The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 1, 1997 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Wednesday, October 1, 1997
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B2 WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL •George B. Pyle -,. editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the - conversation, • write a letter to ... the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Sallna, KS 67402 ^ E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "I'd be a little grouchy too if I had to defend a privacy-invading, citizen- terrorizing, ' property-seizing bureaucratic - monster like the IRS." Christina Martin Newt Gingrich's 'spokeswoman, on White House defense of the IRS. By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Sallna Journal A gift horse Twnsw Increased state revenues THEARGUMBUT We should invest in our common needs M any of our state lawmakers are already getting a little giddy about the next legislative session. Continued economic growth in Kansas means continued increases in state tax revenues. And legislators are already planning to make us a gift of much of that money in the form of another round of tax cuts. As with the last legislative session, officials are looking at another cut in the state property tax that funds public schools, in the state income tax and perhaps in inheritance or sales taxes. Well, it's hard to look a gift like that in the mouth. But let's do it anyway. If increased economic activity means the state gets more money without raising tax rates, that is more than just good news for taxpayers. It is a signal that the state has increased needs, needs it could properly use some of that extra money to meet. The most obvious place where more money flowing around means more demand on government is in highways. Before we hand so much money back to the individual taxpayers, maybe we should think about keeping some of in the kitty for road construction and improvement. If we need better roads, and we do, it would be cheaper and easier to build them now, before the demand and the price both go up even more. Economic activity also places an increased demand on the education and job training services in our state. Folks who know already tell, us that, as good as our business climate is, it could be even better if we could offer desirable high-tech businesses a larger, better- educated pool of ready workers. We should also be aware that these high times won't last forever. It would be a good idea to invest a good portion of our temporary boodle in welfare reform supports, such as day care, • health care and transportation, so ex-welfare clients can build a healthy work habit before the next downturn. Yes, it is our money. But it is also our government. It only makes sense, when there is a little extra cash around, to plow some money back into the family business, making it stronger ior the future, for all of us. T SPEAKING ENGLISH Shedding old lives The rain and the wind of the season are out ;to wash away the old F all is the time for shedding old lives and starting new ones. .-!'• When the rain is spitting, it is trying to wash away the past. .When the wind blows a little -stronger, it is trying to carry you to a new time. When the leaves -change, they are •.pushing you to > change as well. . • Pretty deep, DAN ENGLAND The Saltna Journal »'But sometimes rail those impetuses for change push •us to make rash decisions and do I things we normally wouldn't. So, free of charge, I've decided to provide you with a guide. Here are two dozen things to avoid in the com! ing fall season. 1. Stores that put out Christmas _trees before Jack '0 Lanterns. 2. People who start a conversation with any or all of these three lines: a. "Working hard or hardly working?" .. b. "Can you believe this weather?" c. "Hey, what's up? Your blood pressure?" 3. Any sales that are called "madness," "crazy" or "wacky" by their stores. 4. Any new fall TV shows that are called the same thing. ,5. Action films. We've already _been bombarded with these all summer long. It's time for deep plots and deep, thoughts from Oscar-winning actors. ; 6. People who think the fall exists solely for the purpose of good football weather and great baseball playoffs. It does, by the way. 7. People who think they are too old for Halloween. " 8. Those Halloween candy displays until the day after pumpkin day, when all of the treats are half- price. 9. Stations that have sports "reporters" who dub in their own> questions to conference-call interviews with athletes (Sandy Alomar Jr.) and coaches (Bill Snyder) and play it off like they were the ones who interviewed the subject. That would be like me grabbing quotes from a Michael Jackson Associated Press story, writing my own story and saying I "interviewed" him. I'll let you guess what the station is. • 10. Presidential candidates. It's too *$#&@! early. 11. Employers with job titles with more than five adjectives. 12. Athletes who think a 20- degree, icy Sunday is the perfect time to go jogging. It's actually better for mountain climbing. 