I have never understood how anyone could call nuclear energy "clean energy" (Viewpoint, March 17th issue). Sure, it's all perfectly safe — until something goes wrong. Then, you get a cloud of destruction that can travel hundreds or thousands of miles from its source, spreading poison and sickness the entire way.
Nuclear energy is wonderful, because it has no emissions, unless you count the hazardous waste that has to be stored, safely and securely, for hundreds of years. Nuclear energy is like a credit card — oh, so useful right now, but what are we going to do when the bill comes due? Jacquelyn Stewart Memphis
John Branston's recent column on economic development in Memphis (City Beat, March 17th issue) was way off course. Branston treats capital improvement projects in the city designed to improve the quality of life and create new employment opportunities as some sort of impediment to progress. He takes the old populist view that all taxes must go to essential public services such as teacher and police salaries. As a veteran teacher, I can assure you that I am all for good pay for public servants, but you must be naive in the extreme to believe that good pay and clean parks are going to send people rushing into the city.
The reason Orlando, an old cow town in the Florida swamps in the 1950s, is now the leading tourist center in the country had nothing to do with the salaries of its public servants or its parks, schools, etc. Its success hinged on public investment to support private investment, which is exactly what new public projects in Memphis are designed to do.
Furthermore, Branston is incorrect to state that money used for new civic projects "might otherwise pay for schools and police officers." This money can only by law be used for specific projects and nothing else. The money they will generate in taxes will repay the loans used to build and operate them — taxes that would never exist had the projects not been built.
Good schools, parks, police, and other public services are vital to a city, but a city must be much more than this in order to be successful. This is what the city's economic development officials understand, but apparently Branston does not, even though I do always enjoy his column. Tom Holland
Nail, Meet Head
Randy Haspel's recent Rant (March 17th issue) about where the unholy alliance — the GOP, corporations, and the Tea Party — wants to take America hit the nail on the head. It's ironic that in the past we have been warned by two Republican presidents. Teddy Roosevelt started by breaking up monopolies and attempting to rein in the greed of the robber barons. President Eisenhower told us to beware of the military-industrial complex. Today, instead of farm products being our largest export, it's weapons. We are the number-one exporter of weapons in the world.
Today, the dangers these two brave Americans saw and warned us about have morphed into a new danger — a new corporate America, bought and paid for by donations to the campaigns of those blinded by greed and power. The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the same rights as living and breathing Americans. Corporate front men like Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, and others, including some of the newly elected Republican governors, are merely doing the bidding of their corporate masters.
When Wall Street almost destroyed our economy, who did they blame? The working class and union members, specifically. The result? Tax cuts in the hundreds of billions for the greed-mongers in corporate boardrooms. Pay and benefits cuts for the middle class. It seems in their minds that all the ills of society are the fault of teachers and other public employees. They wring their hands over the national debt and demand sacrifice from the working poor. Class warfare is being used to destroy America's middle class.
Bad Dog Avenue?
How about naming a Memphis street after John "Bad Dog" McCormack (Editorial, March 17th issue)? Alabama Avenue would be a great choice. It runs right next to the Ronald McDonald House, for which Bad Dog raised so much money and awareness.
We can do this with everybody's help. Where do we start? I don't know, but we should make it happen.
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