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Huelskamp….
Posted: 23 December 2012 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Letter to the Editor in today’s Mercury calls for Huelskamp to resign.  Says he has been “neutered” by the Republican Party, since his Tea Party rhetoric got him fired from committees.  The letter suggested Huelskamp could no longer properly represent the constituency, after losing his appointments.  If he resigned, a replacement could be named by Governor Brownie.  What makes the letter contributor think Brownie would name a more moderate repalcement and, therefore, probably see the same chastisement for radical right rhetroic as felt by Huelskamp.

Manhattan was strategically moved into Huelskamp’s district to keep more reasonable voices from being elected by what could be considered a “moderate” community.  We were “blessed” with Huelskamp by Brownback and, if replaced, we could well be such as blessed with an even further right appointee… if being further right than Huelskamp is possible.

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Posted: 24 December 2012 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Although it would be hard to imagine anyone could be worse than Huelskamp, you are probably right.  I cannot remember the last time I felt like I had representation in the government of this country.  I’m so tired of these anti-government people being elected to office.  It seems they think their only job is to prevent the government from working.

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Posted: 24 December 2012 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve lived through Watergate, the Viet Nam era, the 60’s when draft cards and bras were burned in the town square, the Iranian hostage issue, gasoline rationing of the mid-70’s and I have never witnessed the hate and discord of partisan politics as it is today.  The hate of those who want nothing more than to see our Country fail was prevelant on a couple of the right wing discussion boards today.  The President was asked to speak to the funeral of the Senator from Hawaii.  That Senator’s example had been instrumental in motivating the President to run for public office.  During the speech, the President celebrated the Senator’s life by telling of the times he had been moved/touched by achievements of the Senator.  Sure enough, the right wingnuts were all talking about the number of times the President said “I” or “me” during his speech.  My word, when you stoop to the point of tearing apart a President’s eulogy of a respected public servant just to show your hatred for him, you denegrate the Office of the President.  It becomes quite evident you have no desire to see this Country succeed if that success were to be remembered as part of this President’s tenure.  Sad.  UnAmerican! 

Huelskamp has proven he is no better than those who will sacrifice the good of the Country to appease a few on the far right.

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Posted: 27 December 2012 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I guess it all depends on your political goals.  Anti- government people getting elected, well the key word is elected.  Our representative was elected, just like our President.  Some folks are happy with one choice and not the other.  Some may even not like either player.  But elected they are and both will take hits from the opposition and the press.  Teddy Roosevelt was also criticized in 1902 for using the word I too many times in his speeches, so nothing new on that front.  It will be interesting to see if the next congress gets anything worthwhile done.

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Posted: 30 December 2012 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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If your only political goal is to make government fail, what are you doing in “public” service?  I thought we were supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  I don’t see any attempt for our elected officials to try to do what is best for all their constituents.  They serve only their own self interest.  And in this state they can get away with that since no one seems willing to use their vote to hold them accountable.

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Posted: 30 December 2012 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Jerry, the Democratic Party of Kansas is pathetic.  They cannot field candidates who will mount even a mediocre challenge to the Republican candidates.  There will always be some exceptions, such as Hawk and Carlin.  The Republican Party, on the other hand, has been taken over by right wing radicals.  In 104 of the 105 counties, Reader would have beat Hawk by a landslide.  The Repubican wins.  Here, enough saw the vitrole of a religious radical and voted for Hawk, even though he had a “D” behind his name. 
With the large majority of registered Republicans vs. registered Democrats, the Democratic Party must run a candidate that can motivate voters to cross party lines.  Both Hawk and Carlin accomplished that.
With the math against the Democratic Party, then you have the religious right taking over the Republican Party.  Brownback and possee are more worried about social issues than fiscal issues or infrastructure issues.  The far right swing of the political pendelum has allowed those to take power who will eliminate government… except for the special interests they have sworn allegience to. 

We now have City and County commissioners who are beholding to the Flint Hills Tea Party.  Additional Tea Party members have announced running for City office in April.  Social service programs will be stripped down until they are practically non-existent.  The Chamber will become even stronger, demanding and getting multi-million dollar handouts to big business. 

On the State side, Brownie has sworn to eliminate all State Income Tax.  Those educating our children and grandchildren will be joining unemployment lines.  Those charged with making certain we have safe drinking water and clean air will be joining unemployment lines.  Those administering large grants of tax dollars to the oil and gas industry… those seeking means of using economic development as a means to pad the pockets of political cronies will be offered pay raises and handed bonuses.  Those charged with making sure Brownback’s choice of religious beliefs are bolstered by legislation will be asked to work overtime.  Those who harbor differing religious beliefs will be chastised. 

