The Welcome Sign
As a Shelby County employee, Barbara Lawing was given the task of grant writing to secure funding for the Memphis Welcome Sign ("Welcome Sign," January 12th issue). She was not fond of billboards but was a big promoter of anything Memphis. Lawing had a passion for life, her daughters, politics, and her job.
Numerous times my wife Debbie and I would speculate which letter would be out on Barbara's sign when returning to the city on eastbound I-40. Lawing is no longer with us, and we miss her more than we will ever miss seeing the sign.
Off to South Carolina
I enjoyed Jackson Baker's take on the New Hampshire primary ("Round 2!" January 12th issue). Now, all eyes will turn toward South Carolina. W. Somerset Maugham must have known Mitt Romney would be coming when he penned this quote: "The most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency." This fits Romney to perfection. Romney has jettisoned his principles time and time again as he's gone from liberal to moderate to conservative to someone who is now trumpeting the extremes of the Tea Party.
Principles mean nothing to Romney. He was pro-abortion. Now, listening to him in the latest debate, he is an anti-abortion extremist out to end Roe v. Wade. He backed a progressive health-care plan in Massachusetts. Now he hates "Obamacare." He even put forth a thoughtful immigration plan at one time, but that was in the days before he took up the cause of anti-immigration.
Winning at any cost destroys a man's soul. Romney is Exhibit A.
Governor Haslam is now proposing to cut the state sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent. This will cost the state $18 million in tax revenues and result in an average yearly savings for each of the more than six million citizens of Tennessee of approximately $2.84 a year, or about 20 cents on each $100 grocery purchase. Whoo hoo!
Haslam is also proposing to raise the minimum for the estate tax from $1 million to $1.25 million. This move will cost the state $14 million in revenue and benefit approximately 200 people to the tune of $70,000 each! So, under Haslam's brilliant plan, six million of us get to buy an extra loaf of bread this year while 200 of our richest citizens each get a $70,000 tax break. But, of course, those folks, as the Republicans will tell you, are "job creators." That's Republican economics at its best. And it tells you all you need to know about who the governor really cares about in this state.
While I applaud the governor for changing his mind about taxes, he has only taken up the Tea Party's view on whose taxes get lowered. One of our state's most regressive taxes is the one on groceries. So, Haslam wants a whopping .2 percent reduction. Meanwhile, he will ask for a $250,000 increase on the minimum for the estate tax.
The governor claims that the estate tax drives wealthy people out of Tennessee, and they are, you guessed it, "job creators."
I suggest the governor forget the estate-tax cut and reduce the grocery tax by one full percent. That affects every person in our state, since we all buy groceries. And the money we save will power more spending and more jobs than those phony 200 "job creators." That's just a label some paid lobbyist came up with.
Money and Politics
It's great for a politician to have a Super PAC. A political candidate can remain at arm's length from the unseemly smearing of one's opponent and appear untarnished by the process. Perhaps applications could be given in other areas of Super PAC deployment, like foreign policy. Super Political Action Committee? It's more like Super Power And Corruption.
I have a solution for the problem of big money taking over elections. Give candidates free TV spots, with each one receiving the same amount of time. Allow them to spend up to $200,000 towards running their election offices and maybe another $200,000 towards travel expenses. The rest of the money that is raised could go to the national debt or Social Security or Medicare, etc. It would still be a bone in their dish to raise money, because it would show popularity and give them the privilege to boast.
My mind is swamped by the waste that occurs with the enormous amounts of money raised for elections.