Liberties at core of American values
I want to commend the members of the community who have offered their support following the fire at the mosque in west Wichita ("Mosque thankful for kind words, aid offers," Nov. 2 Eagle). People of all faiths are coming together to help and to express tolerance and understanding. In this way, we are recognizing our common humanity and honoring the civil liberties that are at the core of American values.
A nation that is built upon the rule of law must assure that every citizen — regardless of race, religion or national origin — has an equal right to live in peace and security, to work with dignity, to love our families, to build our communities and to worship our god.
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United States attorney
Plan for the future
People plan for their retirements, their vacations, their careers, etc. Communities, too, should plan ahead for their future economic vitality and quality of life.
The only way a community can do this is to come together, discuss issues and options, and decide on its own preferred future. This usually requires some type of funding and leadership. As we saw with the Visioneering Wichita effort, there must be structure to bring people together, get their input and have them set their own goals and objectives.
The grant being applied for by the Regional Economic Area Partnership and governmental agencies in south-central Kansas will be used to bring our communities together to plan for our future.
Randal O'Toole said that "to protect livability and avoid unsustainable subsidies to transit and high-density development," REAP members should reject the $1.5 million grant ("'Sustainable planning' is not so sustainable," Oct. 30 Opinion). What he didn't say is that this will be a plan developed by citizens who will take the lead and have the floor during the entire process. The funding will make the process possible.
If we all get involved, we can make it the plan we want.
Engage in planning
Most people believe that sustainability is the responsible use of resources to meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs ("'Sustainable planning' is not so sustainable," Oct. 30 Opinion).
Cities can't waste resources. They have a responsibility to citizens to plan, conserve and save taxpayer funds. Regional planning for efficient transportation, water and utilities makes sense. Unplanned "free-market" sprawl is a waste of taxpayer funds and a strain on core services.
Many oil and gas companies are getting smarter themselves. Some are using their record profits to plan for their own sustainability, and are redefining themselves as energy companies. Rather than trying to block any governmental oversight, they are utilizing resources and working hard to balance costs, environmental stewardship and social responsibility to make wise long-term investments. Using their people and profits to make plans for the future and the cities they live in sounds like "smart growth" to me.
If you are a citizen, company or organization that relies on public investments to do business, then be a leader and get engaged in sustainable planning and create a solution that our future generations will appreciate, not just have to deal with.
Pay to play
It was not a surprise, but the hoopla about Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn not paying the $2,500 fee for the honor of having dinner with a U.S. congressman and the speaker of the House drove home the point of why only 10 percent of Americans trust their government (Oct. 30 Local & State). It's blatantly "pay to play," a la Mark Twain's "The Gilded Age."
I went to an Occupy Wall Street protest the other day. I found that I had very little in common with most of the protesters.
Something about the lack of focus of the protest irritated me. It reminded me of children whining that their breakfast cereal was not sweet enough.
Many of the protesters were unemployed or underemployed, but I got the impression that this was mainly self-inflicted.
Everyone was complaining about the rich, the 1-percenters. Yet none of the protesters appeared to have taken the time to understand that the rich run businesses and employ most of the other 99 percent of us.
So in the end, I had to ask myself, "If I were part of the 1 percent, would I hire an Occupy Wall Street protester?"
Please, my business friends, do all of us and yourselves a favor and stop parroting the useless statistic that the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, as though that fact had some significance.
Believe me, the rest of us know that 35 percent is the statutory corporate rate, but we also know that any corporation with even a mediocre accountant will likely wind up paying closer to 17 percent.
Many large corporations, having somewhat more than mediocre accountants, pay much less. Some pay zero. Some get refunds of money they did not pay in the first place.
Perhaps we ought to drop the statutory corporate tax rate to 25 percent but get rid of loopholes and deductions that would allow any corporation to pay any less than that. How does that sound?
PHILIP H. SCHNEIDER
Call 211 for help
After hearing about 911 dispatchers being overwhelmed with inappropriate calls (Oct. 29 Eagle), I wanted to make sure that our community is fully aware of the service United Way of the Plains provides through its statewide 211 system. This is an easy-to-remember telephone number that connects people to community services. It is a number anyone can call to find or give help.
Callers will talk to a trained call specialist who listens to their needs and then directs them to the appropriate human-service programs. The 211 service also has proved itself after disasters, as it becomes an information clearinghouse where updates can be put out to the public about recovery efforts. This frees up 911 dispatchers to take true emergency calls. For example, after the Barton Solvents explosion in Valley Center, 211 took more than 500 calls from residents with questions about street closures and safety issues.
As we approach the holiday season, I'd like to remind everyone to call 211 to find out about holiday assistance programs in their area, as sign-ups start soon.
The social service system can sometimes be a maze, and 211 is here to help guide people through it.
PATRICK J. HANRAHAN
United Way of the Plains
With the Big 12 Conference busting apart, it will be Kansas fans who lose out, because our schools will no longer have rivalry games with three of our four border states. Now that Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri are greedily leaving the conference, rivalries that go back further than the formation of the schools will become meaningless.
Proximity has always been a crucial component in the passion the permeates college sports, but now schools half a continent away with no rivalry or history are being lumped together for the sake of a few more television dollars.
It further proves that the ugly, behind-the-scenes battle over TV money is ruining sports. Part of the NBA season is already gone because of it. All other professional sports stand in its shadow. Now our college sports programs are in disarray, with schools jumping conferences looking for money first and forsaking the traditions, history and people they represent.