As anyone who takes even a casual look at a map of the state of Tennessee easily knows, there is actually very little protected land compared with the hundreds of square miles of developed and semideveloped land across the state.
If you look for national forest, you will only be able to find a thin strip (around 20 miles wide) at the very eastern end of the state in the Cherokee National Forest. This is out of a state stretching over 400 miles from end to end. Further, it is only a percentage of the land even within these national forest boundaries that is actually protected; while the rest is privately owned.
Even within the "protected" lands, there often exist roads, dams and other infrastructure.
Therefore it is extremely important we protect what little truly pristine land remains to us. It is my hope that TDOT will give real consideration to the option of, if anything, doing only spot improvements along the existing Highway 64 route through the Ocoee Gorge. It would protect our remaining environment as well as our remaining tax funds if we avoid blasting any new roadways through the Ocoee's remaining wildlands.
Why in this world do people want to sink good money into another mall north of the river when they cannot keep Northgate filled with stores?
In our economy, it is pouring good money right down the drain. Northgate has lots of empty stores. Why not remodel the lot, the existing stores and go from there? I know I am not a business person. I am a retired LPN and a mother.
Think, gentlemen! Fill up Northgate Mall.
MARY JANE HALL
Regarding Thomas Friedman's commentary and recent speech in Chattanooga: It is important to remember that Chattanooga reinvented itself via an open, inclusive, citizen-led process.
During the 1980s a diverse group of Chattanooga citizens came together as peers to address division, decline and blight. This was not done by the traditional leaders: the city, county, industry, utility, university, etc. They supported the process and its outcomes but otherwise stayed out of the way and let the citizens lead. The process led directly to the innovative public-private partnerships that transformed Chattanooga while preserving and promoting those things that make our community unique.
Without the participatory planning process of the 1980s, it is highly unlikely that EPB's fiber network-and many other improvements and investments around region - would have happened. With more true citizen engagement, the broadband could have even bigger impacts.
The opportunity for Chattanooga is to reinvigorate and expand our participatory, citizen-led processes. The goal must be to tap into citizens' energy and ideas by working and learning together as peers. That is the source of true innovation, and what made America and Chattanooga what we are today.
With all the political demagoguery and ideological talking points, it seems necessary to provide the truth regarding income taxes, especially with the looming "fiscal cliff." One divisive wedge between the two major parties is the viability of renewing the ostensible "tax cuts for rich," also known as the Bush tax cuts. President Obama's claim is that those top income earners should begin to pay their "fair share," implying that they currently do not.
The facts, however, do not support this contention. In 2010, those earning more than $200,000 in annual income accounted for 52 percent of the nation's income tax receipts, despite earning only 28 percent of the nation's income! In other words, a quarter of the nation's earners pay more than half of the nation's total income taxes. Those earning $50,000 or less, however, pay only 6 percent of the nation's taxes, despite earning 22 percent of the nation's income. Simple arithmetic would show that this is hardly a "fair share" contribution.
A true "fair share" policy would eliminate deductions and credits for middle-class earners like me, and lower all income tax rates to a flat 10 percent-12 percent. Coupled with reduced spending, we suddenly have a responsible fiscal policy. A utopian idea, indeed.
A Times Free Press letter (Nov. 24) listed various achievements that the writer attributed to the U.S. government, and then stated: "Since the beginning of Reagan's 'Government IS the Problem" era, we have been slipping behind in almost every social and economic measurement." The facts tell a different story.
When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the U.S. was in a prolonged period of government-induced stagnation. Unemployment was over 7 percent and rising, and inflation was in double digits. Overseas, America was seen as weak, as exemplified by the Iranian hostage crisis and an aggressive Soviet Union.
Thanks to Reagan's "anti-government" (really, pro-market) policies, almost 20 million new jobs were created, inflation plummeted, and average wages rose for all classes, not only the rich. And thanks to the resolute moral leadership of Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and other conservative leaders, the Soviet Union was forced into retreat, its government-centric system eventually imploding.
When Reagan was elected, many world leaders turned up their noses at him and his "outmoded" free-market policies. But in 1983, at the G-7 Economic Summit, the chancellor of West Germany, awed by the U.S. revival, turned to Reagan and said, "Tell us about the American miracle."
BEN M. WOLK
What is in the past is in the past. Get over it. I used to be pro-gay, pro-abortion, and now I am an ordained bishop in the Church of God. Should I resign because one of my girlfriends had an abortion and now I call that murder? Should I resign because I once lied and stole and committed adultery?
Tell reporter Chris Carroll that I have a story he could report: My church just fed 1,700 people in Grundy County, on Saturday, Nov. 17. We fed the inmates in Grundy jail. We feed and bus in kids on Wednesday nights and buy clothes for kids who have parents on meth. But I should resign because I once did drugs and drank and now I am against those things?
BISHOP WILLARD GRIFFIN
Since the American people have spoken and re-elected Barack Obama, I think the Republicans should cave and give the Democrats everything they want. If we end up like Greece and Ireland with all sides rioting in the streets because of Washington helium heads' redistribution of insanity, we'll at least get one last laugh. You know the gimme zombies and union vampires will still blame this country's implosion on that evil Bush.