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Are fiscal conservatives extinct?

As another federal budget passes, where are our fiscal conservatives? Lost? They are certainly not dominating budget decisions.

We show no signs of corrective actions. I’m a fiscal conservative Democrat. Presidents of both parties propose formulas to balance budgets, even reduce debt. Behold: changes occurred — deficits and debt increased repeatedly.

In 2018, a new solution began with a $2 trillion tax cut and “slash and burn” domestic budgets, all to resolve debt in 15 years, starting with a $2 trillion deficit. The downward spiral continues.

We have no built-in system for continuous improvement.

Our last comprehensive review was the Hoover Commission in 1947-53. Hoover found a department with a director and assistant.

The mission: to improve wooden airplane propellers when we were flying jets.

A current example: After 9/11, did we consolidate security under one of 20 existing security agencies? No — we added Homeland Security.

Spending is more popular than taxing. Each year we authorize more government for which we’re unwilling to pay. Who loses? Succeeding generations.

When deficit reductions are proposed in good times, the cry is “it could hurt growth.” In declining phases, it’s “we can’t afford it.” Result? We use deficit financing to pay interest on the national debt.

How do we start on a positive path? Reality is difficult to accept after long neglect. Elections don’t deliver enough reformers to achieve change. Is anyone devising a rescue system? The solvency of our country is at stake.

Lavon Sumption, Lincoln

Tax-unfriendly Nebraska

Why do retirees and non-retirees pay so much here in Nebraska on state taxes? A recent Kiplinger’s article answered that question with its top 10 most and least friendly tax states.

Wyoming was the most tax-friendly retirement state in the Union. Nebraska was dead last, 50 out of 50. This included state income tax, local and sales taxes.

How did we earn this dubious distinction?

Nebraska retirees are fully taxed on Social Security benefits, IRA withdrawals, 401(k)s, public and private pensions — all this with the eighth-highest property taxes in the country.

We need good education, modern infrastructure, flood protection, proper land usage, a tax-friendly business environment and fire/police protection, pothole repair and garbage disposal.

But we do not need million-dollar salaries for university administrative and athletic department jobs or wheel and restaurant taxes.

If we have a surplus, use it to entice Fortune 500 companies to our state, not drive them out. The mentality was similar years ago with the gambling issue — we stopped horse racing and banned casino gambling. Nebraska lost and Iowa won.

I’m referring to the whole convoluted scheme of Nebraska taxation.

When will the local and state politicians wake up and facilitate “The Good Life” for all citizens of Nebraska? Entrepreneurs, business leaders, farmers, ranchers, educators, blue collar workers, techies and yes, retirees are ready for tax change now in this proud, wonderful and industrious state.

The year 2020 is the opportune time to comprehensively review and reform our whole tax system.

Frederick J. Skinner, Papillion

Omaha is far from bike-friendly

A city looking to attract young workers and others who don’t get around solely by car might look to invest in more bike infrastructure and parking facilities instead of removing bike parking to create minimal car parking spaces.

Nicole Wheeler, Omaha

Bellevue’s embarrassing politics

As a past resident of Bellevue, Neb., I am proud to say we do not live there any longer.

What a joke the group that “runs the city” is, from the mayor on down. They seem to be intimidated by the police chief. To me it seemed pretty simple when a huge majority of the police officers voted no confidence in their so-called leader. That should have been enough! Now after the city government rewarded the chief a gross amount of money, if put to a vote by the citizens and policemen, the vote would be no confidence for the whole city government. The whole thing is laughable to us on the outside, but to those residents of Bellevue just a big embarrassment for a city the size of Bellevue.

Tom Crounse, Glenwood, Iowa

Thanks to dedicated caseworkers

I would like to thank our Nebraska state employees who work tirelessly in Child Protective Services. These caseworkers are the front line in protecting some of Nebraska’s most vulnerable children from unsafe situations. In addition to working long hours to ensure their cases are managed properly, they can be called out any time, day or night, to help keep these children safe.

Within the greater metro area, the State of Nebraska decided to outsource long-term placement case management functions, while maintaining state caseworkers to handle the shorter-term, more urgent cases.

With the transition from PromiseShip to St. Francis Ministries for long-term placements taking place right now, those same state-employed caseworkers have taken up many of the extra cases and workload during this transition period.

So I say thank you.

Michael Rouw, Omaha

The ‘utilities’ of life

This is in response to Vic Massara’s letter Dec. 14 (“On the backs of the middle class”). His attack on what he believes is socialism is misguided.

We’ve spent decades equating communism with socialism. Bernie Sanders introduced democratic socialism. The idea is to make all the things we all need to survive. I call them “utilities.” These are essentials to life; you know, eating, drinking clean water, safety, security and good health.

Massara says that “Medicare for All” would break us. Question: Why do all of the other democratic socialist countries succeed? The greediest among us decided that “There’s gold in them thar ills.”

Health care should be a utility. It should be socialized just like electricity, the police or the fire department, street repairs and on and on.

The people of Nebraska socialized the utilities because they knew about the abuse they would get under capitalism. Without socialized utilities, farmers would be paying higher rates than those in the city.

Daniel N. McMullen, Omaha

Public services, corporate profits

Two articles in the Dec. 14 World-Herald discussed public services, taxes and the “benefits” of privatization.

David Nabity (“We should mend our high-tax ways,” Midlands Voices) noted the challenges of retaining retirees, given Nebraska’s tax rates.

The general argument is valid and worth discussion. Taxing Social Security benefits, in particular, is galling and painful for many.

His conclusion, however, is misplaced: “It is time to … privatize as many state services as possible in order to make Nebraska a lower taxed state.”

Lower taxes do not necessarily lead to public benefit or to greater individual or collective wealth. That truth was exposed in another article (“U of I awards venture group 50-year contract to lease utility system”).

In that case, it appears the Iowa governor has pushed the University of Iowa to privatize its power plant, to the detriment of the state and its people. The clear winner is the corporation behind the privatization effort.

In that arrangement, the state university will receive $1.1 billion immediately but is likely to repay the same corporation $6.8 billion over the next 50 years in fees, expenses and service charges — for a preposterous net loss of over $5 billion.

This lets the state spend less on the university in the short run, in theory, but costs far more in the long run, draining the wealth of the state and its residents.

Yes, we should monitor and manage state expenses carefully. Yes, we should make Nebraska affordable and attractive to those in retirement. But jumping to privatization of services is clearly not the single solution.

Tokey Boswell, Omaha

Alcohol is no light subject

In the Dec. 7 World-Herald article “Beer, wine and coffee are now on tap at Nebraska Furniture Mart,” the reporter makes light of the availability of alcohol everywhere we go, now even when shopping, in discussing the addition of alcohol sales at NFM.

I would have liked to see a news story that presented both sides of the story — like what it says about our society that we must have alcohol available while we shop.

Alcohol was referred to as “liquid courage” to help with big decisions. When does alcohol ever help us make safe and reasonable decisions?

The reporter also mentioned that alcohol could save marriages, which is wrong on so many levels. Research suggests that 25% of women have experienced sexual assault, with approximately one half of those cases involving alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim or both. According to a World Health Organization report, between 32% and 55% of intimate partner violence victims in the United States believed their partner had been drinking prior to the assault.

Alcohol is regulated for a reason; it has the ability to cause great harm, and we should not take lightly the effects it can have on us as a society. Omaha is 25th on the list of the worst binge drinking cities in the country. So now we add another place to find alcohol to feed into that problem?

Margie Magnuson, Omaha

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