After a nice run with no permanent counterpart on the Free Press editorial side, my friend Pam Sohn has today become Wile E. Coyote.
What a perfectly splendid choice you've made in putting the Free Press editorial page in the hands of Clint Cooper.
Chattanooga born-and-raised, Brainerd High and UTC guy, married and raised a son here ... to say that he knows our area sells him short. It's part of him. And he has more than a passing care for his craft, as his more than 30 years of writing and editing for the old Free Press and the Times Free Press clearly demonstrates.
When I think of Clint, especially in the context of how he's likely to go about his new task, the word that comes to mind is "thoughtful." Right-side readers will get opinion that's strong, but well-considered ... no by-the-numbers, "this good, that bad, and that's that" stuff. If he does nothing more than make solid, soundly reasoned arguments, he will most certainly drive the left insane.
So cinch up that chin strap, Coach Sohn ... and mind that Acme anvil, which is falling and looks to be headed right at you.
BOB GARY JR.
If one studies the history of the rise of the middle class after WWII, you will find the following: The middle class rose as union membership rose until the 1970s. Now, companies that care so much about their employees have suppressed wages and benefits, forcing their employees to seek government assistance to survive. All this while profits rose and white collar crime escalated. Our Republican leadership as I can recall, has never done anything for the working class. Yes, they generated jobs. But at the same time, they voted against the Taft-Hartley Act and the 40-hour work week among other advancements in worker safety. Sen Bob Corker was once a member of a union, but now he equates union presence as a laughing stock. Funny but not funny, ha-ha.
JOHN ALTHOFF, Retired Teamster
After reading the Feb. 3 article, "Baby teeth: When should you introduce your child to the dentist?" readers might be confused about when to start dental check-ups for a child. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommend starting dental check-ups for a child at 1 year of age. One in four children between the ages of 2 and 4 years and half of children between the ages of 6 and 8 years have cavities in primary teeth, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Though deciduous (baby) teeth fall out, dental decay can lead to toothaches and possibly hospitalization or surgery. In 2008, there were 15,000 pediatric visits to emergency departments for toothaches. In the 2000 Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health, dental decay was found to be the most common chronic disease of childhood, more common than asthma or hay fever. Dental care has been documented as the greatest unmet health care need of children in the United States. Prevention and treatment of dental caries require a timely evaluation by a dentist. The recommendation of starting dental check-ups at 1 year of age is made with the prevalence and severity of pediatric dental disease in mind.
ANNA ROSE CARLSON, MD, Children's Hospital at Erlanger
ALLEN COFFMAN, MD, Highland Pediatrics
Mayor Berke's commission to negotiate a slight compromise in the generous retirement benefits of firemen and policemen is meeting with cries of broken promises. The writers of the contract forgot to include some "if" clauses to give the taxpayers an escape. But OK, lets focus on promises. To get taxpayers to approve a new benefits formula, we were blitzed with advertising by print and the air. Also we were accosted with petitions at home, on the streets, and indeed, all the way to the polls. Now listen to this: Taxpayers were promised that "it won't cost taxpayers a dime." And yes, it passed. Go back to the archives and pull the record. Since then, many retiring high-paid officers have raided the fund for hundreds of thousands of dollars, aided by more normal stock market behavior that has reduced the fund to only 60 percent of its obligations. All while the city is pumping millions into the fund every year. What is puzzling is why accounting firms and number crunchers didn't step up to the plate and declare these benefits unsustainable long-term. C'mon guys, give the taxpayers a little relief.
Recently the president has raised the issue of minimum wage, which he seems to treat as a sacrament. The immediate result of that is that some people will get a raise and some people will lose their jobs. I don't see any benefit in that. The president talks a lot about fairness. Fairness is when an employee is paid what he or she is worth. For some people that would be good news; for others it will be bad news. If there is a valid argument against that, I would like to hear it.
JOHN COLE, East Ridge
An open letter to our children, grandchildren and great-grandson. President Obama's Press Secretary, Jay Carney, and the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, announced a new benefit available to you. No longer will you need to work hard and long hours as your parents, grandparents and other ancestors had to do. They did so to provide a good life for themselves and their families, to honor and serve God and to be able to give when needed, to friends and neighbors. You have a choice. If you wish, you can work fewer hours and make less money. If that is your choice, the government will provide support for your health care insurance and many other benefits. Please forgive us for what our generation has done to America, to you and to your descendants!
DAVID M. BROWNLEE, Ooltewah
In a recent Letter to the Editor, it was noted that the Philanthropy Roundtable reported that the divorce rate in Chattanooga is 50 percent higher than the national average. Also, Chattanooga had the fifth worst out-of-wedlock birth rate of 128 other cities in the United States. As a point of clarification, these statistics are from information First Things First (a non-profit dedicated to strengthening families in Chattanooga) shared in 1997 when we launched. I am pleased to report that since 1997 there has been a 27 percent decrease in the divorce rate (numbers from state Health Department) and a 63 percent decrease in teen out of wedlock pregnancies (Kids Count Report). In 2012, Hamilton County actually experienced an increase in marriage for the first time in a number of years.
JULIE BAUMGARDNER, president and CEO, First Things First