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Letters for May 14


No more need for IRS and its dirty tricks

Re: "Did IRS dirty tricks against Tea Party end in Cincinnati?" Editorial, May 13

History repeats itself. President Nixon used the Internal Revenue Service against his political enemies, too.

But the IRS' recent admission that it targeted taxpayers with particular political beliefs provides proponents of the Fair Tax with significant ammunition.

The Fair Tax replaces our current tax system, which punishes success, with a revenue-neutral consumption tax. Those with incomes below the federal poverty level would receive prebates to offset the impact of the consumption tax.

The Fair Tax would also eliminate the IRS. Given today's technology, there is no longer a need for it. And the resulting $430 billion now spent on tax compliance costs can be used to pay down our debt and fund Social Security.

Ted Hruzd

Morris Township, N.J.

Hawking's boycott will have little effect

Re: "Hawking backs boycott of Israeli academics," May 9

It is ludicrous that Stephen Hawking is abandoning his plans to attend a conference in Israel on the advice of Palestinian academics -- who are not recognized by the international community because of their blatant anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements.

Many surveys rate the universities in Israel as among the best in the world, and certainly their emphasis on science has paid off in patents and innovative companies.Hawking has a problem if he considers Palestinian academics superior to those in Israel.

This important scientific conference will be well-attended by members of the international community, so Hawking is the one who will lose out, not the conference's sponsors.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring

No-water bottle policy endangers swimmers' health

As a former collegiate swimmer who trains regularly at both the Rumsey and Wilson aquatic centers, I was shocked to learn that the D.C. Department of Health and Department of Parks and Recreation now prohibit swimmers from keeping water bottles on the pool deck during their workouts.

Swimming is one of the most vigorous forms of exercise. Body temperatures soar during workouts and the physical exertion causes individuals to sweat -- just like they do on land. Since swimmers cannot train effectively without hydration, this policy not only undercuts their ability to exercise but endangers their health and well-being.

Just last week, theNew York Timespublished an article detailing the prevalence of deaths due to heat stroke, especially during athletic activities such as swimming.

It is simply not practical for a group of swimmers to leap out of the water, wait in line at the drinking fountain for a few sips of water, and then run back to the pool to continue their workout, particularly when the nature of interval workouts often requires them to stop at the wall for no more than five seconds at a time.

Ironically, this illogical policy directly conflicts with DOH's own efforts to promote hydration while exercising during the summer months.Once the first overheated swimmer is rushed to the hospital, the lawsuits -- and corresponding policy changes -- will undoubtedly follow.

But hopefully it will not take a tragedy for the District to recognize its folly.

Jeffrey D. Stein