A New Philosophy
To the Editor:
Thanks to John Branston for writing "A New Player" (City Beat, February 7th issue). He quoted Gib Vestal, who pointed out that "the root of what we're doing is not sports, it's character and spiritual development."
There was a time when schools emphasized character education. It was felt at that time that the complex problems presented by life called for increasing attention to character education by teachers. It was further believed that the schools should make a greater contribution to the training of children than is involved in the mere presentation of subject matter.
Such progressive philosophies of education, while recognizing the fact that the schools had always been forces in character education, sought to define more clearly the aims of education and to focus upon aspects of a child's life other than competitive sports or intellectual stimulation.
It is not what we say but what we do that counts in the formation of character. It seems as if that has been forgotten in these times.
To the Editor:
The answer to Tennessee's tax woes is simple: Tax the churches. Untold millions in potential tax revenue are locked in the land, property, and businesses owned by churches across this state. Churches benefit from the infrastructure and services provided by the state just as secular businesses do, but pay nothing for the privilege. Our taxes are raised to cover their free ride.
Tax exemption for religions was meant to provide for community churches aiding their congregation. No one envisioned vast religious conglomerates owning office buildings, television and radio stations, publishing houses, factories, and science- fiction film companies.
Churches claim that the millions in revenue they take in go to help the community. If you ask them to prove that, they will hide behind their tax-exempt status and tell you it is none of the state's business.
The Constitution promised us freedom from state religion, yet we now have Bible study in public schools and the Ten Commandments in the courthouse. It is time for the church to pay its due. This is unlikely to happen, though, since political power in this state flows from the pulpit. We can only hope the preachers will stop thumping their Bibles long enough to read Jesus' own words: "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's."
Michael B. Conway
Campaign On Your Own Time
To the Editor:
I note in the Flyer (Politics, January 24th issue) that Jim Rout, retiring mayor of Shelby County, Mayor Gene Roberts of Chattanooga, and Mayor Dave Bradshaw of Oak Ridge spent a whole day campaigning for former state Rep. Jim Henry, who's running against Van Hilleary for the Republican nomination for governor.
Don't these officeholders really belong behind their desks governing their cities and counties?
If they decide to retire and work on political campaigns, that's fine, but they shouldn't do it on taxpayer time. Most are well-paid. For example, the new Shelby County mayor will command $150,000 annually after September 1st.
The same goes for Hilleary. He shouldn't be campaigning on official time.
Charles S. Peete
EDITOR'S NOTE BRUCE VANWYNGARDEN
This week's cover story on the Enron debacle is a bit of a departure for the Flyer in that it is a reprint from another alternative newsweekly, the Houston Press. The Press story has drawn widespread praise from several quarters, including The Washington Post, for its behind-the-scenes reconstruction of how lobbyists and certain well-placed politicians conspired to give Enron an unsupervised playing field for its hijinks.
As the story reports, it could take years of forensic accounting to pin down just how $70 billion disappeared. But just as important as finding out where the money went is discovering how such an inflated Ponzi scheme could happen in the first place. Aren't there regulations to prevent such a perversion of the free marketplace? Well, yes and no. The more important thing, it turns out, is who you know.
We hope you find "Up In Smoke" as compelling, and frightening, a read as we did.
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