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Posted: 31 December 2012 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Jerry, you posted the statement – “If your only political goal is to make government fail, what are you doing in “public” service?”  The idea is of course not to make the government fail.  It is about priorities, regulation, funding, security and safety.  Different groups have different ideas on government focus and responsibility.  I was fairly explicit in laying out my philosophy when I became a candidate and have followed through as the voting record reflects.  What you believe is best for all of the constituents is the issue.  Maybe you could spell that out in detail.  What is missing, what specifically should be done or undone?

Larry, you are consistent in the trashing of the TEA Party, the Chamber and pushing the social services agenda.  I do not have a problem with about 80% of the TEA party agenda, their philosophy seems sound.  I disagree with the statement that the Chamber will become even stronger and the insinuation that the Chamber somehow is a bad thing.  I tend to agree with you on a big part of the failing of the old economic development program.  But on the balance the Chamber and economic development are not 100% bad.  They have accomplished a number of good things for business.  A Multi-million dollar handout to big business is not one of the priorities.  On Social Services:  did you catch the vast number of donors to the YES fund published by name – full page in the Mercury Sunday?  The issue is not zero out or non-existent programs.  The issue is what should be funded, why and how much.  Should donations play a larger role or should social services be a city department?  We learned last year that a large majority of folks in town did not understand that funding for social services was limited to ten agencies only and that we did not have any priority system.  It appeared that folks wanted to feel good about social services, but did not get into the details.  At present it looks like most folks in town do not feel good enough about social services to actually donate, we do not have 15,000 donations on the water bill program yet.  We had a meeting on social services; I published a goal for that arena that does not include “making social services practically non-existent”.  The details - http://ourmanhattan.org/images/Social_Services_a_Paradigm_Shift.pdf (And I know you do not like tha word in the title).

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Posted: 01 January 2013 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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As I’ve said before, it appears to me that the representatives and senators from the state of Kansas all subscribe to the Randian philosophy expressed by our “selfless leaders”, the Kochs.  Government’s only role, in their mind, should be national defense, law enforcement and the like.  When the President said “You didn’t build that…” referring of course to the infrastructure of this country, the right went nuts.  In their mind, if it weren’t for the “captains of industry” this country would be nothing.  I guess all us working stiffs should just go away and die.  What they fail to realize is that consumption drives our capitalist economy and without someone like me buying their wonderful products, they’d too have nothing.  Rand insisted on dividing us into the “makers” and the “takers”.  All the takers want is a hand out from the government.  That is so ironic since the “red” states take more from the federal government than they contribute.  And our man Huelskamp has no problem being on the dole of farm subsidies.

Then there are successful programs put in place by my government (elected as you’d say).  In the words of the “great” former senator from Wyoming, Social Security is a milk cow with 310 million teats from which all the takers suckle.  It has been the goal of the Republican party since the days of Reagan to destroy government programs like Social Security and Medicare so that taxes can be lowered.  Thanks to the “great” American, Grover Norquist, we have a pledge by a huge majority of Republicans to never raise taxes.  Things like bumping the $107,000 earnings cap on SS contributions is a tax increase.  Geez!  You can’t have a government without taxes.  I have gladly paid all I’ve owed over the years in Federal, State and Local taxes because I believe in government.  My family and I have all benefited from public schools, state universities, local police and fire departments, roads and highways, publicly supported arts programs…I could go on and on.  Of course there are examples of waste in government.  We do not live in a perfect world and there are failures in oversight.  But, overall as a society we’ve made great strides in our standard of living thanks in part to government.  Now working government appears to be under attack and our society will suffer.

As you might guess, I see no logic behind the Tea Party movement.  I think their existence is based on a fallacy-taxed enough already?  That’s certainly not true at the federal or state level.  Those taxes are at historic lows.  We’ve had a thirty year experiment of the “trickle down” theory of economics.  We’ve seen its utter failure in the form of destruction of the middle class.  Of course, maybe that was the goal.  Let’s have the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  We have screaming from the Tea Party about redistribution of wealth, but, they’ve missed the truth that the only redistribution of wealth in this country has been upward.  This concern that x% of the population pays a huge majority of the taxes is ludicrous.  The other 100-x% doesn’t have anything to tax.  Let’s keep them down with payroll taxes and sales taxes.  Great idea.  Whatever happened to upward mobility?  Whatever happened to the American idea of graduated income taxes?  Let’s have flat tax rates (like sales taxes) so we can effectively take all we can from the lower income earners.  Why isn’t it fair to tax those who are most well off a small percentage more on a graduated scale?

