Social Security, Taxes And Gambling

Why is there so much resistance to sensible Social Security reform, federal tax reforms and some gambling for Hawaii?

Social Security isn’t a “due.” It is a safety net for older citizens because 80 percent of Americans over age 65 have less than $45,000 a year income.

It wasn’t meant for Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. We never should have let people stop paying into it as soon as their income hits $118,500. You should put more into it if you earn $200,000-plus a year and get no benefits if you’re making $200,000-plus at retirement age.

That’s called means testing. We need simplified federal tax returns. We need the progressively stepped flat tax. End most deductions in return for a smaller, fixed tax percentage of all income, based on the amount of all income. No more Schedule A, B, C, D. All income counted as taxable. End 74,860 pages of Tax Code. And no “value-added” tax as an alternative revenue source unless groceries, clothes, shoes and heating fuel are exempted.

The First Baptist Church in Deadwood, S.D., was totally renovated with revenue from the town’s casinos BOB JONES PHOTO

The First Baptist Church in Deadwood, S.D., was totally renovated with revenue from the town’s casinos BOB JONES PHOTO

Here’s an idea from Roy Tanouye of Waipahu in a Star-Advertiser letter to the editor: a Hawaii lottery with the revenue dedicated to the rail project. I’d add dinner-cruise gaming, and licensing a casino in a Waikiki hotel and limiting entrance to those who show evidence of staying in a hotel.

Yes, gambling feeds on a bad addiction and can damage families. So does alcohol, but we keep handing out liquor licenses.

Our people go to Las Vegas to gamble and I’d rather keep the money here, plus give our coffers a boost from the percentage we’d extract from the casino, ship or lottery operators.

There are 835 casinos operating in 46 states, and lotteries in 43. Most are doing fine and their societies have not collapsed. The failures have been economic, not social. Some were overdone, and some in places of great poverty and unemployment.

Would there be undesirable consequences here of one or two dinner-gaming ships and one restricted-use hotel casino, or a lottery? I cannot see that happening.

Deadwood, S.D., a major tourist town I recently visited, abounds with gambling and hasn’t suffered any serious social consequences. The revenue paid for a total renovation of the First Baptist Church and road repaving.

There’s the argument that we won’t stop with one or two ships and one hotel casino. But I’d like to give it a shot.

By the way, I am a non-gambler.

Here’s a Hawaiian Tel puzzler. I have a landline and fixed-Internet-fee-for-life bundle. I’d like to add the new-to-my-area TV at the introductory price. Oh, no, the rep tells me. Adding TV is a new deal, and I’d lose the old $29-for-life Internet.

You mean Hawaiian Tel passes up the added TV revenue they’d get from me? Yep. CEO Eric Yeaman should re-examine that one!