America, where did you go?
You know, I guess I fell asleep and after a long while, I wake up in a different America. I see a guy who I am told makes $19 million a year playing a game who refuses to stand and honor the flag of our country. It’s his too. He is upset because his brothers are being treated poorly by the police. First, where has he been? I never read or saw him on TV down in the ghettos of any city helping his brothers. With $19 million, I am sure he could do something to help. Many pros/stars do everyday. This part-time player is a blow bag, looking for publicity.
Second, this slacker doesn’t know or doesn’t want to know that every casket brought back to our country is covered with our American flag to honor the service person in it. Who gave his life so this ungrateful player could stay free and enjoy the life he leads.
Now, I see a young lady doing what this guy is doing, kneeling when the flag is honored, shame on her. Yes, she has had problems because she is gay, but if she played for many countries, she would be shot. I say to her, stand proud behind her country. Because here she is allowed to live as she pleases.
To the two of them, you owe those who have died to allow you to enjoy what you have.
I have the solution, if you are not happy here in America, leave. The two of you have not earned the right to dishonor our flag.
Wm. Trapani — Franklin, N.C.
PILT based on many categories of federal lands
A recent article in the local papers about Payments in Lieu of Taxes [PILT] to Macon County states that Commissioner Ronnie Beale, along with other Western North Carolina government officials, has a long-held grievance with the PILT payments and “proposed management changes in the state’s national forests.” Of course, the proposed change alluded to likely refers to the Forest Service’s ongoing review of their forest lands for various management classifications, wilderness being one of them. The mere idea of wilderness has become the rattlesnake ready to strike and fills people’s hearts with fear even if wilderness, like rattlesnakes, doesn’t hide everywhere, in this case in the PILT law.
The lands on which the PILT payments are based include many categories of federal lands. Forest Service lands are one of them and payment is based on these lands regardless of their management classification. Wilderness designation does not exclude their acreage from the total Forest Service lands figure. That is the way it is and can be easily checked by researching the PILT law online.
The grievance justly felt by the WNC officials actually stems from the inexcusable failure of the present divided, dysfunctional, and politically self-serving Congress to pass a budget, one of their constitutional responsibilities. That failure results in the PILT payments being authorized annually which leaves the counties wondering if the money is going to come through. By the way, President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget submission to Congress requested a one-year extension of the PILT program as mandatory funding to cover PILT payments in fiscal year 2017.
In the interest of fairness and not delving into the many reasons why we should treasure wilderness, I suggest that we don’t malign the places from which we all came, whether we call it wilderness or the Garden of Eden.
Olga Pader — Franklin, N.C.
Davis and Republicans play ‘Reverse Robin Hood’
The N.C. Republican Party sent out a flyer stating Jim Davis voted for a middle-class tax cut exempting the first $17,500 of income from taxes. What he voted for was an increase in the exemption from $15,500 to the $17,500 exemption currently in place resulting in a couple who makes $44,000 saving $115 per year.
He also voted to require new sales taxes to be paid on service contracts for appliances and cars, oil changes, flooring and appliance installation, kitchen remodeling, and admission charges to movies and sporting events. He eliminated the earned income tax credit for the working poor, eliminated medical expense deductions (which has a serious impact on seniors), and deductions for retirement income, child care expenses, and college savings 529 plans. He also increased “fees” (another name for a tax) for the Division of Motor Vehicles by 30 percent resulting in much higher citizens’ costs for driver’s licenses and registration fees. According to the N.C. Justice Center’s Budget and Tax Center, taxpayers making under $67,000 will, on average, see their taxes increase under the tax changes Davis voted for. These changes will result in an additional $640 million in revenue from increased sales tax and an additional $153 million from DMV fees. The vast majority of these tax and fee increases will come from low and middle income citizens.
Meanwhile what has Davis done for his ultra-rich friends like Art Pope who spent $1 million to help get Davis elected? Davis voted to drop the income tax rate for the top 1 percent (income over $376,000) from 7.75 to 5.75 percent. This change in income tax rates will reduce income to the state by $2.1 billion this year according to the NC Budget and Tax Center. The vast majority of this huge tax cut goes to the multi-millionaire top 1 percent. So how does this reflect on the share of all state and local taxes paid as a percentage of family income? Those making less than $80,000/year will pay 9.1 percent of their income to N.C. in taxes while those making over $376,000 per year will pay only 5.3 percent of their income per year in N.C. taxes (Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy).
In summary, Davis has raised sales taxes and fees resulting in poor and middle class families paying higher total taxes to N.C. while at the same time given massive tax breaks to the wealthiest N.C. citizens who can most easily afford to pay higher taxes. This is a classic example of a reverse Robin Hood effect: taking from the poor and giving to the wealthy. Western N.C. deserves someone who represents all our citizens not just his millionaire buddies.
Ed Morris — Franklin, N.C.
