As our Memphis City Council meets yet again to discuss privatization, the public should know by now that the premise for this discussion, that there is no money, is false.
Thanks to Tennessee Labor Coverage, we know that privatization will not save the city any money, that the shortfall is because of the irresponsible way that the city lowered the property tax in 2008, creating a $60 million shortfall in the city schools budget, and that large corporations are receiving massive tax breaks to bring a trivial number of jobs to our community. Privatization is about consolidating privilege while the "bad economy" provides a ready excuse. What we lack is not money but leadership.
A general phobia of taxation has struck this land, and that phobia is destroying our city government's ability to provide basic sanitation and security. We have a regressive sales tax, a tax that punishes the poor, and a property tax that erodes the middle class, but no capital gains tax and no income tax. It is as though taxation were thought of as theft and only the most vulnerable in our society must suffer it.
But progressive taxation is not theft. The only way for the wealthy to accumulate wealth is if hundreds and thousands of workers labor in the factories. We create their wealth, and in return we wish to live free from disease, insecurity, and want. But this is not enough for the Conrads, Hedgepeths, and Flinns of this world. They will not be satisfied until corporations are free to offer the lowest of wages, while offering nothing to our communities in the form of taxes. This is more than a struggle for a few sanitation workers' jobs; it is a struggle to provide the next generation with the basic material necessities of good sanitation, adequate security against crime, fire, and flooding, and a minimum education.
Everywhere that privatizing sanitation has occurred, it has brought with it a surge in illegal dumping. The private company proposed to us intends to cut jobs, extend the working day by 50 percent, and limit trash pickup to one small can. Those who cannot afford to pay someone to take away the rest of their trash will dump it within our city, a situation that is a threat to public health.
We all must support the sanitation workers, policemen, and firemen who are under attack by calling our city council members and demanding a progressive income tax. It is the least we can do for the excellent job they do every day risking their lives to make ours clean and safe.
Lelyn R. Masters
Without commenting on the guilt or innocence of Casey Anthony, I do want to comment about the media's handling of this trial (The Rant, July 7th issue).
Although not glued to the television during the trial, I saw commentators treat it like a spectator sport, venturing opinions on how the jurors dressed and the style of briefcase carried by a prosecutor. I have generally supported television cameras in the courtroom during high-profile trials. I'm not so sure now. The sheriff whose office investigated this murder said that there were 14 unsolved murders of children in his county this year. Where is the media's sensational coverage of these deaths or of all the child murders in the country?
Maybe now HLN can get back to the daily cycle of news that has a direct impact on us all, rather than providing a podium for these pumped-up self-righteous media pimps who always seem to be scowling in outrage.
Millions of Americans are getting left behind: Income distribution in America is out of wack. The top 2 percent of wage earners are feeling no pain, while most of us wince when we pull up to the gas pump, wonder about the decline in the market value of our houses, and worry over the rising price of essentials.
These realities don't hamper the lifestyles of the rich in Republican tax-cut heaven. They're not scaling back the size of their houses or their airplanes. While vexing economic challenges affect most Americans, Republican budget guru Paul Ryan still wants to give America's wealthy more in tax cuts — at a time when CEO pay exceeds pre-recession levels.
Nevada City, California
I have some helpful advice for our politicians. Democrats need to grow a pair, and Republicans need to grow a brain. That's what I call a compromise.
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