Thanks in large part to the advantages provided to me be government institutions, I’ve been able to climb from a below poverty level income family farm to what I’d consider a successful upper middle-class life with a solid marriage and family.  I’m about 1 1/2 years from retirement.  I’m one of the lucky ones as I’ll probably get to take advantage of all my contributions to SS and Medicare (which by the way I’ve contributed to for over 45 years and I resent the negative connotation of the word “entitlement”.  Why are private retirement plans not referred to in that way?)  So let’s hear policy positions that justify our current crop of U.S. Senators and Representatives.

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Posted: 02 January 2013 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I like your point on the farm subsidies.  It would have been interesting if the milk subsidy had been eliminated.  The talk was that the price per gallon would have hit $8.00-  more than a gallon of gas.  I do tend to agree that the government did build a few things like the interstate highway system.  Government clearly has a role in some projects, but not all.  I do lean towards less government, but would not aspire to the concept of national defense, law enforcement and the like only.  I also do not like the class warfare message that seems to be in the mainstream – evil rich folks on one side and the poor helpless abused needy on the other.  I do not think it is that simple.  The rich already shoulder the lion’s share of total cost.  We do have many folks on food stamps and other government programs.  The numbers seem excessive and that has caused many folks to label everyone on government programs as takers or on the dole.  I think we need to take a look at these programs and keep the safety net in place, but caution against a hammock.  The rich can pay a bit more (they did that with last night’s vote), but all citizens should share in the cost of the government and its entitlements -that also took place last night with the payroll tax for social security going back to 6% plus.  Everyone must share in the pain of fixing the fiscal issue.

I am not sure that I buy the idea that the Republicans want to destroy Social Security and Medicare.  I also do not totally agree with the senator from Wyoming.  Social Security benefits have expanded way beyond the initial plans for the program.  Benefits have exceeded income and that needs to be brought back in line.  Part of the problem is that the government never fenced the social security funds, so Congress raided the accounts for other expenses.  The payroll tax reduction of the past two years was dumb, as that was a cut in funds going into social security, another form of raiding the fund in order to stimulate the economy.  What we need to do is immediately fence the funds.  All social security and Medicare funds go into restricted accounts only used for that purpose.  I agree that we should just eliminate the cap on SS earnings.  We also need to realize that the life expectancy has increased.  I would change the retirement age to 65, effective for everyone 59 years old.  Those over 60 could stay under the old plan.  Taxes are necessary to run government, but the government has got to make absolutely certain that the citizens gain value from the expenditure of those tax dollars.  I like George Washington’s farewell address in 1796 provides a clear look at the tax question:

To facilitate to them the performance of their duty it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue; that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the Conduct of the Government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining Revenue which the public exigencies may at any time dictate. 

I totally disagree with your tax philosophy.  Income redistribution seems to be a socialist concept.  I do think we need some tax reform, and would support many of the plans for a flat tax and I like the Fair Tax proposal.  The Fair Tax proposal is a bit more complicated because it contains a pre-bate concept to exempt the first 30K or so of income from any consumption tax.  The idea that the lower income earners should not have to shoulder any tax burden is flawed.  No one should get a free ride on the government services that we all use.  I would like to see the tax reform idea be labeled a citizens tax.  If you call yourself a citizen, then you should contribute something towards what George Washington called the inconvenient and unpleasant taxes.  Both a flat and a fair tax take more from the rich, the more you spend the more you get taxed.  Those types of taxes also eliminate the dividend advantage, as everything would be taxed as a consumption tax. I tend to think the super-rich will pay much more under a fair or flat tax scheme.  I am not hopeful that either a fair or flat tax will ever become a reality.  Maybe they can chip away at thge tax codes, i would suggest elimiination of the distinction between single and married, plus elimination of deductions for dependents.  Those parts of the tax code are really social engineering efforts, taxes should be about funding the government and not a vehicle for social change.  Why reward people for being married or for have lots of kids?  The mortgage deduction also needs to go as that favors rich folks with big houses.  In either case my wife and I do not care to have our income redistributed at the whims of the government.
 
I agree with your point that folks that draw social security should not be labeled as being on the entitlement dole.  Most of us did not have a choice; they took our SS money each month.  The first pay check my daughter got as a life guard had the FICA deductions, she learned about taxes when she got that first check.  I remember her saying “who the ‘h’ is this FICA guy”.  We paid into the system and like a 401K should expect some type of return.  I also took advantage when possible of government programs.  I was unable to fund college, but managed to land an ROTC 4 year scholarship.  Got a commission and earned 498 dollars a month as a 2LT.  After 25 years I retried, so folks can also label me as being on the government dole.  The pay for members of Congress is fine, but those retirement plans have got to be renovated. 

