Women in Harm's Way
Thanks very much for this excellent and timely article by Erin Solaro ["The Lionesses of Iraq," Oct. 6]. As a former WAC and retired army officer, I am extremely interested in what's happening on the ground in Iraq. Solaro's vivid prose makes it live.
I can only say that in "my day" we women did everything we were allowed to do (sometimes more), but we were kept carefully out of the front lines. I watch the activities of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with both pride and concern. I don't want any soldier (or civilian) wounded, killed, or traumatized in this or any other war. However, I believe we have both the right and duty to participate fully. We're citizens, and it's our obligation.
There are no "front" lines any more (and haven't been for quite some time). It is important that the reality of conflict today be well recognized, and that the vital part played by women in the volunteer military be fully recognized. Our soldiers, men and women, must be trained, prepared, and led to do the job required.
Women have historically stepped up when called, done well, and it should really be no surprise that the women are doing well now.
My thanks also to Solaro—she didn't have to go in harm's way, but she did.
I salute military women and men— and Solaro.
Fairfax Station, VA
Whitewashing the War
Little did we expect when we saw the provocative "Women and War" cover that Seattle Weekly would stoop so low as to use this subject for imperialist, racist, and patriarchal propaganda ["The Lionesses of Iraq," Oct. 6]. How disingenuous to use the nominal subject of women and war as a forum to valorize the barbaric invasion, destruction, and occupation of Iraq, a critical step in the U.S. strategy for Middle East, then global domination.
Using an embedded journalist, female or male, to whitewash the U.S. war crimes and to paint the invading troops as chivalrous heroes, do-gooders, and defenders of women while justly going after "insurgents" for the good of Iraq is obscene.
Female or male, regardless of intention, U.S. troops are imperialist invaders and colonizers. Womens' equality and liberation are achieved by fighting oppression, not by joining the oppressor state in its crimes.
We have come to expect state propaganda from the corporate media, but you have surpassed them in your obsequious apologetics.
Fortunately for Iraq and justice-loving people all over the world, you signed on the losing team. All but reactionary losers now understand the difference between "liberation" and enslavement, and act accordingly—like the courageous Iraqi resistance.
Women in Black Agree
I am a Woman in Black from the Olympia vigil, which is approaching its second anniversary of silent consciousness-raising this month, and I am proud to have Janet Bailey speak for me ["We Mourn and We Warn," Oct. 6]. I am sure my sisters in black everywhere would agree.
Linda Honan Sheldon
There are Plenty of Cops
The problem is not that there aren't enough police on the street ["Pulled Over," Oct. 6], but that they spend too much time "fishing" in their favorite neighborhoods, hoping to catch the "big score" and acting tough. I'm referring, of course, to places like Central and South Seattle, where drugs and people driving erratically aid in padding quotas and where police get their jollies acting tough around 5-foot-2 guys.
Drug use and such happen in the better-off neighborhoods, but the residents of those regions are not "paying" to be harrassed (i.e., what the cops don't see won't get you a criminal record), but to be protected from the "elements." Thus the police spend their time insuring the borders are not crossed by the undesirables. And so while an erratic driver's ability to drive is being ended permanently courtesy a cop's aimed-to-kill firearm five miles to the south, the good citizens of la-la land are wondering, "Where the hell are the police when we need them?"
Not in the "nice" neighborhoods, that's for sure.
Mossback's Bad Math
Knute Berger writes that Initiative 884 would be funded by a "1 percent increase in the regressive state sales tax" [Mossback, "Taxing Times," Oct. 6]. Well, he's on the right track by calling the sales tax regressive, but the increase is in the neighborhood of 15.4 percent. A 1 percent increase in the current 6.5 percent state sales tax would make it about 6.565 percent. If Initiative 884 is passed, the state sales tax will be 7.5 percent.
Increase taxes on poor people, who pay disproportionately more of the sales tax so that people can pay less for the tools that will get them jobs paying twice as much? Doesn't make much sense, as Berger correctly writes.
Sales Tax Gets Bum Rap
The sales tax in Washington state is widely believed to be its most regressive tax, with a disproportionate burden falling on the poor [Mossback, "Taxing Times," Oct. 6]. This is actually wrong.
Major exemptions in sales tax provide some relief to the working poor and to working-class households because their major expenses—housing, food, medical care, transportation, utilities, and day care—are not subject to sales tax.
Yet everyone "knows" sales taxes take a disproportionately higher share of income from the poor. The reason for this perception is that the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics data for "low income" combines both truly poor households and those like retirees with far greater resources than income. As a result, households put in the $15,000–$19,999 category actually spend $25,015 annually, an average of 44.3 percent higher than reported income according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sales taxes appear to be a larger percentage of "income" since expenditures are significantly greater than reported income at low-income levels only. Mixing "lower income" groups also distorts spending patterns by including too little housing costs and too many major automobile purchases and entertainment expenditures.
If sales tax is measured against total expenditures, lower expenditure groups pay a lower rate of sales tax than higher spending groups, reflecting the exemptions. This is not true of gas, utility, insurance, alcohol, and tobacco taxes.
Other major taxes on households in Washington are more regressive than sales tax as measured by the increased amounts that are paid as income increases. The highest income group pays 5.85 times as much as the lowest in sales tax. The multiple is only 5.55 for property tax, 2.7 for gas tax, and 2.5 for utilities tax.
The Washington tax structure as a whole lacks the progressivity needed for fairness, but the sales tax is the least regressive major personal tax used in Washington.
From the Howler
Love the review of Bad Wizard's #1 Tonite! ["Looking Out for #1," Oct. 6], but please note that the record is released on Howler Records, not TeePee (the band's former label). We are a fairly young label, and the band doesn't have a Web site, so it really does affect us negatively when people are sent to the wrong place to find the record.
Chief, Howler Records
New York, NY
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