Letters to the Editor - Dec. 22

December 22, 2011

What constitutes a ‘fair share?’

To the editor:

The phrase of the day seems to be, “Make the rich pay their fair share.” This sounds good. But there are two problems with that. Who are the “rich” and what is a “fair share?”  

In 2008, half of Americans earned less than $33,000. Most of them paid no federal income taxes. Those who did paid less than 3 percent of the total amount of tax money collected. Only 1 percent of people earned more than $345,000 a year, but they paid nearly 40 percent of the taxes. With the average American earning between $50,000 and $122,000, who do you count as “rich?”  

In 2000, the lower half of those who did pay taxes paid only 4 percent of the total government income tax burden. Each year since, that percentage has gone down, while the taxes paid by the “rich” has increased. Yes, there are more people with much higher than average income, but they shoulder nearly 40 percent of the tax burden. Is that a “fair” enough share?

Yes, that 1.4 million Americans in the top 1 percent do have a lot of money. And they do use loopholes allowing them to pay as little in taxes as they can. Do they try to avoid paying “their fair share” of taxes? Of course. Nearly everyone does. Who doesn’t look for legal deductions?

One area of contention is that unearned income is taxed at a different rate. “Rich” people have unearned income. But most of us do, too. We have pension funds, IRAs and 401(k) funds, which are invested in stocks (businesses); and when those companies increase in value, so do the shares of stock. If those shares are sold, you get unearned income. If the stock prices go down and you sell, you can take a loss on your income tax — a loophole used by individuals and organizations.

Dividends come from a company’s profits, which are taxed at one of highest rates in the world. When you receive a dividend check, it is taxed again — as unearned income to you — just like the unearned income those “rich” people receive.

So when dissing the “rich,” remember who buys the things you make; who invests in the company you work for; and who pays the biggest share of taxes so you can have good roads, Medicare/Medicaid, safe medicines and all those other benefits we want someone else to pay for. Remember, too, that the government can always lower the amount it takes to be “rich.”

Maybe the solution would be to eliminate deductions. Then, we might all pay “our fair share.”

Karel Henneberger

Receive the gift of grace this Christmas

To the editor:

Have you ever given a gift to someone who is used to doing all the giving? They are the ones who appear uncomfortable at receiving, because they are convinced that it is “better to give then receive.” Yes, giving is a blessing, but we rob others of their own blessings when we do not know how to be a gracious receiver.

Christmas is about giving, but it is also about receiving. Jesus is the gift of grace God gave to all who will simply reach out and receive. You cannot earn grace, for if you tried, it would no longer be “grace.” Grace is the gift of absolute, undeserved, unearned favor with God. It is laying down the “works,” wrapping our hearts around the warmth of God’s perfect love and resting in the words, “It is finished.” We cannot add anything to this already perfect package.

The message at Christmas is the same we should weave into our lives all the year round. The scripture says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” If we gave one of our own children to save a dying world, would we then turn around and condemn it? No, we would continue to reach out in love to bring the wayward back home and openly embrace them upon their arrival.

When new toys fall apart, holiday presents wear out or no longer will work, the gift of God’s grace still is new each day. This Christmas, freely receive the gift that has been completely paid for and will last you for all eternity.

Kate Prado

Community ownership is only way to keep Suns here

To the editor:

It was not surprising to me to observe that the current owners of the Hagerstown Suns baseball team are making veiled threats to the county commissioners to pull up stakes and leave town if the city and/or county do not cough up big bucks to either improve or replace the current stadium that the Suns play in. The current owners have intimated that many other cities would love to have them move to their cities and would be happy to provide them with new state-of-the-art stadiums if only they would come to their cities.

The type of tactics that the Suns owners are trying has only one answer. The City of Hagerstown and the county commissioners need to realize that no matter what we do now to try to appease the Suns owners, they will eventually leave Hagerstown. If the owners of the Suns were concerned about the local fans in Hagerstown, and were committed to Hagerstown, they would not be making threats to leave. They would be looking for ways to make it possible to stay in Hagerstown with or without community help. We should be no more loyal to them than they are to us.

In my opinion, the only long-term solution to keeping a minor league baseball team in Hagerstown permanently is to do what Green Bay, Wis., has done with football. The community needs to buy the team. I can assure you that no matter what local governments do in the short term to try to keep baseball in Hagerstown, the current group will either leave town or sell out and we will be faced with the same situation over and over again, as we have been in the past.

If we as a community believe as I do, that minor league baseball is a valuable asset to our community, then we need to buy the team. I, for one, am all in. I will be very happy to purchase shares in a community-owned team and I am sure that I am not alone. For small-market teams, such as we are, community ownership is truly the only permanent solution to keeping professional sports in our communities.

Rodney Pearson Sr.

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