Patience taxed

I'm baffled by a number of items from Jack Lessenberry's column, "A better future" (March 18). Regarding fiscal mistakes from the state Legislature, he observes, "Two years ago, when they didn't have the guts to raise the income tax enough to balance the budget ..."

Is there a cogent explanation why reducing spending was not an equally viable, indeed, preferable choice? The column does not explore this option.

Furthermore, does Mr. Lessenberry enjoy deceiving his readers? Not only is his example of "Joe Slackerboy" fictional, but also neglects to explain that Monsieur Slacker enjoys a $3,500 personal exemption, reducing his effective tax rate on the $17,000 to 3.45 percent. I'd say that is fair.

Lessenberry then attempts to pre-empt a "right-wing yap" with a self-aggrandizing proclamation of his desire to surrender ever-increasing amounts of his income, "This columnist would almost certainly pay more as well, and I think I should." He ignores the fact he is free to pay more in taxes any time he pleases! He needn't wait until the state forcibly pries it from his pocketbook; the right is his today. —Milena Thomas, Royal Oak

Can you whip it?

In response to Julianne Mattera's article, "The young and uninsured" (March 11), I say put single-payer heath care on the Michigan ballot for the next election. President Obama himself has said that important change will not come from the top, but from the people. Michael Moore knocked himself out making a documentary on single-payer health care, but, sadly, that aphorism from my childhood tells us, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." —Regina McNulty, Oak Park

New arts and culture editor at Metro Times

We got more than 100 applications — many of them formidable — for the arts and culture editor position here at MT, because such a gig at a major American alternative weekly — particularly in this economic climate — is a choice one. We searched for six months because we understand how important local arts and culture coverage is here.

So after careful consideration, we settled on a kid who's rising from Detroit's creative class. Travis R. Wright is the son of career artists, raised in an atmosphere where Kandinsky, van Gogh, Dylan and Peter Max were household names. He honed his writing chops as an editor in various capacities at Real Detroit, has been a Detroit-area correspondent for Spin magazine and his byline has appeared in sundry magazines, both lowbrow and high.

The colorful Wayne State University grad also happens to be an accomplished photographer. He's been drunk on absinthe in Israel, has toured Australia armed with a backpack and co-wrote Chai: A Jewiscal, a local musical.

His will be a strong voice in the Detroit-area arts scenes. —W. Kim Heron, editor; Brian Smith, features editor

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