People buy online because it's easier, not to avoid taxes
On May 19, the Herald-Leader published an editorial "Collect taxes from online sales." It's not surprising that this paper would be in favor of this legislation since it seems to belong to the tax-andspend camp.
Everyone in favor of this proposed law talks about "leveling the playing field" for brick-and-mortar businesses who claim that they are at a disadvantage because online retailers do not have to charge sales taxes. OK, let me see a show of hands: How many of you make an online purchase because you don't have to pay a sales tax?
We choose to purchase goods online because it is fast, convenient and secure. Plus you can find anything you want almost instantly. No traffic, no parking issues and no shopping at multiple stores until you find the merchandise you want.
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What the supporters of this bill (and the editorial) fail to say is that when you purchase goods online, you have to pay shipping costs which in many cases is more than a 6 percent sales tax.
Also, many online retailers, including Amazon, charge a sales tax already. And almost all brick-and-mortar businesses have a web presence of their own.
I suggest that this is not about leveling the playing field. Rather it is about greedy government trying to squeeze more out of its taxpayers. I, for one, am going to let my federal and state representatives know that this is a bad idea.
Robert E. Dinsmore
Educate docs on polio
John Salyer's May 19 column regarding the eradication of polio throughout the world is reassuring to those who lived through the dreaded epidemics of past years, especially in 1952.
There is, however, an attendant problem that is not as well understood: the lack of training and understanding by many current doctors of the problems that polio survivors face every day.
I have had younger physicians argue with me that I could not possibly have contracted polio in the United States since it has been eradicated; and it affects people only on one side of their body.
Well, it was not eradicated in the United States in 1937, and, yes, it can be, and often is, bilateral.
Facing medical personnel who have not received training in treating the disease and its effects can be frightening for those who survived their early years with physicians who understood the physical, mental, and emotional stress on a body resulting from polio, and who now must deal with physicians who do not have that experience.
Additionally, community support has sometimes come slowly in terms of creating an environment that is accessible to all wheelchair users — from parking places that include restricted areas allowing for van ramp access, to electronic doors that either open automatically or can be opened easily, to entry ways that do not include steps. And the public needs to be educated to not block those areas.
Yes, the world is much better when polio is no longer a parent's worst nightmare, but we're not there yet.
Marjorie Fey Farris
Healing war wounds
Regarding Dr. Ralph Caldroney's May 26 commentary on military service:
Whether civilian or military, we cannot be reminded often enough that some of the deepest war wounds are neither visible nor physical, festering painfully in the souls of those who have seen combat casualties firsthand.
But it is just as important to remember that genuine compassion is not selective.
It requires unconditional acceptance because no matter what is on someone's exterior, we can never experience that person's suffering.
Barbara M. Pauley
Not bullying but jealousy
The Magic Hat lawsuit against West Sixth is simply absurd.
Their logo is a confusing swirl of red and yellow lines on a dark bottle, saying nothing about the brewer or the product.
By contrast, the West 6 Amber logo is a clean, simple design of brown and orange on a silver can, proudly stating the brewer's name and the product.
As for symbols, any cell-phone user knows the difference between a number sign and a star.
Finally, any jury tasting the two products will quickly recognize Magic Hat's mean-spirited lawsuit not as bullying, so much as rank jealousy of an exciting new competitor in the craft beer market.
Nothing to crow about
Rep. Andy Barr emailed constituents bragging that he voted to repeal Obamacare.
Thus, among other things, he voted to end the:
Guarantee of access to insurance for those with pre-existing conditions.
Guarantee of coverage of doctor ordered treatment.
Tax credits for up to 50 percent of the cost of their employees' health insurance purchased by small businesses.
Required coverage of preventive services for seniors and women.
Despite knowing there are insufficient votes in the Senate to pass the repeal or to override a veto, Barr expends his time with this political gamesmanship instead of attending to the need for legislation to adopt a budget that will stimulate increased job creation.
Additionally, the email says Barr introduced a bill that will "close Obamacare's congressional loophole and ensure that Congress and its staff are not exempt from the laws that it writes."
Sounds like a serious condemnation of the Affordable Health Care Act until you look at 42 U.S. Code § 18032(d)(3)(D), part of Obamacare, which already limits members of Congress and congressional staff to the health plans that are available to the rest of us.
The act's definition of Congress and congressional staff does not cover congressional delegates (e.g., those from the District of Columbia) or congressional committee staff. Barr's bill would close that minor loophole.
Although that is a worthwhile endeavor, it is misleading political game playing to characterize his proposal as though Obamacare currently exempts congress members or their own staffs.
Obama's true legacy
Change: The truth about what happened in Benghazi when al-Qaida-linked groups attacked America.
Nov. 28, 2012 was headlined by the quote from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: "The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made ... (involved) changing the word 'consulate' to 'diplomatic facility.'"
Five months after a bitterly-contested election, the truth has been salvaged: that the White House and State Department dramatically changed what America was told for purely political gain and with a narrative they knew was categorically false.
Transparency: Acting IRS Chief Steven Miller was informed in May, 2012 that his agency had inappropriately targeted conservative groups for investigation. Miller subsequently appeared in congressional hearings, under oath, and stated that he had no knowledge of such targeting.
This May brought with it a stunning revelation in which the IRS admitted it had acted inappropriately. Why the sudden transparency? Oh right, because an internal Treasury Department report was released the next day.
