the whole Nation is 
supposed to root for the Yankees 
without ever noticing that we are 
not Yankees. Forget the trickle-
down theory - what helps the rich 
and powerful does not help the 
rest of us. Throughout our history 
the general population has been 
manipulated to lose sight of their 
own interests. When I was in High 
School and Viet Nam was starting 
up, the Recruiters would come 
to the School and explain that 
we guys all had a 6-year military 
obligation and were subject to the 
Draft. I don’t recall hearing any 
objections; it was too early for 
anyone to think for themselves. At 
UCLA, military training (ROTC) 
was mandatory. I remember 
because I got a D in it. (I could 
never get the hang of marching 
or shining shoes). The major war 
that my friends and I fought was 
our fight to stay out of the Draft 
and to convince our parents that 
this was the right thing to do. At 
that time ,everybody had fathers 
who fought in World War II who 
believed in the United States 
as the land of opportunity and 
were willing to fight for it. This 
generation had grown up in the 
Depression and were living a life 
much more prosperous in the 
1950’s than the life they had lived 
through in the 1930’s. Slowly the 
times they were a’changing.

 In the 1960’s we fought an 
unpopular war, but still it was for 
some agreed upon ends - we were 
stopping Communism, and the 
Nation agreed that this was a good 
thing to do. I guess, of course, 
that during the war the top one or 
two percent were making millions 
like they always do. Certainly, 
one of their sons was President 
and making love to movies’ stars, 
but somehow most of us believed 
that he was busy saving the 
world and that we were in good, 
responsible hands. I believe that 
the eventual cancellation of the 
draft resulted in a kind of decades-
long generational political 
indifference. During this time the 
March continued and, while the 
rich got richer, the rest of us were 
diverted and became increasingly 
powerless without really noticing. 
We were useful for awhile to help 
the rich get richer. Those of us 
who went to College incurred 
huge debts which required us to 
accept jobs that would allow us 
to repay the debt, but at the same 
time made us slaves to the system. 

 We were encouraged to take 
financial risks, and we bought 
properties and made more money 
for the banks. After a while the 
bubble burst and all this money 
was given to the banks to save 
them from going under. Sure, 
we were told, the bankers had 
made mistakes but they were too 
big to be allowed to fail and they 
had to be bailed out. Now, in 
this very disappointing Obama 
administration, these same 
bankers are running the country 
and there is a new Scapegoat. Who 
is it? Of course, it’s us: the poor, 
the aged, the Middle Class, the 
debt-ridden non-special people. 
We had the gall to get old, to get 
sick, to buy houses, to belong to 
Unions, and to believe in - the 
new naughty word - Entitlements. 
We expect to get our pensions, our 
Social Security, and our Medicare.

 We are not the bad-guys. We 
are just the 98 per cent; the non-
innovators, the passive people 
who do what we are told and hold 
down the jobs. Already there 
are not enough jobs. Does that 
mean we are now useless and 
redundant? If we are not needed 
by the Special People, who may 
well be on their way to forming 
their own nation-less global 
government, will we be prohibited 
from reproducing like in China. 
Maybe we will be starved to death 
by artificially induced droughts, as 
was the case in the Soviet Union 
wherein twenty million people 
died unnecessarily.

 Help. I’m scaring myself. Maybe 
a positive way of looking at this 
potential horror-show is to view 
the Tea Party Movement as simply 
a way of not going along with a 
program that leads to our own 
destruction. No more passivity; 
Demonstrations in the Street; 
Homer Simpson for President.

 Really, remember how we 
celebrated when Obama was 
elected? Time marches on. Let’s 
just all work toward marching in 
a new direction and I wish I could 
point the way.

 Now that all of us 
have sent off our taxes 
to Uncle Sam (at least 
the 50% of us who still pay taxes), I thought 
it would be a good time to look at the gross 
inequities of our current regressive income 
tax system.

 According to a study by the Center for 
Budget and Policy Priorities, the overall tax 
burden has continued to increase for middle 
class taxpayers, while the rich pay less. 
The study reviewed pre-recession IRS data 
from 1993 to 2007.

