Email letters, May 21, 2013
Tea Party caught with hand in cookie jar
Kudos to The Daily Sentinel for Monday’s coverage of the IRS “scandal”: “Ground zero of scandal: IRS unit in turmoil” (NYT), “Aide: Obama didn’t know of targeting” (AP), and “Audit flap energizes tea party coalition” (AP).
Contrary to Sen. Rubio’s contention that “this is what happens when you expand government,” the reported facts demonstrate that the “scandal” arose from mindlessly shrinking government, changing “the rules of the game” without providing adequate guidance and then inundating IRS employees with thousands of dubious applications.
Under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, only “social welfare” entities not “primarily” engaged in politics are entitled to tax-exempt status – under which we taxpayers effectively subsidize their activities and their tax-deducting contributors can remain anonymous.
Political groups of every persuasion sought to exploit the loophole opened by the Citizens United decision by claiming to be primarily “social welfare” organizations entitled to conceal the identities of – particularly – their wealthy and corporate donors.
Despite the contents of their applications, many such groups appeared to be ineligible for tax-exempt status. For example, “Tea Party” and other “conservative” groups using patriotic-sounding euphemisms in their organizational names had publicly vilified both government in general and President Obama in particular, suggesting that they were not “primarily” engaged in promoting “social welfare,” but rather partisan political views. Nevertheless, only some 70 of 300 groups purportedly “targeted” were “conservative.”
Unfortunately, that “targeting” took the form of intolerable delays and IRS requests for additional information which were not narrowly tailored to the law’s eligibility criteria – evidence of mismanagement that justified the resignations of incompetent bureaucrats.
Thus, the real “scandal” is that the Tea Party, et al., having been caught with its hands in the public “cookie jar,” is “outraged” at being “singled out” — not because its members are “conservative,” but because they are self-evidently and primarily political.
State senators must investigate Obama administration
I believe that it’s now the time to investigate this administration and its illegal, unconstitutional activities. This situation is glaringly apparent and demands your immediate attention.
I hope that our Colorado senators don’t intend to sit on their hands and ignore these crimes. I suggest that they remember their oath of office and act accordingly. If they abstain from these investigations, they will be deemed culpable!
Plant flowers, lay off pesticides to build up honeybee population
Many news stories this spring have concerned honeybee losses. Commercial losses for the 2012-2013 winter are expected to be 40 to 50 percent. This is a global problem and affects Colorado, as well.
Beekeepers have to make up these losses through extra management, expense and time. You might imagine what the impact would be if 40 percent of the livestock industry was lost in a year.
The Western Colorado Beekeepers Association would like to encourage every citizen to help the honeybees — and other important pollinators—by doing some simple things.
1. Plant more flowers. Bees, and other pollinators, LOVE flowers! Flowers LOVE bees! Each is integral to the success of the other. Around here, most of the flowers that bees love are also drought tolerant, too., which is a bonus. Not sure what to plant? Consult your local nursery or garden center for advice on seeds and plants.
2. Use pesticides sparingly and carefully. Bees fly up to three or four miles from their hive and, as a result, are exposed to lots of these products. Too many, as it turns out, and it is a contributing factor in these staggering losses. Put away those pesticides and while you are at the nursery, talk to them about bee-friendly practices and products for your lawn and garden.
3. Swarm season is here! Swarms are extremely important to Colorado’s beekeeping community as they represent “survival stock” — the bees that have survived a Colorado winter. Swarms are quite gentle but can be quite disconcerting due to the sheer number of bees within them (on average, about 10,000). DO NOT HURT A SWARM! Call the Tri-River Extension agency to report a swarm and have a beekeeper come and retrieve it. Or call me.
4. If you can’t keep bees yourself, encourage others to do so and encourage municipalities to enact bee-friendly regulations. Part-time beekeepers and hobbyists tend to maintain their colonies in a more natural way and often have better survival rates than the commercial growers.
Thank you for your help. Encourage your neighbors and friends to participate, too. Together, we can improve the health of bees and pollinators in our own communities.
President, Western Colorado Beekeepers Association (WCBA)
IRS scandal pales in comparison to apathy over carbon emissions
It is difficult for me to understand how self-respecting tea party conservatives could lower themselves to be labeled social welfare organizations. Doesn’t that description imply support for efforts that would have us share our resources, strive for mutual benefit of the larger good by protecting our resources through rules of use (regulations) and inclusive strategies of competing ideas of moral and spiritual choice?
