Editorial Roundup - Aug. 22, 2014

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Compiled by The Associated Press

The Journal Record on True paths to peace (Aug. 18):
Journalists, like most folks, can suffer from self-centeredness. When something happens to one of us, we think that automatically makes it news.
Last week, members of the media were covering police actions in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal shooting of an unarmed man named Michael Brown. In the days and nights that followed, professional and amateur images showed nonviolent protesters with their hands raised, approaching police who were in body armor. Armored personnel carriers cleared public streets, and tear gas was fired into the residents’ yards.
Wednesday night, two journalists were detained, as were others over the weekend as the violence ebbed and flowed. Taking reporters into custody, in particular, caught the news media’s eye.
Some of the public may see the reaction as journalistic arrogance. But deeper questions lurk: What were the officers trying to hide? What did they think was going to happen that would look bad on tape or in print?
Why does a police department in a relatively small town have military surplus equipment, but not dashboard video cameras that could shed light on the initial incident?
Police officers have an important and dangerous job. Even when they operate with restraint, they know one image can give the wrong impression. But when a line of cops rolls down a residential street tossing flash-bang grenades like an occupying army, the public needs to know, and the people deserve an explanation.
For nearly a week, officials refused to even name the officer involved in the shooting.
In Oklahoma, we’re generally lucky. The police seem to treat their fellow citizens with respect, and they attempt to create departments that reflect their communities.
But in every state, in every community, it’s important that watchdogs have the power to keep an eye on law enforcement officials, even in times of high tension. Those who protect us must remember their actions are almost always subject to public scrutiny.
Transparency, openness and honesty are the true paths to promoting peace and security in our neighborhoods.

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The Detroit News on keeping corporations home with tax reform (Aug. 14):
Walgreens has decided it will not relocate its corporate headquarters from the United States to Switzerland by acquiring a Swiss drugstore chain. The company would have saved money in the move, but, as a storefront retailer, risked alienating customers.
Walgreens deserves credit for staying put, but it is an outlier against the recent trend of corporations seeking competitive advantage by headquartering outside the U.S. Other mammoth companies — including many pharmaceuticals — have exploited similar opportunities abroad to avoid America’s cumbersome corporate tax code.
The Illinois-based Walgreens could have saved up to one-third of its total tax bill by moving the headquarters to Switzerland.
Don’t expect other companies to bypass those savings. In a global economy, counting on the better nature of corporations is no substitute for rational tax policy.
Companies that purport to be U.S. based should pay U.S. taxes, of course. But those taxes should be fair. Instead of weighing measures to punish corporations that take advantage of these so-called tax inversions, the better approach is to finally overhaul an uncompetitive corporate tax code.
President Barack Obama came into office touting the need to reform corporate taxes, and there’s little disagreement in Congress. Retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Camp has even done the legwork by creating a new, feasible blueprint for reform.
And yet it hasn’t happened. Meanwhile, corporations are starting to give up and pack up — at least on paper.
Any new code must lower the 35 percent corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the industrialized world. Companies can find rates that are half that or lower in countries such as Ireland and England.
The U.S. must also stop taxing foreign profits. This is one of only six OECD countries that taxes income earned outside its borders. If a company has already paid taxes on income earned in another nation, it should not be required to pay an additional U.S. tax on that same profit. That provides a disincentive for corporations to bring that money back.
Another helpful step would be making research and development tax credits permanent, to encourage further production and technological advances.
Instead of attacking the flaws in the tax code, President Obama has shifted to trying to stop corporations from relocating with punitive measures. The Treasury Department is exploring what the president can due through administrative action to halt tax inversions.
The IRS has targeted Delphi, which moved its headquarters to the U.K. after being born and based in Michigan, arguing it must pay taxes as a domestic corporation.
But trapping companies in the U.S., forcing them to operate under an onerous and costly tax code, ignores the reason corporations exist in the first place — to make money for shareholders and products for customers.
They have a fiduciary responsibility to operate as efficiently as possible. The U.S. tax code works against that objective.
The wave of tax inversions should be a wake-up call for the president and Congress. Some corporations will follow Walgreens lead and place citizenship over profits. But they shouldn’t have to. Washington should keep them home by lifting the tax burden.