Inbox — April 20, 2011

Letters to the Editor

Wrong Building
The article on Third Street Dive was very interesting but contains a double history error (LEO Weekly, April 6). You state the storefront “used to be Bensinger’s Department Store,” which is wrong on two levels.

There never was a Bensinger’s Department Store in Louisville. There was, however, a Bensinger’s Furniture. It started in a pushcart in 1866. Then there was a building somewhere around the 200 block of East Main. And then it moved in 1927 to 315 W. Market. Go take a look at the facade of this building, and you will see “Bensinger’s.” Trust me, I know. My great grandfather had the pushcart, and my grandfather built the 315 building.

The other level of error probably concerns Ben Snyder’s, which indeed was a department store. But it also was located on West Market in I believe the 500 block. It is possible they had a store on Third Street, but if so, it had to be prior to 1955.
Charlie Bensinger, Highlands

Faked Out
A few weeks ago, I was in Louisville visiting family. As usual, we picked up a copy of LEO, which I read while my mother was getting dressed to go to dinner. My jaw dropped open as I read the article about the floating casino with strippers funded by people I knew. Was it really named Whore’s Shoe? When I got to the quotes, I just couldn’t believe these people could possibly say such things! Then I looked at the cover and cracked up. Well done, LEO!
Cath (Ascher) Wyngarden, Colorado

I would like to respond to part of David Cay Johnston’s April 13 LEO feature “Tax racket.” Johnston says that “in Alabama … families making less than $13,000 pay almost 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes …” Multiplying 11 percent by the $13,000, we get $1,430. However, a family making $13,000 with at least one child would be eligible for a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit of at least $2,747. So on net, working poor families seldom pay any taxes.

Johnston asserts that “Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes (known as payroll taxes) are paid mostly by the bottom 90 percent of wage earners” because only the first $106,800 is “taxed.” Officially, Social Security and Medicare are contributions, not taxes, that go into individual accounts. Unemployment insurance collects premiums. The top earners don’t often collect unemployment. They will never get more Social Security or Medicare than someone who made $106,800. So they do carry some of the burden for programs that benefit them little.

Johnston notes that “in 1961, there were 398 taxpayers who made $1 million or more,” and that the top 400 paid 16.6 percent of their income in taxes in 2007. These 400 earned a total of $138 billion in 2007, which means they paid $22.908 billion in income taxes. So, just 400 filers paid 2 percent of the $1.1 trillion that the income tax raised that year. Is this less than in 1961? Somehow, I doubt it.
Rich (in name only) Mills, Shawnee

Mayor Fan
Our dear mayor’s staff is trying to get him up to 2,000 Facebook fans. Instead of pondering the possibilities on why this hasn’t happened organically in the first place, they’ve posted a status update begging their existing fans to suggest the page to their friends.

I say, go ahead, like his page. Then you can post on his wall and wait with bated breath for your comment to be acknowledged. Might I suggest you use the bathroom first.
Curtis Morrison, Highlands

Historic Twig?
When I walked down Saint James Court as a 17-year-old in 1976, I immediately realized that far from needing to save my money so I could move somewhere steeped in aesthetics and sophistication, I already lived in such a city. When we preserve this community’s architecture and history, we nurture Louisville’s very soul and ensure our future; I have lost count of the number of bright and innovative people I’ve met who moved here after being swept up on their initial visit.

I could almost hear music that morning in 1976 and still do traversing neighborhoods from Russell to Butchertown (and absolutely Whiskey Row — save it!).

Walking past the Twig & Leaf restaurant on Bardstown Road, however, produces perhaps a little funk, but hardly the angelic chorus I heard on Saint James. So I’m unconvinced of the need to declare the Twig a local historic landmark.

Though there was the historically low level to which my heart sunk one night in the mid-1990s when a member of the wait staff there for whom I had experienced weeks of ecstatically amorous feelings turned out to be spoken for, overall I don’t see the Twig & Leaf as exemplifying history.

I understand the, if you will, “Route 66 factor,” the ways in which intangible historic qualities can develop in seemingly ordinary settings. Still, being discrete about applying any ideals, even those central to Louisville’s identity, will help preserve something as important as architecture and history — that is the integrity of the cause.
George Morrison, Original Highlands

Stop Big Money
Cause-effect relationships are quite revealing. Big money in politics is the cause that too often results in corrupt, scandalous government. It is so ironic the politicians who call for limited government are often the same ones who promote unlimited spending in political campaigns.

Politics in America is seriously broken, and there is little hope the problem will be fixed in the near future. The brokenness will only increase as more and more money is poured into the campaign coffers of political candidates who can be bought by big contributors and lobbyists who want special selfish favors.

As long as the five conservatives on the Supreme Court rule that “money is speech” and “corporations are people,” our country is stuck with injustice for the majority middle class and poor. Currently, the court’s scales of justice are narrowly tilted in favor of the small, rich minority.

Doesn’t the preamble to the U.S. Constitution call for “promoting the general welfare,” or common good, of the American people? Shouldn’t promoting the common good always be a major factor in the justices’ interpretation of the Constitution?

Our country is a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich — a plutocracy. I don’t believe that is the kind of government our founders envisioned. If we don’t begin to take greed out of capitalism and big money out of politics, we face a bleak future.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr., St. Matthews

All Profits False?
This is an attempt at a measured reply to Paul Whiteley’s letter in the March 23 LEO. The first six sentences of your letter were all true statements I wish I heard more often. Every word that succeeded them showcased the other side of the damaged American coin. It seems there are only degrees of religious zealotry here now. How unfortunate that yours is often cast as the acceptable brand. If there is a rope, I have reached its end. If you wish to continue to cite the adventures of Bronze Age peasants who could neither read or write, do so quietly please. There are those of us concerned with fact who are attempting to concentrate. If you must insist on the validity of a storybook whose contents were formed through the repeated plagiarism of every human cultural fable that preceded it, please keep your voice down. There are intelligent people attempting to speak and offer real solutions to the problems facing the human animal. Yes, by the way, we are animals. Evolution — that is not a theory.

I take refuge in the fact the churches finally seem to be crumbling beneath the weight of their treachery, even as some of my fellow primates prove eager to prop them up indefinitely. We need to cease huddling beneath the banners of religion. We require action based on rational thought, not rhetoric founded on the antics of people history cannot verify existed.
Lucas Diamond, Crescent Hill