The Commerce News
November 7, 2001
It IS Time To Watch Your Spending
Pardon me, but I'm tired of hearing political leaders tell me
that it is my duty as a patriot to go out and rescue the economy
by maxing out my credit card.
Every economist in America knew that the spending spree of the
1990s couldn't last forever, terrorists or not, but suddenly
the fact that Americans aren't spending as much money as they
did last year is considered a crisis, not to mention a show of
Now, two senators propose to urge Americans back to the mall
by giving us a "sales tax holiday" for the 10 days
after Thanksgiving. Please. That would be a seven-percent-off
sale in Jackson County; folks won't walk across the street for
less than 25 percent off.
The proposal stipulates that the federal government would reimburse
states for money lost during those 10 days. I have four thoughts
Is anyone going to replace the money our local governments and
schools lose on the three cents of local option sales taxes we
levy? Fat chance.
Secondly, if the state funds are being reimbursed, just where
is the federal government going to get the money? The federal
surplus was gone long before the first 757 crashed into the World
Trade Center; we're well into deficit spending already.
Thirdly, only idiots would continue spending at the rate of the
past decade. The economy is teetering toward a recession. Times
are harder and may get worse. We have yet to see how the nation
will react to whatever (if anything) the terrorists do next.
It is a time for prudence and caution, certainly not for acquiring
new debt. It is a time to watch spending, to cut back on non-necessities.
In short, we should resist our materialistic urges and come to
our senses after a decade of financial overindulgence.
And, finally, what authority does the federal government have
to suspend taxes levied by state and local governments?
A whole generation of young adults grew up with no knowledge
of recession, no concept of saving money and nurtured by advertising's
relentless message of instant gratification. Many of their parents,
flush with money from the boom days of the 90s, denied them nothing
and managed their own money as if debt was their best friend.
The average MasterCard monthly balance is over $3,000; consumer
debt soared as Americans celebrated the prosperity.
The economy grew, but that doesn't mean it was a proper attitude,
and in these uncertain days that kind of reasoning is reckless.
We need not live in fear, but those of us without limitless funds
would be wise to avoid debt and show some financial discipline.
President Bush and others in the government want us all to continue
spending as if nothing were different, but, like it or not, things
are different. The economy was cooling already when the terrorists
hit. Now, not only have some people finally realized that materialism
isn't all it's portrayed to be on TV, but others have figured
that they should cut back on spending just in case they need
to get through tough times.
I'm tired of the whining. America has been in recession before.
We'll get through this one.
The Jackson Herald
November 7, 2001
WHAT IS A
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing
limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.
Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone
together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another
sort of inner steel: the soul's alloy forged in the refinery
Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America
safe wear no badge or emblem.
You can't tell a vet just by looking.
What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia
sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel
carriers didn't run out of fuel.
He is the bar room loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks,
whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times
in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near
the 38th parallel.
She or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and
went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another
- or didn't come back AT ALL.
He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat
- but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account
rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to
watch each other's backs.
He is the parade riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons
and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals
pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns,
whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever
preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies
unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied
now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death
camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive
to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person
who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service
of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would
not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness,
and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on
behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country,
just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need,
and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could
have been awarded or were awarded.
Two little words that mean a lot: "THANK YOU".
Remember November 11th is Veterans Day.
The Jackson Herald
November 7, 2001
Air travel since Sept. 11 has undergone a profound change. Traveling
from Atlanta to Denver last week took me through two of the nation's
busiest airports. While there were some long check-in lines,
the overall traffic at both airports was light.
Until Sept. 11, we had become accustomed to air travel as just
another method of getting around. Over the last 30 years, air
travel had become less exotic and more common, both for personal
travel and for business. Airplanes became cattle cars, packed
from front to back as people zipped from one city to another.
That has changed. The flight to Denver was less than one-third
full, as was the return flight to Atlanta. Warnings of long lines
had us at the airports at least two hours before departure, a
drastic change from the "old days" of just barely arriving
at the gate in time.
While additional security was evident at both airports, it was
not as onerous as I thought it would be. In Atlanta, the terminal
car lanes closest to the building were closed, forcing traffic
to load and unload further away, apparently to keep car bombers
from getting close to the terminal itself.
Inside, a couple of soldiers were stationed just beyond the metal
detectors and the X-ray of carryon luggage was a little slower
than usual. It appeared that some of that was due to on-site
training of additional employees. And if you didn't have a ticket,
you couldn't even go beyond the terminal. Only ticket-holders
were allowed to the concourses and gates.
