- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

April 12

The Times, Gainesville, Ga., on tax reform being overdue:

Tuesday is tax day.

The marvels of electronic filing may have lessened somewhat the demand for postal locations with employees on hand to make sure late mailers get their envelopes date stamped before midnight, but there still will be many laboring to the last minute to make sure returns are on their way to the IRS in order to avoid a penalty.

While April 15 is the filing deadline, the typical taxpayer will not have yet earned enough money in 2014 to pay his tax bill. “Tax freedom day” - the date recognized each year as the point at which a typical worker will have earned enough to pay all taxes - is set at April 21 this year, three days later than last year. That means most of us work nearly a third of a year just to meet our obligation to the taxman.

According to numbers compiled by Paul Ryan, chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, the cost of complying with the demands of the nation’s tax code is more than $160 billion a year. That’s not the cost of the taxes paid, but rather the cost of all those things that go into compiling and filing annual returns. Beyond the financial cost, the process is estimated by Ryan to take some 6 billion hours of work each year.

Imagine the problems we could solve as a nation with an extra $160 billion a year and 6 billion hours of time.

Two of the most frequently discussed options for changing how the nation collects taxes are the “flat tax” and the “fair tax.”

The flat tax would take much of the mystery out of the tax code by having taxpayers pay a certain percentage of their income no matter what; the fair tax would generate revenue based on spending for consumer goods rather than income earned.

Both have been the topics of debate and study for many years, yet neither has gained the sort of momentum necessary to move to the forefront as the sort of sweeping tax reform around which the nation will rally.

For most Americans the issue isn’t whether we will be taxed, but rather how much, and what will be done with our tax dollars. Forced by economic conditions to be frugal in our personal lives, we have trouble accepting government entities that sometimes don’t seem particularly concerned with how they spend the hard-earned dollars we send them.

Reform is overdue and desperately needed.




April 15

The Brunswick (Ga.) News on inmates with phones becoming a problem:

Law enforcement and prison authorities say keeping cellphones and smartphones out of the hands of inmates, even dangerous ones, is becoming a growing problem in this country. They manage to get them no matter how hard prison officials try to stop it.

The problem came to recent light last week after a gang member allegedly planned and launched, via a smartphone from his cell in prison, the kidnapping of the 63-year-old father of a federal prosecutor. Fortunately, the FBI was able to rescue the victim. But what about next time?

Planning and initiating crimes are not all these inmates armed with cellphones do. They also get on Facebook and into chat rooms. There may be one chatting online with you or your child this very minute, in fact. It’s not likely they identify themselves on the Internet as felons.

The obvious question to authorities who say they are helpless to stop the flow of smartphones is, of course, why? Everything and everyone is checked before entering state and federal prisons, right? And cell checks - just how many places are there to hide a smartphone or cellphone? There can’t be many.

It is the job and responsibility of prisons to protect the public from convicted felons. Allowing them to use cellphones to plot and plan crimes is failing in this mission.

With all the technology at the fingertips of government today - drones capable of making deliveries and an elaborate spy system capable of picking up emails and listening in on conversations in this and every other country in the world - there ought to be a way to keep cellphones out of the mitts of murderers, rapists and child molesters who are behind bars.

All that’s necessary is the will to want to do it.




April 15

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on Bubba Watson being everyone’s champion:

The Augusta National Golf Club has worked hard to make golf more accessible and approachable around the world. Well, the club again has a Masters Tournament champion perfectly suited to help.

Bubba Watson is a regular guy who never had a golf lesson, hits creative and courageous shots he taught himself, and who wears his heart on his green sleeve. After tearfully celebrating his first Masters win in 2012, Watson quickly turned his attention to being a husband and father to his newly adopted son.

On Sunday, after winning his second green jacket in three years, and after high-fiving as many fans as he could while holding his boy, Watson’s humility was so in evidence that one television commentator thought it approached disingenuous.

We can’t imagine anyone else thought that. The modesty is real.

Every bit as real as Bubba.

“For me, it’s a dream to be on the PGA Tour,” Watson told the media, explaining his ready emotions. “It’s a dream to win, and winning any tournament is a big deal. Winning the green jacket is a little bit bigger deal. So, yeah, I’m going to cry, because why me? Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla.? Why is he winning? So I just always ask the question ‘why, why me?’ That’s why I’m always going to cry. I’ll probably cry again tonight sometime, just thinking about it.”

This is the people’s champion. A guy - named “Bubba,” for goodness’ sake - who was sure, a week before winning the most prestigious tournament on the planet, to say hi to all the kids in the tournament’s inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt competition.



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