As we confront our alarming budget deficit we need to look not only at entitlements, but also at other spending, like our bloated military budget.
We spend more on defense than the next 16 nations combined and four times more than China, our only real competitor. We maintain 200 military bases in Asia alone. China maintains none outside its own borders and shows little stomach for an arms race. Certainly, we must maintain our military superiority, but isn't our current level of defense spending gross overkill?
In his 1961 farewell address President Eisenhower warned against the perils inherent in the "military-industrial complex."
After a change of government it took the Russians only a few months to get out of Afghanistan. After four years we're still there. Let's hope Obama grows wiser in his second term.
- GEORGE B. REED JR., Rossville
After reading a recent letter writer's diatribe about Republicans opposing Chuck Hagel, it appears that if anyone is an "angry old white man" suffering from PTSD, it is that writer. First, he criticized Senators Corker and Alexander for not serving in the military, then he accuses Sen. McCain, who spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton, of suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and finally Sen. Graham, who is an officer in the Air Force Reserve, of sacrificing the lives of 4,000 brave Americans in Iraq.
If the writer had read the Constitution, he would know the Senate has the power to "advise and consent" with the president on cabinet appointments. If the Senate had exercised this power in the winter of 1961 on JFK's appointment of Robert McNamara as secretary of defense, then the writer probably would not have had to serve in Vietnam.
If the writer thinks combat experience is necessary for a politician to be an expert on national defense, then I would suggest he read about FDR, the greatest wartime commander-in-chief ever. He sat out WWI in a civilian Navy job. As a reminder, President Obama's only combat experience is living on the southside of Chicago, one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
As a native Georgian, born and raised in Atlanta and having spent the last 37 years in Chattanooga, I am beside myself at the audacity of Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell, and his colleagues in the Georgia Senate Judiciary Comnmittee concerning moving the state line to take water from the Tennessee River.
Chattanoogans have watched over the years as Georgia absconded with our "General," took away Delta Airlines only to replace it with ASA - arguably the worst air carrier in history - and, most recently, wooed our beloved Krystal home office to Atlanta.
Atlanta, a mere hour and 20 minutes down the road, has anything in the world one could want. There are concerts at the Fox, shopping at Lenox Square and best of all, a hot dog from the Varsity. But, you are not getting our water!
Please don't think I'm being inhospitable. If the fine people of Atlanta want to sell their overpriced homes and move to the Scenic City, we would love to have them. We have a city full of things to enjoy and plenty of water to accommodate them all.
Georgia has 100 miles of coastline. Perhaps a pipeline and desalination plants could solve your problem. I wish you luck.
GREGORY A. TATE
The country must learn to live within its means. President Obama can do the easy fix and lay off key personnel and reduce services when the budget cuts come. Anyone could figure that out, but that will not solve the problem.
The real problem is entitlements. The country simply cannot afford to have almost half of the population getting the largest share of the benefits. The working class cannot afford to shoulder any larger portion of taxes without having an effect on small business growth that is the backbone of the economy.
It is time for the country as a whole to take some of the responsibility, and it will probably mean paying some taxes for those who pay nothing, pay a little more in your Medicare co-payments, trimming some benefits to the bare bone like eliminating free cell phones or supporting people who can and should work, but rather choose the easy way out.
The time for supporting special interest groups with financial aid needs to end.
RODNEY S. SCOTT, Apison, Tenn.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press is an outstanding newspaper and should continue to be circulated in outlying areas. It is understandable about the price increase, because the cost of doing business keeps rising and competition for advertising is greater.
I lived in Northeast Tennessee for years, but now have lived in Georgia a long time. The CTFP is far superior to the Knoxville News-Sentinel and the Atlanta Journal Constitution in the coverage of many events. Without this paper, I would not be able to get any real "news." I love the coverage of regional, state, national and world news that can affect people's lives. And there are interesting and informative articles in the Life section. The puzzles are fun too. Sometimes, I even clip and save a lot of helpful information to read again later.
Local newspapers are good for local events. However, I also like to know what is happening beyond the borders of my own town. I have subscribed to the CTFP every day for several years, and hope it will keep coming to readers in Georgia
SUZANNE SLAVEN, Calhoun, Ga.
The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision gave corporations and labor unions the right to "buy" our elections by contributing unlimited funds to campaigns and candidates, on the excuse that they are "legal persons."
I object. Corporations and unions lack human bodies, minds, souls or consciences. I don't believe they should have any rights not granted to the individual.
Therefore I am henceforth notifying each person or organization which asks me for a political contribution that only when I learn they are solidly committed to undoing this Supreme Court decision and are engaging in actual activities to this end, can they expect any political contribution from me. Such activities could be educational programs, petitions to civic bodies and organizations, nonviolent demonstrations or rallies, etc. I invite other concerned persons to join in this effort.
This strikes me as the most vital public issue before us today. What happens to other issues, if our votes can be easily bought by the highest corporate bidders?
B. CARTER PATE
The Sunday Free Press editorial about the public expense of state-owned Tennessee golf courses puzzled me because of its contradictions. I've enjoyed these courses and believe many do likewise. And not all can afford the privilege of private courses but do derive pleasure from the outdoor beauty and sport of golf. A vast majority of golfers do this after a hard week's work or as a reward after many years of labor.
