If lawmakers in Washington really wanted to help older, low-income workers they would lower the age limit for a person to be able to withdraw money from 401(k) retirement funds without having to repay it or pay an outrageous penalty fee to the IRS!
Currently workers must be 59 1/2 years old before being able to freely withdraw their own money! This unnecessarily rigid rule should be changed as soon as possible.
Due to the Great Recession and other factors, so many of us older folks are really struggling. My husband and I are not yet 59 1/2, but we are up to our necks in medical and other bills.
With the cost of living getting higher, it is impossible for us to save any money for retirement. So, why not let us have our own money now, when we really need it?
Lawmakers should lower the age requirement to at least 50. My husband and I would not object to a reasonable limit on withdrawals -- say $50,000.
Readers who agree should tell their congressmen.
Michelle Magee, Cleveland, Tenn.
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann clearly demonstrated the difference between a politician and a statesman this past weekend when he canceled three campaign rallies in an attempt to return to Washington to vote on a crucial 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill which was moved up from the Friday agenda.
Last Thursday's rallies were to be headlined by a former presidential candidate, now a national television commentator. With just two weeks before election day, these were to be the key events to his re-election. A politician would never sacrifice this, but Chuck recognized the importance of this bill and the fulfillment of his promise to his constituents to never miss a vote or dodge any issue for them. He valued both his pledge and the impact of this bill on our nation's future.
He canceled the rallies and immediately booked a flight to Washington to cast that crucial vote and maintain his promise.
It is said the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician bases every decision on the next election but a statesman on the next generation. Congressman Fleischmann, you made us proud when our statesman stepped forth for us.
BOBBY WOOD, Harrison
I support Karen Stoker, a candidate for the Walker County school board.
Karen taught in the public school sector for 33 years. She has worked as a teacher, graduation coach and cheer coach. In addition to paid work, Karen has generously volunteered her time at student activities such as tutoring and score-keeping at sporting events. She has also been active in creating partnerships between businesses/organizations and schools.
As a middle school teacher to my children, Karen's dedication, inspiration and commitment to her students is what impressed me most. I have seen first-hand the outstanding work she has done as a teacher. As a school board member, she has the integrity and courage to make the right decisions for the students, schools and taxpayers.
Since retiring, Karen has expressed interest in continuing to impact students' lives. She is a committed person with the energy and the time it takes to be an active school board member.
With her teaching degree and community and school involvement, I think Karen will make a wonderful and much needed addition to the Walker County school board.
Please vote for Karen Stoker on July 31.
KAREN CLARKSON, Chickamauga, Ga.
Writing in the Tennessee Ticket on April 2, reporter Joe Lance predicted lots of campaign cash from Greg Vital and plenty of "bluster" from Todd Gardenhire.
So far, Mr. Vital has raised the cash and Mr. Gardenhire has delivered the bluster.
Todd Gardenhire hijacked a Republican women's event calling fellow Republican Greg Vital chairman of the "Pinocchio" campaign for state Senate and accusing him (without a shred of evidence) of mailing out an order of protection filed against Mr. Gardenhire by one of his ex-wives.
When asked politely by an event sponsor to wrap up his tirade, he said curtly, "I'm not stopping until I'm finished."
Greg Vital stuck to the issues and behaved like a gentleman throughout this campaign. Watch the video of the Republican women's event on the Times Free Press website and ask yourself, "Who do I want representing me and my community in Nashville?"
Greg Vital is clearly more qualified to serve. Even if he weren't, the fact he can control his emotions and conducts himself like a gentleman in public strikes me as basic qualification to be a Tennessee state senator, and one Todd Gardenhire clearly lacks.
I recommend a vote for Greg Vital, someone who can, and will, conduct himself as a gentleman and will serve the public as such.
PHILLIP GRUBB, Georgetown, Tenn.
I support Bebe Heiskell for another term as commissioner of Walker County. She has served our county well. We need to continue with a leader who has integrity, accessibility and certainly experience. She knows and understands the laws involving the office of commissioner. It is important to her to always do the right thing involving these laws and choosing the best for the people of Walker County.
