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Warren Buffett Takes On Proposition 13

August 19, 2003

Re "Buffett's Property-Tax Remarks Stir Debate," Aug. 16: Warren Buffett [now advising Arnold Schwarzenegger] is right, and all the others are a bunch of cowards. I too sit smugly, paying a third what my new neighbors pay in taxes. But even though I'm benefiting, I'm not scared to acknowledge that other states charge a lot more and benefit accordingly.

Since Proposition 13 came along, our infrastructure has crumbled. I'm sure many would rather pay no taxes and deal with dirt roads and disbanding the University of California system, but that's not necessarily what's best for all in the long run. Luckily, Proposition 13 is considered holy by so many, I'm in no danger of losing my bargain. But give Buffett a break. He's willing to point out a problem and be honest about it, third rail or not.

Larry Herbst

Pasadena

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If Buffett can afford to pay more property taxes on his home in Laguna Beach, I invite him to do so. But leave Proposition 13's provisions intact for those of us who are retired on fixed incomes.

By the way, did he get a windfall from Bush's tax decrease? I did not.

Emma W. Willsey

Huntington Beach

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Whatever one's position on the recall, and on the myriad of candidates, as well, a discussion of property taxes is long overdue. The "keep property taxes low at all costs" mentality is shrill but bankrupt. The issue is not about tax cuts; it is about tax fairness.

For example, as you say in your Aug. 17 editorial, Buffett pays $2,264 annually for property taxes on his $4-million estate. If a family is fortunate enough to buy a house today in Los Angeles County at the median price of $328,000, that lucky family will pay between $3,500 and $4,000 in property taxes annually, though it is hardly likely to be in Buffett's financial position. Similarly, if a family bought a house of comparable value to Buffett's in his Laguna Beach neighborhood, that family would pay more than $40,000 annually in property taxes, which hardly seems fair either. Like it or not, this "third rail" of California politics is long overdue for a derailing.

Gary Peters

Paso Robles

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I was amused by Schwarzenegger's lack of input on how he, as governor, would handle California's budget deficit, or any other of California's responsibilities (Aug. 17). "No comment" across the board.

Thanks for the creative input, Mr. Terminator. Hasta la vista, Arnold.

Michael Hruska

Los Angeles

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