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Letters to the Editor: May 1, 2014

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Food pantry thanks you

To the Editor:

The seventh annual Empty Bowls event, held on April 10, raised over $19,000 for Five Loaves to use toward those in need in our community. The Empty Bowls committee and its volunteers were thrilled to welcome over 850 people to this incredibly popular New Richmond event.

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Five Loaves Food and Clothing Center would like to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to our community, including our students, teachers and local sponsors, for your support of this event. Your help provides essential food resources to many in need in our community.

This event would not be possible without the organization, direction and support of the Empty Bowls committee of New Richmond Community Education and its supporters, including Cheryl Emerson, Mike Pike, Sara Petersen, Steph Karno, Rachel Sauvola, Karen Brummer, Mike Sylte and Joan Simpson. This group is largely comprised of educators within our community who witness, firsthand, how hunger affects their students on a daily basis.

Studies consistently show that hungry students struggle to learn.

As a solution to that problem, the Empty Bowls event funds the “Happy Kids Backpack Program” of Five Loaves, in which children who might otherwise be hungry over the weekend are given a backpack of food to bring home on Friday. The Empty Bowls committee, recognizing the need in New Richmond, spends enormous amounts of time and effort throughout the year in order to make sure that kids in New Richmond have enough food.

The impact of the Empty Bowls event on New Richmond’s Five Loaves can not be overstated. Because we partner with Second Harvest Heartland and the Emergency Foodshelf Network, which supplies food at a very low cost to food pantries, the purchasing power of your Empty Bowls donations is equal to an astonishing $139,000! Because of the efforts and generosity of New Richmond’s residents and businesses, your local food pantry and clothing center can continue to fulfill its mission to provide food and clothing to people in need. Thank you!

Heidi Herron, fundraising coordinator at Five Loaves Food and Clothing Center, New Richmond

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Paul Ryan ruining middle class

To the Editor:

It took them 34 years to accomplish it, but it shows us that if we are persistent enough we can do almost anything. They should be very proud. 

I’m talking about the Republicans. After slightly more than three decades of supply-side, trickle-down, voodoo economics, they’ve taken our once vibrant middle class (once the envy of the entire world) on a downward spiral, so bad that we are now below Canada in middle class affluence. Even our poor are worse off than poor people in Europe. But how can this be? Doesn’t Canada have socialized medicine? Don’t they tax their rich and corporations much more than America? They even subsidize child care. Are they insane? It makes no sense.

We’ve got a better idea, at least Paul Ryan does. Mr. Ryan’s budget proposes that taxes should be cut on rich people and corporations, that along with cuts to government give-away programs, like Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, etc., this would leave more cash for the rich causing some of the excess to trickle down to the rest of us. Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?

George Richard, New Richmond

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Columns point out political failures

To the Editor:

Matt Pommer and Bill Lueders in the April 24 issue sought to lionize a small host of outgoing Republican politicians, the most prominent being State Sen. Dale Schultz. Schultz is stepping down after 30 years in the Senate in the face of a more “conservative” opponent. Schultz, as well as several of the others have “served” for 30 years and while the two pundits were bemoaning the loss of these politician’s influence, their columns ended up indicting them for the failures they’ve either brought about or meekly allowed to develop. Despite the pundits’ attempts to deify these politicians the message between the lines described politicians out of touch with the current political climate and, considering the leanings of the two writers, men who may have gone over to the opposition.

Lueders was askance at discussion by Republicans over the feasibility of secession which Schultz walked away from shaking his head. What else can a state consider doing when the federal government takes on the behavior of a Hugo Chavez? Plan an armed assault? The Obama administration has abandoned the rule of law as we have known it and as the Constitution defines it. The incursions against the freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to bear arms, freedom of the press and broadcast media — just to touch the high points — are truly historic considering this country is not at war.

Obama and his minions enforce laws they invent while ignoring established law, or in some cases attempt to use the courts to sue the states to prevent them from enforcing the very laws we have state governments for in the first place. The use of federal agencies to harass those who oppose them politically, or even speak out against them, far exceeds the Nixon administration enemies list, a scandal at the time, and has now led to armed opposition in Nevada and the threat of it in Texas. Yet Lueder laments that Schultz refuses to consider means to oppose this tyranny? How much farther out of touch can this aged politician be?

The young Turks who are challenging and replacing these aged pols are indeed, as Pommer opines, more conservative. The Ryans and Markleins know that while Shultz and Ellis will bask in the accolades for their service and good intentions, they, the new generation will inherit the debt these long serving pols ran up for them to pay off. Ryan will suffer under the lost rights and freedoms their predecessors let slip or traded away for re-election votes. Pommer and Lueders will vilify these new conservative politicians as they attempt to clean up the mess left to them with an economy a third smaller than it was just a few years ago and a federal government in conflict with the states they serve.

