Letters to the Editor 

Memphis Politics

Second chance, sixth chance, or 28th chance, what's the difference? It's just Memphis politics. The Second Chance program was created by Mayor Willie Herenton. He placed his former bodyguard and convicted felon Yolanda McFagdon in a $105,000 job with an annual pension of around $59,900 to oversee a program to rehabilitate felons. She later was charged with mismanagement at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center.

Now, we have another Second Chance alum in Demetria Hogan, a convicted felon with a lengthy rap sheet, getting hit with criminal charges while working for Memphis Animal Services. She has been fired, but don't be surprised if she becomes the director of Memphis Public Libraries or something similar down the road.

Joe Mercer
Memphis

The Debt Ceiling

I've been concerned about our skyrocketing national debt since the end of the Reagan administration. So why are we now, all of a sudden, concerned about the money the country owes?

A few days ago, I listened to the Prince of Misinformation, Rush Limbaugh, instructing his legions of "dittoheads" that Barack Obama was totally responsible for America's debt overload. David Stockman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, however, recently blamed the "ideological tax-cutters" of the Reagan administration for the increases of the national debt during the 1980s. When Jimmy Carter left office, America was the largest creditor nation in the world. When Reagan left office, the U.S. was the biggest debtor nation in the world.

History confirms that the U.S. national debt has increased under recent Republican presidents (Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush) and decreased under Democratic presidents. So why are we concerned now, and why are Republicans the ones who are so concerned? During the Reagan presidency, the Gipper raised the national debt ceiling 17 times, but the Republicans didn't complain.

I think President Obama's decision to take the issue to the American people is absolutely right. He appears to be trying to solve the problem, and the Republicans are increasingly portrayed as little more than petty obstructionists. It looks like a few Republicans, notably Mitch McConnell, are starting to realize that this conflict is theirs to lose. If checks stop coming to Social Security recipients, military personnel, and other government employees, the Republican Party will deservedly bear most of the blame.

The term "political suicide" could not be more appropriate.

John Manasco
Memphis

Entitlements?

I'm sick of hearing that Social Security and Medicare are entitlements. They are savings plans. I have a 50-year work record. During that time I paid into Social Security and Medicare. Now I am collecting those savings in the form of a monthly check and a basic health-care policy. I also have a pension that I willingly gave up some wage increases for over the years.

Today's workers face a monolithic force composed of big business, the Tea/Republican Party, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a compliant Democratic Party. The latest wage and earning reports confirm what too many Americans already knew: Pay packages for Fortune 500 executives have risen to levels that would make King Midas blush. Profits are rising at percentages that should make the American Dream a reality for all. Instead we hear cries from the right that regulations and taxes are killing business.

The Department of Labor reports that from May 2010 to 2011 wages for hourly workers fell 1.6 percent. At the same time, corporations, with help from the Supreme Court jesters, have been able to buy our elected officials with campaign dollars. Their only reinvestments are going to stockholders, pay for the top executives, and slave wages and no benefits to workers in other countries.

The propaganda machine of the right would have us believe that it's unions and the middle class that have wrought all the damage to our economy, ignoring the fact that several Wall Street firms have paid huge fines to settle lawsuits involving the selling of high-risk mortgages that they financially bet against! It's the modern version of a snake oil salesman, except, unlike in the old Westerns, they have not been tarred and feathered. Instead they have been rewarded with tens of millions of dollars in salaries and benefits. As Yakov Smirnoff used to say: "America, what a country!"

Jack Bishop
Memphis

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