Although I am sorry they were burdened with more difficult questions in order to be assigned their 501c4 status, it hardly seems worth the fanfare of front-page news, especially in light of the fact that none were denied their application request. Compare the scrutiny the IRS put on tea party patriots to the persecution that climate change scientists have encountered at the hands of the senate committee on environment and public works chaired by famed climate change denier James Inhofe. The cost between these two scandals is the price of human existence.
I suspect the weighted focus on the IRS scandal versus the recent news of our current CO2 level, is we are getting more and more desperate to deny our collective participation in fouling our own nest. We believe the source of suffering begins with government and specifically one person; President Obama.
When food shortages become the norm, tornadoes become super storms, millions of refugees flee from sea levels rising, war erupts from the struggle for limited resources and drought turns us against each other, we will not want to face the fact that we ignored the real scandals of our time.
There is no turning back our carbon emissions now at 400ppm. It could have been different.
Sequester to take severe toll on military families, military readiness
I’m gravely disappointed in your failure to find an alternative to the March 2013 sequester. Furthermore, I’m deeply concerned with its impact on the total force and the security of the United States of America.
Military unit readiness will steadily decline as key wartime training is cancelled and air, space and cyber systems maintenance is deferred.
Thousands of Department of Defense employees, including Guard and Reserve technicians, will be furloughed, and active duty airmen could lose their jobs.
Military quality-of-life programs will be affected as commissaries close on Wednesdays, tuition assistance programs are curtailed, children’s education via the Department of Defense school system is impaired and eventually services under TRICARE are reduced.
In the end, our “all-volunteer force” will be required to carry twice the burden of these cuts as compared to other federal programs. In my opinion, our government is asking those currently serving and veterans of the past to accept a renegotiation of their service contract, as an attempt to balance the country’s budget on the backs of those who served.
Time remains for Congress to find a solution to end the terrible effects of a sequestration and ensure the nation’s ability to defend itself. I urge you to do everything in your power to make this happen!
Agriculture reform bill makes sense in serving the needy
A letter to the editor in area papers was published the day the House Agriculture Committee voted to report out the latest agriculture bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (“to the full House. Our local Congressman, Republican Scott Tipton, a member of the Agriculture Committee, voted in favor of advancing the bill out of committee.
The letter to the editor expresses concern about one aspect of the bill, indicating that it would cut $21 billion from the SNAP (food stamp) program. A summary of the bill published by the committee uses essentially the same number (“over $20 billion”), but indicates that the savings come because the bill “makes common-sense reforms, closes program loopholes, and cracks down on waste, fraud, and abuse…” and “strengthens program integrity and accountability while better targeting the federal nutrition programs to serve those in need of assistance.”
The Agriculture Committee’s summary of FARRM cites such reforms as tying SNAP assistance to households otherwise entitled to welfare type benefits, stopping fraudulent dumping of food for cash, requiring participating retailers to stock more fruits and vegetables, and allowing more service options for homebound elderly and disabled SNAP recipients. The summary also recognizes that local food banks, such as the Roaring Fork Valley’s Lift Up, “...have been struggling to provide enough food to needy families in the current economic climate.” Therefore FARRM increases funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which the summary states will “help food banks supplement the diets of low-income individuals.”
So, far from representing heartless cuts to federal food programs as depicted in the recent letter to the editor, FARRM is designed to strengthen programs to help meet the nutritional needs of people who are suffering because of current economic conditions. The bill tries to do this by reforming programs where needed and by increasing assistance to the most effective programs.
Unless our legislators are prepared to take a critical look at a range of federal programs, we will continue to throw good money after bad and still not serve the needy among us. In fact, the amount of money available to meet the most pressing needs of our citizenry will be greatly diminished.
Why are seatbelts required, but motorcycle helmets are not?
How can the people of Colorado continue to have a contradictory law on the books that requires its citizens to wear a seatbelt while inside an automobile, yet do not require adult motorcycle riders to wear a helmet when on the road?
I recently received a ticket that cost me $75 for not wearing my seatbelt (no other violations), which I willingly (yet grudgingly) paid because I know technically I violated the law.
Tell me what seems a more dangerous scenario: being in an auto without a seatbelt on or driving in traffic totally exposed without a helmet on a motorcycle?
Please join me in writing our legislators to have this wrong righted. Either put helmets on all motorcyclists or rescind the law requiring adults to wear seatbelts in autos. It only makes common sense. This is something Sen. Steve King ought to consider tackling in the next legislative session.