 “The effective federal income tax rate for 
the 400 taxpayers with the very highest incomes 
— 3 out of every 1 million filers — 
has declined by nearly half over the past 
two decades, even as their pre-tax incomes 
have grown five times larger, new IRS data 

 The top 400 households paid 16.6 percent 
of their income in federal individual income 
taxes in 2007, down from 30 percent in 
1995. This decline works out to a tax cut of 
$46 million per filer in 2007, or a total of 
$18 billion in tax cuts for these households 
per year.

 To make it into the top 400, a household 
needed an adjusted gross income of at least 
$35 million in 1993 (in 2007 dollars) and 
$139 million in 2007.

 Avi Feller and Chuck Marr who authored 
the Center’s study say, “The decline in 
effective tax rates at the very top is due 
in large part to the capital gains tax cuts 
enacted in 1997 and 2003. The top marginal 
tax rate on capital gains is now 15 percent, 
less than half the top tax rate on wages and 
salaries. The top 400 taxpayers derived two-
thirds of their income from capital gains 
and qualified dividends in 2007.”

 Over roughly the same period, the top 400 
filers enjoyed huge gains in pre-tax incomes. 
The average pre-tax income of this group 
rose by over 400 percent between 1993 and 
2007, equivalent to a $275 million increase 
per person, after adjusting for inflation. In 
2007 alone, average pre-tax incomes rose by 
31 percent among these individuals.

 In short, the top 400 filers now pay much 
lower effective tax rates on vastly larger 

 Even as their effective tax rates were 
declining sharply, high-income filers 
benefited disproportionately from economic 
growth, other IRS data show. During the 
last economic expansion (from the end 
of 2001 to the end of 2007), two-thirds of 
the nation’s total income gain flowed to the 
highest-income 1 percent of Americans. 
And between 1993 and 2007, the average 
pre-tax income of the top 1 percent of filers 
more than doubled, after adjusting for 
inflation, rising by 114 percent.

 The top 400 taxpayers enjoyed even 
larger gains in pre-tax incomes. Between 
1993 and 2007, their average adjusted gross 
income increased by over 400 percent, after 
adjusting for inflation: from $68 million 
to $345 million (in 2007 dollars). Their 
incomes grew rapidly between 1995 and 
2000, dropped during the 2001 recession, 
then rose rapidly again from 2002 to 2007.

 Because of the steep reduction in effective 
tax rates for the top 400 households, their 
after-tax incomes grew even faster than 
their pre-tax incomes. Between 1993 and 
2007, their average income after federal 
income taxes increased by 475 percent.


Feller and Marr conclude, “Although the 
2007 data reflect the height of the last 
economic expansion, effective tax rates on 
the richest 400 taxpayers will likely remain 
very low after the current recession, largely 
because the portion of its overall income 
this group derives from capital gains has 
remained relatively constant over the past 
decade. In the last recession, this figure 
dropped from 64 percent in 2000 to 55 
percent in 2002, before climbing again 
amidst further capital gains tax cuts and a 
strong stock market.” 

 This is not good news for those of us 
unlucky enough to be stranded in the 
middle class. If the markets rebound, with 
the preferential capital gains tax rates 
extended, the very highest-income filers 
will continue to enjoy very low effective tax 
rates well into the foreseeable future, even 
as budget deficits become a more serious 

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Case number GS004724: 
for the City of Sierra 
Madre; in Court Case 
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Madre, California, 91024. 
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Curbing Bad Behavior:


 by Ron Carter


Some Actions/Statements on County, 
State and Federal Issues Made Recently 
By Our Elected Officials:

Parents who have 
teenage childred 
should advise them 
to stop speeding 
and pay attention 
while driving their 
automobiles. Last 
Sunday, I lost my 
beloved nephew; 
he was killed in a car crash in Brooklyn, New 
York. This young man, Devon Burgess, 19 
years old, had ambitous dreams. He was going 
to attend Berkeley University next semester 
and realized his dream of becoming an engineer. 
You can imagine how proud I was of his 
achievement to attend one of the premier universities 
in the country. Finally, I was going to 
have a blood relative on the West Coast (California) 
with me. Thanksgivings and Christmas 
was going to be memorable while I bond with 
him. It was not to be.

The headline in one New York newspaper 
read “Speed Kills Man.” Devon was the front 
seat passenger in a Chrysler Sebring which 
slammed into a utility pole killing him. The 
driver, 19 years old, is hospitalized with internal 
injuries. The two young women who were 
sitting in the rear are also severly injured. One 
of them may need cosmetic surgery, the other 
has broken bones and was on a respirator. My 
family is very sad and prayful with Devon’s 
passing: he was our “shinning star.”

