Letters for August 23, 2018

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The Macon County News letters page is a public forum open to a wide variety of opinions. Letters are neither accepted nor rejected on the basis of the opinions expressed. Writers are asked to refrain from personal attacks against individuals or businesses. Letters are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of the publisher, editor or staff of The Macon County News. Email letters to maconcountynews@ gmail.com.

The Politics of Life and Death

This is a response to Ed Hill’s well written letter to the editor (and other letters written by regular contributors). Ed Hill presents very clear and rational arguments for making his points. Where they lack muster is exactly in the fact that they are arguments backed up by intellectual reason. You probably wonder where this is going? You can make an argument for just about anything, however, that doesn’t mean that they hold water. The Bible was used to support slavery, racial segregation and most recently by Attorney General Jeff Session to promote Trump’s policy of separation of families. While you can make an argument for this case, it fails from a moral, ethical and human standpoint. The intent of this policy was that separating families would send a message to other immigrants not to come. Have we forgotten the shame when America turned away a shipload of Jewish refugees during WWII, sending them back to certain death? Most would agree that separation of families represents no less than human trauma or at worst, torture. Separation of families fails at meeting basic human rights. Trump recently pulled the United States out of the UN Human Rights Commission forfeiting our leadership in this world body. Does this make it OK to disregard human rights now that we are no longer members? In an effort to pare back environmental regulations, Trump’s EPA wants to allow farmers to continue using the chemical clorpyrifos, used widely on fresh fruits and other crops, which has been linked to an array of developmental problems in children. EPA scientists have previously recommended banning the chemical so this is a reversal of previously stated policy. One could argue that regulations preventing farmers from using this chemical will hurt their bottom line and cost jobs. Is nothing too sacred, even the health and future of our children, that we shouldn’t impose regulations on industry? Following such rationalizations is not just wrong, it is immoral. It is putting economic incentives above the health and welfare of the nation. The EPA at Trump’s urging has also frozen fuel economy standards at the 2020 level in an effort to allow American auto company to continue making inefficient vehicles such as the four-door full-sized pickup truck. These trucks are profitable for the auto industry, but in the end consumers will pay the real price of rolling back standards through rising fuel costs, health costs, pollution and the related costs of climate change. And more children and elders will die from pollution-related causes. Smaller more efficient cars were slated to get 55 miles per gallon by 2030 under current standards which had already passed. Take a look on the road today at most pickup trucks. How many of them are hauling anything other than the driver? Higher fuel efficiency standards are a win win for everyone, including I suspect the auto industry itself. Think back to when the U.S. was producing many SUVs while the Japanese were investing in hybrid technology. Now the roads are full of more fuel efficient, mostly foreign, small cars. Again, putting the short term interests of industry over the health and welfare of citizens is immoral. In Columbia’s recent election, Gustavo Petro, a progressive candidate who received 8 million votes, just shy the 10 million votes received by right wing politician, now president Ivan Dugue, who was handpicked by former Columbian president Alvaro Uribe. Uribe is being investigated for his links to paramilitary groups tied to the deaths of 330 human rights leaders in past months and hundreds of thousands of Columbians and millions displaced in the country. He also attempted to weaken the Supreme Court. Petro, who received death threats himself and who’s aide was killed said that the politics of the left and right are no longer valid. Today it is about the politics of life and the politics of death. Keeping drugs illegal in Columbia will mean the deaths of many human rights leaders and politicians, and contribute to the 60,000 yearly deaths in the United States from drugs far more dangerous than cocaine. And yet, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley arrived in Columbia prior to Dugue’s inauguration to hold up Columbia’s government as a model for the entire region. Columbia is one of the most violent countries in the world and the most socially unequal. It is not a model for democracy or human rights and represents the United States’ failed War on Drugs. Denying climate change is choosing death over life, regardless of what arguments one can make. Preventing women from applying for asylum in the United States, who’s lives are threatened by domestic violence or drug gangs, is choosing death over life for these women. What we need in this country are policies that put people first. This isn’t socialism, it is just common sense that investing in people is investing in a future that we can believe in, that will fulfill the basic tenets of the constitution, human rights and social and environmental justice. Using the politics of life or death, should make it clear what arguments folks put forward have merit. Very often these commentaries leave out the human side of the issues and the ramifications of decisions based on those rationales. They are logical reasoned exercises but lack heart. So, making decisions is really pretty simple in terms of life and death. One only has to listen to one’s heart to know what is right. Words, arguments, and rationalizations are just convenient ways to distort the truth or promote one’s viewpoint. It does, however, take a concerted effort to put aside these arguments and listen to one’s heart. Our future will lie in which path we choose: life or death.

