Take away charity tax exemption
The sight of President Trump at a prayer breakfast is amusing in and of itself, but his suggestion that the Johnson Amendment should be repealed because it does not allow nonprofits like churches to endorse politicians is even funnier. The 1954 law is flouted regularly by churches that give sermons promoting platforms or agendas of candidates while not naming them, and the IRS isn’t doing a darn thing about it, not even when the speech is hate filled.
Case in point: 675,000 petition signatures were gathered in 2013 to take away the tax-exempt status of the Westboro Baptist Church. The argument was that the “church” picketing funerals with its “God hates fags” signs amounts to hate speech, not freedom of religion. The petition and its argument went nowhere, and that cesspool of hate endures, subsidized by John Q. Taxpayer.
The answer to all of this is to take tax-exempt status away from everyone – charity, church and individuals. People should give to whatever church or nonprofit they like without asking the neighbor who disagrees with that organization to help foot the bill. And spare me the “but no one would give to a charity or church.” If people only give for the write-off, they don’t really care about that organization anyway. If it fails for lack of funds, that’s on them.
Kathleen C. Butler, Wichita
Regarding “Bill to reform asset forfeitures delayed” (Feb. 2 Eagle): In journalist Edward R. Murrow’s fight against Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Murrow stated, “ I can not accept that there are, on every story, two equal and logical sides to an argument.”
In the ongoing ideological legal battle to strike a constitutional balance between the legitimate needs of law enforcement and the inviolable, sacrosanct, superior goal to uphold the “presumption of innocence” as the very bedrock of American jurisprudence, the arguments for pre-conviction asset forfeiture are simply not even a close second as a rational and unbiased equal argument.
Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, who has caused the delay to a reform bill on civil asset forfeitures by Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, said he thinks a judicial panel should review the bill.
Really? Does Finch also endorse the proposition that the entire Bill of Rights should also get a new once-over by his study committee just to make sure the Founding Fathers got it right?
John Williamson, Wichita
Benefit of library
A recent letter asked how the savings amounts that appear on the checkout receipts at the Wichita Public Library are calculated, and suggested that the library should not seek to compete with retail bookstores (“No library savings,” Feb. 1 Letters to the Editor).
The calculation uses the list price of each book, which is only a first approximation of the potential economic benefit. The real purpose of the savings line is to accentuate the benefit to the community of having a library.
Free public libraries, which are as American an invention as incandescent light bulbs and telephones, are designed to make it cheap to acquire knowledge, and many of the gains to library users are indirect. For example, if I use one of the auto manuals at the downtown library to fix my car, the savings from not taking it to the shop are not reflected in the cost of the manual.
Public libraries and the retail book trade tend to complement each other rather than working in direct competition. By making it possible for authors to do research for their books, libraries are an input factor in creative production. Meanwhile, less well-known writers depend on public libraries to bring their books before new audiences.
In short, the savings line on your checkout receipt is not about undercutting the bookstores; it is more a gentle reminder that the library is there to help you pursue your dreams.
Jonathan Winkler, Wichita
Member, Wichita Public Library Board of Directors
The Trump show
Tune in, folks. It’s another episode of the quite traditionally plotted Donald Trump show. This week’s plot: bad cop, good cop.
President Trump believes in torture. He says so and thinks that it works. Every Trump supporter on the planet says, “Yeah, Donald, go for it!”
Then Trump indicates that he’s given that decision and those duties to his secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis, who has already said that he doesn’t believe in torture, that it’s against the law, and that it doesn’t work. So every Trump non-supporter on the planet says, “Oh, OK.”
And on to the next superficially conceived episode.
But sooner or later, aren’t the people at large going to notice that what the president says that he believes in and what he says that he’s doing aren’t really happening?
I guess we better keep an eye on the ratings, eh?
Philip H. Schneider, Wichita
Took care of own
I am sure that neither of our Kansas senators would buy household products from Betsy DeVos. Yet they confirmed her for secretary of education. From my perspective, this is a good example of Washington, D.C., taking care of its own and not Kansans.
Doug Young, Park City
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