Posted: November 28, 2012 at 4:52 a.m.

Reduction worth pennies

I’m tired of reading about Gov. Mike Beebe and the legislators patting themselves on the back for reducing the sales tax on groceries. I will admit, 6 percent was a little much when Beebe took office. First, he reduced the tax by half, to 3 percent. I spend about $100 a week on my groceries; that saves me about $3.00. Wow, I can buy myself a hamburger each week. Next the grocery tax was reduced to to 1.5 percent, another $1.50. Now Beebe proposes reducing it further, down to one-eighth of a percent. Now I can make it a cheeseburger.

Now, it might sound good to say it would save Arkansas taxpayers $69 million a year. But what is it saving the individual family? Just pennies a week. I lose this much each week out the hole in my pants pocket.

Leave the 1.5 percent tax alone—we are used to it by now—and put this $69 million to help in other areas, i.e., chip some off the state income tax. This would help the citizens of Arkansas a lot more.

Oh, by the way, I am retired, my income is fixed, and I report up to 85 percent of my Social Security as earned income to the feds and pay taxes again on that.


Heber Springs

Someone had to do it

I am offended by remarks from Bradley Gitz that Democrats sponge off government entitlements. Mr. Gitz gets this straight from think tanks funded by the 1 percent.

There is evidence to support that the right are the leeches. Democrats pay for their entitlements. Has anybody from the right noticed the FICA deduction on their paychecks? Similarly, we will pay for Obamacare.

The right wing’s biggest objection to Obamacare was the individual mandate. Romney supporters tried to protect the parasites who refuse to buy insurance. When they get sick, their cost of treatment is passed on to the rest of us. Doesn’t it follow that the right was protecting them?

We would not have Obamacare if the right had been interested in a fair and equitable health-care system. Widely available data confirms the following facts about the pre-Obamacare system: It was the world’s most expensive. It ranked 37th when compared to other industrialized countries. Its costs rose so fast that healthcare as a portion of U.S. gross domestic product doubled in 40 years, far outpacing inflation in any other sector. Health care was not a free market, it was a rigged market.

Since the Republicans were not interested in fixing it, Democrats had to. It isn’t socialism; private companies will still provide health services. They will just do it within a legal framework that keeps the consumer’s pockets from being picked.


Bella Vista

The good and the bad

For some time the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has been a good newspaper with a bad editorial page and opinion section. The Voices page for Black Friday illustrated this. A letter writer announced that “I think gays, lesbians and transsexual people are second-class citizens.” On the same page Dana Kelley wrote that “Lincoln, in direct violation of the Constitution’s habeas corpus guarantee” arrested pro-Confederate Marylanders.

Article One, section nine of the Constitution reads “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”

The Civil War was a pretty big rebellion, so Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus was constitutional.


Little Rock

Tomfoolery is selfish

I am disgusted and appalled with the Republican legislators who want to opt out of the health-care bill that the Supreme Court and nearly half of the American people have approved of. Disapproval polls are only 33 percent now that people see what a good difference it is making in their lives. And that percentage will get lower with time.

It is a good health-care bill that is the law of the land, yet these legislators would rather the state suffer than take a deal where all that will be required from our state is 10 cents on a dollar.

They are eager to use our Arkansas citizenry without health care to prove we do not need the federal government, and now the state is discussing ending Level 3 nursing care because of this stupidity.

They apparently would see people die so we can be isolated from a Democratic president. What kind of self-centered tomfoolery is this?

I am a retired Arkansas citizen and would hope better for my state.


Dogma trumps sanity

Well, the failed medical marijuana act is history. Once again the so-called moral majority of Arkansas has shown its considerable ignorance on the issue. This should not startle us, as they have a history of opposing other rational and sane laws that would help alleviate the suffering of innocent human beings. In their fevered imaginations, they see in these laws the workings of their favorite imaginary imp, Satan. To them this is the height of moral wisdom.