Paul Chew – Franklin, N.C.

Where are all my Republican friends?

I remember not so long ago when I could have a civil discussion with a friend who was a Republican. I did not think George Bush was the sharpest  pencil in the box and my friend was sure Obama was totally unprepared to be president. We argued about deficits, how to fix health care, free trade, and immigration. We were talking  in a common language, and the facts were still the facts. My friend had good reasons for his positions. Today when I question the reasons for an exploding deficit I get no such response. Where are the Republicans who for eight years attacked President Obama because of rising deficits? They correctly argued that the increasing interest bill on our deficit will have to be paid by our children. Apparently that no longer matters. Back in the day, before the Affordable Care Act  (ACA), everyone agreed that the old system was badly broken and something had to be done.  We strongly disagreed on how to fix the skyrocketing cost of health care, but fix it we must. Where are the Republicans who had a better plan? Today there is no plan except to drive a stake into the heart of the ACA. Do the  Republicans what to go back to the days when the leading cause of bankruptcies  was health care debt? The United States learned a hard lesson from the Great Depression. Trade barriers like tariffs are a double-edged sword. Since the end of WWII , Republicans have been advocates of free trade and the creation of the global economy. They were right. The last 70 years of global economic growth, lead by the United States, has created the prosperous world we now live in. Not every trade deal was great, but on balance far more jobs were created than lost.  Where are those Republicans now that Canada and the European Union are our trading enemies?  How is it that soy farmers in the midwest and U.S. steel consumers are already in  serious trouble because of a trade war we started with China? Immigration stirs deep feeling in both political parties, but even very conservative business owners acknowledge that we need a supply of short term labor. Literally millions of  these jobs are now filled with both legal and illegal immigrants. Where are these Republicans now that there is an all out attack on every form of immigration? How do they plan to fill those jobs that American workers traditionally will not do? I do not understand where my Republican friends have gone. Have they been chased out of the party they created and loved? Are they waiting and hoping that the principles they once advocated for will come back in fashion? Or are they willing to live in a world of alternative facts and where loyalty to this president is all that matters?

Louis Vitale – Franklin, N.C.

No such thing as a purely Socialist or Capitalist state

The writer of a recent letter to the editor bemoaned the alleged negative impact that Socialism has had on our culture and society, juxtaposed with the alleged positive influence Capitalism has had. Further than that, the writer seems to suggest that “Capitalism” is more beneficial to human society than is “Socialism” because the former condones throwing off the segments of our society that cannot survive on their own. First, understand, there is no such thing as a purely Socialist or Capitalist society. Every first and second world country not an Authoritarian state has some mix of socialist and capitalist features. Social Security and Medicare are socialist policies in America. The US Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ stock exchange are examples of the capital-centric nature of our economy. None of these institutions are evil, as these institutions promote the well-being of our citizens and the growth of personal wealth, which can ensure survivability. Our society as it has existed for a hundred years could not function as we know it today if not for these institutions. The writer speculates that the growing disparity of income and wealth between rich and the not so rich is a result of “Socialist” policies implemented in the ’60’s and ’70s by the Federal government under Democrat leadership. But let’s look at the hard data. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan research organization, using historical data from from the Congressional Budget Office and the Census Bureau, published the results of their research which shows that both the income inequality and the wealth inequality started around 1980, the start of the Reagan Administration, not the 1960s or early 1970s. The increase in the growth of the wealth at that time in the upper income portion of our population is attributed to the changes in our finance and tax laws implemented via legislation and by the relaxation of finance industry regulations. What I find particularly odious in the writer’s arguments is the notion that one aspect of Evolution Theory, survival of the fittest, in which the weak are sometimes necessarily sacrificed for the good of the pack, is applicable to human societies. This is wrong on several levels. First, most biologists, including those from the Sierra Club and the National Geographic society, have observed many animal societies where, for no apparent benefit to the survivability of the pack, nurture and protect the elderly, sick, and young members of their society. Second, humans and our human culture have developed a sentient moral code not observed in nearly all animal societies, based on both religious and secular reasoning. Sanctity of human life is the keystone of this moral code. I would like the writer to cite a single published economist that believes Capitalism is good because that economic theory condones throwing the less fortunate members of our society into a trash can to remove the burden of their care from the rest of society. Nature can be cruel, human society does not need to be.