Employees are the heart of the library
Macon County has a wonderful library with excellent facilities, but it is the employees who are the heart of the library. The people who work at the library guide patrons to find information, to use the computers and printer, and to access online materials. They read to pre-school students and arrange programs and displays for all ages and interests in addition to buying, cataloging, and checking out books, movies, and other materials. The library recently had to cut back hours in order to keep its employees. Many of the trained and experienced people who work at the ilbrary only make nine or ten dollars an hour. We need to support our library and the people who work there.
Renee Rubin — Franklin, N.C.
Slick ads contain disingenuous information
It appears that finally N.C. Sen. Jim Davis is taking note of the persistent hard work of his opponent Jane Hipps, judging from the recent flurry of slick ads accusing Jane of vowing to raise taxes and visually aligning her with Hillary Clinton. I believe that Dr. Davis underestimates the intelligence of his constituents and their ability to look beyond the hype to the true issues. It is very disingenuous of Dr. Davis to claim cuts in middle class taxes, a claim that can easily be refuted (Suggestion: Go out and Google the topic “50 Ways Pat McCrory Raised Your Taxes”). And then, of course, there’s the test implied in the slogan, “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?”)
Secondly, juxtaposing the photos of Jane and Hillary does not mean that they run on identical platforms. Ms. Hipps’ focus is on issues such as educational support and environmental protection right here in Western North Carolina and not national politics. If Ms. Hipps sent out an ad showing Dr. Davis side-by-side with Richard Nixon or Abraham Lincoln, should we infer that they share the same political views or espouse the same policies? Obviously not. I suggest anyone who really wants to know the truth about how Ms. Hipps feels about middle-class taxes take a look at her website.
Speaking of environmental issues, why isn’t Dr. Davis proudly touting his leadership of the conversation on allowing, no, change that to supporting, fracking in North Carolina and potentially right here in our beautiful mountainous Western N.C.? I think we all know the answer to that; it’s nothing to be proud of. Yes, we desperately need well-paying jobs here, but I suspect there are numerous ways of creating jobs in environmentally-safe alternative renewable sources of energy that will lead to long-term growth and development. As for creating jobs, how about putting pressure on communications companies to invest in high-speed internet connectivity in our area? Just think of the possibilities. . .
Sandy Deakins — Otto, N.C.
Start thinking outside the box on energy
Judging from a recent letter in these pages it appears the debate over climate change continues on.
Let me state from the outset, I believe weather patterns are changing.
Over past years the first skepticism involved some fudged science which cast a doubt on the whole question. Too many scientists touting climate change were on the receiving end of government funding, casting further doubts on the question.
If something is true, it’s not necessary to resort to deception.
Hillary has told us she will shut down coal mines and thus coal fired power plants and presumably oil fired as well.
Scientists know this planet has always gone through climate changes and this has been well documented. We even had a mini-ice age lasting until the mid-1800s.
Let’s get away from the argument for a while because there are more important considerations that come into play.
Just what are our options?
Let’s assume the overall science is correct and that humans are causing the climate change.
OK, it’s simple right? We simply quit using coal and oil fired power plants. We get used to having millions of windmills grinding away in our backyards and stop manufacturing steel and aluminum, including plastics.
Oh, but wait, plastic comes from oil.
However, you can bet your sweet bippy Hillary won’t have windmills grinding away in her backyard.
Hold on thar, hoss, didn’t Hillary tell you that China continues to build coal fired power plants to the tune of around 50 per year and will continue to use them for the next 40 years. Chinese coal ash is laying on our windowsills, carried here by the Jet Stream. In short, pollution continues and we get the short end of the stick.
China is doing what they feel is best for China, not America.
Short of going to war with China and other Asian nations we need to examine our other options.
The good news, if there is any, China is building a few nuclear power plants that will come on line in the next few years.
The existing agreement is subject to debate and Asia continues to ignore the intent of the climate agreement.
We know that solar and wind power can, from what experts tell us, provide only about 20 percent of our needs. We need to start thinking outside the box which leads us to nuclear power which is non-polluting and clean.
The very mention of nuclear power scares the screaming meemies out of people but the fact is that our modern designs are extremely safe and 100 times safer than the nuclear plants we built 40 or 50 years ago. We can rely on oil/gas fired power plants for just so long but after that, we will need nuclear power if we are to survive.
Keep in mind that France derives 80 percent of its power from nuclear plants and has been for many years.
Even then, it doesn’t solve the question of what do we do about China and India who will continue to pollute our atmosphere for many years to come.
Regardless, nuclear power must be part of America’s future. It’s time for us to plan well ahead.
Bob Wilson — Franklin, N.C.
Every man will answer for himself
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures).
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of through the whole world.” Romans 1:1, 2, 8
“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4.
“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15:1.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
“For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words, and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:17, 18
Floyd Cruse — Franklin, N.C.