Letters for October 12, 2017

Letters for October 12, 2017



Father a key component of successful family

Reading Mr. Emmet Bondurant’s letter, I can tell is a man of education, by is research in the matter confronting black men in America, about the black males’ problems with police and the fairness of our legal system in America.

Well, sir I think you forgot one important fact in your research and it plays to the problem. It’s a fact that 74 percent of black children grow up in a fatherless family, unwed mothers in the black communities have two or three or more children who will grow up with out knowing who their father is or without the support and direction of a father. When a family has a strong father’s leadership and support, it works. Let me give you an example. I put the first black man in my union. He and his wife had three beautiful daughters who became nurses. His steady support for his children was wonderful. He was respected by all.

Well, sir, your words about our president showed little respect. He may not be your favorite, but he is our president and should be shown respect, whether you like him or not. For now, he is America’s leader. So I enjoyed your letter and defend your opinion. It’s your right as an American.


Wm. Trapani — Franklin, N.C.

Time to move on to tax reform

Now that the drama over the ACA [Affordable Care Act] is done, it’s time to move on to tax reform.

The current economic disparity between the upper economic classes (1%) and everyone else is debilitating to the overall economy and the situation has gotten progressively worse over the last 30 years.  The benefits from the current economic recovery, such as they are, have mostly gone to those who already had most of the money.

People with great ideas and the energy to implement them must continue to be rewarded.  However, most of the current wealth disparity has occurred through our tax code that benefits and protects those who already have lots of money.  The current proposals simply continue the transfer of money from the middle to the top economic class.

Here are a few thoughts on what true tax reform might look like. The first principle is that it should reverse the flow of wealth from large corporations and wealthy individuals to the middle class households who will spend it.

The top tax rate could be cut to 35% since few people in that bracket pay 39.5% anyway.  However, I would tax capital gains as ordinary income rather than the current flat 15-20%. The only potential exception might be capital gains on a primary residence.

I would treat employer provided benefits (e.g. insurance payments) as income. Middle class tax rates could be adjusted downward to compensate. Employer 401k contributions would be excluded since that is the main retirement savings plan for people who have that benefit.

Reducing corporate taxes has some merit, with the following caveats. Small business taxes should be lower than those for large corporations since small businesses create more jobs.  A 25% corporate tax is actually no real change since most large companies pay less than that already. However, I would throw out all corporate exemptions and exclusions and debate each one back into the code individually depending on whether it benefits the overall economy rather than a small sector.

The fundamental issue is whether tax changes benefit those in the middle and the overall economy.  Tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations (trickle down) don’t. The history of trickle down in the U.S. proves that it doesn’t. The recent tax cut experiment in Kansas proved a disaster.  The current proposals are another bad idea that will hurt millions of Americans and fail to regrow the middle class.


John Gladden — Franklin, N.C.

Work to improve the country, not destroy it

When I have gatherings at my house during the holidays I always tell people there is one immutable rule.  No discussion of politics or religion! I’ve seen good friends bitterly turn against each other due to political division in the past few years. It has become volatile.

A lot of people are trying to divide the country, criticizing and condemning Trump for everything he does.  Not only Trump, but all the people who supported or voted for him. These people have taken hate to a new level. He promised he would try to support the will of the majority and in attempting to do so has alienated millions of others. In trying to save jobs and improve the economy, he has the potential of wrecking the environment. He is not really a politician, he is a businessman and he is trying to run the country as if it were a business. Whether you agree with him or not, constantly trying to take him down or divide the country into two camps is not supporting America.

One thing is sure, a country divided cannot stand. If people were true patriotic Americans they would rally around and support our president, quietly working on the sidelines to improve the country, not destroy it, whether they like him or not. There is a way to influence the tide without destroying each other. What are you doing to help people? Are you volunteering to go into the hurricane zones and rebuild houses and lives? Are you planting trees to improve air quality in big cities and showing people how to plant a garden so they can be more self sufficient and less hungry? Do you complain about pollution and then use a gas guzzling vehicle to travel all over the place? Are you sending aid to those in need?  Are you volunteering at your local food pantry or kitchen?  What are you doing to address the needs of the homeless?  All these things are part of the problem and the solution lies in the hearts of all people, whether we are willing to do something about it or not.

Remember the famous words of John F. Kennedy?  “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” Those should be our rallying words. Don’t expect help to come from outside of yourself. We can make the difference ourselves! Let’s make America strong by caring about and loving one another.  See our togetherness, not our differences. Thank God for those differences, otherwise it would be a very boring world. We are all Americans, both Democrat and Republican, black, red, yellow or white. There is no difference. We are all just Americans.  Make us proud America!


Faye Corbett  — Franklin, N.C.

Some facts on taxes for conservatives

Trump’s “tax plan” demonstrates just how stupid he thinks his voters actually are. It truly is insulting. He literally thinks they are foolish enough to believe that giving away massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires will create wealth for working class folks. The idea of a tax giveaway has been done before. We know what happens. Mountains of economic data are available. And the economic data is unequivocal: deficits skyrocket, the national debt explodes, income inequality is exacerbated, wages and middle class incomes stagnate, growth is ambiguous and uneven, austerity measures are enacted (because of huge deficits), corporations take their savings and exploit cheaper labor overseas or invest in labor reducing technologies at home, and they buy back their own stocks and pay higher dividends to shareholders.