And contrary to Schultz’s contention that conservative ideas aren’t attractive enough to win elections, today’s conservatives are adopting the free spending liberals’ tactics of howling at the moon, attracting as much attention as possible to the cause of responsible, sustainable government. Men like Ted Cruz who filibustered the Senate in an attempt to defund Obamacare and Paul Ryan who have viable formulas to balance the budget and pay down the national government’s runaway debt contrary to Obama spend it all and borrow more. They continue to be re-elected.

Jim Schroeder, Town of Somerset

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Highly competitive at IRS

To the Editor:

Last week, it became known to the general public that bonuses were paid to thousands of IRS employees who they themselves had tax issues, as in non-payment. Many of them had faced disciplinary procedures and were still overly compensated for their reckless and shameful actions within the agency.

Donald Rumsfeld sent the IRS his annual tax letter where he explains that he can’t come up with the same numbers the IRS does and wants them to do his taxes for him. Obviously, when you make up numbers or commit fraud for personal financial gain, anything will do especially, when your IRS boss is also in on the take.

Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, in a statement dated May 4, 2013, at CNN Money bragged about how bad the tax system was when he claimed that after making $3 billion he paid less taxes than his secretary. He clarifies by saying his taxes went from 15 percent to 20 percent capital gains, while the secretary lost her taxpayer holiday and hers went up by 2 percent on wages. In fact, his office workers saw a 3 percent to 4 percent increase in employment taxes.

Closer to home, UHP Project received the results of its audit from the IRS and a perfect example of fraud it was. Numbers for the various categories in which the so-called audit was taken from varied greatly from what was on the tax form. But wait, the numbers on the tax form were downloaded from banks and employer W-2s. Consider this, if a bank electronically sends tax information to the IRS and the agency’s computers crash as a result, who knows what happened to the numbers that were sent?

So where did the IRS get its numbers? We’ll have to wait on that while the wheels that are paid for by taxpayers grind on and bonuses are handed out.

It occurred to me that either this is a deliberate attempt by the IRS to go after conservatives not just as nonprofits but individuals as well, or it’s one badly run organization in terms of receiving information downloaded to the IRS for taxpayer purposes. In the examples above, two are conservative and one is Democratic. Bet you can’t guess which one is which?

The IRS is a government agency that has been given the power to destroy good people financially and go after enemies of the state. It wasn’t created for that purpose, but the current administration, unlike a former Republican Richard Nixon who tried doing the same thing but couldn’t because the law wouldn’t let him, the IRS is being duped into performing procedures to punish those who are opposed to seeing their country destroyed.

In fact the Attorney General Eric Holder is on record telling state attorney generals they can pick and choose any laws they want to enforce, they don’t have to obey all the laws like we do.

Robert Pike, Town of Stanton

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Spirit of absolutism

To the Editor:

Most people are aware that Edward Snowden revealed to the British Press that the NSA is collecting mega data on phone calls, emails, texts, online chats, and video from any and all American citizens living with the United States. President Obama, his staff and career politicians argue that this is a modest encroachment on our “privacy.” Gen. Alexander, the NSA director, stated that the agency has stopped dozens of terrorist plots. This may be true but not from these domestic mega data collection activities. What is being overlooked or ignored is U.S. District Judge Leon ruling that this program is illegal. Leon noted in part of his findings that “The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of NSA’s bulk mega data collection actually stopped any imminent threat in the last seven years — not a single incident.”

President Bush, who started this program after 9/11, thought it might prove valuable. Obama has a mass of evidence to the contrary. Some federal courts have ruled differently than Leon. As a citizen, I agree with Leon.

When I was studying criminal law and criminal rules of evidence, I recall a landmark case regarding electronic searches. In a case of Katz v. U.S., 389 U.S. 347 (1967), the FBI without a warrant attached a recording device outside a public phone booth from which Katz placed phone calls. The key findings of this U.S. Supreme Court case are: (1) The Fourth Amendment cannot be translated as a constitutional “privacy”; (2) the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places; and (3) electronic as well as physical intrusion constitutes a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Judgement is reversed. More recently, in a Wisconsin case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January 2012 that installing a GPS device on a person’s car by police to track their movements amounts to a search under the U.S. Constitution and requires a warrant. In spite of these types of rulings, Homeland Security is developing a program seeking a mega database of all license plates of Americans to track their movements.

The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights reads as follows: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath of Affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.”

What is next in the land of the free wherein most Americans just want to be left alone to take care of themselves and their families?

On another point, as a career intelligence soldier I have the greatest respect for the NSA. However, when the bureaucrats get involved shoving this type of mega data onto persons working 24/7 to find another piece to a network puzzle they tend to become neutralized by tons of this type of information. As Secretary Rumsfeld once stated about this dump of activity, “more data than we can translate into knowledge.” Henry Kissinger called this type of dump activity “producing a lot of incomprehensible and irrelevant crap.” The head of the Kandahar Intelligence Fusion Center wrote a memo about Washington pumping in vast amounts of information is like confetti being everywhere but no one can turn off the fan!

There is a footnote in the Katz case written in 1863 by E. May stating “rulers who distrust their own people must govern in the spirit of absolutism.” Isn’t this the truth?

Robert L. Aufderhar, New Richmond

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