Letters to the editor on war on poverty, truth in taxation, Israel, minimum-wage jobs

01/14/2014 5:19 PM

01/14/2014 5:19 PM

‘War on poverty’ very successful

The “war on poverty” was an intricate and highly nuanced program that, despite the factoids generated from conservative/libertarian think tanks, was very successful at lowering elder poverty from 35 percent to less than 10 percent, while Medicare has saved the elderly and their adult children from debilitating medical debt. Poor children also benefited greatly from school programs ranging from Head Start to Pell Grants. Most studies have found that the food stamp program was a success in reducing poverty – combating hunger and food insecurity while improving life outcomes for low-income children and families.

Economic deterioration is more responsible for breakdown in family structure due to the stagnant economy with its skyrocketing levels of inequality. Any failure in the plan came from the macroeconomic programs to maintain high growth and employment, such as tax cuts that did not restore broad-based post-World War II prosperity gains and a minimum wage that has lagged behind inflation and productivity gains since 1968.

Without the poverty programs, poverty would be at 26 percent instead of 16 percent. The notion that the poor can be pawned off to the churches for relief and “rehabilitation” is just laughable considering the enormity of the problem and the lack of church resources to handle it.

The current Ayn Rand Republicans just seem bent on turning Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal into a raw deal for everybody.

MARY WEHRHEIM

Wichita

Be honest on taxes

An article about the city of Wichita’s 2014 legislative agenda included this quote from Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner, explaining the City Council’s objection to any efforts to cap tax revenues.: “If the value of a property grows because they’ve taken an old building and turned it into something, then it grows and that’s for the betterment for the city. I want to be able to grow and not have the city be penalized for true growth” (Jan. 4 Eagle).

That quote identifies two of the greatest challenges to economic growth in Wichita. First, government thinks it is entitled to a share of people’s homes and businesses. That’s especially hypocritical considering that government sets the value of citizens’ property. Meitzner’s attitude also reflects the notion that government’s institutional interests should prevail over those of individuals.

There’s no effort to cap local property-tax revenue, but there is legislation pending that would simply require elected officials to be honest about the tax increases they are imposing. The city of Wichita likes to brag about how long it has gone without raising its mill rate, but between 1997 and 2012 its property taxes jumped by 116 percent, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue. Taxpayers deserve to be told the truth.

DAVE TRABERT

President

Kansas Policy Institute

Overland Park

Stand up to Israel

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer trotted out some familiar but ridiculous arguments to attack the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israeli institutions that support the occupation (Jan. 11 Opinion).

He said Israel is not as bad as China. That’s the standard he wants us to judge Israel by? He also claimed we single out Israel for criticism when there are other terrible regimes. But any issue by definition is singling something out. Should we have ignored South African apartheid just because bad things were happening elsewhere?

Krauthammer also forgot to mention that Israel is singled out all the time for praise. Our government sends more than $3 billion a year in aid to Israel and vetoes every United Nations resolution (more than 100 since 1972) that criticizes Israel. In contrast, when is the last time the United States vetoed a U.N. criticism of China?

Our politicians and media constantly swear allegiance to the wonderfulness of Israel. Our Congress gives standing ovations for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu despite the war crimes he leads.

So excuse me if many people think it is time to stand up for Israel’s victims, the Palestinians, and, secondarily, Jews like me whose name Israel besmirches every time it claims to speak for “the Jews” while taking over more Palestinian orchards, destroying more Palestinian springs, demolishing more Palestinian homes, and maiming or killing more nonviolent Palestinian protesters.

LAURA TILLEM

Wichita

Not more value

Regarding a letter stating that the pay at a minimum-wage job should increase when the employee’s value increases (Jan. 7 Letters to the Editor): A minimum-wage job, by definition, typically requires little or no education and training. This type of job role does not increase in value once learned.

For example, a newspaper route may require minimal training. Whether the person delivers newspapers for a year or 20 years, the value of the job tasks likely would not change. The experience obtained in this type of job would not see any increase in value over time.

Pay increases should occur when new or more complex skills are required, or when specialized training is needed that also requires higher education levels or related previous job experience. My point is that not every job will increase in value simply because the employee has been doing it for a long time.

Minimum-wage jobs are a starting point to begin one’s work experience. Wages increase as the employee grows skills that subsequently deliver more value to the business.

RANDY LAIR

Wichita

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