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California Tax Refunds

December 29, 1987

Your editorial ("What Does It Say," Dec. 12) dealing with the recent tax rebate ends with the question, "What is the point of a government . . . ?" What indeed? While most would agree that the state should provide services protecting the individual from harassment and a system whereby disputes can be resolved in a civilized fashion, from that point on virtually everyone has a different agenda. Witness the plight of the woman in your editorial who had just received her rebate check. Years of consciousness-raising paying off, a sense of guilt overwhelms her when she considers all the government programs her tax rebate could have been applied toward. "What," she agonizes, "does it say about a state that writes laws that return money to people when others need better schooling, better housing, better health care--or even health care, period?"

What it says is that California has stumbled onto an enlightened and downright refreshing approach to the perennial problem of determining the priority of social programs and the associated funding accorded to them. Your editorial completely ignored the attractiveness of a system whereby individuals can send any or all (or none!) of their rebate to whatever charitable organization(s) they wish (even programs not mentioned, such as AIDS research or support for the Nicaraguan Contras).

JON E. JONSSON

San Pedro

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