Conservatives cloak themselves in a narrow, callous self-righteousness, resent tax payments for anything but the war machine and call themselves religious. If they spent more time understanding the needs of others rather than demonizing them we might stand a chance for a better world.
JOHN F. EARY, Ringgold, Ga.
"Zero Dark Thirty" didn't win the Oscar for Best Picture and Jessica Chastain didn't win for Best Actress, but they had my vote.
Chastain plays a young woman who has been studying the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden for several years at CIA headquarters in Virginia before she is sent over to CIA headquarters in Pakistan. The problem is her male supervisors refuse to acknowledge her superior knowledge about how to find bin Laden and view her more as a irritant than a team player.
The film includes a few scenes of torture and terrorist violence, but its focus is on the complexity of finding terrorists and the true story of a woman who wouldn't give up, who had the courage, determination, and self-confidence to fight through the male-dominated CIA and White House bureaucracy and prove that she could direct the effort to find bin Laden. It is a most inspiring and surprising story.
On 2/24, CBS' "60 Minutes" interviewed a Navy Seal who was part of the team that killed bin Laden. He confirmed that "a woman" had led the way to finding the terrorist.
HORACE BAKER, Hixson, Tenn.
We have the most stupid Republicans in our state legislature and our governor, senator and congressman. All you think about are guns in church and parking lots. What are you all so afraid of, if you are such good Christians? Why do you have to have a gun on your hip?
Since the Republicans took over our legislature, you never talk jobs or anything beneficial for people, only for the NRA. They own you.
You don't want to extend Medicaid so more people will have insurance or any program that will help people unless they are rich.
The people out there who need insurance should be protesting you jerks.
Nobody knows who might snap, now they won't have far to go to get their gun. With a law like that, there may not be any more big businesses that want their companies here. And who could blame them? I am sick of you idiots and the voters who put you in office! That law probably costs us jobs, and not passing the Medicaid extension will cost us lots of jobs and money while it hurts a lot of people.
CAROL PROCTOR., East Brainerd
In reading and hearing how vocal most of the pro-lifers are these days, I can't help but wonder what the ages of most of them are.
I was nine years out of high school when legalized abortion came into effect, and knew of a great deal of kids who came into this world totally unwanted.
Abortions took place all over the country, including our town. The problem was that they were performed by unqualified people in cheap motel rooms or apartments, even in the back seats of automobiles.
These so-called "operations" were usually successful and expensive. The negative aspect was that thousands of young women also died as a result. The ones that didn't die outright, or shortly thereafter from internal bleeding, passed from this world weeks or months later due to blood poisoning from lack of sterilized equipment and hands.
We humans make decisions - often wrong ones. We do this at times regardless of laws, for or against.
As for myself, I would not care to see abortions outlawed. It would only regress back to the years before 1973. The death of a fetus is one thing, but the death of a healthy young woman is quite another.
That speech by Obama [Feb. 12] was an affront to the American people. I believe he intended to rile the Republicans, and he did a great job. But I think most Americans will agree that the load of garbage dumped on the nation was an insult.
How could anybody who can add and subtract believe the list of initiatives he identified would not "add a single dime" to the deficit. Serious people recognize those types of expenditures would cost trillions. This is like the hog-wash peddled by the Tea Party Republicans that we can get out of our fiscal mess without additional taxes.
Obama is going to be very disappointed when he finally recognizes rich folks don't have enough money to cover all his expenses. I have never heard him identify a single expenditure we should eliminate or even reduce to shrink debt. I'm convinced the Congress, Republican or Democrat, is not going to lead us out of this mess. Our only hope is a strong-willed president who is willing to call a club a club and humiliate Congress to make the right choices. The Tea Party types sunk the GOP, and Obama and Reid/Pelosi are doing a great Titanic imitation with the Democrats.
Come on, Barack, get off your quest to kill the GOP and go to work for the taxpayers.
J. MACON BROWN, Signal Mountain
I oppose gun-control legislation. Not because I'm left or conservative or because I voted for this person or that. My bias is based on U.S. government-funded studies that seem to indicate that any restrictive legislation has no measurable change in gun violence.
The CDC provided an exhaustive study in 2003 titled "First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws." (www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm). The CDC's findings were, in a word, blunt: "Evidence was insufficient to determine the effectiveness of any of these laws ..."
A 300-plus page report in 2003 from the National Academy of Sciences found no connection between restrictive laws and violence (http://nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309091241).
These government-funded studies find there is no correlation between gun control and any reduction in violence. Logically it will put law-abiding citizens more at risk with the same number of guns still being out there.
I will defend myself with anything available, even when my own government reduces weapons choices to broom sticks and hair spray. If that comes to pass, expect no reduction in firearms available to (would-be) criminals, making it easier to prey upon those who have swallowed the flawed legislation, hook-line-and-sinker.
DAVID D. FIHN, Hixson
Foster Grandparent Minnie Moore received the January Gold Class Card Award for her assistance to a woman who went to Erlanger hospital and collapsed in the garage hallway. The woman was unable to find anyone to care for her children, so she had taken them with her to the hospital. Ms. Moore, who volunteers at the hospital 20 hours per week through the Foster Grandparent Program, volunteered to care for the children until the family could be notified of the situation.
She remained with the children for hours, and her kindness and compassion were amazing. We appreciate all she does to help the patients' lives be a little less stressful.
BILLIE WRIGHT, FIELD SUPERVISOR, FOSTER Grandparent Program