Letters to the Editor

August 16, 2014

Letters on Iraq, sales tax proposal, corporate taxes, Brownback tax policy, teacher tenure, boys ranch, climate change march

Respect people of all faiths

On behalf of the Jewish community of Wichita, I offer my deep sympathies and full, unreserved support to the Christian and Yazidi communities in Iraq, which are suffering at the hands of those who distort Islam and in its name bring death, destruction and misery. As we are witnessing in Iraq and elsewhere, the denial of freedom of religion in such a brutal manner is antithetical to everything we stand for.

Such a gross distortion of religion presents a real danger to civil society and is an affront to the liberal democratic values we cherish. We must recognize the threat that this extremism poses to us everywhere and accept our collective responsibility to boldly confront and oppose it.

If they do not succumb to forced conversion, the Christian and Yazidi communities of Iraq face an unthinkable choice – stay and be slaughtered or flee and starve. We must help them in their hour of need and guarantee their long-term freedom and security.

We call on all people, regardless of their own faith, to value and respect people of all faiths. Our thoughts and prayers are with the persecuted Christian and Yazidi communities of Iraq.


Hebrew Congregation


Tax hurts business

Some have argued that Wichita’s potential new sales tax would hurt low-income citizens. While that is true, the impact of increasing the sales tax extends far beyond low-income consumers. As a sales manager, I see the result of changes in consumer spending habits, be it from higher gas prices, inflation in food prices or taxes.

A citywide retail sales tax would not only be felt by those paying the sales tax but by hundreds of Wichita small businesses. As consumers must pay 1 percent more in tax for everything they buy, they effectively have that much less to spend.

The burden on low-income citizens and the negative consequences felt by small businesses across Wichita would not be outweighed by the “jobs fund” plan to provide millions of dollars in incentives to a few politically connected businesses.

The local economy would be better served if City Hall kept the money in the pockets of the taxpayers and reduced the red tape for all business owners and entrepreneurs in Wichita.




Columnist Davis Merritt is definitely against what have been termed “inversions,” in which American companies re-establish headquarters in another country in order to lower their overall income tax burden (“Corporate flight overseas is a lose-lose-lose,” Aug. 12 Opinion). He projects the dangerous downside due to fleeing companies is that it will speed the growth of income inequality that shrinks the middle class in America.

So why doesn’t the federal government just revise the tax policies that encourage companies to relocate, thus saving something for the company, the U.S. economy and average middle-class people (win-win-win)? One reason Merritt suggested is that savings for the company (say, in reduced taxes) would mean less for the U.S. Treasury, which apparently has claim on company profits and is considerate not to take all of them – even though it obviously needs all it can get to fund the growing mass of government programs.



Others collect

As I opened the pages of the Aug. 11 Eagle, a question occurred to me: Why do we need the proposed 1 percent sales tax? All we have to do is collect the tens of millions of dollars’ worth of delinquent real estate taxes.

But then I realized that our local political leaders much prefer the sales tax (even though they darn well know it is regressive), because the good businesses of the area will do the collection for them year after year with 100 percent effectiveness. Duh!



Fast and loose

Once again, Gov. Sam Brownback plays fast and loose with the truth (“Brownback vows to add 100,000 private sector jobs,” Aug. 13 Eagle). He touted his tax cuts, which he said made Kansas a leader in small-business growth.

Brownback’s years in Washington, D.C., exposed him to the teachings of a discredited economist named Arthur Laffer, who taught that if we cut taxes we will free up more net income that will lead to more jobs, etc. That theory, once in vogue in Washington, has long since been repudiated by more knowledgeable economists and now finds favor only in the hinterland and less-populated areas.

Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and professor of economics at Princeton University, after reviewing what Brownback’s tax cuts have done to Kansas, described the situation in one word: “debacle.”

As the Kansas Economic Progress Council pointed out, data from Brownback’s administration showed Kansas lagging the six-state region – Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma – in growth of private sector and manufacturing employment and growth in wages.

What is it that these other states know that Brownback doesn’t know?



Little recourse

As a former public schoolteacher and the wife of a retired school administrator, I feel compelled to comment on teacher tenure in Kansas.

Teachers today have one of the hardest of all jobs, and most of them deserve the greatest respect and admiration. As in every profession, there are the outstanding, the average and the poor. Fortunately, in Kansas the excellent far outnumber the poor ones. Keeping the poor or incompetent diminishes the respect and support due the good teachers and, most important, hurts the children.

Unlike in any other profession, it has been nearly impossible to eliminate from the classroom a poor or incompetent teacher. To attempt to do so would invite an immediate lawsuit by the teachers union. Most school districts do not have the funds, time or resources to fight the union, so they just give in, and the children are the losers.

When our youngest son entered fourth grade, he would cry at night and not want to go to bed. When we asked him why, he told us: “If I go to sleep, it will just make morning come sooner, and I will have to go to school.” He had always loved school before, but he was terribly afraid of this fourth-grade teacher. This was many years ago, but things like this still happen and parents often have little recourse.



Reopen ranch

I disagree with Sedgwick County Commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau on most things. But the consensus they hold with commission candidate Jim Howell about the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch (which closed last month) shows there can be hope for anyone involved with causes.

Something that benefits everyone should be encouraged to succeed, not be allowed to close due to lack of funding. We find money for too much stupidity.



Join the march

In September, world leaders are traveling to New York City for a United Nations summit on the climate crisis. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

Many of us will take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand a world with an economy that works for people and the planet – a world safe from the ravages of climate change and with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

There is a bus going from Wichita to New York in September. If you want to be a part of this historic event, please sign up and get your bus ticket. The Sierra Club is subsidizing our seats, so the cost is very low.

For more information about the Sept. 21 march, visit http://peoplesclimate.org/ or contact me at lawrencelorid@gmail.com or 316-516-3632.



Letters to the Editor

Include your full name, home address and phone number for verification purposes. All letters are edited for clarity and length; 200 words or fewer are best. Letters may be published in any format and become the property of The Eagle.

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For more information, contact Phillip Brownlee at 316-268-6262, pbrownlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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