Tom Kondrat: $2 trillion giveaway from tax cut not possible

 

To the editor:

The next event in Washington seems to be the tax cut legislation.

Recently, a politician was on television decrying a $2 trillion giveaway to the richest Americans. Since the highest tax rate for individuals is staying at 39.6 percent for any couple making over $466,950, I presume the culprit is the reduction in the corporate rate from 35 percent down to 20 percent. Those nasty corporations on Wall Street!

But who are these nasty corporations? I am reminded of Walt Kelly’s comic strip “Pogo” when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” If any of us have a 401(k), 403b, mutual fund, any kind of retirement fund, bank accounts or are trust fund babies, we are the nasty corporations. Who do you think owns the stock of these corporations?

AT&T alone has over 6 billion shares outstanding, most of it owned by banks and mutual funds. However, before we baby boomers get excited about our potential windfall, we should look closer at the numbers.

The old adage applies here, “We only know what we are told.” We have been told that there will be a $2 trillion giveaway if the corporate rate is dropped from 35 percent to 20 percent. This is impossible.

In order for that to be true, the overall corporate profit would have to be $13.3 trillion ($13.3 trillion profit times 15 percent reduction equals $2 trillion). Now the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is $18 trillion. That means the gross value of everything sold in the United States is $18 trillion, and the profit from that $18 trillion is $13.3 trillion, or a 72 percent profit on everything that is sold. Now if someone can point out any business anywhere in the world, other than the sale of illegal drugs that is making a 72 percent profit, I would like to invest what little money I have in them. Waiting to hear from our friends in Washington.

Tom Kondrat

Freedom

 

Lee Wilder and Tina Cotton: Earth science program opportunities available to teachers

 

To the editor:

Hurricanes and storm surges, tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding, sinkholes and volcanic eruptions — even eclipses, solar flares and the resulting beautiful auroras — the daily news is dominated by these naturally occurring events, especially the catastrophic ones.

An understanding of the what, where and why of these natural phenomena comes from having an education in the field of the earth sciences.

The morning after one of these events, teachers have “a teachable moment.” Students are curious, wanting to understand these events making the news.

Educators need to have the willingness and depth of knowledge to be able to explain and answer student questions.

The events experienced in recent months underscore the importance of earth science topics in the teaching of well-informed students. We are all inhabitants of this small blue planet and understanding it will help prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s stewards.

The Geological Society of New Hampshire has two grant opportunities to support professional development and equipment for the classroom. Go to gsnh.org/lincoln-r-page-fund.html and gsnh.org/classroom-grant.html to find out more.

Lee Wilder, Hopkinton

Tina Cotton, Andover

 

Robert M. Collinsworth: Nicotine kills more people every year than opioids do

To the editor:

The CDC has attributed 480,000 deaths per year, in the United States, to nicotine-related causes (more than 41,000 of those deaths are the result of second-hand smoke). That is 1,315 nicotine-related deaths every day, 55 nicotine-related deaths per hour, or almost one nicotine-related death every minute of every day in our country. Nicotine is the single largest cause of preventable death in the United States.

Right now, there is a justifiable nationwide outrage because there were 64,000 deaths related to illicit drugs and prescription opioids in 2016.

How is it that the country can be outraged over one drug causing 64,000 preventable deaths but much less outraged over another drug causing 480,000 (750 percent more) preventable deaths every year?

The answer is simple: The states and the federal government are making a great deal of money from nicotine because it is a legal drug and thus taxable. Therefore, it receives less media and government attention. Think about what these statistics are saying. They are saying that our federal and state governments are willing to allow someone to kill you, or someone you love, as long as they can make a great deal of money from it!

At what point do “We, the People” say “Enough!”? How many fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters must die before we are willing to pick up a pen and write a letter to our president, vice president, and members of Congress?

Would you be willing to write and mail a letter every day if it could save your son or daughter’s life? What do you think would happen if two to four tractor-trailer loads of letters arrived at the White House or Congress every day asking them to outlaw the use of nicotine for human consumption in the United States?

This is not fake news. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has compiled these statistics. These accurate statistics are actually body counts of the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters I referenced earlier.

