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Scoop On 'Taxing' Olympic Medals Mail Carriers At Risk Anti-Union Legislation Closing Pa. Budget Gap Fueling Climate Change Nature's Promise Bill...

February 18, 2014

Scoop On 'Taxing' Olympic Medals Mail Carriers At Risk Anti-Union Legislation Closing Pa. Budget Gap Fueling Climate Change Nature's Promise Bill Worth Supporting Amish And Relativism Deer-Hunting Dilemma Too Much Tv Weather

My wife and I were at a party recently. A man, whom I'm sure was a conservative, told us and others that the IRS was planning to tax the medals which U.S. Olympic athletes win at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. So, I thought I would do some research.

Our U.S. Olympic athletes receive $25,000 for a gold, $15,000 for a silver, and $10,000 for a bronze medal from the U.S. Olympic Committee. The medals themselves are worth $644 for a gold, $330 for a silver and $4.70 for a bronze.

The IRS considers all of this to be taxable income. However the IRS considers taxing the medals to be "political suicide" (especially after going after conservative groups). The IRS will tax the cash prizes, but that will be offset by the athletes' training tax write-offs.

A word of warning: Please first verify the weird things you read on the Americans for Tax Reform website, or before bringing them up in conversation at your next party.

Greg Miller


During the recent snow and ice storms, most people received their mail, thanks to the hard work and determination of the U.S. Postal Service letter carriers.

Did the mail that you received deserve to have the lives of the letter carriers put in danger? I think not.

Most people have direct deposit of checks, use of email is at a national high and any package ordered on the Internet can be delayed a day or two. These men and woman are forced to go out in hazardous conditions, even when the mayors of York, Lancaster and Harrisburg are telling everyone to stay off the streets due to ice, snow and downed wires.

Maybe the U.S. Postal Service will start respecting its letter carriers and permit them to stay home on days when no one should be out and about. The letter carriers are husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and sons and daughters, just like us. A majority of them has to drive a distance to even get to their work stations.

Let's think of safety for them, as we can all survive not getting mail for a day.

Fran Ganse

Lancaster Township

Legislation has been proposed in Harrisburg to prevent the automatic withholding of union dues from public employees' paychecks. Sponsors of House Bill 1507 refer to this legislation as a "paycheck protection" plan.

But this legislation serves only to undermine the timely, efficient payment of monies that are rightfully due to the union.

Automatic withholding is routinely used by employers to collect money owed for charitable contributions, for insurance premiums, for child support and for taxes. By providing an orderly system of payment, automatic withholding benefits those who provide services while protecting providers against deadbeat recipients - people who are willing to receive the services, but aren't willing to pay the price for the services they receive.

By preventing automatic withholding of union dues, HB 1507 would seriously hinder the orderly collection of these dues while protecting deadbeat union employees.

Union membership is truly a bargain, and everyone benefits. People who belong to a union (as I do), people who would like to belong to a union and, yes, even people who don't belong to a union benefit from a strong, viable system of labor and labor protections.

HB 1507 is a direct attack on the funding of Pennsylvania's well- established system of labor. A more accurate label for House Bill 1507 would be the "Deadbeat protection plan."

Jeff Bullock


I find it unconscionable that in an effort to close a $1.4 billion budget gap, the state Legislature is looking to fill the gap by punishing citizens who choose to stay with their electric suppliers.

I resent that lawmakers feel they have the right to make my decisions for me by entering me in an auction to sell me off like an inconsequential commodity.

If lawmakers are truly concerned about budget gaps, they should align themselves with the private sector and contribute to their own retirement, as in a 401(k), or help fund their own medical insurance and drive and maintain their own vehicles.

This list is endless when considering how lawmakers could reach into their own pockets instead of everyone else's.

C.L. McCarthy

Mount Joy

One hesitates to write a letter about global warming after the winter we've been having. In fact, I think if I was a candidate by that name going door to door around here, I would get a lot of doors slammed in my face.

But from what I've read, "candidate Global Warming" is for real and can be thought of as a dictator waiting in the wings. We've seen a taste of what he is all about with heat waves, droughts, freak storms and superstorms like Sandy and Katrina. But full-scale climate change has not yet hit us, and hopefully it won't.

However, we feed the campaign coffers of this guy by our reliance on fossil fuels. We are clearly changing the composition of our atmosphere, and climatologists tell us that this "juiced" atmosphere will respond in kind with nastier freaky weather. "Global weirding" is the term sometimes used.

I'm not asking you to believe in global warming if you choose not to. I'm just asking that you become a global weather watcher. It's not just about Lancaster. It's about such things as the record heat at the Australian Open this year, the ongoing worst drought in California's history and the largest typhoon ever recorded which hit the Philippines, recently.

Such events are becoming more commonplace unfortunately, and the hand of a dictator does indeed appear to be at work. And believe me, that heavy hand will come to roost here in our own county as well if we don't nip this thing in the bud.