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Posted: 03 January 2013 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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My only response to your first paragraph is:  I have no desire to live in that so-called “hammock” you speak of.  I know of no one at any point in my life who chose to do so.  From my experience, nearly everyone aspires to a job, a career and the life style those enable.  I’ve never known anyone in a position of want who didn’t strive to get out of it if they were sound of mind and body.  So caution yourself on labeling life on food stamps and unemployment as the “good life (hammock)”.  I’m sick of that demagoguery from the right.

Republicans clearly want to destroy SS and Medicare.  The last decade is full of talk of privatizing the single most important programs ever created for seniors.  Since these programs are highly effective and efficient, what would be the reason to change their administration?  And as to being part of the deficit problem, that is only a recent phenomenon due mostly to the great recession.  Only since 2009 have the revenues from payroll taxes failed to cover the benefits paid out.  Some adjustment is necessary and lifting the cap would do so.  I do agree that the reduction in payroll taxes was not the right approach to stimulate the economy and I’m glad it’s gone.

First of all, the concept of a graduated income tax is not my philosophy, it is an American philosophy.  The basic case for progressive rates is that taxes should be based on equality of sacrifice.  The extra income earned by a rich person is simply worth less than the extra dollar in a poor household.  Which is why a flat tax was, and is now, unfair.  Flat tax rates are are really an attempt to cut government spending.  They aren’t about fairness.

As for suggestions for changes to the tax code, I’ve never understood why labor should be taxed at a higher rate than capital gains.  The “double-taxation” argument doesn’t hold with me since nearly every dollar earned by someone comes from after tax earnings of someone else.  So, do we decide to not tax anyone’s earnings?  No, we tax at every transfer.  Taxing labor earnings and capital earnings at different rates is a form of exempting the privileged since most of their earnings do not come from labor.  Finally, take a look at this article from Citizens for Tax Justice: http://www.ctj.org/taxjusticedigest/archive/2012/09/three_things_romney_forget_to.php

Lastly, income redistribution is not the problem.  Wealth redistribution is.  Although I’m sure you’d dismiss this source as liberal, from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities fact: “Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1 percent rose by 281 percent after adjusting for inflation — an increase in income of $973,100 per household — compared to increases of 25 percent ($11,200 per household) for the middle fifth of households and 16 percent ($2,400 per household) for the bottom fifth.”  Thank you Arthur Laffer and Ronald Reagan for reversing the policy course of this country.

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Posted: 03 January 2013 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Jerry Stauffer - 03 January 2013 07:37 AM

My only response to your first paragraph is:  I have no desire to live in that so-called “hammock” you speak of.  I know of no one at any point in my life who chose to do so.  From my experience, nearly everyone aspires to a job, a career and the life style those enable.  I’ve never known anyone in a position of want who didn’t strive to get out of it if they were sound of mind and body.  So caution yourself on labeling life on food stamps and unemployment as the “good life (hammock)”.  I’m sick of that demagoguery from the right.

Agreed. It’s notable that almost no one I see complaining that people get a “good life” from social services ever talk actual numbers, nor do they ever mention how difficult it is to get assistance. There are thousands of lawyers whose careers are entirely made by representing disabled people who have to appeal the government’s almost immediate decision to turn every applicant down. Just try going out to the Kansas SNAP web page and filling out the calculator to see how much in food stamps you would receive - and watch as a half dozen new windows pop up, links take you to the wrong pages, and you finally end with an error page without getting an answer. My husband was on Unemployment a couple of years ago when Parker-Hannifin laid everyone off, and the system was atrocious. Errors constantly, missing payments, you name it.

Edited to remove details about a local insurance concern that would probably upset them. Needless to say, it was a stellar example of how the system is extremely difficult to navigate and doesn’t easily allow for lazy people or cheaters. I don’t know why people think it’s the easy, good life to apply for social services, which are just entitlements for lazy people.

Because, yeah, it’s not like the government’s incompetence and rampant corporate corruption ever screws workers over or anything.

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Posted: 04 January 2013 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Jerry, Stacia…. Please… You just don’t get it, do you!!  Our elected officials MUST determine what is “vital” to the community and what is not.  Then, they MUST make certain we have no socialistic “redistribution of wealth”.  Those responsibilities are paramount and are a great responsibilty, not taken lightly.

“Redistribution” of tax dollars of around $28 million to the person who recently built the single largest residence/castle in the City of Manhattan… VITAL!
“Redistribution” of tax dollars for scholarships for underprivileged children… NOT vital!

