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Coping With Taxes as April 15 Nears

April 09, 1988

Once again I am about to send off my income tax papers--as I have done more or less regularly over the past 50 years. In retrospect, I judge that on the whole I have not overpaid for more than seven decades of living in this country. But along with costs, the course has been changing; I fear for the worse.

For example, in spite of our rising payments, the debt continues to grow and the prospect of it diminishing grows dimmer. In fact, none of the taxes we pay go toward reducing our share of the national debt. It causes some anguish when we are told we cannot afford more national social benefits because they cost too much. Yet at least 55 cents of every dollar of our taxes go to pay for military buildup and payments on what we owe from past wars! Millions live below the poverty level, and still we use our resources to build weapons systems.

The money we have spent on armies and armaments since World War II has been astronomical--something like $10 trillion; and I assume our chief rival has spent a like amount. Are we better off now than then? For about an eighth of that sum it has been estimated that we could have eliminated most of the world's ills: illiteracy, ignorance and poverty. Thus we would have removed the basic causes of violent conflict.

Too often when the subject of substantial reduction of the military budget arises, we express fear that such action will adversely affect our economy. Actually, according to figures by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the effects would be very positive. For example, for each $1 billion spent by the military, there are 75,710 jobs. In education--where we are sorely in need--that $1 billion would provide over 187,000 jobs! In health care--another problem area--we would create about 139,000 jobs.

So, as we turn in our annual accounting, we know we have the means of putting our tax dollars to better use in producing a safer and happier world.

JAMES SCHERR

Studio City

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