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The final ka-ching of tax-free weekends

For 12 years, savvy North Carolinians have timed their back-to-school shopping with the state’s annual tax-free holiday. N.C. businesses also welcomed the three-day boost in traffic from the annual event, which is the second-busiest retail holiday each year behind Black Friday.

But the sale is over, shoppers. N.C.’s newest budget doesn’t include a tax-free holiday beyond the one that ended Sunday. And that’s not a bad thing.

Last year, the state lost more than $13 million in tax revenue from the tax-free holiday. That might be OK if a greater good was accomplished, such as long-term job gains. But there’s no evidence tax-free holidays result in any kind of hiring. The holidays also don’t have the added benefit of promoting better behavior, as past events that gave tax rebates to those who purchased energy efficient appliances.

Instead, the annual tax-free weekend is merely a giveaway to people who are buying school supplies, clothing and inexpensive sporting goods. Retailers aren’t even convinced they generate much new traffic. That’s why N.C. is only one of 17 states participating in a tax-free holiday, down from a high of 19 in 2010.

If all that is a little too bah humbug for you, take heart. Other states, including Georgia and Florida. have revived their once-canceled tax-free weekends after backlash from shoppers. After all, there’s nothing like the power of savings – even when it comes with a cost.

No parental rights for rapist; child is victim too

Life plus 1,000 years wrapped up the sad tale of three women held captive and brutalized in a Cleveland home for more than a decade. Or maybe not.

A judge declared the punishment on Thursday, and allowed the victims – one in person and two through family members – to have their say in court. Their poignant, tearful statements gave lie to Castro’s protestations during the sentencing that he was “not a monster,” that he was “not a violent person,” that he “never tortured them.”

He was and he did, and the victims survived to tell the stories.

One victim and survivor is the daughter he fathered by rape with the last of the three he kidnapped, Amanda Berry. Berry’s sister read her statement. Amazingly, Castro claimed the child had “a normal life” in what Michelle Knight, the only victim to read her own statement in court, called “hell.” Castro called the girl his “miracle child” and said, “I heard I can file for parental rights.”

The judge told Castro he wouldn’t be allowed any contact with the child, thank goodness. But such custody arrangements are not farfetched. Only six states currently allow rape survivors to petition courts to terminate the rapists’ parental rights.

Children of rape, once they’re adults, can make their own choices about such relationships. But to tether rape victims to their tormenters by not allowing them to terminate rapists’ parental rights prolongs the victims’ anguish. It should not be permitted. All states should allow termination of those rights.

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