At the gate, a couple of passengers were randomly checked before
being allowed to board, dumping their carry-on luggage in a pile
to be inspected. We boarded without such a shakedown, which I
hope means that I don't look much like a terrorist.
While the extra security was apparent, one has to wonder how
long the airlines can fly planes only one-third full. For its
part, Delta Airlines has announced a new ad campaign it hopes
will stimulate holiday traffic. Most airlines are cutting fares.
If you're not afraid to fly, now's a good time to book a trip.
On the short train ride last week from Manitou
to the top of Pike's Peak, I noticed several soldiers along for
the ride. I don't know if they were just taking in the sights,
or if they were on the train for security. Pike's Peak was the
inspiration for "America the Beautiful," written by
Katharine Lee Bates in 1893.
I'm convinced that every American is within
60 minutes of a Wal-Mart store. They're ubiquitous, Americana
to the core.
Now the company plans to build a Wal-Mart in China.
Can the fall of communist rule in that nation be far behind?
The annual Georgia County Guide book of statistics
published by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at The University
of Georgia arrived last week. If you're a numbers nerd, this
book is your ticket to a good time.
The following are a few of the numbers I found related to Jackson
· In 1999, there were 122 unwed teenage
pregnancies in Jackson County, a 12 percent drop from the year
· In 1999, 28.8 percent of all births in Jackson County
were to unwed mothers. By race, 85 percent of all black births
were to unwed mothers. Twenty-six percent of all white births
were to unwed mothers.
· In 1999, there were 198 marriages in Jackson County,
a rate of 5.1 and one of the lowest rates in the state. In the
same year, there were 229 divorces in the county, a rate of 5.9,
one of the highest in the state.
· In 2000, $9.7 million was spent on lottery tickets in
· In 2000, there were 161 confirmed child abuse cases
in Jackson County, a rate of 14.5 per 1,000 children.
· There were 81 abortions to Jackson County women in 1999.
· In 2000, there were 3,369 vets living in Jackson county,
a 21 percent increase since 1990. Veterans Day is Sunday. Remember
these men and women.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
November 7, 2001
Are Of Questionable Character
Perhaps this is the most opportune time, but given the United
States' entry into what is dubbed a "war on terrorism,"
perhaps not. This nation needs to look as closely at some of
its "friends" as well as its enemies.
In putting together the coalition to bomb Afghanistan, the U.S.,
as it has frequently in the past, operates under the theory that
"the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Our aid to the
Taliban in its war with the Soviet Union now comes back to haunt
us, just like our propping up of the corrupt shah of Iran led
to disaster 20 years ago.
Consider our friends in the current project: Pakistan, the only
country to accept the Taliban as legitimate rulers of Afghanistan;
Russia, who in a brutal war with Chechnya would like a license
to declare its opposition terrorists; the Saudi monarchy, which
refuses to freeze bank accounts owned by terrorist groups and
whose royal family provides funds to Osama bin Laden; and the
Northern Alliance, the opposition group in Afghanistan that would
like to take control but which would never gain public support.
We have also courted support from China, which will no doubt
declare as terrorists the next group it wishes to persecute.
The strange bedfellows of international politics are hardly new;
the U.S. gritted its teeth and aided Russia in World War II,
all the while knowing communism was little better than Nazism;
America propped up a corrupt puppet government in Vietnam so
it would have an excuse to challenge the spread of communism.
The high price for friendships of convenience is often determined
only after it is too late. The price for friendship of a corrupt
regime is the enmity of not only the next regime, but also of
its repressed public. We now enjoy cheap oil from Saudi Arabia,
but the cost of creating of financial support of radical new
enemies is not yet counted.
It is said one is known by the friends one keeps. Given our "friends,"
there should be no surprise when the United States is scorned
in much of the Third World. If America wants credibility there,
it should be more careful about the nations and regimes it befriends
Rabies Shots Required
Last week a woman had to have destroyed a dog she'd owned for
13 years. In a letter on Page 5A of this weeks Commerce News
she more or less blames that on the Commerce Police Department.
In truth, it was her fault. She did not have her beloved pet
vaccinated against rabies; when the animal that attacked the
dog was found to be rabid, she had to have it put to sleep.
Unfortunately, this scenario happens all too often. Dog owners
refuse to spend the $7-$10 per year to protect their pets against
rabies, so when a rabid raccoon, fox or skunk attacks, it's the
faithful family pet that pays the price for its owner's negligence,
forgetfulness or cheapness.
There have been numerous cases of rabies among animals in the
Commerce area this year. Those who refuse to protect their pets
have no one to blame but themselves when their pet comes in contact
with a rabid wild animal and has to be destroyed.