These reality-impaired individuals never question their shallow morals. They have a propensity for being able to detach their cramped morality from the reality of human suffering. So, here again we have witnessed religious dogma superseding moral reasoning and true compassion.


Some prefer vacuum

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s recent editorial on marijuana legalization, reprinted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, could be said to have been overly simplistic.

Most people may also be blissfully unaware of the nature of some of the many unintended consequences of legalizing medical or recreational marijuana use as has been proposed. Marijuana’s principal psychoactive constituent is an already legal FDA-approved oral Schedule III drug available by prescription from any pharmacy within the United States, including in Arkansas. What else may people not know?

Why would any state have citizens vote in a virtual information vacuum on matters already resolved by other means? Aristotle said nature abhors a vacuum. Apparently some with a political agenda do not.


Gifts come with price

Walmart has generously gifted northwest Arkansas, but it seems to be done on the backs of its underpaid and underinsured workers in this country, and, as we have recently seen, on the backs of workers in unsafe facilities in foreign countries. How could a factory in Bangladesh pass fire inspection with no outside emergency exits?

I enjoy Crystal Bridges, but at what price? There is a direct connection between Alice Walton’s largesse and the business practices of Walmart.


It’s a different country

If religious countries are supposed to be so blessed, then why is the holy land of Israel an eternal battlefield? Proof is very evident that peaceful secular countries are the most advancing and prosperous, while the ones dominated by religions stay primitive and war-ravaged. All the chaos stirred up in religious countries is due to their inhabitants being so severely divided over who has the correct theological formula to follow.

Even in America, proof is evident that the most secular areas are the most prosperous and progressive parts of the country. And typically America’s secular areas vote Democratic because they know the Republican party wants religion to dominate the country, despite whatever our Constitution says.

But before breaking the Constitution, I prefer breaking up the country. Let the sheeples have the South, and they can call their new country Jesusland. They can create a Taliban-like Constitution for it and all its people who believe what they are told to believe. History will prove that Jesusland will turn into a miserable, chaotic powderkeg just like Israel with all these people who think that a divinity is going to save them all.

Then let the Americans who believe what makes sense for themselves have the northern half of the country and call it Paradise. It will be a land of freethinkers that don’t expect a divinity to fix our problems and know that if we want something fixed right, then we need to fix it ourselves.



Something’s rotten . . .

I was at the LSU game on Friday and can assure your readers that the Razorback team that fans thought they would see all season finally showed up and competed very hard on Senior Day.

But the players were robbed of the opportunity for a signature win over their archrival by the almost pathologically inept decision-making of head coach John L. Smith, a tragic (and comic) figure of Shakespearean dimensions.

The game’s climax, of course, occurred in the fourth quarter with the Hogs, down seven points, facing a critical fourth-and-goal from the LSU one-foot line.

Screw your courage to the sticking point, the crowd practically beseeched Smith. But no. On came the kicker, to a chorus of boos, for the deflating, and ultimately decisive, field-goal try. It was hard to watch.

But what does it matter now, you might well ask, as Smith has surely strutted and fretted his final buffoonish hour upon the U of A stage.

It matters because athletic director Jeff Long, the man who hand-selected Smith, was recently rewarded with a healthy raise and contract extension. Something is rotten in the state of Arkansas athletics.




Fine piece of satire

I must tip my blaze-orange hat to both the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page editor and writer Frank Bill for the column entitled, “Death in the forest.” If I taught a journalism class in Arkansas and wanted an example of satire to lecture on, this is the perfect piece. To a bonafide Ozarker like myself (which is to say, an enthusiast in everything Odocoileus Virginianus), Mr. Bill’s column regarding the family account of his grandpa’s harvesting a buck is so subtly tongue-in-cheek it warrants an award. I’ll not go through it all, since that would ruin the amusement of one’s going back and reading it. The only folly of its publication is that the original column looks like it appeared in the New York Times, where every reader will fall for it hook, line and sinker.



Are facts related?

Arkansas is among the most anti-union states in America. It is also among the lowest-wage states in the nation.

Are these two facts a coincidence?