Monday, February 07, 2011

Death and Taxes

One way to get the blood circulating is to rise early, call up the Web sites operated by various news outlets and remind ourselves of the madness afoot among us.

Down the road to the east in Albia, bond has been set at $2 million for Richard Davis, 73, who gunned down his brother, Gary Davis, 60, a physician, in the latter’s driveway about noon Saturday. The two apparently had quarreled about a cattle deal.

It’s not clear what sort of weapon Richard Davis used, but the death clearly is an example of what happens when deadly weapons and ungovernable tempers are combined.

That’s why there’s a little more unease among thoughtful Iowans during this winter of our discontent after bipartisan legislation effective Jan. 1 removed the discretionary power of sheriffs to deny permits to carry concealed handguns. Richard Davis had been charged with assault on a peace officer during 2002, although that charge was dismissed as part of a deferred prosecution deal.

We don’t know yet if a handgun was involved, but the pro-gun lobby would argue no matter what that shooters kill (so it’s not the weapon’s fault). Tempers can be deadly weapons, too, however, especially when connected to a trigger finger. And there are a lot more hair-trigger tempers attached to itchy trigger fingers running loose around here nowadays thanks to legislators from both parties.


In Coon Rapids Sunday, Iowans said their farewells to another native son killed in Afghanistan, 26-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Shawn A. Muhr. Muhr was killed Jan. 29 by a roadside bomb that also claimed the life of a comrade.

Muhr, by some calculations, is the 75th Iowan to die during our Mideast wars since 2003 (a total of approximation 5,800 U.S. troops have died in combat theaters since Sept. 11, 2001).

Our war losses seem to get less attention these days --- perhaps we’re just bored by all those dead soldiers. And there are so many more diverting things to think about --- the state of the economy, same-sex marriage, and so on.

I’m guilty of inattentiveness, too --- until jogged by a death like that of Muhr into renewed awe that the young remain willing to die for the sins of old folks like me. When was the last time I spoke out for peace? Does anyone speak for peace anymore?


The Register is reporting this morning on the alarm of Iowa casino owners at a proposal by Gov. Terry Branstad that would raise the state tax bite into gross gambling revenue from 22 to 36 percent --- a 63 percent tax increase.

Does anyone remember the governor’s campaign commitment to lowering rather than raising taxes? The rationale for raising taxes here is to facilitate a $200 million cut there --- in corporate income taxes.

Casino gambling was approved in Iowa under Branstad’s first gubernatorial watch, although he opposed it at first --- until, like so many others, he discovered that sin can be sanctified when it proves to be profitable.

Since then, we’ve become addicted to gambling revenue. The industry reportedly pours 1.4 billion annually into our economy and employs 10,000 of us. Each casino is paired by law with a nonprofit that disburses somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 percent of gambling revenue to worthy causes annually in the communities where they operate. Lucas County gets a cut of the revenue from Terrible’s Lakeside Casino at Osceola, for example. In some cases at least, an increase in taxes will trigger automatic cuts in funds available for the nonprofits to hand out.

It seems odd to follow up on a pledge to cut taxes with proposals to increase them and thereby risk damaging an industry that is a proven performer. But what do I know? I’ll just have to work on enhancing my faith in trickle-down economics and the essential goodness of corporate businesspeople.


Finally, the Iowa Independent is reporting on a drive in the Iowa house led by GOP Rep. Matt Windschill of Missouri Valley to force the federal government to train, place and finance an immigration law enforcement officer in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

The difficulty here is that there’s no way to force the feds to train, place and finance an immigration law enforcement officer in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

It’s too bad trickle-down intelligence works no better than trickle-down economics.

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