Letters to the Editor

Slaughtering horses, highway sales tax, immigration reform

Updated: 2013-07-06T03:17:19Z

Slaughtering horses

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has indicated that a permit to open a horse-slaughter plant in Missouri could be granted (6-29, A2, “Slaughter plant permit OK’d”).

The last U.S. horse-meat plant closed six years ago after Congress passed a ban on funding for inspections for such facilities. That ban lapsed in 2011.

I hope everyone is looking forward to having a McFlicka at their local fast-food restaurant.

Brad Lucht

Kansas City

Where’s the data?

A letter writer (7-4, Letters) argues for more restrictive gun legislation, citing 3,000 gun deaths since Sandy Hook.

She urges “common-sense legislation” but does not reference her statistics. A review of those reports would show that the overwhelming majority of those gun deaths were perpetrated by criminals who obtained their guns illegally — not subject to background or mental-health checks.

Also, the Department of Justice reports the highest number of gun deaths occur in jurisdictions where the most restrictive gun laws are already in effect.

Common sense requires critical review of the evidence. Where is the data to support the effectiveness of more restrictive gun legislation?

Jack Weed

Overland Park

Highway sales tax

Missouri legislators adjourned without putting a one-cent transportation sales tax on the ballot. Good.

The idea was flawed from its inception. Yes, Missouri should invest more in transportation, but a sales tax — general revenue — is the wrong source.

Pollsters had found that 54 percent of voters favored a sales tax for highways, a higher margin than for a gas tax or other user fees. But they asked the wrong question.

They should have asked, “If we raise the sales tax by a penny, how much of that should go for transportation?” The sales tax had strong support from road builders but deep and largely unexpressed opposition or ambivalence from most non-highway interests.

Before transportation sales tax supporters mount an initiative-petition campaign, they should first trim their expectations and then seek a unified funding approach for state needs in collaboration with local elected officials, civic leaders and proponents for other critical state needs.

Ron McLinden

Kansas City

Judges in Kansas

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s recent alterations to the judicial appointment process are as distressing in their secrecy as they are disturbing in their scope.

The MainStream Coalition (Moderate Alliance of Informed Neighbors) is adding its voice to the 55 former legislators from across Kansas who asked Gov. Brownback to reveal the names of his nominees to the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Not doing so is contrary to the governor’s assertion that his process is open and transparent.

Candidates were previously interviewed and submitted by a nominating commission of attorneys and members of the public, similar to the process for selecting Kansas Supreme Court justices. Then the governor would select one of the finalists for the bench.

Now the process is wholly politicized, with the governor able to appoint judges on his own for the Kansas Senate to confirm.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Yet it appears the fix is in, and concerned Kansans should contact their representatives and object to this change.

Brandi Fisher

Executive Director

MainStream Coalition

Prairie Village

Immigration reform

The bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill that was introduced and passed gives me hope. Hope that lawmakers from both parties and both houses in Congress can come together to pass a common-sense immigration process and find a solution for undocumented immigrants, businesses, families and, indeed, for all of America.

I am hoping that lawmakers will pay attention to the needs of Kansans and to the needs of our agribusiness economies and help support reform that will provide legal workers.

Is the bill the Senate Gang of Eight put forward a complete solution? No. Immigration laws will continue to need reform as our world changes.

But it is a good start on the path toward legislation that will fix our current patchwork of mismanaged and broken immigration laws, which tear apart families and hurt American businesses.

This is just the start of the process, and many obstacles will crop up to impede progress in the coming weeks and months.

Angela Ferguson

Kansas City

Corporate excess

We hear lots of discussions about government waste, because those are our tax dollars. The Internal Revenue Service parties, of course, are being vilified.

I’m on board with all that, but how come no one seems upset about private-business waste, fraud and abuse? Are they really any different?

When the CEO and his jet-setters party in Las Vegas or the Bahamas, doesn’t that expense go into the cost of your morning breakfast cereal or the cost of gasoline?

Why not be outraged about $20 million salary/benefit packages. Don’t you think we are all paying for those salaries with every purchase we make?

It seems it’s very easy to get upset at government excesses, but frankly, they pale in comparison. The big bucks, waste-wise, are in the corporate world. And we pay for that waste every day.

John Chapman

Gladstone

Jolie’s choice

I applaud Angelina Jolie’s public disclosure of her three brave decisions: to be genetically tested, to have a double mastectomy and to speak up for other women like her who may be at risk for an inherited gene mutation.

As a breast cancer pathologist, I strongly encourage more women to have conversations with their primary care physicians. If a woman has a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, I would advise her to go to a breast cancer expert, a breast oncologist and a genetic counselor to find out whether she should be tested for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene alterations or other familial cancers.

As a member of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, an original plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case challenging Myriad Genetics Inc.’s patent on testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 alterations, I rejoice in the justices’ unanimous decision that human genes are products of nature and not patentable.

Now I know the costs for these tests will be much lower, allowing more women at risk to be tested. That’s the best result for physicians because we care about patients’ health and well-being.

Ossama Tawfik, M.D.

Leawood

Surveillance needed

The growing panic over the scandal du jour concerning surveillance of our communications is overblown. Consider that millions of people overseas would love to destroy us.

There has been no successful attack since 2001. This surveillance was authorized by Congress.

It is overseen by the judiciary. Congress has been updated on it every six months. To be successful it has to be secret.

The president said it right when he said, “You can’t have 100 percent security and 100 percent freedom at the same time.”

It’s sad but true.

Ben Vineyard

St. Joseph

No customer service

Customer service is a notion from the past, much like horse-and-buggy transportation or cotillions.

I have always had a job in customer service, whether I was at a call center or retail store, and have greatly valued my ability to create lasting relationships between consumers and corporations just by the way I helped handle their visit.

But I have never encountered more rude, uncharming customer-service agents than my recent dealings with a dollar store, phone company, transportation service and a cafeteria.

I was horrified by how easy some people have it.

I’m not saying these companies do bad service; I’m saying their workers are not in the right industry.

When I asked for a portion of fish that comes with fries to be served without the fries and said I would pay for the entire portion, I was called “rude” by the counter person.

Who does that?

Kimbrlyn Steven

Raytown

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