In response to Mary Cashiola's column supporting consolidation (February 4th issue):
Consolidation has historically led to tyranny by a centralized government. The Constitution emphasizes a separation of powers to prevent this very thing. This is the foundation of most institutions in a just social order. Those that worship the state desire the chains of the state as a slave. Safety with tyranny is a form of bondage; why else did the 10th Amendment get added to the Constitution?
Charles H. Gillihan
As one who attended the original "Greening Greater Memphis" meeting at the Botanic Garden in 2007, I was gratified to read Bianca Phillips' story on the development of the greenways (February 4th issue). Even if, as is likely, only a small percentage of Shelby Countians use the trails regularly, their development represents a significant step forward in progressive civic thinking. Survey after survey makes clear that such "quality of life" issues as outdoor recreation facilities are key in drawing young professionals to an urban area. Going green isn't just good for our health and environment; it's good business.
Martha Faust's letter about the National School Lunch Program (February 4th issue) seemed very familiar to me — probably because the exact same letter has run in 35 U.S. daily newspapers, all under different names. It appears the Memphis Flyer is the victim of an "astroturf" campaign promoting the image of grassroots concern about making school lunches vegetarian.
Most of these carbon-copy letters included links to websites. One of these is run by an animal rights group deceptively named the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). PCRM is not a mainstream health group (though it acts like one). About 60 percent of the group's budget comes from the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. PCRM's president writes that cheese is "dairy crack" and that "to give a child animal products is a form of child abuse." Policymakers, his organization says, "should think of drinking milk the same way we think of smoking cigars." These are not the values that most parents want to see reflected in school cafeterias.
Newspapers should be extra vigilant in the future, to make sure they're not being duped by a tiny vegetarian movement that appears larger than it really is.
Director of Research,
Center for Consumer Freedom
The Nature of Politics
In The Federalist Papers, James Madison pointed out the nature of politics: People have different opinions, beliefs, and passions, which have divided "mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good."
Madison argued that America's form of democracy would promise a cure for the problems inherent in politics. However, democracy only works if people participate. Democracy starts with a discussion, and we need to have one. Daily Kos/Research 2000 recently released a poll on self-identified Republicans: 63 percent of those polled said they believe that President Obama is a socialist, and 31 percent believe he is a racist who hates white people.
It's hard to have a conversation, when you have such a low opinion of your political opponent. We need to see each other as citizens who love their country, not as enemies. Unfortunately, local and national talk show hosts and television pundits profit from pitting us against one another, and both parties have decided to seek power through polarizing politics.
We have to remember that our Constitution starts with a powerful phrase, "We the People." But if "We the People" don't talk to each other, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. Support American democracy: Have a respectful discussion with a fellow citizen you disagree with.
Brandon Chase Goldsmith