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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wed
Hi: 47
Lo: 36
Thu
Hi: 54
Lo: 34
Fri
Hi: 45
Lo: 32
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If there is one department we all need to believe is impartial, it's the one that handles the sensitive area of taxation.
If there is one department we all need to believe is impartial, it's the one that handles the sensitive area of taxation. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Losing trust in the government

At first, it seemed people that didn’t trust the government lived in isolated rural outposts and were survivalists hell bent on avoiding taxes. There was a certain stigma attached to being a government dissenter. Alas, images of tin foil hats and mysterious black helicopters are easy to envision.

The Patriot Act awoke many Americans to the dangers of a large, overreaching and powerful government. The federal government conducting drones strikes against Americans on foreign soil, without due process, troubled anyone interested in protecting civil liberties or due process. The recent scandals involving the Obama administration have given vindication to those that see big government as the problem and not the solution.

What seemed to be an attitude shared by mountain men and isolationists is now permeating into the very fabric holding the country together. Let’s take a look as some of the scandals embroiling the White House and see how they relate to our trust in government.

IRS

The IRS scandal involves targeting certain groups based on their political affiliations. If there is one department we all need to believe is impartial, it’s the one that handles the sensitive area of taxation. I’m sure having this happen in an election year is quite concerning to many liberals who fight for every citizen to get their voice heard.

What has me nervous about this scandal is the Obamacare implications and how they pertain to our privacy.

Sarah Hall Ingram was the IRS official in charge of tax exempt groups during the political targeting. Despite these incredible accusations against the department while serving as commissioner, she is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office. That’s right; the person in charge of a government agency that was targeting groups for political gain is now running the agency that is responsible for the health care legislation of Obamacare.

Anyone else have an uneasy feeling about what parts of our health information will…

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What kind of city have we built if we have to keep our residents walled in like East Berlin?
What kind of city have we built if we have to keep our residents walled in like East Berlin?

Mr. Barrett, tear down this wall!

I love Milwaukee. As a kid living in rural communities, I couldn’t wait to one day move to the big city. Summer festivals, Brewers games and Lake Michigan seemed to call my name at an early age. After graduating from college, there was little doubt where I would end up starting a life.

That being said, the realities of living in the big city drew a stark comparison to the expectations I had built up in my own mind. In truth, there are many self-induced reasons that Milwaukee is currently struggling to adapt to a changing political, social and employment landscape. As a result, a quality neighborhood in Milwaukee is becoming elusive. This is why you have select areas of the city with high concentrations of city employees such as firemen and police officers.

The recent proposed residency rule changes have caused much hand wringing among Milwaukee leaders. It’s feared that chaos will ensue by allowing certain government workers to live outside of the City of Milwaukee. The theory is that an exodus of city residents will head for the suburbs and leave Milwaukee in the dust, if given the chance.

In reality, this theory has played out for decades and already has had severe fiscal repercussions. If you consider the large amount of future committed expenditures, it points to a bleak prospect of improvement to the city’s finances.

While opponents passionately argue about the consequences, they fail to look at the problem. What kind of city have we built if we have to keep our residents walled in like East Berlin?

Better yet, why would people want to leave Milwaukee at the first opportunity?

Could it be the 17-minute average response time when dialing 911? Could it be the double-digit unemployment? Could it be the failing schools? Could it be the high crime in increasingly unsafe neighborhoods? Could it be high property taxes?

The answer is yes, to all of those questions. In addition, the surrounding communities offer better neighborhoods, safer streets, better s…

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How has tolerance become a one-way street?
How has tolerance become a one-way street? (Photo: shutterstock.com)

The era of manufactured bigotry

As I said weeks ago, I fully support gay rights.

To me, there is no sensible reason to deny someone happiness, regardless of sexual preference. However, that is my personal opinion. I am entitled to it, but it isn’t more or less valuable than the opinion of anyone else. I accept that people may have social views that differ from my own, and I appreciate their right to have these views.

In this country, the Constitution affords us the freedom of religion. It allows people to exercise whatever religion they see fit. The Constitution grants someone of religious conviction to have views on homosexuality that oppose my own. It’s important to respect these views and tolerate differing opinions.

ESPN personality Chris Broussard recently gave his reasoning on opposing homosexuality, which was based on religious views. Predictably, he was grilled for these comments and he later tried to clarify those same remarks. While he’s entitled to his opinion, a public figure in a public forum certainly can expect repercussions from his employer for stating any controversial opinions.

The backlash made me wonder: exactly when did the same concept of public accountability suddenly apply to Joe SixPacks everywhere? When did simply having an opinion on homosexuality, based on guaranteed religious beliefs, become bigotry?

Bigotry comes down to a simple case of having an opinion vs. acting on that opinion. While these two may often go hand-in-hand, they aren’t mutually inclusive.

If the Constitution says we can freely practice religion and some of the teachings maintain an anti-homosexual view, then we can’t attempt to suppress those opinions simply because we disagree with them. Calling someone a bigot is attempting to suppress an opinion through negative connotations. Nobody wants to be called a bigot.

It’s the right of members of that church to have viewpoints that oppose homosexuality, as is having an opinion based on their religious beliefs. Until the church or a membe…

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