“Redistribution” of tax dollars in the millions to construct a Vistior’s Center at I-70 and 177… VITAL!!
“Redistribution” of tax dollars to provide food and clothing for those less fortunate… NOT vital!

“Redistribution” of tax dollars for a $250,000 walk bridge to enhance a private developer’s houseing project…. VITAL!
“Redistribution” of tax dollars for edicational, career enhancing conferences and publications for City staff… NOT vital!

“Redistribution” of tax dollars in the billions for paying farmers NOT to grow crops on idle land… VITAL!
“Redistribution” of tax dolalrs for women’s health clinics… EVIL and NOT vital!

“Redistribution” of tax dollars for private contractors paying huge dollars to Congressional campaigns to assure re-election… VITAL!
“Redistribution” of tax dollars for raises for government employees caught in a poltical pay freeze for 3 years… NOT vital!

The list could go on and on.  You guys must simply sit back and realize you have no comprehension of what is vital to government and what is not!!!!  One party of elected officials understands… The other is simply trying to “build hammocks”.

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Posted: 04 January 2013 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Interesting how it’s apparently fine to use tax dollars to create hammocks for corporations under the guise of economic development.

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Posted: 04 January 2013 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Jerry – good comments.  Though I think you may read a bit too much into the hammock statement.  The point is that the social support system can in fact become so lucrative that you hit a point of diminishing returns.  You are better off not to seek work, as the safety net exceeds what you might be able to earn.  That disincentive creates the hammock effect.  I do not believe that everyone that uses the social support system is a hammock dweller, but some are.  We will stay on opposite ends of the tax debate, but at least we agree on a few points.  You make the argument that - the concept of a graduated income tax is not my philosophy, it is an American philosophy.  Sounds more like Marx - “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”  In other words take from those that are successful and redistribute it to those that are not.  The tax code is maybe not fair.  But it is not intended to be fair, it exist to fund government - that is the purpose.  Funding the government should not be confused with social engineering and fair.  We have confused the tax code with social engineering issues.

Larry – Clearly the visitor’s center is not vital, that should not result in any use of tax dollars, I agree with that.  The other points on your list are a bit misrepresented, but some have merit once all the facts are gathered.  For instance the foot bridge that you tend to harp about.  I think that is the one that connects the park to the scenic drive housing development.  The bridge is part of the park system, done before my time and I am not sure what the logic was in construction.  I use it sometime and so do other folks in the community.  So it is a judgment issue on which group benefited the most, the developer or the folks that use the bridge.  The farm subsidies are another one that I agree could use some revision, especially the ones that support ethanol production.  Maybe all should be relooked that way the needy among us can pay more for food and milk.  And yes I do not want to see redistribution of tax dollars to support social service agencies.  Pony up and donate, stop making and relying on the government to take the responsibility, the hated paradigm shift.

Stacia – No argument here on the bureaucratic system, it is much as you describe and works against the safety net concept.  Keep in place the safety net, but does that mean continuing the time frame for unemployment insurance forever? 
 
Kathy – Corporations do not deserve hammocks from economic development, agree fully.  The only reason we have these eco devo projects (many that I do not support)  is because folks believe that by giving the businesses money it will create jobs, thus preventing the need for a safety net.  The argument is a Catch-22.  If you cut all eco devo the job creators go elsewhere and the need for the safety net in the local area increases.  Most other towns have eco devo efforts, so how do you compete?  Maybe we should just go with the true capitalist model and shut it all down?

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Posted: 04 January 2013 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Wynn, I’d suggest you read a little history on the income tax in the U.S.  From Wikipedia: “In the United States, the first progressive income tax was established by the Revenue Act of 1862, which was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln…”.  Are you now suggesting that Lincoln was a Marxist?  You can go on about redistribution, but, admit that the last 30+ years have seen a redistribution upwards.  Progressive income taxes are fair and really have nothing to do with social engineering.  What I said was “The basic case for progressive rates is that taxes should be based on equality of sacrifice.  The extra income earned by a rich person is simply worth less than the extra dollar in a poor household.”  Thus a low income earner’s level of sacrifice is equivalent to a high income earner’s level by virtue of progressive taxation.  Don’t confuse dollars contributed with amount of sacrifice.  It seems like you didn’t look at that article I referenced since that clearly demonstrates equality of sacrifice.

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Posted: 04 January 2013 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Wynn, you say no tax dollars should be used for the proposed Vistor Center.  So, you’re saying no tax dollars, relabeled as “economic development” should be used to build it? 

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