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 OPINION PAGE - DECEMBER 8, 1999 - COMMERCE, GA

Editorial
The Commerce News
December 8, 1999

Sen. Coverdell Outlines
A Difficult Challenge
Speaking to the Commerce Kiwanis Club, U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell expressed his concerns over the security of American freedom. Those concerns included high taxation, the prevalence of a "drug Mafia" and education. It was a good, mostly non-partisan speech appropriate for a club that is theoretically apolitical, yet some parts of the senator's comments seemed at odds with others.
For example, Coverdell complained that the high rate of taxation in America is a threat to its economic liberty, and he called for the current total (federal, state and local) tax rate to be dropped from its current level, which he said approaches 50 percent, to no more than 33 percent. At the same time, he called for the creation of a ballistic missile system and the utilization of American military and intelligence people in drug interdiction.
The government cannot win the war on drugs through interdiction or firepower, though such efforts must continue. America can only win that war and reduce the influence of drug kingpins when it reduces its appetite for cocaine, marijuana, heroin and other illegal drugs
Nonetheless, each of these ideas has merit. The problem for the senator is to cut taxes while increasing government programs. Ronald Reagan did it, and the deficit soared, but with today's (appropriate) emphasis on balancing the budget, the public is not likely to accept deficit spending.
Any city councilman or county commissioner knows the challenge of providing the services constituents demand while maintaining a flat property tax rate. Imagine the difficulty Congress faces in maintaining existing programs and adding new ones while cutting taxes and meeting the political demands of both parties.
It is easy for us to demand tax cuts here and more money for programs there, but it is incredibly difficult for Congress to do both while balancing the budget and keeping the economy running strong. Good luck Sen. Coverdell.
See story.

U.S. Must Send Cuban Child Back To His Father
An international controversy has developed over a 6-year-old boy who was rescued from the waters of the Caribbean two weeks ago and brought to the United States, one of the survivors of an attempt to flee Cuba in which a boat capsized and most of the occupants died. Among those drowning was his mother.
The child has become the focus of attention because while his mother sought to take him to freedom in America, his father and other family members stayed in Cuba, and they want Elian Gonzalez back.
This should not be a matter of politics, but of common sense. The child's father and both sets of grandparents are in Cuba and want the boy returned to them. The child should be returned to his family.
U.S. officials have not ruled out Cuba's request that the child be returned, but they are reportedly studying the situation before making a decision. That is fine, but it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the government could refuse to send the child back to his family.
The issue is not political. It is not democracy vs. Communism. It is about what is right for a small child and his family. As much as this country values freedom and abhors the kind of government that exists in Cuba, a 6-year-old belongs with his family. America should return the child, not because the Cuban government has milked the issue for all of the anti-American mileage it can get, not because huge rallies are being held in Cuba, but because it is the only right thing to do.

Column
Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
December 8, 1999

Strategies For Surviving The Holiday Season
Now that the Commerce Christmas Parade is over (and a fine one it was, in spite of late fears it would be small), and the first church cantata has been performed, the Christmas season has arrived with all the subtlety of a tackle by a Commerce Tiger linebacker.
The goal for the next 17 days is not just to survive the Christmas season, but to enjoy it. In the interest of community mental health and public service, I offer these long-held secrets for enjoying the last, hectic days before Christmas:
The first area that provides great anxiety for people is decorating.
Relax. Anything and everything goes, from a single wreath to a yard with 200,000 lights and plywood displays of Jessie Ventura body slamming the grinch that stole Christmas.
Don't feel you have to keep up with your neighbors, however, but you can enjoy their decorations. You should take at least one night to go all over the area looking at the lights, where you can enjoy the beauty of some, the creativity of others and wonder what possessed still others to include Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in the manger scene.
If you're blessed with neighbors who are far superior at decorating their homes, why not decorate your car instead of your house. You'll be opening a new field for decorating, and in a few short years the garden club council will include a class of automotive decorating in its annual competition. If folks can affix antlers to a poodle during the holiday season, surely there is no local ordinance preventing you from redecorating your Jeep Cherokee as Santa's Sleigh. Kids and adults will be amazed and delighted if you have a live Santa perched on top.
Theme decorating is an under-utilized means of adding new vitality to Christmas decorating. For those with small children, "A Pokemon Christmas" will earn a prominent place in the family history. Other themes likely to be popular here include Commerce football and the Republican Party, although a religious theme is acceptable.
Too many people get stressed out over purchasing gifts. Like cheerleading, buying gifts has become a competitive event. Those of you who like competition should develop a solid game plan to cover both offensive and defensive game plans. Those of you who would rather not shop at all can order by mail or on line and, to simplify things, buy everyone on your gift list the same thing. For the latter, the fruit cake is a classic that, in most houses, will last forever.
My gift-buying philosophy is to wait until Dec. 24, so as to enjoy the greatest challenge. I may come home with fractured bones and patience, but completing my shopping in the last five minutes the store is open can be as exhilarating as a Tiger first down on third and 34.
Even if (especially if, actually) you have completed all of your buying early, be sure to go to the mall on the afternoon of Dec. 24. Watching panic-stricken mall crawlers is proof that Christmas shopping can be a spectator sport made more enjoyable by the knowledge that you've completed your shopping.
Remember, this really is not the last Christmas of the millennium. That comes next year.
Enjoy it.


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