Monday, April 21, 2014
During construction season, I bicycle commute weekdays to work in Portland from my home in North Yarmouth. At season's end, I wish to thank some folks who helped make the commute less risky and more enjoyable:
A cyclist commutes to work in Boston in 2008. A North Yarmouth man who rides his bike to work in Portland voices his appreciation for improvements to a stretch of road he rides and for the courtesy shown by road crews along the way.
2008 File Photo/The Associated Press
A section of Route 115 was substantially paved this year ("2.36 miles" from the Congregational Church at Route 231 to the Gray town line). This stretch of road was awful, pounded by big trucks, school buses and the commuting hordes.
I waited all summer to experience some new pavement. Finally, despite rain and culverts, the Maine Department of Transportation got the job done, a smooth road, just a beautiful thing. My thanks to MDOT contractors and traffic controllers for a job well done.
Hawkeye LLC was contracted to set up new transmission lines across the state for Central Maine Power. Every day, the Hawkeye service vehicles would NASCAR their way to various work sites along my commuting route. I wish to thank them for their courteous driving. Hawkeye caravans passed me many times through summer and fall and always gave me space, never a spiteful retaliation as they passed.
I witnessed their progress on the towering transmission line near Bruce Hill crossing Route 9, including some of the final aerial work where a helicopter was lowering linemen down to the highest pole crosstrees to do some punch list items.
The work looked as dangerous as bicycling to work sometimes is, and maybe that is what it takes to understand courtesy on the road, to realize how easy it is to be smacked by a larger vehicle, just as it might be to take a long fall from the top of a power line pole.
Impact of proposed tax hikes greatly exaggerated
If the top marginal tax rate increases from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, the federal income tax due on net income above $397,000 increases by 4.6 percent, or $4,600 for every net $100,000 earned above $397,000.
Therefore, if net income is $497,000, the tax increase as a percent of total taxable income is less than 1 percent. Small-business owners earning less than $397,000 net taxable income will be exempt from this increase.
As a taxpayer reporting income from a small business, I wish I had the problem of having to pay the top marginal rate. I would gladly forfeit my exemption in the less-than-$397,000-net-income club.
The front-page Associated Press article "Tax plan: Hard hit on business" (Dec. 10) begs for clarification.
First, let's dispel a myth. Except for a 7.65 percent payroll tax on wages, the federal government does not tax and will not tax a business on money spent on an employee. The cost of an employee is a business expense and, as such, is actually a way to avoid income taxes -- unless that employee makes you more money, which is the whole idea, after all.
The article states "... if you borrow money to start or expand your business ... only the interest portion of the loan payment is tax deductible." This may be true if you are pocketing that borrowed money as profit, but if you are indeed spending the money on legitimate business expenses, those are deductible.
Enter the shareholders of McGregor Metalworking Cos. in Springfield, Ohio. The seven principals in the business are realizing $4 million in profits and are whining about their $250,000 tax increase. Taking a cue from Wall Street, these geniuses make sure they get theirs first. If there is any money left, they invest it in the business.
Quoth Dan McGregor, "I feel a $40,000 reduction (due to taxes) is the loss of one job, so if it's a $200,000 tax increase, that's five jobs."
So rather than hiring five workers and increasing profits, they'll pad their own pockets and leave the business wanting. Shouldn't money be invested in the business first and what is left considered profit?
Apparently, according to this same article, 96.5 percent of people reporting business income will be unaffected by this tax plan. Perhaps your headline should have read, "Tax plan: Hardly anyone notices."
Community helps couple weather blaze, aftermath
I had the unfortunate experience Saturday, Nov. 24, of having a very serious fire at my home in Harrison.
Although this was very traumatic, I must say how impressed I was with the professionalism, expertise and efficiency of the Harrison Fire Department and the other departments that worked with them. It is obvious that they spend many hours training and learning to work together. Every person knew his role and performed it with precision and expertise.
I hope you never have this experience, but if you do, be assured that you will be helped by a fine group of volunteers who will do their absolute best to save lives and property and will do so with professionalism, empathy and compassion.
Steve and I also want to thank everyone who has offered their help and support as we work our way through this. Friends and even people we haven't met have made it their goal to do everything they can to help us put our lives back together.
Maine may have difficult winters, but I believe Maine also has the finest people on the planet, and we are very fortunate to live here.
Senator's response to bill on royalties hits sour note
I recently emailed Sen. Olympia Snowe, urging her to oppose the Internet Radio Fairness Act, which, if enacted, would take hard-earned income (royalties -- a paycheck) out of the pockets of thousands of songwriters and performers in Maine and across the country.
Sen. Snowe responded with a form letter that included the following sentence: "I have always been a staunch proponent of measures that make Internet and communications services more accessible by prohibiting discriminatory fees and taxes."
This sentence makes it very clear that Sen. Snowe does not understand the legislation. The royalties paid by Pandora and other Internet radio firms are not "discriminatory fees and taxes" -- they are compensation paid to songwriters and performers for the hard work of creating and performing the music we all love.
Sen. Snowe should not take any position related to this bill until she understands the underlying issues.