published Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Vouchers don’t help education

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Vouchers don’t help education

When Tennessee Republican legislators and their supporters tout vouchers for public school students, it’s not for the betterment of education.

What a voucher system does is take limited taxpayer revenues from public schools and transfers them to private, charter or religiously based schools.

It is being done over the objections from experienced professional educators and administrators from the four major state metropolitan school districts.

Money is simply shifted to support the privatization of education. These schools do not have government oversight and are not as accountable to students and parents as are public schools. They can be more selective and discriminatory as to (which) students to enroll; and their teachers and administrators often suffer burnout from pressure to maximize the bottom line.

Republican legislators get benefits, too. Giving away public funds to private businesses provides them influence as well as campaign funds. Those perks don’t come from public schools, especially when you vote to eliminate teachers’ collective bargaining rights.

A voucher system is what can be expected from Republican politicians who view money and privatization as a simple solution to almost every issue. We deserve better from our elected officials.

GREG WILLIAMS

Signal Mountain

Deficit plan starts with Bush tax cuts

Like it or not, the Bush tax cuts have proven to be a disaster.

We need to all pay more taxes as a sacrifice for the benefit of our children. Our generation has lived far in excess of its means.

We have fought wars of choice without paying for them. We continue to spend on defense more than all other nations combined.

We have provided prescription drug benefits to seniors without funding those benefits. We have given tax cuts to the wealthy when there was no reason to do so. No wonder we have huge deficits.

As a result, the best deficit reduction plan to me is the following: repeal the Bush tax cuts for everyone; increase the Social Security retirement age to 70; put a cap on the charitable contribution and mortgage interest deductions; substantially cut the defense spending, which is rampant with waste and fraud, and reduce tax subsidies to corporations including big oil.

Until those painful measures are taken, it is not fair or wise to place the burden of reducing the deficit on those who are less fortunate or seniors. We all need to sacrifice.

TOM RAY

Link Congress’ pay with budget

For almost 800 days, the U.S. Congress has failed to uphold one of its constitutional duties: provide an annual budget. Democrats, holding the White House and the U.S. Senate, refuse to publicly announce their budget that incorporates a targeted number met by 50 percent cuts in spending and 50 percent in tax increases.

Two Republican members of Congress “walked out” of budget talks. They walked out because you don’t raise taxes in a recession. They walked out because the Congressional Budget Office just reported the total U.S. debt will surpass 100 percent of the economy by the end of this year. They walked out because the business sector sees no reason to hire or expand, fueling escalating unemployment. They walked out because the request to increase the debt ceiling is not matched by cuts in spending.

We have a problem of years of reckless spending with a refusal to address a crisis that’s no longer decades away. It’s here.

A good solution? Congress is unpaid during the time with no balanced budget. In the private sector, if you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid and you lose it.

Tough times call for tough solutions.

ROBIN SMITH

Hixson

Pundits are wrong on calendar days

In regards to a recent letter, the pundits are all wrong. Any 31-day month ending on Sunday will have five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. January, October of 2010, March 2013, August 2014. As for July it was 2005, and again in 2016 and 2022, etc. Check the calendar section of “The World Almanac.’’

ED TOWNSEND

Cleveland, Tenn.

Help needy now, sort spats later

Mostly I was impressed with our City Council and County Commission this week. Nonetheless, I was disappointed to hear the usual talking points about funding of human service agencies. Recently, I saw a debate about higher education. The issue was “should colleges be economic engines or create better, more just, societies?”

Likewise, politicians are creating a false choice between the economy and the care of vulnerable citizens. The mayor uttered “economic engine,” and some councilpersons chimed in about our city’s “gigabyte” image. Yes, economic development creates social equity through jobs, but caring for the neediest is just as essential to economic growth!

Imagine giving a potential employer a tour of our city and people are begging for food or individuals with mental afflictions are screaming for help. Just seeing that ourselves makes it hard to feel pride. We were just voted the “greatest city ever”; let’s make sure we live up to that moniker beyond social networks.

Citizens should know the city and county governments are feuding about who’s responsible to help needy citizens. Eventually someone has to step up, get it done, and sort out the differences later!

TOM BISSONETTE

Calendar oddity not that unusual

Five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this July is not unusual. It happened in 1994 and 2005 and will happen again in 2022, 2033, 2039, and 2050, for example.

JAMES W. HIESTAND

Check the facts on the letters

Please do your math and fact-check more carefully before publishing inane, false letters such as one claiming that this July is the only time in 823 years when we’ll have five long weekends in July. July always has 31 days. On average the first of July will fall on a Friday once every seven years. Thanks to leap years, we’ll enjoy five weekends in July not only in 2011, but also in 2016, 2022, etc.

JOHN COHEN, M.D.

Conservatives remain trapped

It is the best of Times, it is the worst of Times. The editorial pages of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reflect the political attitudes and religious beliefs of the local community.

The Times editorial position is one of moderation, objectivity and a voice of reason. The Free Press posits the conservative absolutist point of view, seemingly void of compassion, tolerance and common sense.

It is either black or white, literally and figuratively. This conspicuous absence of nuance in conservative culture keeps them entrenched in a compulsive belief that all ills can be cured by an unregulated free market, dramatic cuts in government spending and taxes for the rich. This absolutism foreshadows the destruction of the middle class (now known as the working poor) in America. The conservatives are trapped in a cocoon of ideology and tradition unhampered by progress.

For those who support the draconian conservative positions, congratulations, you have mastered the art of repudiation. Yours is an indefensible position in a truly modern and caring society. If the GOP ideology were to prevail, American would become a nation of haves and have-nots. It would be the worst of times. Guess where you will be in that scenario.

JOHN HIGHT

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Livn4life said...

Yeah John Hight, all that bad old conservative positioning just kills the country. Well look what the other, everyone just find your own way, do as you please, open to everything(yeah right)approach has been doing to us for the past few decades. If you and any other folk think the predicament we are in is because of conservative politics then you really are blind. I guess you believe everything exactly as CNN and all that the LIBERO-Networks put out there. The funniest thing is(ormaybenot)the illusion that Republicans are the pary of the haves. Just take a closer look at the rich, fat Democrats and who they are involved with. But no, just blame conservatives, blame Republicans. They are all for the haves. If we are honest there just may be a time of have not for most everyone if we continue on our current course. I know, I know That's all conservatives' fault too.

July 2, 2011 at 6:57 a.m.
moon4kat said...

Thank you, Tom Ray, for a succinct and accurate analysis of the budget problems we face.
Cuts need to be made in spending. But, that must be balanced with sufficient income to balance the budget. Instead, Republicans are willing to let the United States default, thus achieving their ugly goal of making a duly-elected American President "fail." Republicans are willing to destroy the nation rather than raise taxes on the extremely wealthy. That is irrational and unpatriotic.

July 2, 2011 at 12:19 p.m.
01centare said...

I agree with Mr. Williams. Granted incompetent teachers must be addressed, but I doubt very seriously if vouchers will remedy the problem. However, the intent is not to remedy but to do away with public education altogether, which is dangerous.

According to one well known evangelical preacher alleged feelings on the issue of public education: _"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"

The only difference is he didn't get to 'live' to see it happn.

July 4, 2011 at 8:28 p.m.
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