Jackson County Opinions...

November 7, 2001



Column
By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
November 7, 2001

Actually, 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 non-patriotism.
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 on that.
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.



Editorial
The Jackson Herald
November 7, 2001

WHAT IS A VET?
(Author Unknown)
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 of adversity.
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 deep.
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.

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Column
By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
November 7, 2001

This and that
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 County:

· In 1999, there were 122 unwed teenage pregnancies in Jackson County, a 12 percent drop from the year before.
· 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 Jackson County.
· 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.


Editorial
The Commerce News
November 7, 2001

Some 'Friends' 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 and supports.

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.


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