Opinion Columns & Blogs

Letters to the editor on fair taxation, tax bargain, gambling, symphony review

Why depart from Smith's model?

U.S. citizens value a market-based economy, based on the principles originally described by Adam Smith in "The Wealth of Nations." An open-access market with minimal government interference benefits everyone in society, Smith believed. His market model included a graduated income tax, a large luxury tax on expensive consumption items, and tax fairness such that all people similarly situated are taxed the same.

With regard to fair taxation, the United States has departed substantially from the Smith model, and our elected representatives rarely comment on why this is true.

If you buy and sell stocks for a mutual fund and earn $500,000 this year, your income is taxed according to the regular graduated schedule and your marginal rate is 35 percent. But if you perform the identical work for a hedge fund, those earnings are treated as long-term capital gains and your tax rate is 15 percent. The House of Representatives has, on three occasions, passed legislation to close this loophole, but the Senate has not acted. I would like to know what the views of Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., are on this important issue.

Additional tax loopholes of questionable merit are those that, by virtue of congressional actions, give large benefits to agribusiness and the petroleum industry. The justification for these would be excellent questions for our incumbents seeking election to new offices — Brownback and Reps. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, and Jerry Moran, R-Hays. How do these loopholes benefit a market-based economy?



Tax bargain

As I paid my taxes last week, I stopped to ponder what I get for my money. I can travel on a road that is smooth and not have to pay a fee to the owner of every bridge I might cross. My children go to public school and receive an education in a clean and wholesome environment. I can purchase a steak and be reasonably assured that it is fresh and free of contaminants. I also can rest assured that my steak will weigh what the packaging says it should. I can breathe clean air. I live in a safe neighborhood, thanks to the Police Department. I can rest assured that if my house catches fire, the Fire Department will douse the flames, and if I am injured, paramedics will come to my rescue. I have liberty and freedom, thanks to our military.

I could go on like this, but I think you get the point. We really do get a pretty good bargain for our tax money. Were I to live in a Third World country with a severely limited federal government, much like the tea party advocates, I would not have these things.

Thank you to President Obama and all of the dedicated public servants whose good stewardship has given us this gentle and decent society. I will do my part to help perpetuate it for my children.



Gambling no boon

If you enjoy going to a nearby casino for entertainment, you have my blessing. It must be fun for you to put up your limited cash, hoping to become rich. I only request that you not call this expensive habit a welcome boon to our struggling economy.

Gambling will never improve our economy. It only redistributes our money to some unknown person or large corporation.

Gambling will reduce income for many and eliminate local jobs for others. One winner will be the sheriff's office, which will hire more personnel to handle increased disturbances.

Gamble if you wish. But don't lie to me. Gambling removes money from our economy.


El Dorado

Chorus slighted

David Baxter's review of a Wichita Symphony Orchestra performance of Brahms' "A German Requiem" was sadly lacking (April 13 Eagle). No mention was made of WSO Chorus director Cecil Riney, or of the Friends University Singing Quakers or their director, Mark Bartel.

This was a major choral work — one of the most demanding for a chorus, which sings for more than 70 minutes straight. The chorus was slighted by Baxter's minimalist treatment and incongruous comments.

The overwhelming response, heard from audience and orchestra alike, consisted of comments such as "the chorus has never sounded better" and showed "exquisite sensitivity," that "the soft passages were amazing," and that the music gave listeners chills and brought them to tears. If Baxter was in the back row listening for German consonants, he missed a magnificent and memorable performance.