Phil Holzinger


Recently a friend told me she was ice skating for the first time in four years. She was thrilled to have had the opportunity, but I did not share her enthusiasm. For me, winter is my least favorite season.

Having said that, I must also say that February is my favorite month. It is a short month and is interspersed with sentimental holidays that are fun to celebrate.

Also, about halfway through February, I will gather from my yard, stems of forsythia, pussywillows, assorted fruit trees or anything with buds.

At a sunny window, indoors in pure water, the stems will begin to open, while it is still winter outside. This is called forced blooming.

Since the landscape is rather bare in February, it is easier to count the number of cocoons the praying mantis has made. Nature is lavish and generous so there are extra to share. These cocoons assure me that I will again have a new generation of praying mantises to eat the destructive insects. Their appearance is slightly like a grasshopper, but longer. These lanky creatures have a sweet face that seems to say "I trust you."

There is an old saying that states, "When the days lengthen, the cold strengthens." True, we may get more bitter temperatures, but there is promise in the warm February sunshine. No matter what life may throw at you, better days are on the way.

As I said earlier, I have extra cocoons I can share, just let me know.

Anna Lehman

Upper Leacock Township

There is a movement in Washington to pass a bill, Government by the People Act. It would improve my opinion of Rep. Joe Pitts if he would cosponsor the bill.

I am tired of the Republicans being against everything from immigration reform to health care for all, and pro-military rather than giving diplomacy a chance.

It is too bad the military makes money for the wealthy. Why can't we start collecting money, as Sen. Bernie Sanders' bill would allow taxes on those who gamble with money in futures. It is time the ordinary people are considered rather than the 83 who control half of the wealth in the world.

Suzanne P. Lamborn


I see Donald Kraybill and Callie Wiser were on "Smart Talk," promoting PBS' "The Amish: Shunned."

Very prominent in their representation of the Amish practice was the need to show a balanced view, or both sides of the story. This obsession with moral relativism in presenting the Amish does an enormous disservice to the Amish. Sometimes, when an issue is inherently problematic, it is best to acknowledge it as such.

In almost the same breath, Wiser and Kraybill also want their audience to know that the Amish are human beings. My advice to Kraybill and Wiser is to practice what they preach. For me, what they are doing is the equivalent of doing a show on sexual abuse victims and insisting that the perpetrator's side of the story be sensitively represented.

Sometimes moral absolutism is a good thing. For example, our nation wouldn't exist if the Founding Fathers insisted on presenting a balanced view of monarchy.

The institutionalized practice of shunning is bad. The only balanced view to represent is that it's not only bad for those it is practiced on but also for those practicing it, and possibly most important, it is bad for the Amish church. Shunning creates an insular society. It stunts evolution, which means that intractable problems fester.

It's up to Amish society to solve its issues, but those issues are only exacerbated when the world's foremost scholar on the Amish drenches his portrayals in moral relativism.

Elam Zook

Manheim Township

I am writing in reference to your article of Jan. 27, "Game officials urged to expand deer season."

I cannot believe the newspaper was not swamped with deer hunters writing in. I guess they have just given up. So I feel I must respond.

I am 71 and have been hunting since I was 11. In my early years, I went rabbit and pheasant hunting with my dad and our beagles. My dad was a true rabbit hunter and started me as soon as I could walk to go with him and the dogs. My point is that I have a great respect for the enjoyment of hunting.

My question on your article is this: Every time I see a picture of deer in your paper, it is in the county park or Muddy Run. If we have so many deer, show me pictures of them on public land. We all know there are a lot of deer on private land, and even there you say the deer herd is down.

I also contacted Jeff Grove, of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. I asked him about his comment that he has received reports from farmers of a tremendous amount of deer damage this year. I told him that I was an old veteran who likes to archery hunt, and would like to be put in contact with some farmers who are having all these problems. He said he could not do this. I said give them my information, have them call me. He said he could not do that, because of legal problems.

Jeff was very enjoyable to talk to, but we did not solve any of the farmers' problems with deer.

My point on all this is, yes, we have too many deer, but only on private property, not all over our public land. I have a cabin in Potter County, which boarders McKean and Cameron counties. The game commission and Deer Management Assistance Program try to regulate the deer herd in our state forest. And I think they base this on articles like yours that show deer on private lands or use information from the Farm Bureau. In each case, you can't hunt.

I would like for you to do a true article on the deer situation in Pennsylvania.

R.J. Williams Sr.

Strasburg Township

On Feb. 4, I turned our TV on to listen to the news. And to my surprise, for one-and-a-half hours, I got weather, weather and more of the same. There was no other news.

There was a house fire on Route 30 in Kinzers, but nothing about it on the TV news. Just weather and more of the same.

Well, we got the news when we picked up our newspaper.

Ethel Weir

Salisbury Township

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Source: Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA)

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