Dredge bill is right on

I am writing to thank Sen. Alan Bates for recognizing the urgent need to protect our waterways from the damaging process of suction dredge mining. In a word, it "sucks." Anyone who questions the need for such a measure should spend some time below the Gold Ray Dam site in spring and summer.

The Rogue's gold lies in the riverbed indeed, but not in the form of precious metals. Instead it is in the gravel, where salmon and steelhead lay their eggs, and where insects provide needed food for fish.

Dredge-miners change this riverbed structure with their machines. I have experienced first-hand the disappointment of finding a miner staked out in a favorite fishing hole, filling his engine with fuel, the rainbow of spilled gasoline slowly dissipating downstream. I have spoken with heartbroken and frustrated property owners, who are invaded by dozens of these loud machine operators, many from out of state, who set up operations sometimes just feet from the banks.

I have personally picked up the litter left by out-of-state gold-dredgers who camp and foul our public land. Our rivers are meant to be shared and protected, and this bill is right on the money. — Mike Nelson, Talent

Slow the wealth disparity

The article "Tax Bills for Rich Families" (March 5) included a chart that to the casual reader might appear unfair. However, it's important to put this chart into the context of wealth, not simply yearly income. Based on the latest statistics available, the wealthiest Americans, the top 20 percent, hold over 85 percent of the wealth in this country (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).

According to your tax chart this top 20 percent is only paying 71.8 percent of the nation's taxes based on yearly income. Even when considering yearly income, The 2012 Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America indicates that the top 10 percent of income earners in this country earned a yearly income of $4 trillion, while the remaining 90 percent, you and I, earned a total of $4.5 trillion in 2012. This means that the top 10 percent of earners took home 45 percent of income in 2012, and most of this income was not "earned," but came in the form of capital gains on investments.

I support increased tax rates and/or closing tax loopholes for the wealthy. This is the primary means in a democracy for slowing the disparity in wealth in the U.S.; something most Americans support. — Kathy McNeill, Medford

Late fee is outrageous

I received my bill from Jackson County Animal Control for my dogs on March 7. It said that my bill was $17 per dog and was to be paid by the last day of March 2013, or late fees of $11 per animal would apply. That is 65 percent of the amount due — outrageous! Just another example of government shafting the little guys.

I think we need some new management in this area. What do you think of a 65 percent late fee? — David B. Hammond, Medford

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