Robert M. Collinsworth

Harrisville

 

Elizabeth Ruediger: Town officials walk a fine line on property tax credits

To the editor:

It is a fine line that town administrators must maintain when it comes to property tax credits and exemptions. It is our responsibility to make credits and exemptions available to those who truly qualify and demonstrate need for them. City councils and select boards must abide by the warrant articles passed at town meetings and elections. We are also beholden to the state Department of Revenue Administration to properly implement the rules and regulations set forth to guide municipalities in the provision of these “tax breaks” for certain segments of the community — tax breaks that are ultimately absorbed by the applicant’s friends and neighbors, who make up the difference and fill the void in revenue created by the credit and/or exemption.

New Hampshire recently opened the veteran’s tax credit to members of our military who not only have been fully active and have served in conflicts, but also to those who are reservists serving in a multitude of support capacities. Most embrace this widening of the credit eligibility, but there are some “real” veterans who are not accepting of extending this credit to capture those who have made the commitment to their country but are not considered among the hardcore “elite.” The primary requirement for eligibility is an “honorable” discharge. There is no wiggle room on this designation. To capture additional applicants, adjustments must be made to the amount of the credit to allow for more to qualify and yet not create a burden to the existing taxpayers by an increase in the tax rate. Those who have been deemed 100 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs qualify for an additional tax credit that is again paid by the remaining local taxpayers (you and me).

We had a situation where the total disability tax credit was increased from $700 to $2,000 without any input from the local taxpayers through approval at town meeting. It was immediately reversed by the DRA, and rightly so. How would the taxpayers feel to know that more money was being taken from their pockets and funneled to one applicant without their knowledge or consent? As the saying goes: There is no honor among thieves.

Finally, exemptions based on financial status are also paid by the remaining local taxpayers. This March, I hope to propose an increase in the income limits to capture more individuals, but lower the exemption amount to offset the increase in available applicants. This needs to be done to create a cost of living increase and keep the most vulnerable citizens from falling through the cracks. Those who have benefited and do not financially qualify due to excessive income should be removed to allow that exemption to be applied to those who truly need it. This is not an entitlement program, but a tax assistance program for those with viable and verifiable need. It is the community’s most vulnerable who should benefit from these credits and exemptions and the taxpayers who are gracious enough to assist in filling the void appreciate fair application of the benefit process.

Elizabeth Ruediger
Dummer

 

Theodore Bosen: Join us at the Truman Dinner

To the editor:

Lead poisoning has been determined to cause cognitive deficits leading to demonstrable lifetime under-achievement, under-employment and decreased earning capacity. A problem just in Flint, Michigan you say? Not so. Our own state of New Hampshire has a dismal record of lead poisoning prevention.

Presently, only Medicaid families in New Hampshire have to get their kids tested for lead as the Federal Government requires it for all beneficiaries, regardless of state law. Of those Medicaid kids in New Hampshire, four in 10 have higher than acceptable levels of lead. By that sample, it is safe to assume it is also too high in the rest of the kids in the state who are not being tested, and highest in older urban communities replete with lead-paint, like Berlin. Studies show that it is highest in units that have been rehabilitated without safeguards, which creates lead dust that gets into everything without any visible sign.

N.H. Senate Bill 247, filed this year in Concord, would have provided lead testing of all 1- and 2-year-olds, drinking water testing in all schools and day care facilities, and $6 million in remediation funds over two years for landlords needing to comply with EPA standards.

A no-brainer you say? Well, apparently not for our Republican-controlled state Legislature. After passing both houses, this bill got “retained” by the Republican-led Finance Committee on which Berlin’s sole Republican representative sits. It lies dormant largely because New Hampshire Republicans keep cutting this state’s already low business taxes, depleting government coffers of funds available for critical public health emergencies like the opioid crisis, and like this one. They appear to believe that businesses are stupid enough to hire a bunch of underperforming lead-poisoned employees just to save a buck on taxes. If left to the present course of lead exposure, I suppose, someday that will indeed be the case. But its not too late to turn it around if we take action now.

Rather than sit there while a generation of lead-poisoned youth become cognitively deficient adults, come join us at the Democrats’ fund-raising event, the Truman Dinner, at 5 p.m. on Nov. 11, at the White Mountain Chalet to meet some of the future leaders of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire who intend to reverse this travesty. 

Theodore Bosen
Chairman
Berlin Democratic Committee