Dumas, Brummett, and Brantley in love with Estate Tax

HALT:HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth.com

Series on Estate Tax: Part 1

The estate tax is an immoral tax because it is really a death tax. ‘The Blessing of Enough’ author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach argues the estate tax is immoral.

Will Rogers has a great quote that I love. He noted, “Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it’s not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago”(Paula McSpadden Love, The Will Rogers Book, (1972) p. 20.)

Liberals like Ernest Dumas, Max Brantley, and John Brummett all love the estate tax. It had its origin about 100 years ago in the USA. In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt summed up his feelings. “We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used,” Roosevelt said. “It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community…. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and … a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.”

In 1916 Congress followed Roosevelt’s earlier wishes and  tried to soak the rich with the estate tax in order to pay for World War I. Actually the estate tax revenues were over 5% of the total revenues gathered by the USA back then. However, I truly believe it is an immoral and stupid tax. It is a tax on capital  and destroys jobs.and should be rejected for many other reasons. In the next few days I will look at several of these solid reasons.
In this series on the Estate Tax I will be quoting portions of the article “The Economic Case Against the Death Tax,” (Heritage Foundation, July 20, 2010) by Curtis S. Dubay. Dubay is a Senior Analyst in Tax Policy in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

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Today I am profiling St lawmaker Allen Kerr.

State Representative Allen Kerr didn’t get his first peek at running a business—or government—after he won his first seat in office. No, it started when he took his first stand on the top of an overturned milk crate in 1968. That crate served as his stepstool to the cash register at his father’s Jacksonville grocery store.

From that perch he came to know that, like himself, his customers worked hard for their money and cared how they spent it. He learned about watching numbers carefully, whether it was a scrolling grocery store register tape, a spreadsheet that showed something wasn’t quite right in Pulaski’s county government, or double-dipping by elected officials. Allen eye’s showed a knack for funny math.

As a lifelong Pulaski County resident, a graduate from the Pulaski County school system, and a now a businessman in West Little Rock, Allen knows living, studying, working, and worshiping in Arkansas. He, his wife, Marliese, and his family attend Highland Valley United Methodist Church in West Little Rock.

For the past 26 years, Allen and Marliese have managed their successful business in their office at 1429 Merrill Drive in West Little Rock. During this time, the Allen Kerr Insurance agency has grown to be one of the largest insurance and financial services agencies in Arkansas for Farmers Insurance Group. Just as Allen watched over his customers at his father’s grocery store, he and Marliese now protect the property and financial futures for over 4000 customers and 500 million dollars in assets. For twelve consecutive years his agency has won the President’s Council award, the highest honor for Farmers Insurance Group.

More recently, Allen’s deep-rooted integrity and financial insight have served the public good for citizens of Pulaski County and Arkansas. In Pulaski County, he noticed something missing from the spreadsheets in the county’s Quorum Court. It was money—and lots of it. Turns out that Allen’s line of questioning revealed a scheme to steal taxpayer money, deplete the county reserve fund, and put Pulaski County in such a bad financial position it was forced to close portions of the county jail. He didn’t stand for five-finger discounts in his father’s grocery store, and he didn’t stand for it in the county checkbook, either. Just two months into his first political office, he uncovered massive fraud and wrote a blueprint to restore trust and financial stability to Pulaski County’s budget of $100 million.

During this first term in office, Allen was elected in a bi-partisan vote to become the budget chair for the quorum court. He turned the public’s attention to budget decisions, worked with others to save county dollars, and reallocated that money to open more jail beds, which in turn helped reduce the catch-and-release prison problem in Pulaski County.  He finished his second year in office after being re-elected as the budget chair.

After talking with voters, he decided to seek the Arkansas State House seat for District 32, to which he was elected in November 2008, replacing a term-limited Sid Rosenbaum. In his first session, Allen worked on bills to make Arkansas a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Meeting commitments he made as a candidate, he proposed a bill to increase the daily reimbursement amount counties receive from the state for holding inmates in their facilities. As it is, the state finds it cheaper to let prisoners languish in county jails rather than move them to state penitentiaries. The proposed reimbursement structure prompts the state to assume their responsibility and lighten the load of frequently overburdened, underfunded county jails. This bill was introduced in March of 2009 and is being studied by the City, County and Local Affairs Committee. In the meantime, Allen works to gain support for this bill, make room for more inmates, and lock down the statewide catch-and-release problem completely.

Another effort by Kerr to return taxpayer dollars to their right and proper use is the investigation into and exposure of double-dipping by some elected county officials in Arkansas. As it turns out, some entrusted by voters have been quietly “retiring” after their winning their unopposed primary elections—giving no notice to the public; waiting a 90-day period—some of them still functioning in their elected role; and then applying for retirement benefits—which they accrue at twice the rate of regular state employees. Once the benefits begin, these double-dippers quietly declare themselves “rehired” for their current position—but they take no new oath of office.

The public is none the wiser, but coffers are all the poorer, paying out a salary and retirement benefits at the same time. The officials claim refuge under a law enacted to keep the best state employees for the long term. The Attorney General, however, declared the practice illegal in his opinion delivered June 2. Kerr is working to draft bills to close these alleged loopholes, expose the current problems, and safeguard the public trust from here on out.

In the future, Allen Kerr will continue to speak as a voice for common sense in Arkansas government. He holds himself accountable first, then others, and opens the door to others who want to do the same. He says “Government has to be responsive and open to voters. All levels of government have lost voters’ trust. That can be regained only by doing the right thing.”

Knowing the right thing is choosing priority over popularity, Allen welcomes public inquiry. “The public has a right to know how their government business is conducted. Public servants have to hold themselves to the highest ethical standards and be open to public scrutiny.”

As he seeks re-election to the Arkansas House of Representatives, he invites you investigate his record and see if security, priority, and integrity win your vote.

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