13. Community Access Television of Salina shows that feature a guy ranting and raving about the media while he is sitting on a toilet. 14. Television news broadcasts. 15. Redux and the phen-fen diet pill combination. Unless, of course, you like heart problems. 16. Marv Albert. 17. Bosses that resemble the pointy-haired guy in those "Dilbert" cartoons. 18. I know I keep harping on this, and this is the last time I'll mention them ever again, but here goes: The Spice Girls. 19. Your turn signal. Actually, you aren't supposed to avoid that, but everyone does anyway, so I just thought I'd throw that in. 20. Campaign finance reform. Actually, politicians aren't supposed to avoid that, but...you get the idea. 21. Cats with claws. It really hurts when they jump on your lap, don't quite make it and dig in for footing. And it seems to happen with me too often. I don't know. Maybe I smell like a mouse or something. 22. People who smell like mice. 23. People who haven't slept, eaten or bathed in three weeks because they've been "surfing the web." 24. People who think the changing of summer to fall is anything deeper than a few speckles of frost on your lawn, changing the antifreeze in your car and scolding pumpkin smashers in the street. UNCOMMON SENSE IRS reform the worst thing we could do Scandal over tax collectors is a chance to do away with income taxes altogether F ollowing the horror stories told by average Americans about the sometimes outrageous behavior of the Internal Revenue Service, the worst mistake Congress could make is to reform the agency. A re-examination of the origin of the 16th Amendment makes a powerful case for finding other ways to raise money to run the government than an income tax. The Founders rejected income taxes and all other direct taxes unless they were apportioned to each state according to population (Article 1, section 2, clause 3). As late as 1893, the Supreme Court found income taxes unconstitutional, though it upheld a direct tax on Incomes during the Civil War on thin grounds. As the court changed, cries * were heard among liberals in both parties to "soak the rich," starting a class warfare that continues. When Democrats introduced bills to tax higher incomes, conservatives in the Republican Party derailed it in the Senate, leading Democrats to brand Republicans the "party of the rich." In 1909, Sen. Joseph Bailey, a conservative Southern Democrat opposed to income taxes, introduced an income tax bill hoping to further embarrass Republicans. He was aston- T AT HOME ABROAD CAL THOMAS Los Angeles Times Syndicate ished when Teddy Roosevelt and liberal Republicans supported the measure. Senate Republican leaders met to devise a strategy to have it both ways. They would demonstrate they were not the party of the rich by favoring an income tax, but they would introduce it as a constitutional amendment, believing it would fail to win approval by three-fourths of the states. Democrats were caught by surprise when President Taft sent a message to Congress on June 16, 1909, recommending passage of a constitutional amendment to legalize federal income taxes. Democrats like Rep. Cordell Hull denounced Republican leaders and questioned their motives. But the "soak the rich" campaign propelled the amendment to unanimous Senate approval. It passed the House 318-14. When Rep. S.E. Payne of New York saw the amendment strategy he supported failing, he said, "As to the general policy of an income tax, I am utterly opposed to it. I believed with Gladstone that it tends to make a nation of liars .... I hope that if the Constitution is amended in this way the time will not come when the American people will ever want to enact an income tax except in time of war." The "soak the rich" amendment was added on Feb. 12,1913. The rich simply created charitable foundations in which to hide their money, exposing the middle class to the ultimate burden of paying income taxes. Not at first, of course. The first tax was only 1 percent on the first $20,000 of taxable income to only 7 percent on income above $500,000. Most people didn't have to file. Even in 1939, only 5 percent of the population filed returns. The collection process was greatly accelerat- ed in 1943 when President Roosevelt devised withholding taxes to help fund World War II. The tax would be collected at the payroll window before the taxpayer got his paycheck. The income tax had moved from "soaking the rich" to a bath for nearly every worker. Former IRS Commissioner T. Coleman Andrews said, "Congress (in implementing the 16th Amendment) went beyond merely enacting an income tax law and repealed Article IV of the Bill of Rights, by empowering the tax collector to do the very things from which that Article says we were to be secure. It opened up our homes, our papers and our effects to the prying eyes of government agents and set the stage for searches of our books and vaults and for inquiries into our private affairs whenever the tax men might decide, even though there might not be any justification beyond mere cynical suspicion." The Senate Finance Committee heard just such stories last week. The solution? Pass a balanced budget amendment, outlawing deficit spending in peacetime. Pass