The Commerce News
December 8, 1999
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
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.
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
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.
The Commerce News
December 8, 1999
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
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.