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Opinion

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    Sgt. Henry Johnson was working as a train station porter when he enlisted in the unit that became known as the Harlem Hellfighters.
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    If you like movies – good movies – you will be saddened by the death of Richard Attenborough this week, just days short of his 91st birthday.
  • Understated, effective - Attenborough
    If you like movies – good movies – you will be saddened by the death of Richard Attenborough this week, just days short of his 91st birthday.
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Letters to the editor

Federal retirees fighting unfair taxation of retirement benefits

The state of Indiana allows individuals receiving Social Security or railroad retirement income to be exempted from state income taxes. Yet individuals who receive federal civil service pensions are allowed only a $2,000 exemption.

In other words, 774,651 retirees pay no Indiana income taxes on their Social Security retirement income, 15,900 retirees pay no Indiana income taxes on their railroad retirement income, but 26,221 retirees in the federal civil service retirement program have their money taxed.

To add insult to injury, under federal tax codes, the income of a family under Social Security is exempted $32,000, but the income of a retiree under civil service retirement systems is taxed fully.

In the last five years, lawmakers have authored legislation to remedy this disparity but lacked the support of their colleagues to correct this injustice.

The National Association of Retired Federal and Active Federal Employees will be soliciting our legislators to correct this disparity, but they need help from our neighbors.

We can legislate tax breaks for business in the tens of millions and provide exempted inheritance tax in the tens of millions. Surely our elected officials can resolve this dilemma for our federal civil service seniors.

CARL A. BERNACKY Indiana 1st Congressional District liaison National Association of Retired Federal Employees

Cutting fiscal ‘calories’ while adding more is no fitness plan

A lot of people have trouble with numbers, so let’s look at our debt a different way:

I eat too much. You want me to slim down. Since you pay for my groceries, we need to agree on a plan.

So if I need 2,400 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight, and I eat 3,600 calories a day, that is equivalent to our government taking in 2,400 billion dollars per year and spending 3,600 billion.

If I say I will cope with the overeating by exercising so that I need 2,560 calories per day, but will then eat 3,650 a day, that is equivalent to the government saying it will raise an average of $160 billion more in taxes each year, and spend another $50 billion over and above current spending.

I would expect that even Michelle Obama, renowned anti-obesity champion and compassionate human being, would be against me continuing to stuff myself at her expense. I don’t think it would matter to her if I were old and poor; she would likely want me to take better care of my health.

That’s all I am asking the government to do: Slim down its budget and get healthy. I am willing to face cuts, even the deep restriction of the social safety net (I am 61), if it results in actual balancing of the budget.

Obviously I cannot speak for everyone, but I don’t see how continuing the present course benefits most of us who do or eventually may expect to receive benefits. Without some budgetary self-control, we will get little or nothing anyway.

DONNA MASKELL Fort Wayne

Get rid of Anthony Wayne statue – and city’s disgraceful name, too

Am I the only one here embarrassed to live in a city named after a war criminal? Oh, come on, if Anthony Wayne had lived in another country and led an invasion of a group of citizens of that country, he’d be punished for being a war criminal. But not here, where might makes right.

He stands for everything bad about America: arrogance, violence and injustice – not just toward the native population but all people who struggle to make ends meet.

Don’t spend $100,000 to move his statue. Use the money to remove it and sponsor a citywide “name our city.” Change it to a name that is a symbol of peace and justice. The timing couldn’t be better. At this time of national soul-searching over the causes of violence that permeates American society, refusing to celebrate those who perpetrate it would send a powerful message.

TERRY DORAN Fort Wayne

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