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 OPINION PAGE - SEPTEMBER 1, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

Letters
The Madison County Journal
September 1, 1999

National sales tax is bad idea
Dear editor:
Recently, our U.S. Rep. John Linder spoke in Athens about his proposal for a national sales tax replacing the income tax. While he is home for the House's summer break, it's a good time to let him know why we think this is not a good idea. Here are some reasons why it is bad for America.
1. People subsisting on Social Security benefits are being told that "the income tax on Social Security benefits will be repealed" (Americans for Fair Taxation). What income tax? In fact, ALL Social Security benefits will be taxed at a 20 to 25 percent rate under the disguise of this national sales tax.
2. Life insurance proceeds to widows or widowers will also be taxed, again at 20 to 25 percent. Currently, a surviving spouse can receive unlimited love contributions from his or her deceased with no tax.
3. Home equity and student loan monies will be taxed. Imagine being told "we consider this money you borrowed to be income." That's unacceptable now, why not later?
4. Already-taxed investments (i.e. Roth IRAs) would be taxed again, wiping out the promised tax-free return.
5. Tax-free disability death benefits to families would become taxed. Most only pay 60 percent or so of pre-disaster earnings because they are currently tax-free. A national 25 percent sales tax would decrease their benefits by one fourth.
Living in Georgia with a 6 percent state income tax (that will not go away), plus a 7 percent sales tax adding a national 23 percent sales tax would put everyone in a 36 percent tax bracket.
The only good reason for a national sales tax is that we would be reminded of the monetary expense of freedom with each purchase. But the price is too high for such a simple reminder. I urge you to let Rep. Linder know, and soon, that they agree this idea is bad for everyone in one way or another if you look deeply enough.
Sincerely,
Rick Waters
Athens



Don't commit adultery
Dear editor:
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
That's a commandment from the Bible. Now, why would anyone get mad at me for quoting the Bible unless they are guilty or unless their friend/relative is guilty? Time after time, throughout the Bible, God condemned adultery. Yet, even people who profess to be Christians, commit this sin. That's what this letter is about.
In the Bible is the story about how King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. She was the wife of one of his soldiers, Uriah. Uriah loved King David and would have stood up for him as any good friend would have done. He might even have died fighting for David. It just goes to show you don't always know who to trust with your wife. I never read that Bathsheba ever repented or showed any remorse for what she did, and David showed no remorse until his sin was exposed. Uriah is the one who suffered the most for the sin of his adulterous wife and his adulterous king. (2 Samuel 11) It is often the adulterous woman's husband or the adulterous man's wife who suffers the most.
Beware, Madison County citizens! The same thing has gone on in our county. Are you friends with that kind of man? Have we sunk so low that we are willing to ignore God's commands? The Bible plainly states that we are not to be unequally yoked with that kind of person. (1 Corinthians 6:14) If he cannot be trusted with your wife, he cannot be trusted in other ways. As I said before, "Politics are dirty in Madison County." Be careful. A day of judgment is coming.
Have a good day. Hope to see you in heaven.
Sincerely,
George Boutwell