a "sunset law" eliminating every government agency and federal expenditure that exist outside the Constitution and cannot survive an amendment to justify their existence. Pass a fiscal reform amendment that would raise needed revenue through a federal consumer sales tax and simultaneously repeal the 16th Amendment. Now is the time to act while public outrage is white hot. The debate ought not focus on the behavior of the IRS. It should focus on the income tax, something the Founders didn't want and that was pushed through as dishonestly as a congressional pay raise. U.S. should be proud of Bosnian role Our leadership has kept the peace there for nearly two years, with no combat loses T he performance of American soldiers in Bosnia should be a reason for national pride. U.S. leadership made possible an international force, including units from NATO countries and Russia, that has kept the peace there for nearly two years. Not one American life has been lost in combat. Recently, after far too slow a start, .progress has been made on the political objectives of the Dayton agreement. After a show of strength by the international force, Radovan Karadzic, the accused war criminal, is increasingly isolat- 1 ed and losing support among • Bosnian Serbs. Yet at this moment a chorus of American voices is calling for abandonment of our leadership role in carrying out Dayton. The most important such call was a piece written for The Los Angeles Times by Henry Kissinger. It was a remarkable combination of ignorance and gloom. "For the Bosnians," Kissinger wrote, "the overwhelming reality is their historical memory, which has sustained their ineradicable hatreds... for centuries." That is the Ancient Hatreds argument, always produced by those who want to write Bosnia and its people off as hopeless. It ignores ANTHONY LEWIS The New York Times the fact that by the 1990s urban Bosnia had a cosmopolitan society with a large degree of intermarriage. What broke the country apart was the war of aggression started by Serbian politicians who aroused nationalist hatred to build their power. "Once passions were unleashed by the civil war," Kissinger said, "each group committed unspeakable cruelties in the process of expelling the other groups from the regions that they controlled — the ethnic cleansing." There is another familiar argument: They all do it. But "ethnic cleansing" was invented by Serbian paramilitaries and gangsters who went from village to village murdering and expelling Muslims and Croats. And it was Bosnian Serb soldiers who killed thousands of civilians in cold blood in Srebrenica. Writing people off as so gripped by history that nothing can help is a terrible idea. It is the function of diplomacy and politics to change history. Think of France and Germany, with their long history of conflict. After Worl,d War II, the gloomy school might have deemed futile any effort to improve their relations. Fortunately, creative statesmen worked to bind the two countries together in the Common Market and NATO, institutions that have made Western Europe prosperous and peaceful. Kissinger understands the importance of NATO as well as anyone. Indeed, at one point in his Bosnia article he powerfully articulated what NATO's role should have been when Yugoslavia broke up and Serbs began using force: "The NATO allies would have done well to stop the killing six years ago, in its incipient phase. They could have taken the position that they would not tolerate such outrages within reach of NATO forces and on the continent where the political concept of human dignity originated and is now institutionalized." Exactly. Yet Kissinger calls for the United States — and that means NATO — to abandon the commitment it has made in Bosnia: to help bring that fractured country together. What a message that would send at a time when NATO, under U.S. leadership, is expanding its membership, enlarging its promise of security and freedom, The message would be: Don't believe us. Kissinger called for U.S. forces to do no more than maintain cease-fire lines, leaving "political evolution to the parties." (Then, he added mysteriously, "a situation might present itself in which the arrest of war criminals could be dealt with on its merits.") But there can be no "political evolution" unless the international community -keeps the criminal fprces that started the Bosnian war from continuing to stoke the fires of hatred. Others have taken a more drastic view than Kissinger, calling for the United States to cut and run when our current troop commitment ends next June. Then Bosnia could be partitioned, some say — as if that would be a neat, bloodless event. Or the job of implementing Dayton could be left to European members of NATO — when we know they will not act without American leadership. Exactly what form the American and international presence should take after June, military and civilian, will have to be decided closer to that time. But it would be folly to abandon an effort that means so much to the peace of Europe just as it is taking hold. By Q.B. TRUDEAU ... 600PMORMN5/QN

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