Bermuda offers genuine assets, not just a tax dodge The...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 30, 2000

Bermuda offers genuine assets, not just a tax dodge

The Sun `s editorial "Bermuda tax dodge" (May 15) contended that some U.S. insurance companies have devised a devious scheme for avoiding payment of their federal taxes by establishing a presence in Bermuda.

The editorial, like the proposed legislation it supports, discriminates against Bermuda and is wholly misguided.

It fails to take into account the real reason insurance companies use Bermuda as a base. Bermuda offers a wealth of industry experience and expertise (it is the third-largest insurance market after New York and London) as well as intellectual capital and economic and political stability

The presence of the world's biggest accounting firms, as well as leading legal, insurance and telecommunications services is further testament to Bermuda's standing as a business jurisdiction of substance.

Bermuda's government raises considerable revenue on business operations here through customs duties, payroll taxes, a consumption-based tax and a land tax. All domestic and international companies - including insurers and reinsurers - are subject to these taxes.

At the same time, the United States, relative to many other jurisdictions, offers a much lower effective corporate tax rate. Many of those criticizing the insurance companies in Bermuda may very likely be beneficiaries of those lower rates.

The legislation the editorial strongly endorsed would negatively influence the ability of the insurance industry in Bermuda to meet the reinsurance needs of the U.S. market, particularly regarding coverage for natural disasters.

It would also send an unfortunate signal to the world that the United States takes a protectionist stance to its own market, even as it pushes for increased access to such other markets as China's.

Ray Medeiros

Hamilton, Bermuda

The writer is chairman of the Bermuda International Business Association.

Protecting Playboy while shunning God?

So now our highest court has ruled that Playboy and other adult cable channels have constitutional protection to broadcast any time and be seen by anyone ("Court also rules in favor of adult TV channels," May 23).

Last month, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Ohio, by proclaiming, "With God, all things are possible" violated the U.S. Constitution.

The phrase was on a plaque outside a public building where it could be seen any time, by anyone.

In God we trust? We'd better. Because as a society, we are on thin ice.

Michael Ziegler

Monkton

Moms want safe guns, not a ban on firearms

The author of the recent letter "A million moms don't alter right to choose to be armed" (May 20) wrote, "As a woman, the government says I have the right to choose when it comes to abortion. Shouldn't I also have the right to choose to protect myself from an attacker by using a gun?"

I'd like to tell her and anyone else who is operating under the misconception that the Million Mom March advocated banning guns that, yes, you absolutely should have the right to choose to protect yourself from an attacker by using a gun.

All we ask is that it be a gun that has been licensed and registered.

Many pro-gun activists are quick to question our respect for their constitutional rights without educating themselves on what we are lobbying for. We want safe guns, not no guns.

The letter also suggested we "teach kids better values as they grow up, so they don't use guns to kill innocent people." I find it insulting as well as preposterous to suggest all children killed or injured in gun violence have been raised in immoral homes and haven't been taught values.

Lisa Marie Azzaro

White Marsh

Ban on Sunday games won't cause kids to worship

The Sun's article on the scheduling of youth recreation activities on Sunday mornings in Carroll County quoted Suzanne Smith, the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) legal program administrator, saying that the policy was clearly "designed not to accommodate but to promote religious exercise" ("Carroll policy raising ruckus," May 11).

Do people really believe that?

I would cheerfully make a $100 contribution to the ACLU if it could introduce me to a Baltimore-area child who plays in a league that does not schedule Sunday morning games, interprets the practice as promoting religion and has begun attending worship or church activities as a result.

Carl Swanson

Catonsville

Palestinians' threats, violence undermine support for peace

Through his recent authorization of riots against Israel and his military's use of live ammunition against Israeli troops, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat has temporarily derailed the peace process.

Mr. Arafat has also alerted the Israeli public to what appears to be a repetitive tactic: When concessions from the Israeli government are not forthcoming, he will turn to threats of riots and use his military to force acceptance of his demands.

This is certainly a poor omen for the future security of Israel.

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