Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 11, 1976 · Page 29
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 29

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 11, 1976
Page 29
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Page 29 article text (OCR)

Slate's Church^ Membership Bleak at Best Richard Lee Strout Christmas Tree Tax Grab By L.T. Anderson Dr. J. Russell Hale of the faculty of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa:, has found, after conducting a census, that comparatively few West Virginians belong to churches. It wasn't an original discovery. The West Virginia Council of Churches reached the same conclusion about 15 years ago when it completed a statistical study. Two months ago, West Virginia's low church membership was alluded to in a West Virginia Tech teacher's magazine article on the state's 1960 primary election campaign. » THE DISMAL SHOWINGisn t from want of trying. Defenders of the faith tirelessly pursue West Virginia sinners into the darkest hollows, uttering woeful cries. Roving evangelists make newspaper advertising executives happy: Second bananas in the Billy Graham troupe regularly pack city auditoriums with'generous penitants. Where I work, one of the men's toilets .is a repository for tracts which warn so vividly of the horrors awaiting the unchurched that bladders cease to function. Nor do the exotic sects overlook the Mountain State. Mormons patrol the streets in teams of two or four, and once inside a dwelling are difficult to dislodge. On Saturday mornings, when most of us are mowing our lawns, Jehovah's Witnesses prowl the remotest neighborhoods in search of the unsaved. If West Virginia has few followers it has a plethora of leaders. At the most bitter point in the Kanawha County textbook strife, a harried sheriff told me that it seemed to him that everybody he encountered was "a reverend." If he had had my background and training, the sheriff would have known that in West Virginia it isn't unusual for boys of 14 to experience The Call and pronounce themselves preachers on the spot. Survivors 'of industrial accidents in West Virginia are expected to become clergymen. West Virginia felons, upon completion of sentence, invariably take to the pulpit in order to instruct others in morality. Dr. Hale probably is unaware that his church census is but the latest of innumerable religious head-counts in our state, most of them conducted on a community- wide basis by volunteers drawn from a pool of the more hollow-eyed zealots. One of them confounded me thoroughly one afternoon. I want to give her full credit. * ' MY WIFE AND I have enjoyed for 30 years'one of those "mixed marriages" about which some churches agonize. It has survived many onslaughts of the righteous, including a visit from a lady who threw herself upon our living room carpet and began to shriek prayers heavenward, sounding somewhat like a beagle. Mrs. Anderson and I long ago learned to be wary of the True Believer. That is why, when a woman came to our house one day and said she was taking a church census, I told her as politely as I could that I didn't wish to be included. In case you didn't know it, formal acknowledgement of a "mixed marriage" produces proselytizing literature and personal calls undertaken in the interest of straightening matters out to God's satisfaction. The woman was shocked. "What is your name?" she demanded schoolteacherish- ly. I told her I wouldn't give her my name and explained that I didn't want to get on anybody's mailing or visiting lists. The woman shrank from me as if she had heard blasphemy. "Are you saying you won't give your name in a church census?" she asked unbelieveably. I told her that was the case, wondering why, if she were determined, she didn't simply ask a neighbor. But then her eyes widened in triumph. "Aha," she shouted. She glared at my mailbox, on which my name was printed, plain as day. Slowly, and with great satisfaction, she copied the name on her tablet, pausing once to moisten her pencil with her tongue and shoot a victorious glance my way. Letters to the Editor With mounting wonder this reporter has seen one of the most important Senate debates in recent years go almost unreported for the past three weeks. A great Christmas tree tax grab has been in process for the benefit of the rich against the middle-incomes and the poor. Strong bipartisan voices of protest are raised by men who carry respect, Edward Kennedy of Massachusettes, Edmund Muskie of Maine, Fritz Mondale of Minnesota, Henry Bellmon of Oklahoma, but the television and the press seem almost oblivious. Time and Newsweek are occupied with special Bicentennial ululations about Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson; television is watching Jimmy Carter; the printed press can't spare a minute from speculation on the next vice president. All that is at stake in the Senate debate is whether Congress will continue enough tax reductions to moderate the recession, whether the new Senate budget control procedure which was passed a couple of years ago--almost by a miracle-will work, and whether the present shocking disparity of income in the United States will be .widened. Who was it who said the present tax structure is "a disgrace to the human race?" Why, Jimmy Carter, to be sure. A group of Senate tax reformers is fighting to improve matters, and the struggle may continue all summer. But who cares? You wouldn't know about it from the papers. THE PLOT IS SIMPLE. The House, which originates tax matters, sent over a reasonably good bill to the Senate with a number of reforms. It went to the Senate Finance