Speaking of accessibility, not only is she available in her office but she schedules meetings in every area of the county making herself available to residents where they reside. She posts the dates and locations of these meetings in the Walker County Messenger.
Walker County is recognized by the Georgia General Assembly as a model of a well-run county thanks to Bebe Heiskell. We have the best. She certainly will get my vote in the Republican primary on July 31.
JOAN CLINTON SCOGGINS, LaFayette, Ga.
I'm an ambassador for Weston Wamp's campaign for U.S. Congress, and the company for which I work, Access America Transport, which hosted a volunteer phone-a-thon on Wednesday night. While we were able to interact with Weston, his sister and his parents, what impressed me most was his desire to do anything needed of him to win support of even one more voter.
Weston and his sister were working the phones with the rest of the volunteers, and Weston even ran over to speak with undecided voters who wanted to ask him questions. How many times will a political candidate work a phone-a-thon with volunteers and speak with constituent after constituent?
We need his energy and his dedication in D.C. representing East Tennessee, and I look forward to seeing him and his entire campaign make history electing one of the youngest members of the U.S. Congress ever and the only soon-to-be current member who is under 30. Youth can be argued as a weakness, but if you actually meet Weston, you soon will realize that his youth will be a tremendous advantage for himself and all of East Tennessee. Get out and vote!
RYAN SCAFE, Soddy-Daisy
I think Americans should stand up and be counted against the obstructionist policies of the United States House of Representatives and Mitch McConnell, minority leader of the Senate. Two years at $24 million a week doing nothing useful, while 31 times bringing up a mute political statement wasting their time and trying to waste the Senate's time is too much for honest people to bear. Taxes are not to profit politicians.
Were it not for John Boehner and especially Mitch McConnell, we might have seen some benefit from the last two years. Maybe some jobs could have been created here instead of China, India, Indonesia, and other places they have created actual jobs. If Boehner was not so afraid of his image he would have at least allowed the jobs bill out for one vote (not necessarily 31 like the health care bill) and we might not have the jobs issue. Insanity is redoing the same thing the same way, expecting different results. I usually vote Republican, but why would anyone support such insanity? In America we can choose new leadership -- a new Congress is due, two years past due. Why has our congressman not objected to this nonsense, instead of supporting it 97 percent of the time?
WILLIAM C. McCOMAS, Harrison
Steve Tarvin is running for the new state House District 2 seat that includes western Whitfield County, southern Catoosa County and eastern Walker County.
Mr. Tarvin is a local businessman from Chickamauga who started working at Crystal Springs textile mill in 1970. He moved up through the company and formed a group to buy it in 1982 to keep it from shutting down. He turned the company around and is now its president. He's served on Chickamauga City Council and school board.
Mr. Tarvin is what all conservatives look for in a candidate: a successful businessman who has made a payroll and can bring some common sense decision-making to our state government. He understands the proper role of government as is defined in the Constitution, that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and our tax system should respect the efforts of hard-working Americans instead of wasting their money on frivolous government programs.
Mr. Tarvin represents what so many Americans have been calling for for so long. He would truly represent the voice of the people in Atlanta. For anyone who believes our politicians need to spend their time making government work for us instead of for themselves, Steve Tarvin is your candidate.
THOMAS HOLCOMB, SARAH HOLCOMB SARTIN, Rocky Face, Ga.
I hope everyone saw the Times Free Press front page July 20, about the U.S. News and World Report ranking of Erlanger hospital. It does enough right to catch some people's eye. The employees work very hard there, and I think you will find more good things than bad if you open your eyes to the real world and go down there and walk in all their shoes for a day instead of sitting in an ivory tower somewhere and say "why don't they?" They are doing a great job for what they have to work with. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem. I prefer to build up, not tear down!
