Madison County Opinion...

 April 26, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
April 26, 2000

Frankly Speaking
A new tax proposal
Representative John Linder will be in our area on Saturday, May 6, visiting the Franklin County Courthouse at 9 a.m. and the Commerce Public Library at 11 a.m. This is an opportunity for you to become more involved in the decisions of our national government. Rep. Linder will be answering questions and hearing suggestions from anyone who attends the meeting.
I am highly interested in one program being pushed by Rep. Linder. He is actively campaigning for a change in federal tax policy that would eliminate all income taxes, and replace them with a national sales tax. If we must choose between the current tax system and a national sales tax, I will gladly support the sales tax. Anything is better than the confusing, intrusive and bureaucracy-heavy system we have now.
However, as a supporter of State Sovereignty (that is what the War Between the States was fought over, not slavery), I have a better idea. I suggest that we reduce the federal government to the limited status authorized by our Constitution, set a reasonable budget, then divide the cost proportionally between the states. Each state would decide for itself what type of tax it will impose to pay its share.
The original plan for this nation was to recognize the rights of the individual state to govern its population as it saw fit, and to create a national government that can give the states a uniform voice in dealing with other nations. Congress and the President are charged with the conduct of foreign affairs, the common defense, regulating commerce between the states, creating a uniform currency and other such measures. All other government activities are reserved to the states or the people.
That means that all current federal programs such as welfare, education, public safety, road construction with the exception of interstate highways, and all other programs that have a direct impact on the individual citizen are the responsibility of the states. If we get the federal government out of all these improper activities, the federal budget would drop by 70 percent or more, greatly reducing the amount of tax needed to finance federal activities.
By assessing these taxes directly to the states, we would re-establish the principle of state sovereignty (or States' Rights). Each state would then evaluate its own economy, identifying which taxes can generate the needed funds with the least negative impact on its economy. One state may use a sales tax, another may choose a progressive income tax and yet another may tax production. You can rest assured that each state will choose the tax that keeps it competitive with other states for interstate and international business.
This plan would eliminate all federal taxes except user taxes at national parks and facilities. The IRS would be retired with only a small office in the Treasury Department to receive payments from the states.
For those of us who support the Southern ideal of limited government and state sovereignty, this is an ideal tax system. I urge congress to at least consider it.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.

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Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
April 26, 2000

A different kind of Easter
My family and I decided to do something different for Easter last week - so we packed up and headed to Jekyll Island for a long weekend of sun, ocean breezes and relaxation.
Friday was spent reading on the beach, riding bikes around the island or sitting in a hot tub. Saturday morning I (who am NOT a morning person) got up to join Charles on one of his early morning beach-combing excursions. We drove down to the southern end of the island and then walked down the beach for a mile or so to St. Andrews point. Charles looked for conch shells while I brought out my bag full of bread and crackers for the seagulls. Soon I had a whole passel of them following us down the beach. No one could have missed us and I'm sure the passing shrimpers had to smile as they spotted the moving cloud of birds following us. When we reached the point we found several hundred more sea birds standing quietly at the water's edge. When we got closer, they all rose in the air in one movement and moved just a few yards down before settling down again at the water's edge. These birds, unlike what I call the "hotel seagulls" (because they hang out around the hotels all day to see what they can scavenge) weren't interested in me or my food. "Look, they even turned their backs on you," Charles laughed, and sure enough they all had. Although I had forgotten our camera, I tried to take a "mental picture" of the sight of so many birds hovering in the air, the cool wind whistling around the point and the shrimp boats moving out of the channel, all under the backdrop of Cumberland Island just a few miles offshore.
Sunday morning Charles and I got up before dawn to go to a non-denominational Easter sunrise service at the island's convention center. We didn't know about the service until our arrival, so we hadn't packed any "church clothes" but decided to go anyway. After pulling up in the parking lot we watched as folks in "appropriate" Sunday dress headed inside. "I'm not wearing this in there," I said, pointing to my clam diggers and Keds.
After almost 21 years of marriage, my husband has learned when it's pointless to argue with me, so we headed for the boardwalk behind the building to watch the sun come up.
The morning was perfect; just a slight breeze, the sky clear with just a few wisps of clouds. Several shrimp boats' lights shone on the horizon and a few stars still winked in the sky.
As we, along with a few other early beach-combers, walked along the water's edge, I kept a steady eye on the horizon. I didn't want to miss the first moment when the sun appeared. A red glow was already beginning and the seagulls and other birds were waking up, some flying in a low line out over the water.
Suddenly we noticed that three crosses had been erected high on the dunes above the beach. The site almost took my breath away. I grabbed Charles' hand and we kept walking, but soon turned back to face the point where the sun would appear.
Just as we drew even with the crosses again, we noticed a huge, red glow like a flame on the horizon. The spot grew steadily bigger and bigger by the second, until it turned into a huge flaming red fire ball. I glanced down the beach and noticed several others had stopped to watch the spectacle. Someone gasped and I'm sure we all held our breath.
Finally the sun rose, detaching itself from the water, and suddenly everything changed. The rays stretched out across the water and for the first time I noticed the rainbow of colors the beams traced in the wet sand along the water's edge.
It was the dawn of another day - and like another daybreak so long ago, it was filled with promise.
I think that sunrise was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, the most profoundly spiritual Easter I have ever experienced.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.



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