Committee under Russell Long, the oil senator from Louisiana. There the amendments began. They reported out a bill 1536 pages long, as thick as a telephone book, "HR 10612." Sunday Gazette-Mail Charleston, W.Va. July 11, 1976 Page3C Here is one Christmas tree bauble added by the Long committee as described by good, dependable, Sen. Mondale: It would cost the Treasury $300 million a year. This would give "over 99 per cent of the relief to the top 1 per cent of American income levels," Mondale explains. These tax rebates and loopholes are enormously technical. It is terribly hard for the press to decipher and describe them. By the time any one particular gimmick is explained most of the space in the newspaper news "hole" is used up. This particular propsal Mondale explains would cut the tax rate on "investment income" above $100,000 (income from mortgages, stocks and bonds) from the present 70 per cent to a 50 per cent ceiling. If your investment income is more than $100,000 you would benefit, If you are part of the unemployed, working poor, or just an average income citizen you wouldn't benefit, you would be taxed to make up the cost. This is one of Russell Long's Christmas- in July proposals, and this one was fortunately defeated last week, 66-17, but others weren't. Pending are assorted goodies to corporations and special favorites; "to be paid for," exclaimed Sen. Proxmire, D- Wis., "by the ordinary, hard-working, God-fearing average American family, to almost every major industry in the country." "The shameful fact is," Kennedy told the Senate, "that many of these special provisions have no merit at all. They are insinuated into the tax bills at the behest of lobbyists, and added at the request of big campaign contributors. It gives the obvious impression that the Internal Revenue Code is up for sale." The press hasn't been giving much attention to these technical matters. Chances are you got instead stories about uncommitted delegates, the big Reagan- Ford sporting event of the century, and whether Jimmy Carter would benefit more from Rep. Peter Rodino, D-N.J., or Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, as his running mate. Just the same these affect your pocketbook. DO YOU THINK Mobil Oil and other companies should be allowed to claim tax deductions for certain sums paid to Iran, which would cost the U.S. Treasury $40 million a year for 10 years? That's in the bill. Should Congress overturn an IRS ruling requiring Marriott (hotel) Corp. and the Restaurant Employe union to include tips, for tax purposes? It's in the bill; cost about $5 million. Should Coca-Cola be allowed to exempt a particular franchise from personal holding company rules, reducing the tax rate Democrat Promises Boon to the Cities? NEW YORK-If the Democrats are serious about the 1976 party platform approved here this week, the faltering cities of America could look forward to an immense boost under a Democratic administration. Not only does the party endorse a number of specific city aid measures, but the platform also contains several "hidden" prourban features in its health, housing a welfare planks that would substantially reorient national policy toward restoring the viability of cities. The gaping chasm between past platform promises and actual performance leaves,of course, grounds for healthy skepticism. Despite its bow toward fiscal restraint, the Democrats' 1976 document fails to total up costs. The spending programs are predicted on the revenues from a return to 3 per cent adult unemployment within four years--a nearly impossible goal without alarming inflation. And the platform leaves to one's imagination how some proposed reforms could be achieved without royal donneybrooks, even with a Congress and president of the same party. Still, this year's Democratic platform should not be dismissed quite as rapidly as By Neal R. Peirce those of previous years. Rep. Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., D-Mass., the likely next speaker, says he intends to use it as a legislative program for 1977. Jimmy Carter calls it "a binding contract with the American people." Not even the lip service of past party leaders to their platforms has gone quite that far. The Other Side Editor: On Sunday, July 4, there appeared on the editorial page a reprint of "I'm the Nation." You stated this was first featured in 1961, the 185th anniversary, in a nation' wide pictorial advertisement by the Norfolk and Western Railway Co. I would like to add that "I am the Nation." was written byOttoWhitakerin!956. A few years ago I used Otto Whitaker's, "I am the Nation", in a sermon in Blue- · field. That sermon was later printed and a copy of the printed sermon was sent to Mr. Whitaker. In reply he wrote the following: "As you may know, I am the Nation was written some fifteen years ago, but many times since then I have been tempted to write the other side of the coin and that is . . . I am a man with no legs who sells pencils on the street, while a woman in a $10,000 coat walks b y . . . I am an unknown number of crooked public officials... I am obsolescence built into projects... I am price-rigging conspiracy to avoid income tax payments, the world's highest crime rate, and a society who has to ask, "Who was Jesus Christ?" I am Cosa Nos- tra, pornography, war profiteers, usurers, inflation, drug addiction, featherbedders, and a horde of able bodied men and women who would rather live on a welfare check than go to work... I am a farmer paid to grow a crop that cannot be used, but which will be stored at public expenses... I am a nice young suburban couple bent over their dining room