Your report on “L.A.’s underground cash” (Dec. 14) underscores the need for real tax reform. The Fair Tax plan would replace income and business taxes with a consumption or sales tax. This plan is truly progressive, since the more you spend, the more tax you pay. Taxes paid by low-income people would be rebated. Since everyone is a consumer, everyone would pay taxes. The Fair Tax would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and greatly simplify tax collection. It also would promote savings, since money saved is not taxed until it is spent. The Fair Tax would capture all that lost revenue from the underground economy. Michael R. Thorpe Glendale Happy trade deficit Re “Trade deficit hits all-time high” (Business, Dec. 15): What a surprise. Hello, shoppers. Shoppers who must have the latest dumb gadget. Shoppers who must buy the latest toy. Shoppers who must have the latest flat TV. Hello, dumb parents, endlessly buying toys, afraid to say no to nagging kids. Kids glued to a TV set and absorbing everything thrown at them. Hello, happy China, happy Mexico, happy Wal-Mart. Hello, happy retailers. The USA has become the wicked witch of Oz, melting away while screaming, “I’m melting! I’m melting! I’m melting!” And we, the citizens of this country, created the melting. Dante F. Rochetti West Hills Orange Line answer Approaching an Orange Line crossing, some drivers view it as a challenge of who crosses the intersection first. Of course, the color of the traffic light is of no consequence. Drivers are cited for the violations and fined, with little or no change in their attitude and driving habits. One solution that would really have an impact on these drivers is, of course, a citation, but it should not be for a financial penalty. It should be a penalty of seven working days doing street cleanup in those beautiful orange coveralls. When hurrying housewives, thoughtless chief executive officers, rampaging students late for class and men late for a golf tee time realize this will cost irreplaceable time, rather than money, people will have significantly more respect for that red light. Ray Ricci Van Nuys Turning a blind eye Re “Remember, Syriana is just a movie” (Their Opinions, Dec. 14): Turning a blind eye to something may make one think that it is not there. This movie shows a reality no American wants to believe, as it is not what true Americanism is. It is wrong to believe anybody is stupid when the one who thinks that he or she is smarter than anybody else is exactly the opposite. This is what the big fish in America now think. The cartoon with the article aptly sums up what is going on in the United States today. So what if hundreds of lives are being lost? At least somebody is making billions of dollars. “Syriana” is not just a movie or a better cartoon. It is a wake-up call before it is too late. To ignore it will be disastrous. Paramjit Singh Lancaster Not good business Re “Won’t happen” (Your Opinions, Dec. 12): I would have hoped that Richard Shafarman had learned, from the reaction of some Jews to Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ,” to wait until he saw the miniseries before deciding what it is about. I have no idea what is in Gibson’s mind, but I do believe he is a sharp businessman. Therefore, I cannot believe he would produce a film that would be so far removed from historical facts. Anyone who has lived through World War II knows the horror of the Nazi attempt to rid the world of those they found objectionable. I believe 19 million innocent people died in concentration camps. Six million of these were Jews – men, women and children. If Gibson were to deny this, he would lose all credibility. Agnes Peterson Malibu False piety Beware of practicing your piety before Bill O’Reilly in order to be seen by him; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give thanks to customers, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in some stores, that they may be praised by Bill O’Reilly. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the Wal-Marts and Targets, that they may be seen by Bill O’Reilly. Jesus, apparently, followed a different form of Christianity than Bill O’Reilly follows. But, then, Jesus didn’t use his religion to make money selling books. Jason L. Weisberg Granada Hills Most religions Where in the U.S. Constitution does it state that we are a Christian nation? The preamble states “We the people of the United States,” not “We the people of the Christian United States” and not “We the Christian people of the United States.” The First Amendment does state that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. No mention of Christianity there, either. So, until we become the Christian theocracy so many seem to want, please don’t call the United States a Christian nation. Call it instead a nation that tolerates the practice of most religions. Michael Smith Tarzana Renouncing violence Re “Executed; Governor denies clemency for Tookie Williams” (Dec. 13): Some try to justify this state-sponsored killing by citing the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” statement from the 3,000-year-old Hebrew Bible. They violate the sanctity of that pronouncement by failing to acknowledge the context in which it was first spoken. Then, the rule among nations was instead two eyes for one eye and a whole bunch of lives for one life. The Hebrew prophet instead wisely required his people to fashion their justice proportionally, to moderate retributive violence. What the intervening 3,000 years should have taught us is that in executing justice, one can never sink to the violence of the criminal. That is why the civilized world has renounced the death penalty, and it is about time California joined it. Martin Kotowski Sherman Oaks All deserve it I sympathize with murder victims, not their murderers. That said, I couldn’t suppress a touch of compassion when Stanley Tookie Williams paid for his brutality. But that was all. Everyone on California’s Death Row deserves execution. Williams was on Death Row 24 years for blasting four holdup victims with a shotgun. In March, it will be 25 years since Lawrence Bittaker, a complete monster, was sentenced for five excruciating rape-torture murders of adolescent girls. Why isn’t he next? Ask the judges responsible. If a worse monster is possible, it’s Charles Ng, who terrorized many murder victims in a remote torture chamber. Ng stalled his trial 13 years, so he’s been on Death Row “only” seven years. Phony delays are what produce clemency campaigns, but sympathy is impossible for monsters like Bittaker and Ng. Charles Sergis Calabasas In their name Re “Executed; Governor denies clemency for Tookie Williams” (Dec. 13): Perhaps vengeful whites’ blood lust will be satisfied for a while. It must be difficult for them, now that lynching is frowned upon, that there are so few remaining opportunities for barbarism in the United States, which ludicrously claims to be a civilized country. What a triumph for Christianity, too. You remember: the religion based on forgiveness and redemption. Or maybe California’s Christians are fully absorbed in the earth-shakingly important quest to banish the greeting “Happy holidays” from shopping malls this Christmas season. Too busy to concern themselves with bloodshed in their name. Myrna Hill Sylmar Why so long? Why is it that California waits so long to execute a convicted killer waiting on Death Row? After all, we have DNA now. Think of the money that could be saved from feeding them on Death Row and keeping them alive when they’ve already been sentenced. The DNA should always be used whenever possible. Gwen E. Wieben Simi Valley AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!