Tax burden, shrink inequities, quality preschools

10/11/2013 11:34 PM

10/11/2013 11:34 PM

U.S. tax burden

On who finances wars, the top 1 percent (the wealthy) pay about 40 percent of all federal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent pay very little in income taxes. How can anyone think the poor and elderly pay for wars?

With the income-tax credits available to the poor and the poor elderly, many get refunds without having paid anything to start with. The rest of us pay for those refunds, along with welfare, food stamps and other assistance.

The poor are recipients of income taxes as opposed to paying income taxes. The poor will not pay for wars.

Jim Kilen

Kansas City Words for youths

Here are words from a judge who regularly deals with youth:

“Always we hear the cry from teenagers, ‘What can we do, where can we go?’ My answer is, ‘Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons and, after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities, and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living; you owe the world something.

“You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.”

In other words, grow up, stop being a crybaby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person.

You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now, and that somebody is you.

Many think we owe these kids. I think it’s the other way around.

Joseph Lebar

Olathe Shrink inequities

Why is there such a big effort on the part of corporate interests to attack and undermine public employee unions?

Massive compensation packages and golden parachutes are fine for CEOs, but it’s apparently an outrage when civil servants get decent pay, benefits and retirements.

Besides, it sets a horrible example for private-sector workers. Next thing you know, big-box retailers and restaurants will be required to compensate employees so they don’t need taxpayer-subsidized benefits to survive.

There is a concerted effort to reduce the security of working-class people. Why not make them even more desperate for jobs?

It is by design, not chance, that income and wealth inequality have skyrocketed over the past few decades. Research clearly demonstrates that social problems grow with increasing inequality.

While both political parties wrangle for power, the real source of most of our problems, inequality, goes unaddressed.

Taxes and other policies need to be fashioned specifically to reduce inequality.

Ken Gates

Overland Park Postal Service cheers

Thanks to the Obama administration and Congress, the U.S. Postal Service is looking more like a well-run business. It didn't shut down and it actually continued to deliver what it promised.

Maybe members of Congress should help deliver the mail. At least they would be doing something to earn their inflated salaries.

They might even learn something. Humility would be a good start.

Jerry Ogden

Overland Park Quality preschools

The Sept. 20 story by Tony Rizzo, “Plea from Wyandotte County officials,” and blog post by Lewis W. Diuguid regarding the effect of early childhood education and crime reduction resonated with me as a retired U.S. Army general who has significant concerns about military readiness.

The Department of Defense estimates that 75 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 cannot qualify for military service because they are poorly educated, are physically unfit or have criminal records. A recent report showed how expanding preschool would change this trend and lead to more than 2 million more high school graduates by giving more children a foundation for school success.

The report highlighted studies of quality preschool programs in Arkansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and West Virginia that showed a range of academic gains and reductions in the number of children needing special education services or being held back in school. The report also found gains in literacy and mathematics among children who participated in a New Jersey program that lasted well into elementary school.

Kansas lawmakers should welcome quality preschools for the sake of children today and national security in years to come.

Donald L. Scott

Brigadier General

U.S. Army (Retired)

Kansas City Big-city killings

I heard an interview recently on National Public Radio with an official from Chicago, where in 2012 there were 506 murders.

Chicago’s population is about 2.75 million. New York, by comparison, had 414 homicides in 2012, with about three times the population.

Houston’s number is 216, with a population about 600,000 less than Chicago. Kansas City had more than 100 homicides with a population of 464,000.

New York is obviously getting violent crime more under control.

What are the causes of all this violence, and how can it be stopped? The very sad fact is that each of these numbers represents a father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandmother, grandfather or friend who is no longer alive.

Elizabeth Price

Kansas City Distracted drivers

I am going to honk at you. Don’t rage. Keep the handgun in the glove box, please.

I see some people jerking around traffic lanes because they are knee-driving from talking on the cellphone or sending texts. What happened to the days when salespeople on the road could eat a doughnut, read a map and drink coffee at the same time?

Put that thing in your trunk before leaving for your destination. I will also honk if I see you with a cellphone to your ear while driving, even if you are not jerking around your traffic lane.

I earn a decent living. Part of my success is getting to pharmacies in one piece, delivering my messages and returning home to my lovely wife. I am sick and tired of dodging distracted drivers paying more attention to an electronic device instead of the road.

Some truckers in 18 wheelers also now honk at phone users on the road. Some distracted driver could end up in a ditch with a cellphone sticking out of his ear.

Mike Gregory

Lee’s Summit Animals in circus

Animals in the circus are not treated cruelly. As a matter of fact, they are treated very well.

Trainers may use whips, but the animals do not have whip marks on them.

Elephant trainers use hooks to guide them as a bridle is used on a horse or a leash on a dog. The elephants are not abused by the hooks.

Animals are very smart. They learn to do many things with positive reinforcement.

Circus animals are not afraid to perform. Elephants are large, and if they didn’t want to do something you could not make them.

They are transported in good, ventilated environments. The cages are large enough, and the elephants have plenty of room. They are checked on often.

There are still a lot of circuses in the U.S. and around the world that have animals in their shows. They have to be up to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. Ringling Brothers has a breeding center raising animals that are on the endangered list.

Please go and see a circus and see for yourself that the animals are in great shape. You will be glad you did and want to go back.

Gary Hershey

Frankfort, Kan. Runners’ safety

Runners, please pay attention. Drivers do not want to hurt you.

On a recent morning before sunrise, a woman was running down the middle of Ward Parkway near Shawnee Mission Parkway. Without looking, she cut across my lane.

I slammed on my brakes and honked. She kept going across the next lane, where that driver also slammed on the brakes and honked.

Neither of us was driving above the speed limit or in an unsafe manner. The runner never stopped or even looked.

This could easily have been a serious or even fatal accident. She also was not wearing any kind of reflective gear on this very dark morning.

Sally Hohensee

Prairie Village

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