I have been reading with a growing sense of wonder the arguments for and against bike lanes in Memphis (City Beat, July 21st issue).
For over 62 years, I have owned and ridden various bikes in the city. The traffic in those years has increased in volume and in insensitivity toward bicyclists. Undoubtedly, bike lanes can be good things, bringing a sense of safety in traffic, if not the actuality of safety.
Likening the addition of bike lanes in Memphis to the acceptance of bicycle culture in European cities makes no sense. Cars and gasoline are much more expensive in Europe, and European cities are more compact, giving bicyclists easy access to business, culture, and commerce. This is not the case in Memphis.
So, if merchants on Madison Avenue do not want a bike lane, grant them that privilege. (With the trolley tracks already a bike deterrent, I cannot for the life of me understand why a cyclist would want to be on that street, anyhow.) Let's work on city infrastructure and education and attracting additional industry. Then we can battle over add-on features such as bike lanes.
Party of No
Every day I grow more discouraged by the juvenile manner in which the "Party of No" continues to progress. Not only are the Republicans holding the country hostage to coerce more money for the wealthy (widening a gap between the rich and poor that is already among the highest of any nation on earth), it now seems that their latest fad is signing "pledges": pledges not to raise taxes; pledges to take away a woman's right to an abortion; pledges to tell us who we can and can't marry.
The argument against raising taxes on the wealthy is a red herring, anyway. No extremely wealthy person actually pays much, if any, taxes. Billionaire Warren Buffet publicly stated that the percentage of his income paid in taxes was less than that paid by the average fireman, policeman, or teacher. The well-heeled are protected by enough tax loopholes to avoid any effect of a modest tax increase.
Another red herring is the deficit itself. Under a Republican president, the attitude is always "deficits don't matter." It is only under a Democratic administration that it suddenly becomes a major issue worthy of fear-mongering and scare tactics. The best way to solve the deficit would be to elect a Republican. Then it would no longer matter how many times the debt ceiling was raised. It certainly didn't matter under George W. Bush.
By now, we all know that the debt ceiling has been increased under nearly all, if not all, modern presidents. The current "crisis" over this is no crisis; it's a sham by Tea Partiers and weak Republican leadership to force spending cuts. Historically, spending cuts result in job losses, not gains. There is no way to offset this, short of lowering interest rates, which we cannot do. Owing money is not a sin, as long as you can pay the interest and a portion of the principal. Buying a home is a good example.
The president and the Democrats should consider a plan to hold spending at its current level for two years, then reduce the tax rate on "S" corporations' foreign profits. These profits are currently estimated at $2 to $3 trillion annually and are generally not being reinvested here. A reduction to 10 percent from the current 35 percent rate, with the stipulation that the capital that flows back into the country be used to create domestic jobs, would result in a dramatic increase in revenues and jobs.
We should also close the loopholes that allow companies like General Electric to pay no taxes on billions in profits, eliminate subsidies and tax reductions to oil companies and others, and allow the "Bush" tax cuts for the wealthy to expire.
Implementation of a plan like this would result in a precipitous drop in unemployment, with a resultant increase in payroll and corporate taxes. The debt ceiling battle would go away, and we'd all be happy, except for the Tea Partiers, who wouldn't have anything to moan and bitch about except gay marriage and abortion.
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