Letters for June 15, 2017

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Tax reform needed for small businesses

It’s legislative season and Republicans are again touting the critical need for tax cuts.  This is going on at both the state and federal level.  The cuts are even embedded in Trumpcare. The promised benefits of large tax cuts, more jobs and a growing economy. If only it were true.

There are two related arguments for tax cuts that primarily benefit the investor class. The first is that the increased wealth at the top will create jobs through investment. Were that the case, the economy during the Reagan and second Bush administrations would have exploded, driving unemployment to record low levels and vastly increasing income and wealth for the middle and lower classes. That didn’t happen. Investors are free to invest their money overseas and in various schemes that make more money for the investors, while generating little or no benefit for the U.S. economy.

Second, the promised job and income increases from the tax cuts were promised to increase government revenues and reduce deficits. That didn’t happen either.  Instead, we got the largest deficits in history, expenditures that were necessary to prevent the George Bush recession from becoming a global depression.

Then there are corporate taxes. On paper the U.S. has one of the higher tax rates in the developed world (35%).  However, after the various deductions and exclusions, the average corporate tax payment is only around 20-25%.  Eighteen large corporations (e.g. International Paper, General Electric, Priceline, Duke Energy) paid no federal taxes from 2008-2015. How does this happen? They write the tax laws.

Clearly we need tax reform.  That reform should ensure that any profitable company pays taxes.  Small and medium size businesses, rather than large corporations, should be the primary beneficiaries of tax reform because that’s where most jobs are created.

For individuals, any tax cuts should focus on the lower and middle income groups at the expense of the already wealthy. The current tax code has transferred massive income and wealth to the upper economic classes over the last 30 years and the results for the U.S. economy are obvious. It hasn’t worked.

To grow the economy, tax policy must emphasize the individuals who actually drive the economy rather than investing overseas or in transactions that only serve to increase personal wealth rather than growing the economy. One simple, though radical, solution would be to treat capital gains on investment income as ordinary income rather than with a flat 15 or 20 percent rate.

To be clear, this is not an indictment of democracy or capitalism – only the way it is currently practiced in the U.S. Think about this. Is your financial wellbeing and perceived worth dependent on your parents, accountants, lawyers and size of political donations? Alternatively, is your wellbeing and perceived worth dependent on your diligence, work ethic and personal commitment to community and family?  Add a great idea and you can become wealthy. The choice is pretty clear.

The issue is fairly simple.  Do your representatives support the wellbeing of 95 percent of their constituents or the 1-5% of their big money donors? It’s your choice in 2018.

 

John Gladden — Franklin, N.C.

Christianity must come to terms with science

In the June 1 issue of The Macon County News Richard Moore had a few words about my letter regarding the future of Christianity in America.

In my opinion, Mr. Moore entirely missed the point of my story.

Contrary to Mr. Moore’s suggestion, the Catholic Church long ago accepted evolution and in fact many Catholic priests have been scientists and contributed a great deal of knowledge to the scientific community.  The Church and science get along just fine.

Until my last two years of high school, I attended Catholic schools and evolution was openly discussed.

Through a rather convoluted argument Mr. Moore seems to connect anyone who studies evolution as being either a humanist or an atheist and this is frankly an outrageous statement. Many evolutionary scientists are strong Christians.

Most interesting is that Mr. Moore presumes to tell God just how long His day is based on human understanding of the passage of time.

Taking comments by evolutionary scientists out of context Mr. Moore implies that there is no evidence of the so-called “missing Link” but in fact there is such evidence.  “Lucy” for example is a fossil found in Africa representing a female human dating back 2.4 million years ago. And no, we can’t see evolution as it advances because it takes place over hundreds of thousands of years.

However, there are some who have proposed a state of “punctuated equilibrium” which says that evolution can take place over a shorter period of  time of only a couple of thousand years.  In the meantime, nothing much happens until some additional mutations in our DNA occurs.  In short, we may evolve in spurts and then stop for a while.

My letter was a warning to Christians in that church influence is declining and Christianity needs to address the problem.  There are important reasons for this view.

For one, people are going to have a belief system, one way or the other.  For our young, Hollywood celebrities are worshipped and for others, political ideology is the next thing to heaven.

More subtle, however, is that Islam is taking roots in America and lacking any solid belief system, many of our young are vulnerable to the strict rules inherent in Islam.

Our Liberal views are totally at odds with Islam but Islam provides the solid ground our young need. We must also understand that Islam is more of a political system built around a deity and not a true religion.  Can a religious political system and democracy even coexist?

Not unlike the Reformation of the 16th century, Christianity is going to have to re-invent itself and find ways to come to terms with science.

Like it or not, science is going to lead the way and Christianity needs to evolve with science or get left behind.

 

Bob Wilson — Franklin, N.C.

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