Letters to the editor on tax fairness, Moran’s priorities, alien roundballers, recycling, jazz barriers

04/30/2013 12:00 AM

04/29/2013 5:55 PM

Complexity can add to unfairness

In the April 14 Parade magazine, Marilyn vos Savant argued that “fair taxes require complexity.” Unfortunately, her argument is unfair to the topic. Vos Savant ignored vital factors, including the subjectivity of fairness, the inconsistency of comparisons, and the unfairness directly caused by the tax code’s complexity.

For society as a whole, a subjective judgment like “fairer” can only be made using some kind of voting process. Such votes are often not consistent. For example, if A is voted fairer than B, and B is voted fairer than C, it is still very possible that C can be voted fairer than A.

The more complex things are, the more such paradoxes are likely to arise – and our tax code’s complexity virtually guarantees they arise when considering changes. So making our code still more complex seeking fairness usually will add more “fairness inconsistencies”– cases of apparent unfairness. Thus, trying to fix the problem with more complexity is chasing our own tail.

Also, the code’s complexity directly creates unfairness. Those who can hire the best expertise to exploit the code’s intricacies currently have a big advantage over others. Also, the complexity makes the code fuzzy enough that, if you are audited, it can make a big difference which IRS agent you are dealing with.

The complexity of the current tax system inhibits, rather than promotes, fairness. Vos Savant’s argument is, sadly, the type of road-to-hell paving that has caused the system to reach this point.



Moran’s priorities

I nearly fell off the couch when I saw our very own Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on TV the other day. I never see our senator on the TV for anything, but there he was. I thought this must be very important, so I listened.

He was complaining about the inconvenience of the new reality of sequestration – the sequestration he allowed to happen. He was demanding something to be done to keep the airplanes in the air, with no delays, because air traffic controllers’ hours were being cut and he couldn’t possibly go on with the way things were.

I listened on, but there were no complaints about the cuts to the elderly for Meals on Wheels. No complaints from him about cuts to special education. No complaints about sequestration’s effects on people out of work.

Moran’s priorities are himself, period. The rest of us are on our own.



Alien roundballers

Although not a die-hard sports fan, I thoroughly enjoy watching the NCAA Division I basketball tournament. As I reviewed the men’s team rosters this year, I couldn’t help but notice the number of foreign players. My unofficial count yielded 101 foreign players on the 68 men’s teams. The country supplying the greatest number of nonresident players was that troublesome neighbor on our unprotected, unfenced border to the north.

Are these players from other countries (aka “aliens”) paying in-state tuition? In fact, are they paying any tuition at all? And aren’t these foreign players taking away opportunities from law-abiding, red-blooded American basketball players who no doubt can perform just as well at their respective positions?

All opponents to immigration reform should be calling for increased scrutiny regarding the recruitment of alien roundballers before it begins to spread to other sports. Tennis, anyone?



Let’s recycle

An assessment of thousands of Wichita residents suggests that the lack of recycling is the community’s top environmental concern.

Do you know that all local trash haulers are now required to offer single-stream (recyclables go in one container), curbside recycling? In November 2012, the city of Wichita launched a solid waste and recycling program in the hopes of reducing costs and providing convenient, curbside recycling to Wichita residents.

If you don’t like the cost one hauler proposes, shop around. Several individuals and neighborhood associations have been able to secure much lower rates. You can also save money by asking your hauler for a smaller trash container. In fact, if you go to the city’s website, www.wichita.gov, and search “recycling,” you can find the Solid Waste and Recycling Plan and see what haulers are charging customers in your neighborhood.

Check out the video the Wichita Initiative to Renew the Environment produced about recycling in Wichita at wichita.kumc.edu/care/. On behalf of the WIRE Environmental Leadership Council, I say: Come on, Wichita – let’s recycle.



Jazz barriers

There has been much publicity this month about Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball starting in 1947. I recently saw the movie “42,” based on Robinson’s life, and enjoyed it very much.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and I think it is important to note that jazz musicians in America broke the color barrier long before it happened in major league baseball. In 1935, bandleader Benny Goodman hired the black pianist Teddy Wilson to play in his band. A year later he hired black vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. These are dates that are readily found in jazz history books, but the truth is that black and white musicians were playing jazz together from the time the art form began to evolve. Jazz musicians have long blazed the trail for equality and civil rights in the United States and around the world.



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