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READERS REACT: TAKING ISSUE WITH TIMES' STANDS : Note: Many letters writers support our views; many do not. In the spirit of vigorous discussion of the issues, here is a selection of letters that disagrees with us. : Alcohol Taxes: Props. 126, 134

November 04, 1990

After reading so many excellent news stories in The Times documenting the terrible cost of cutbacks in county human services, I am disappointed to see that The Times is opposing Prop. 134, the "Nickel-a-Drink" tax--the one measure on the ballot that is guaranteed to help these struggling programs (editorial, Oct. 10).

This initiative doesn't "punish" alcohol consumption, as your editorial suggests. It only acknowledges the obvious: Drinking imposes certain costs on society, and it is only fair that they be borne primarily by those who do it, not by everyone else. Further, your fears for California's domestic wine industry are seriously overstated. For one thing, the tax is levied equally on all wine sold in the state, so foreign producers gain no advantage; for another, 75% of California wines are produced for export--and escape the tax.

It's also ironic that The Times has singled out for attack the very provisions designed to protect voters and assure them that the money will go exactly where it is promised to go. Prop. 134 will bring in $760 million annually in new revenues, and channel this "users' fee" on liquor into five areas where the impact of alcohol abuse is greatest: emergency and trauma care, substance-abuse prevention and treatment, law enforcement, victims' assistance and mental-health services.

The Times recognized the value of the "user-fee" concept last June when it endorsed Prop. 111, the gas-tax increase earmarked for transit programs. After years of neglect by the state Legislature, why are the victims of alcohol abuse--trauma patients, battered spouses and children, the mentally ill homeless--any less deserving?

EDMUND D. EDELMAN

Supervisor, Third District

Los Angeles County

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