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What Do You Think?

June 15, 2009

Editor's note: Each week, The Herald-Mail invites readers to answer poll questions on www.herald-mail.com. Readers also may submit comments about the poll question when voting. Each Sunday, a sampling of edited reader comments will run in The Herald-Mail.

Last week there were three poll questions. The first question was: Would you support a Senate Finance Committee option to raise taxes on alcohol and impose a new levy on soda and other naturally sweetened drinks to help pay for overhauling health care?

o "Here's a wild thought. How about cutting back on some of the ridiculous spending that currently exists to pay for this?"

o "No. When has the government ever used the taxes it collects for what it promises? The government is broke, so it is looking for more money and trying to get us to accept the new taxes, which will only go up each year until we no longer buy the product and thus force more businesses to close."

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o "Yes to both. I don't drink alcohol or soda."

o "Yes to both. Let's use some of the money for education."

o "If we tax everything that is not healthy or is a waste of our time (excessive cell phone use, watching TV, playing computer games, whatever), where does it stop?"

o "If they start with alcohol and soda, what'll be next? You know that they'll need to find more ways to get money. Will it be certain breakfast cereals that contain too much sugar? Frozen foods that contain 'x' amount of grams of fat? Or how about anything at all from the bakery department or the cookie/snack foods aisle? Is taxing our food the answer? How about giving those companies monetary breaks for making their products healthier to begin with?"

o "It'd be nice to feel as though people's well-being was at the heart of such matters. The problem is such taxes have nothing to do with trying to make America healthier or decrease disease. They are a nice PR cover for collecting tax dollars to either 1) Go to other programs aside from the published point or 2) Cover the program because it's so mismanaged by the government that the original well has run dry. It's a dollar issue, not a health issue."

The second question was: Do you agree with Monday's Supreme Court ruling that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions from interested parties create the appearance of bias?

o "Yes. We have enough vote buying and corruption in this country already. Honest as a judge no longer applies, and many criminals go free to commit more crimes, making our country unsafe."

o "Unfortunately, you can almost never eliminate ALL bias. It may even be subconscious from the way a person was raised or personal experience. But if a situation arises where there is a chance of bias, it's best to eliminate all questions up front rather than deal with the aftermath and/or loss of integrity later on."

o "This is not left or right, it is right or wrong, and it is wrong for a judge to decide cases when they have accepted contributions from parties that will be affected by the outcome. It's bad enough the politicians base their decisions on who donates to their elections. Maybe we need a law to apply to them as well."

The third question was: Do you think homeowners should be responsible for paying for repair or replacement of sidewalks and curbs that abut their property?

o "The government should leave people alone unless they harm others. Don't force them to maintain curbs or sidewalks, and don't allow frivolous lawsuits if somebody trips on their property. There is no moral or ethical duty for an individual to build a sidewalk, and there should be no legal duty."

o "The word they gave was 'abut,' which means 'to touch or be adjacent to something along one side.' Why should we have to make repairs when someone else owns it? That would be like paying someone else's mortgage (oh, that's what we do now), so I guess if they want you to pay for it, they will make up some law to force you to do it."

o "I'm buying a home in Martinsburg that is a corner lot. The woman who owned it previously had to pay a pretty penny to put in a sidewalk in front of it. I think that's pretty ridiculous. Why should homeowners pay to build or maintain something used by the public?"

o "No taxes are paid to provide services like street maintenance and snow removal, but it has always been a law for a long time that people maintain the city sidewalks even though they do not belong to them, and if the city provides maintenance to said sidewalk, the homeowner who pays taxes for services will be charged. I do not know who created this law or who was in office at the time, but feel it is unfair."

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