I have to admit that panhandling along the city streets of Hot Springs is in need of a resolution. I am not sure how the courts decided that panhandling somehow is supported by Freedom of Speech, so let's move on.
Panhandling should be treated as an occupation or business. For example, if I wanted to operate a lawn care business, I must obtain a business license, have a viable address, track and pay income taxes. If you choose to work for a company, you are considered an employee, (occupation) therefore the company you work for issues you a W-2 for tax purposes.
The same goes for servers in a restaurant or a sales person working on a commission basis. When an individual decides his/her business is to become a panhandler, that is a private business -- not an occupation. To operate a business in Hot Springs, one must file for a business license, state the location of such business and take care of all taxable income. By clear definition, panhandling is not an occupation. It is a private business and should be treated as such.
Once a panhandler has obtained a license, they should be issued a badge from the city to assure that they are proud members of the Hot Springs business community, just as much as many employees wear badges for security reasons. Violations of city rules or regulations should be dealt with like any other business.
Military Retirement Tax
Act 141 of the Arkansas Legislature exempted retired military benefits from state tax, a great benefit for those who served. However, there is an additional consideration given at the end of the new law which was not included in the line by line instructions in the 2018 Arkansas Individual Income Tax booklet. In trying to keep military retirees from making a mistake on their return, they should download Act 141 and read the entire new law (only two pages).
Don't be wasteful
Every once in a while, when my wife and I try to decide where to eat out, we usually find ourselves in one of our favorite pizza places. On weekends the place is packed and it's near impossible to find an empty table. When school bus sports teams arrive it's a challenge to other patrons to get refills of pizza and drinks and for the workers to keep pace with the demands for food.
However, there are always two major concerns we discuss as we dine: parents allowing their children to serve themselves and handling the food with their hands, and grown-ups piling pizza slices high on their plates only to eat the toppings and leaving the crust. Sometimes I wonder why someone hasn't opened a fast food eatery that served only toppings without the bread; think how much waste could be avoided.
As a teen trying to contend with a plate of liver and onions, my Mom would say, "No strawberry shortcake until you finish your supper. Besides, there are kids in the world who are starving and would like to eat what you have" (come and get it, please!). Later in life, I have seen children in third-world countries rummaging through the garbage trying to find some morsel of food for their starving bellies. Many families do not keep leftovers but discard them in the garbage can. We are a very wasteful country!
The Bible records events that show how much God is against wastefulness. Over 10,000 people had followed Jesus to a mountainside. He told His disciples to provide food for the people but they told Him all they had were two fish and five barley loaves. Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down, and then He blessed the food, and after everyone had eaten He instructed the disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." They filled 12 baskets of leftovers (John 6:1-12).
There are many other instances of waste listed in the Scriptures: The hunter trading his birthright to his brother for a pot of soup (Genesis 25:29-34); the young man wasting his inheritance on riotous living (Luke 15:11-24); people wasting their life refusing to accept the sound doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Then there's our government sending millions of taxpayer dollars to countries who are bent on our destruction; foolish spending on projects such as trying to clock the speed of shrimp; giving free health insurance to illegal immigrants when legal citizens have to buy their own health insurance; charities for our wounded warriors being spent for bonuses and expensive vacations, ad infinitum.
It has been said, "Wisdom enables a country to be thrifty without being stingy, and generous without being wasteful."
A more serious problem
I felt strongly compelled to respond to Larry Bailey's letter (Tues., Jan. 29) entitled "Seeing things both ways." As a conservative, evangelical Christian, I must tell you, Larry, in all kindness and respect that I truly don't see things your way.
First of all, you seemed to be upset because Arkansas won't elect "an environmentalist, gun-loving agnostic." Webster's dictionary defines an agnostic as "a person who believes that the human mind cannot know whether there is a God. ... "
You seem to be very concerned and sympathetic about agnostics not getting elected to public office here. Should we perhaps then infer that you are also an agnostic? Just wondering.
Mr. Bailey, if you should also be an agnostic, I really must tell you that the Bible clearly says that you have a much more serious problem to be concerned about other than politics!
Now, an atheist absolutely believes there is no God, but an agnostic tries to straddle the fence about God by saying even though he believes there is probably a God, he really doesn't know exactly who He is. In other words, the agnostic doesn't personally know God relationally.
Perhaps the agnostic may believe that he is safe just because he believes that God probably does exist. According to what the Bible teaches in The New Testament, that really won't be enough to help you. "You believe there is one God. Good! But the demons believe that, too, and they tremble with fear." (James 2:19)
In other words, Satan and his demons certainly believe that God is real, but they have not been saved by just believing in God's existence and are tragically doomed to everlasting punishment in a place called hell! This is also the fate and the destination of every single person who has not been forgiven of their sins by trusting in Jesus Christ to save them. No exceptions!
So you see, getting in a political office has almost no significance as compared to a man's eternal destiny!
God plainly tells us in the Bible that everyone has sinned against our Holy God! "For all have sinned; but fall short of God's glorious standard." (Romans 3:23)
Yes, God is a God of love, but He is also a God of justice and He can't just wink His eye and excuse our sins. Our sins are an offense to God who is absolutely perfect! The penalty for sinning against God is death! "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
God loves us enough to provide a way out of our dilemma of guilt! He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to willingly die on a cross as a sacrificial payment for our infinite sin debt. But in order to receive that free gift of forgiveness, and eternal life in heaven, a person must make a definite decision to trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation.
No believing both ways on this matter!
Another 'wall' point
After having read Jack Sternberg's letter (1-23-19) that addresses several aspects of whether or not there is justification for "the wall" being built, with evidence that this does secure our border, I would like to direct interested persons to another reference for the building of a wall.
Please check the video Charles Krauthammer, political analyst, https://www.prageru.com/videos/build-wall.
Ad taxes too high
Arkansas has the third-highest sales tax rates in the country at an average of 9.4 percent around the state. Hot Springs in specific has a 9.5 percent rate in the city, but because Hot Springs is a tourist town, the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission puts an additional 3 percent tax on restaurants and hotels. The combined total residents of Hot Springs pay in restaurant tax is 12.5 percent, which is higher than major cities such as New York and Los Angeles. This fee was put in place by the commission to create more revenue off the tourists that come to Hot Springs from around the country. In 2018 alone, this additional tax generated just under $3 million.
The solution to this problem is to lessen or eliminate the tax on restaurants for residents of Hot Springs. Lowering or abolishing the 3 percent sales tax will save the citizens of Hot Springs from paying extra money on top of the already-high 9.5 percent sales tax. While the fee does generate revenue from tourists, the majority of the money comes from residents and workers of Hot Springs. The money these residents would save can be spent in the future to keep the money in circulation.
The additional fee that the advertising and promotion commission puts on restaurants costs residents millions of dollars every year. By omitting this cost to the residents, it would help the community and raise the average wealth of Hot Springs citizens.
Hot SpringsEditorial on 02/03/2019
Print Headline: Sunday's Letters to the Editor