table, writing an advertisement in which they offer to run assorted gamuts of sexual performance with other unknown c o u p l e s . . . I am 50,000 child beaters and a booming new abortion industry . . . I am labor unions run by prison inmates... a judge taken off the bench and murdered... Gee, I have to stop. I have already ruined my day. - OttoWhittaker I share this information with you simply because I think it is of interest that both writings would come from the same pen. Samuel B. Sink, Superintendent Charleston District United Methodist Church THESE ARE the elements of what the Democrats claim would be "America's first national urban policy": "Fundamental welfare reform," moving toward--at an unspecified time--"a simplified system of income maintenance, substantially financed by the federal government." As an interim step in this reform of potentially massive cost, the platform pledges that local governments should be relieved immediately of all welfare costs. There would then be a phased reduction in states' share of welfare costs. »·" Comprehensive national health insurance," with "strong built-in cost and quality controls." Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, D-Mass., who chaired the platform drafting subcommit tee, told me that those two reforms-in ; welfare and health--"in themselves would have enormous beneficial effects on the viability" of the most hard-pressed big cities. His point is probably well taken, because welfare and burgeoning Medicaid costs absorb huge amounts of state and city revenues. »A shift in federal housing assistance to "greatly increased emphasis on the rehabilitation of existing housing to rebuild our neighborhoods." Present federal housing money is actually prohibited for such rehabilitation--one reason new suburban housing has siphoned off so many inner- city taxpayers. Now the Democrats promise that the target for federal loans and subsidies for new homes or rehabilitation would be "in poverty stricken areas." The angry, stiff opposition of the home building industry to any such change is not hard to foresee. ···Giving states and cities more flexibility in how they use federal transportation grants. They could pick for themselves among modes of transportation, decide how much mass transit money they would use for capital expenditures as opposed to operating expenses, and finally be allowed more flexible use of Highway Trust Fund money--a clause platform drafters say should be read to include outlays for urban street systems. »-"A massive effort" to help the nation's "major, older cities"-New York in particular-"^ their present travail." The party doesn't say, however, how deep its financial commitment might be to older cities in trouble. If all the Democrats' promises came true, the country's city governments and their state partners could look forward to an era of fiscal health and expanded independence in running their own affairs. Only the future will tell, however, whether the country's majority party has the political courage to follow through on its promises, i from 70 per cent to 48 per cent? This item would include 12-year retroactivity. Kennedy doesn't say these items are bad; he listed 36 specific examples, big and little, June 28; he called them "special interest provisions," perhaps a third of them, he thought, had merit. But why handle them like this, he demanded? On a single day, more than 50 so-called "midnight loopholes" tiptoed into the bill, he revealed, the last day of the bill's markup, clothed in almost impenetrable technical phraseology. In 1974 in America some 244 individual taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 or over paid no federal income tax at all. At the present time the wealthiest 5 per cent of the nation's citizens get 20 per cent ot the income. The Long so-called tax "reform" bill would enhance this disparity and deepen the loopholes. Alert Eileen Shanahan of the New York Times came up with a funny item the other day: a couple of "technical" amendments in the bill would benefit members of the Long family who receive royalties from oil leases held by trusts by thousands--perhaps millions. The amendments to the House bill had been inserted without debate or formal vote. Sen. Long denied sponsorhip. He was "not even thoroughly familiar with them" he said. Who put them in?--Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas. They were proposed for him by J.D. Williams, an oil industry lobyist, he said. Where did Williams get them? From a lawyer (unnamed) from Louisiana. Sen. Dole turned them over to a staff aide, Kim Wells, and Williams' law partner, Donald C. Evans Jr., was kind enough to help Kim Wells put them in shape. By coincidence, Williams and his family contributed $1,500 to Dole, and $2,050 to Long, in their 1974 re-election campaign. "So there we have it," says the Washington Star editorially. "Two provisions drafted by lobbyists put into a tax bill at the request of lobbyists. No hearing. No chance for anyone who might oppose to testify." SEMI-ANNUAL Nothing's changed but the price Short Sleeve Dress Shirts Regularly $11 and $12 7.99 Finest quality short sleeve shirts from famous makers you know.. .now priced at fantastic savings. Select from a collection of plaids, stripes or checks in a superior blend of easy-care polyester and cotton. Sizes 14 '/i to 17. Men's Furnishings, First Floor. Famous Nam* Neckwear in an outstanding collection of stripes, solids, geometries, patterns. Reg. 5.50to 8.50 3 99 PARK fill 2 HOWS, with purchase, at Community Port ing Lot, corner of Virginia and Hale Streets

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