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.
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.
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.
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.''
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!
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
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.
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.