Letters to the editor on sales tax, drug-testing Medicaid, right and wrong, gun control, armed guards

12/30/2012 12:00 AM

12/28/2012 5:20 PM

Let sales tax go down as planned

Our state government is threatening our local development initiatives and damaging the integrity of the governor and the Legislature. A 0.6 percent sales tax is scheduled to end in July. Wichita Transit plans include the possibility of a city sales tax to improve routes and eliminate operating shortfalls of $500,000 per year that caused the city to dip into reserves to cover it this year. Now Gov. Sam Brownback is considering extending the statewide sales tax.

Also, Wichita ratepayers are recharging the Equus Beds aquifer and will use about 25 percent of the water while agriculture will use 75 percent. The city has asked the state to pay $2 million next year toward the project to support state agribusiness, making it a win-win proposition. Past state help has been limited.

Further irony and breach of integrity: Many of the Republican legislators who opposed the sales-tax increase now are open to extending it.

I urge all citizens to contact their legislators and the governor to ask them to do the right thing – stop the higher sales tax in July and fully support the aquifer recharge.



Don’t drug-test

The flirtation by state Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, with drug screens for welfare recipients is embarrassingly myopic and arguably unconstitutional. The proposal fails the test of logic in at least three different arenas:

First, the Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure has direct bearing on the proposed legislation. Florida enacted a similar drug-screen law in 2011 only to have it declared unconstitutional by a federal judge four months later.

Second, drug screens are not diagnostic tests and are subject to inaccuracies both positive and negative. Proponents of drug screens assume welfare recipients use welfare benefits to purchase and use drugs. In fact, the Florida experience found the exact opposite – welfare recipients had positive drug screens 2.6 percent of the time versus 8.1 percent of the general Florida population.

Third, drug screens fail to be cost-effective when used in the manner proposed. The Florida experience revealed no cost savings and actually cost Florida taxpayers $45,000 in four months of operation.

Drug screening of welfare recipients has been shown to be unconstitutional, a waste of taxpayers’ dollars and a mechanism to promote negative stereotypes. Constitutional rights exist for all Americans and are not based on social class or annual income.


Valley Center

Right, wrong

We relish our freedoms in the United States, but we need to refresh ourselves as to what this means. It does not mean that we are free to do anything we want to do. What it means is that we are free to do what is right, and that is a lot of freedom.

What is right and what is wrong? We know deep within us the basics of right and wrong, and from that we can use our reason to determine the things we should and should not do.

We know it is wrong to take something that is not ours. With little thought we can understand what a mess society would be in if we did not agree that stealing is wrong. Maybe a major contributing factor to our problems in America is that we don’t think these things through. If we do, not only can we know better as to right and wrong, we can commit to it and act accordingly.

Would a discussion around the dinner table about what is right and wrong be healthy for us and society?



No simple solution

Before 1970 I went through the reasoning process of how to reduce gun violence. The only truly effective way of eliminating gun deaths would be if all firearms on the face of the Earth, and the knowledge of how to make them, were completely eliminated. Of course, that is impossible.

I have struggled since to think of a practical solution, something that will actually work. I have failed, the same as everyone else. Many suggestions have been made; none stands up to the harsh light of the real world.

Making it harder for innocent people to defend themselves will make us all safer. Really? Does anyone believe that?

Owning a gun will make you safer. Equally ridiculous.

The problem is not amenable to a simple idea or solution. Still, we hope for something that will at least lessen the carnage.

Probably a good place to start would be to look at Israel and Switzerland, two countries where guns are prevalent and violence is low. But the solution will have to be uniquely American, just as the problem is. One thing is for sure: The problem will not be solved by the current practice of simplistic ideas and Kabuki theater politics.



Add armed guards

Here we sit again, waiting for our leaders to find a way to control violence in our schools. What are we waiting for? The problem has a Band-Aid fix until we come up with a better solution.

That’s exactly what the National Rifle Association suggested. Put an armed guard at all schools. Yes, there was an armed policeman at Columbine High School in Colorado, but think of how many students and teachers would have been killed if not for that one armed guard.

Please, for the sake of our children and teachers, put an armed guard in each of our schools while you ponder what to do. The solution is in front of us. Are we going to let it happen again without any kind of resistance? This needs to be done now.



Weapons of war

After the tragic mass murder of little children at Newtown, Conn., I grieved and cried in sympathy with their parents and loved ones. I didn’t think anyone who saw the coverage could have felt any differently until I saw people being interviewed in gun stores nationwide. The stores were mobbed with customers who seemed willing to pay any price for assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips.

Among those patrons, I saw no tears, no voices filled with emotion, no expressions of sympathy. What I did see and hear was fear – fear that they’d better stock up now before laws were passed outlawing their beloved weapons of war.

The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and owns 50 percent of the world’s guns. The difference between a knife and an assault rifle is that you can’t switch a knife to automatic mode.

Portland, Ore. Aurora, Colo. Sandy Hook Elementary School. There were many mass shootings before them. And, now, Webster, N.Y. Something must be done to stop the carnage.


Valley Center

What changed?

Whatever happened to common sense? Back in 1950, no one killed teachers and students simply because he was angry over being bullied or ridiculed. Now it happens all too often. What has changed?

Over the past 60 years, the cosmetic appearance of guns has changed, but anyone with common sense knows that no gun of any kind can actually inspire a person to do anything.

Inspiration comes from TV, movies, video games and song lyrics. Video games like Pac-Man have been replaced by blood-splattering games of horror.

When scenes from video games are acted out on real people, we are saddened by real events. But have people really changed, or has their source of inspiration?



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