I, unlike Trump, do not think you are stupid. There is, however, a good chance you have been manipulated by some horribly duplicitous people, given the surplus of right-wing disinformation sources on the Internet and radio. In spite of this, I still have faith in your intelligence. Yes it is true that some people have given up on you. They say it’s pointless.  It’s a complete waste of time to present facts to conservatives. “They are just too brainwashed to understand facts,” they say. Not me. I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep on throwing facts at my conservative compatriots. And I have faith that one of these days they will stick. Here, then, are some facts on taxes.

The idea that giving wealthy elites and corporations huge tax breaks to spur utopian growth rates is known as “trickle-down economics” or “Reaganomics” or, more generally, “supply-side economics.” The logic of this economic unicorn goes something like this: If the government drastically cuts the taxes of the capitalist class, then these paragons of morality and business will take those savings and invest them in ways that will help the working class as the economy grows. The potential loss of tax revenue will, at the very least, be offset by magical growth rates. Thus the tax cuts will be revenue neutral. Increased deficits and national debt are not to be feared.

In the 1980s, Reagan put this plan into motion. How did the economy/national debt and the capitalist class/working class fare?

First, let’s look at the national debt. Every single presidential administration from Truman – Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford – to Carter lowered the national debt. During this time, the top marginal rate (meaning the percent an individual pays on income over a certain dollar amount, not all income) varied from 91% to 70%, which was the rate when Carter left office. Reagan, in his infinitesimal wisdom, lowered the rate from 70% to 50% and, by the time he left office, to 28%; he also drastically cut the estate tax for the same wealthy elites while raising payroll taxes on working folks like you and me. The loss of revenue in relation to GDP (i.e., growth), coupled with irresponsible spending, did the seemingly impossible. It reversed a near 50-year trend of decreasing the national debt, racking up more debt than every single president before him combined. And it has thrust the country into an inescapable debt trap ever since. All in all, Reagan ran deficits ever single year – four of which were the largest deficits between the end of WW2 (1945) and The Financial Crisis of 2008. He racked up nearly $2 trillion in national debt and reversed the long-term trend of debt reduction. Thus every administration since Reagan’s has increased the debt as well.

But the economy grew you might say? Yes it did. The economy has grown every year except for a handful of depression and recession years. So we need to look at how much it grew before and how much it grew after Reagan’s tax cuts. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, from 1977-1980 the average real GDP growth rate was 3.3%. In the Reagan years, 1981-88, the average rate was 3.5% (magical, I know). In the George H.W. Bush years, 1989-92, the average growth rate was 2.3%. In the Clinton years, 1992-99, the average rate was 3.9%. Clinton actually raised taxes a little and implemented austerity measures in an attempt to get Reagan’s runaway debt under control.

The fact that growth, on average, was only improved by a measly .2% from the Carter years isn’t even the worst of it. Virtually all of the income gains from the 1980s onwards have gone to the elites, which is not surprising given the way Reagan disciplined labor (raised payroll taxes, broke up unions, liberalized trade, implemented a non-prosecution policy for illegal immigrant labor, etc.) and rigged the game in the favor of the capitalist class. From 1950 to 1980 the income of earners in the bottom 90% rose 75% or $13,222 in real terms. However, from 1980 to 2008 the income of the bottom 90% of earners increased a mere 1% or $303 in real terms.

Wealth never trickled down, as promised. It stayed at the top with the capitalist class after Reaganomics took hold. From 1950 to 1980 members of the top .001%, the wealthiest of the wealthy, saw their incomes increase 80% or $2.4 million in real terms. Think about that! The bottom 90% saw a 75% increase in income, while the wealthiest elites saw an 80% increase. That’s about the closest approximation to equality you will ever see under a capitalist system. The gains in income for working folks virtually paralleled the gains in productivity and the income gains of the wealthy. What happened after Reagan rigged the game for the elites? Productivity continued to rise. The incomes of the working class did not. From 1980 to 2008, when members of the bottom 90% saw a mere 1% gain in income, members of the top .001% gained 403% or $22 million.

The redistribution of wealth upwards after Reagan’s restructuring of the economy, and the attendant runaway inequality and debt, has created anger in the working class. Indeed, some members of the working class were so angry that they voted for an ill-prepared, morally dubious know-nothing who is trying to implement another round of the same tax policies that are the ultimate, and probably unbeknownst, source of their anger. We must channel that anger. We must educate ourselves. We must acknowledge the facts. If we do not, Trump will keep on thinking we are stupid … and he will be right.


Marshall Solomon — Franklin, N.C.

Stonewall Jackson was no thug

In your Sept. 21st issue, one of your correspondents described Stonewall Jackson as a thug.

It is true that he did not possess the polish of a gentleman.  He was raised middle class in the mountains and was dependent upon kinfolk for his raising because his father died when he was little and his mother could not afford to keep the family together.

However that may be, Stonewall Jackson possessed better moral virtue than most men.  He was no thug and it is a grave injustice to refer to him as such.

He gave his life defending his homeland from plundering, pillaging, burning invaders.

One whose ancestors were amongst the invaders, or one whose political party was the creator of the policy of invading, plundering, pillaging, and burning, might feel compelled to call Stonewall Jackson a thug.

We who were the intended beneficiaries of his sacrifice, do not call him a thug.


George Crockett  — Franklin, N.C.