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
September 1, 1999

For Carlene
Next week's issue marks the two- year anniversary of MainStreet Newspapers' acquisition of The Madison County Journal.
In those two years a lot of changes have taken place. For one thing, the paper has gotten a lot bigger, and with the greater resources of MainStreet, a greater effort has been made to cover the news, sports and community events around the county.
It has been my privilege to have the opportunity to spotlight some of the people and things that make this little corner of the world the unique - and special - place that it is. I hope to be able to continue to do this in the weeks to come.
It was a special thrill to me when we found out the Journal had won some state-wide awards from the Georgia Press Association - especially as it was our first year to enter the contest.
It was also extremely nice of our editor, Zach Mitcham, to give credit to all of us that make up the team of The Madison County Journal, and as he pointed out, it takes a lot of people to achieve the finished product each week.
May I also add that Zach's commitment and dedication to making the paper the best that it can be are appreciated by the staff and I'm sure by our readers.
But there is one person who I would like to remember and acknowledge for her hard work and sacrifice long before the paper existed in its present form, and without whom the Journal might not even exist today. That person is Carlene Peavy, former managing editor of the original Journal.
As most of you probably know, the paper began as an idea in founder Frank Gillispie's head because of concerns over traffic problems in the county - particularly at the Dogsboro intersection. From a periodic newsletter, it soon grew to a small weekly tabloid- size newspaper.
With positive response from the community, he moved the Journal's "office" from a corner of his bedroom to a small building on the square in Danielsville. It was there that he was soon joined by Carlene, an experienced graphic artist who had just moved to the county and was looking for a job.
She found that job - and a cause.
Carlene set out to help Frank get the fledgling newspaper off the ground. Her first work area consisted of makeshift backboards to put the lay-out pages on, a one-eye burner, a skillet to heat wax in and a paintbrush to "paint" it on the pages with.
Later, when I and others came on the scene, Carlene served as the nucleus around which we all revolved. It is thanks to her and to Frank that I learned a little something about most aspects of the newspaper business.
She worked long and hard hours - often coming in on weekends to do the pasteup work - still done by hand "the old-fashioned way."
We made it much of the time literally from week to week. Sometimes, after the expenses of that week's edition were paid for, there was no money left for payroll. A number of times we all had to wait for our pay. Carlene, who was also in charge of this, always paid herself last.
On more than one occasion, I discovered her taking money from her personal savings account so the staff could get paid. She never managed to "pay herself" back for some of that money.
continued on page 5A
Carlene died in May of 1997 after fighting a losing battle with advanced breast cancer. When she could no longer stand - she sat to do her work. She continued to work at the paper for as long as she could until she grew too ill to leave her bed.
We all wondered how the Journal would continue after her death.
Now, as the paper is beginning to enjoy some success, I often think about things she said to rally us when it seemed we were not going to be able to keep going.
She always had faith that one day, if we kept at it, the Journal would be successful, respected, and recognized as an important part of the community.
I like to think she knows how far we've come.
Here's to you Carlene, and all you gave to the Madison County Journal.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

Column
Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
September 1, 1999

Frankly Speaking
Where have our workers gone?
The most recent Civilian Labor Force estimates have been released by the Georgia Department of Labor. It appears to me that there is something wrong with the figures. On the surface, they look good. Madison County has a 3.3 percent unemployment rate. Clarke County is three percent and Oconee County finds only 1.5 percent of its work force unemployed.
Now the bad news. There are 446 fewer people with jobs in Madison County than a year ago. At the same time the county's work force has dropped by 450 people. This is occurring at the same time that the county's population is rapidly growing.
At the same time, the number of people receiving welfare has dropped dramatically. One would think that these people leaving the welfare list were going onto the employment list.
Apparently that is not the case.
Now I am not comparing the rates from last month. Employment figures change rapidly in the summer due to students and teachers coming temporarily into the job market during school vacation. But the figures should be comparable for the same month each year.
So, where have our workers gone? I am not an economist, therefore I have to make a country guess as to what has happened.
I have talked with a number of employers who tell me that they are having problems finding qualified workers. Evidently, almost everyone who wants to work has a job. Therefore, the 3.3 percent figure is probably accurate. The size of the work force has dropped because many people who were on the list as seeking work have quit looking.
Where did they go? If they are not working, or drawing welfare, how are they living? I think they are still living on welfare. The form of the giveaway plans has changed, even given new names. But people who insist on living on other people's efforts are still living that way.
It is true that the state has reduced the number of people receiving direct welfare payments. But they still get food stamps, rent support, WIC vouchers, Medicaid and a hundred other state and federal giveaways. The direct welfare payments were never a major part of their unearned income in the first place.
What does that have to do with unemployment figures? Most direct welfare programs require that the recipient be actively looking for work. So these people regularly registered with the state employment office. They were included in the work force figures. Now they don't even have to pretend to look for work. They just collect their "benefits", that you and I pay for, and head back to their couch with a fresh six pack, that you and I paid for and don't even try to find work.
Before you accuse me of being hard-hearted, let me acknowledge that there are people who actually need our help. I have no problems offering temporary help where it is needed. It is those people that make a career of living off the government (you and me) that get me mad.
Someone once said that there are facts and then there are statistics. Sometimes you have to look behind the figures to find the facts.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.


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