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The Public Pulse: Social Security and taxes; Sunlight and speech

The Public Pulse: Social Security and taxes; Sunlight and speech

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The Nebraska State Capitol.

Social Security, taxes

The Nebraska Alliance for Retired Americans is proud to have been a part of the coalition of organizations that finally were able to help get LB 64, the phase out of taxation of Social Security, passed. We thank Sen. Lindstrom for his persistent long-term effort to make this happen as well as Sen. Kolterman for prioritizing it and Revenue Committee Chair Sen. Linehan for helping it through committee. Thanks also to all those senators who voted for LB 64.

Phasing it out over 10 years was a compromise, as also was the five-year “look back” at its fiscal impact. We find it interesting that the Legislature felt that not taxing retirees Social Security needs a five-year look at its impact on state tax revenue, yet passage of a large cut in corporate taxes, costing millions in state tax income, does not seem to need a “look back” at its negative impact on tax revenue.

Al Mumm, Waterloo, Neb.

president, Nebraska Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund

Sunlight and speech

Richard Lorence in a Public Pulse letter talked about freedom of speech. I agree and believe freedom of speech is so important that I don’t believe anything someone says should be stopped.

If a lie is put in the sunlight it can be revealed as false. If any New York Times, Twitter, Washington Post, or Facebook bans something or someone, it will go underground, can’t be exposed, and will live on.

The only answer is “complete” freedom of speech, true or false. That way the truth will stand up to the sunlight while the lie will be exposed.

Judge Damon Keith (part of MLK’s team) coined the phrase: “Democracy dies in the dark.”

There are people in this world that are going to offend you, lie to you, and spread false information. It’s been going on since the beginning of communication between humans.

Debate and prove it wrong. Don’t just shut it down.

Michael McLaughlin, Omaha

Equality’s importance

In the Public Pulse, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Richard Lorence wrote, “Freedom and equality are not compatible unless we are mind-controlled robots; we are not equal. We were born unequal with different mental and physical characteristics.” If you decided, as I did, to ignore everything that followed on the basis of this paragraph alone, you would be justified.

To the contrary of Mr. Lorence’s view, we human beings are in fact born with equal mental and physical (let’s not forget emotional) characteristics precisely because they are all, without exception, finite. Individually and collectively our ignorance is infinite; our knowledge and critical mental capacities, necessarily limited. We are physically and emotionally incapable of grasping much beyond what our physical bodies allow. Indeed, it is self-evident, as the Founding Fathers suggested, that what differences there may be between and among us pale in comparison to the similarities, whether it is how high we can jump, the chromosomes composing our DNA, or the extent of the universe of which we are able to see and comprehend.

Mr. Lorence thus misrepresents the relationship between freedom and equality, which are not just compatible but both are necessary for progress toward a more perfect union. Unless, that is, Mr. Lorence has no interest in progress. With respect to the American experiment, differences do not obviate or diminish opportunities for equality and equal treatment under law.

Brian Hicks, Omaha

Policing, civic priorities

In Sgt. Anthony L. Conner’s “Flyer Was Correct” Pulse letter (Saturday, May 20), he ends up highlighting the problem with catch phrases or mottos. They mean different things to different people. He admits in his letter that when questioned, candidate Cammy Watkins stated that there is “nuance” in what people are saying when they say, “defund the police.” Yet the flyer lumped everyone making that statement into a group saying, “abolish the police.” The flyer might be considered technically correct, but it was not helpful to the discussion of the issue. It had no nuance. It simply painted with a brush so broad, it tried to end the discussion.

Yes, we need a police force, but there is room for discussion and indeed a need for discussion to prioritize spending when we are making funding decisions with the resources we have. If you spend money for street repairs, you cannot spend those same dollars on education. Policing and the men and women who do that job need the support of the community. But so do social services, education, water and sewer services, good streets, and all the other things that make a community a “great” place instead of just a “good” place to live.

It is the responsibility of each of us to listen and speak clearly in the discussion of these priorities that ends up with the best decisions. We must avoid the temptation to set up straw men just to make points for “our” side, or we fail to clearly understand either side.

Dale Coates, Rising City, Neb.

No to abortion

Reacting to Ellen Moore’s opinion on abortions in the May 26 Public Pulse: An abortion is an abortion, no matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, white, black, uneducated, poor, etc. We all know how pregnancies happen. And just because abortions were performed centuries ago does not make it right. The Democrats are not showing love by allowing babies to be killed in the womb! We are here on this Earth because God allowed us to be. No person on Earth has a right to take another human being’s life! Period!

Karla Brown, Omaha

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