Forward: The Justice Department has been actively monitoring phone calls to 100-plus Associated Press journalists, a prominent Fox News reporter in what the White House has deemed a national security leak. President Barack Obama's administration has prosecuted twice as many citizens for these types of leaks than all other previous administrations in America's history.
Some like to call these patriots whistleblowers, some spies, but throughout history those who have mocked oversight and censored the media have done so to crush dissent, not to foster debate.
IRS doing its job
When the smoke clears, I will be surprised if IRS employees who administer the 501(c)3 and 4 programs are found guilty of being politically motivated in their treatment of the Tea Party and other conservative groups.
When people who are responsible for administering a government program become aware of types of organizations that might have questionable qualifications for participation, it is appropriate for them to target those types of organizations and more thoroughly scrutinize their applications.
If the Communist Party USA, The Knights Party (KKK) or the American Nazi Party applied for tax-exempt status would we expect them to be scrutinized more than the average applicant? What about organizations such as the American Islamic Congress and the Muslim American Society?
These groups currently have tax-exempt status, as do many other similar groups. Should they have been targeted for extra scrutiny? Some would say yes, others would say no; but most of us would not condemn the government employees for doing their jobs.
If these programs are so difficult to administer, maybe they should not exist. After all, most of our favorite non-profit organizations pay exorbitant salaries to senior staff, they pay no taxes and large portions of their donated receipts go to administration and overhead.
In addition, people who make donations are allowed individual tax deductions. Elimination of these programs would go a long way toward financing government programs. My vote is to do away with the non-profit organizations.
Jimmy D. Helton
Fire IRS official
Lois Lerner, who oversaw the Internal Revenue Service office discrimination of Tea Party and Patriot groups who were seeking tax-exempt status from 2009 to 2012, took home a tidy little sum of $750,000 over those four years.
That is tax dollars from us. Not only is that salary ludicrous, but she received bonuses on top of that.
She said she did nothing wrong and refused to answer questions. That inquiry was not a court but a fact-finding hearing.
How many employees can tell their overseeing board that they refuse to answer any questions about their job and still have a job? She was placed on administrative leave or in other words a paid vacation. Her insubordination is infuriating. As taxpayers we demand answers. She should be fired with no severance pay, no two weeks notice, have someone stand with her at her desk and give her a box and say take your things and leave and don't come back.
What was actually done by the IRS in delaying or making it so difficult that groups gave up was voter intimidation, just as was done in Philadelphia to ensure President Barack Obama's re-election.
Since our news media doesn't want to press for answers, we, the ultimate employers, should continue to press our legislators to get to the bottom of this and make sure this woman gets an extended vacation at Camp Leavenworth.
Harry Van Epps
Terrell offers bad deal
So basically the deal with the Lexington Philharmonic is that fewer players play fewer gigs, get paid correspondingly less ($3,000 from $5,000 — quite a drop) while at the same time a non-compete clause would keep them from playing anywhere within 30 miles of Lexington?
Executive director Alison Kaiser says "change can be hard." She's "sympathetic" to orchestra members but the board must temper that sympathy "through the lens of our responsibility to the public."
Well, as a member of the public, I suggest that the board look through the long end of that lens. We won't have a viable orchestra if the musicians in this town are prevented from making even a minimal living. If we do not nurture our local orchestra, why call it the Lexington Philharmonic?
Scott Terrell is a talented conductor. But he is no Jackson Pollack slashing at a blank canvas. His vision is not the only one. He is more of an architect with many other stakeholders.
The most important stakeholders are the dedicated artists who interpret those very clever slashes of his baton and translate them into beautiful music.
Without them, the waves of his baton would come back to him- — to us — as empty swishes of air.
Joseph G. Anthony
FOOD TRUCKS DOWNTOWN
Plan too limiting
When I read the title of the May 22 article, "Urban County Council takes first step in approving food trucks," I was excited. Food trucks are just what downtown Lexington needs in order to continue its momentum toward rejuvenation.
I have seen firsthand in Charleston, S.C. how something as small as a couple of food trucks can have an enormous impact on an urban environment.
Essentially upscale hot dog stands, food trucks act as a city's equivalent of the office water cooler. They are a meeting point where every corner of a diverse downtown comes together to enjoy a tasty treat, catch up with a friend, or share a new idea.
Food trucks are a way for local culinary talent to shine without making the investment required to run an entire restaurant. Because they are attractive lunch spots that happens to be mobile, these on-the-go eateries create foot traffic wherever they park.
Ask any business whether they want 10 people walking by an hour or 100. The obvious answer will no doubt be unanimous.
I should have stopped reading after the headline however. After reading the article, I concluded the city wants to erect a façade. They offer food trucks a chance to thrive in a very narrow window of regulation, par for the course.
Limiting the area of operation, allowing only two hours in a spot, and requiring trucks to open up shop immediately after parking is not a recipe for success.
Fresh food at last
Many of us will appreciate the map with the May 22 article that depicts the very limited parking times and locations for food trucks for the next several months. Now we know where the really good, fresh food will be available downtown.
There is a reason why so many so-called eating joints downtown simply do not want diners to have a choice where and what they eat.
Send those over-priced and underwhelming fixed food locations a message: The good food is on the move on the streets of Lexington.
Eric Howard Christianson