John Barry – Franklin, N.C.

Some phases turn out to be disastrous

It’s really an interesting study to note how people can get into an idea and follow it without much thought. We humans seem to constantly go through phases which turn out to be disastrous. But, being a Vegan or Vegetarian seems to have attracted a growing group of followers in recent years. We come up with a variety of numbers but somewhere between 380,000 and 700,000 years ago humans became meat eaters and quit living off stuff like grass and leaves. This gave rise to innumerable benefits to the human body and foremost amongst them is we grew larger brains and developed consciousness and language followed shortly after. Eating meat accounts for all of our progress as humans. Now, however, there has been some serious studies to determine just what can happen if you go to a vegan or vegetarian diet and frankly, it has some very creepy and dangerous aspects only recently uncovered. Announced by the American Journal of Nutrition one of the researchers had studied vitamin B-12 for almost 50 years. Here’s what they found. Meat helps the body make red blood cells and actually repairs your DNA. It also protects the brain and fights off dementia. Some of the problems discovered by the researchers were that the effects of a shortage of B-12 comes on so slowly that it is all but unnoticeable for many years. You may suffer from depression and have vision loss but not realize what’s causing it. Additional problems include memory loss, psychosis, dementia, cancer and even heart attacks and strokes. Something really worrisome is kids born to vegans and vegetarians are a whopping five times more likely to have birth defects and an underdeveloped brain. One can take supplements such as B-12 pills but many people cannot absorb B-12 through pills and need actual meat. There is no doubt that vegetables are good for you and include vitamins your body needs but it’s never good to deny nature and the need for a healthy diet with meat. Try as we may, we cannot change nature any more than we can convince lions to not eat zebras or alligators to quit eating other animals. In order to avoid the risks involved in eating only vegetables most doctors would recommend you get frequent blood tests to determine whether or not your B-12 is falling to the dangerous level, even if you take B-12 supplements. We are still products of nature so mess with nature at your own peril.

Bob Wilson – Franklin, N.C.

Public Safety Day for Kids a success

Another successful Public Safety Day for Kids is in the books. It was a beautiful day to host this event. The kids had fun running through the water hose, collecting goodies from all in attendance, and bouncing their hearts out. Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol had a great time too! Third times a charm and we all had fun meeting with everyone who came out. We would like to thank all the volunteers who came out to make this event possible. Thank you to Bilo, Ingles and Pepsi for donating the meals. Thank you to Robert Holland – Macon County Sheriff’s Office and K-9 Unit; Jay Wright and Brittney Lofthouse – Safe Kids Macon County; Macon County EMS crew, Highlands PD, Read2Me, KIDS Place, Cullasaja Fire Department, Franklin VFW Post 7339, and Whoo’s Bouncing. Without the community involvement, it would have been just another day. Thank you for the continued support of all public safety personnel in and around Macon County. We look forward to planning and putting on our 4th Annual Public Safety Day sometime in July or August next year. Public Safety individuals are always there 24/7 for all in the community. Be safe and until next time, thank you.

Chief David Adams Franklin Police Dept

Chief Kevin Rohrer Franklin Fire Dept.

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