Devon’s passing gave me the push to write this 
blog. I have been pondering scribing this blog 
for a while. After his death at such a young age, 
I realize that life waits on no one. So, I immediately 
took action and wrote the first blog. He 
will forever be remembered - by our family – 
as an intelligent, kind, hardworking, humble 
and Christian young man.

The statics of teenagers dying from automobile 
accidents are way too many. There is a reason 
why the insurance cost for teenage drivers is 
very expensive; they, teenagers, incure too 
many accidents. It is imperative that we save 
our teenage children by helping them curb 
their bad behavior. They must slow down and 
pay attention, no texting or watching TV, while 
operating a motor vehicle. We have to inform 
them that motor vehicles can be “weapons” 
and weapons kill. If we are allowing our children 
to drive cars, the same attention that we 
gave to buying the vehicle must also be present 
in sharing with them the responsibility of 
owning and operating an automobile.

Parents, please advise your teenagers to slow 
down while driving automobiles. And, we 
adults should heed to the advice we intimate 
to our children.

Reprinted by permission from March 3, 2011 Post

Ron Carter is the Managing Director of the 
Carter Agency in Pasadena. He hosts a blog 
called: Curbing Bad Behavior that discusses a 
variety of topics. Go to: www.thecarteragency.


“I commend Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s wrestling control 
of the Dodgers and bringing integrity back to the game. It is 
my hope that the Commissioner appoints a representative from 
the O’Malley family to oversee the team’s business affairs during 
the investigation – a return of the O’Malley family to the Dodgers 
would be a home run for fans and the Dodgers,” said Mayor 
Michael D. Antonovich.

Letters To The Editor


Dear Editor:

 It is really disturbing that local newspapers and local gossipers have 
failed to take note of one of the darkest days in Sierra Madre's recent 
history with the dissolution of the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Dept. by 
the city council at its last meeting. They have replaced the last volunteer 
fire department in Los Angeles County with a part-paid/part-volunteer 

 For those of us that have responded to thousands of calls as volunteers, 
it is a bitter pill to swallow. Of course, with the mandates being 
made by the state and federal government,, plus changes in personal 
phiolosphies (let John do it), other commitments, we should have expected 
this to happen.

 There was a close call like this back in 1963 but was averted by the city 
administrator and fire chief actively recruiting and seeking a change in 
fire department by-laws to permit people who lived outside the community, 
but worked in town, to join the department. A daytime fire at a 
malt shop on Baldwin when only four firefighters responded. Between 
Sierra Engineering and the Sierra Madre News six new members were 
added to salvage the department. Unfortunately we don't have those 
resources available today and thus the blot in our history.

 The cost will be high and with the additon of perks that will have to 
be offered, probably including retirement at 55 with personnel being 
on the dole for more years then they worked, and the chance to 'double 
dip', we are putting our future generaton in a debt volunteer fire department 
were created to avoid. 

 Luckily, we are left with many fond memories of the past and sad for 
those that did not have the opportunity to serve the community on a 
department that served this city for 75 years. 

George A. Maurer, Sierra Madre

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Photo courtesy Irene Tolchin

Mountain Views 

Mission Statement

The traditions of 
the community 
newspaper and 
the concerns of 
our readers are 
this newspaper’s 
top priorities. We 
support a prosperous 
community of well-
informed citizens. 
We hold in high 
regard the values 
of the exceptional 
quality of life in our 
community, including 
the magnificence 
of our natural 
resources. Integrity 
will be our guide. 


It has become increasingly common, that news outlets refer to

President Obama as Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama? As a veteran of the US

military that served my country with pride for 10 years, I find this

trend to be disturbing and disrepectful. At the moment of his

inauguration, Mr. Obama became President Obama. The President of 

United States of America is an institution not a person, and should be

respected at all levels of citizenship. In one day this week, two

different radio stations and every network news channel that covered

the president's visit to Southern California reffered to our president

as Mr. Obama. Presidents Regan, Bush(both), & Clinton were always

addressed properly and it is shameful that we offer any less to


Fred Thomas, Sierra Madre