PHILLIP DYAR, Hixson
Your July 17 editorial on the purchase of Chinese uniforms for American Olympic athletes illuminated a key impact of government meddling in the economy with minimum-wage laws. What's worse is that U.S. leaders seem to be surprised at the consequences of what they have wrought over the years, or had the opportunity to deter and did not.
Your suggestion that Congress should explore why domestic competitors are effectively priced out of the (clothing) market is a good one. I predict that it will not happen until the progenitors of minimum-wage laws and their descendants stop ignoring the problem. It seems to me that the solution is pretty obvious: significantly reduce the minimum wage or eliminate it. Why is it that no one acts on the obvious?
U.S. citizens will surely work for less than $7.25 per hour, whether part-time, full-time, second job, second or third earner in a family. The market tells us what work is worth. The effect of this solution reduces the 25 percent unemployment rate for those under 25, increases Social Security funding, etc. High minimum wage is another example of government substituting its supposed wisdom for the workings of free enterprise.
PAUL T. DEMET, Fairfield Glade, Tenn.
This is in response to your July 21 editorial. In Illinois and the progressive bastion of metro Chicago, gun laws are the most stringent in the U.S. Yet, just this summer, news reports were lamenting Chicago's high homicide rates.
In Michigan, the 10-year anniversary of their concealed carry law was marked by hit-piece editorials covering, not blood running in the streets and OK Corral-like shoot-outs, but the length of time county review boards were taking to issue permits. It was comical to read editorials in the southwest region of Michigan, unable to lash out at the law-abiding citizens with their concealed pistol licenses and their responsibility.
If, say five people in the theater in Aurora, Colo., had been trained and were prepared to protect themselves from imminent danger, the outcome would have been different.
In another situation in 2007 in Colorado, an individual intending similar carnage, this time at a church, was stopped by a member of the congregation who had training and was prepared to protect herself. Jeanne Assam stopped Matthew Murray from causing harm to herself and others present.
As Chicago demonstrates, gun laws don't protect people from people intent on doing harm. Training and preparation do.
My brother, Bob Moon, loved working to improve the community in which we live. He certainly would have approved of his successor in General Sessions Court, Judge David Norton, who is running to serve the remainder of my brother's term. I ask the public to support him.
Judge Norton is a native Chattanoogan, graduating from Red Bank High School, UT-Chattanooga and Memphis State Law School. He has been practicing law in Chattanooga since 1977 and was Soddy-Daisy judge for 27 years. Judge Norton shares my brother's values of fairness and justice in the courtroom and reaching out to the community's young people in an effort to prevent them from getting involved in crime.
Judge Norton's experience in criminal and civil law stands well above the other candidates. He deserves our vote on Aug. 2.
MARK D. MOON
Bill Bennett is truly a steward of the people's business in Hamilton County. I first learned of Bill's dedication when he served as chairman of the Hamilton County Commission and I was an extension agent with the UT Hamilton County Agricultural Extension Service. I was impressed with his eagerness to lend support to the various programs.
Character, integrity and experience combined with a desire to serve are reasons for the trust in his ability to fairly set the appraisal value for all land in Hamilton County for the purpose of taxation. The many positions held and the numerous honors received are further proof of his loyal work and ability to serve.
"If it's not broken, don't fix it." Let's keep a good man with great experience and ability in office. Vote for Bill Bennett for Assessor of Property on Aug. 2.
MARIE W. MOYERS, Signal Mountain
I support Marty Lasley for Soddy-Daisy city judge. He was the preacher's kid at the church where we both grew up. Marty always possessed great leadership within the youth group and was well respected by his peers and the adults he came in contact with. He has always had great integrity and decency, and those character traits are hard to find in today's society.
Since he has lived in Soddy-Daisy for 50 years, some may say he could not be fair because of knowing the people so well. I find the opposite to be true. I believe because of Marty's love for the community he grew up in, his love for justice, and his overall moral compass, he will be an excellent city judge. He cares for our city. He cares about making it a better, safer place to live. That's why my vote is for Marty Lasley.
KAREN C. McCUISTON, Soddy-Daisy