I do not live in Memphis. Because of this, some will say that I have no right to an opinion regarding the Memphis City Schools ("School Daze," July 28th issue). I do work in Memphis, which means that I pay some taxes in Memphis. And I grew up in Memphis and attended Memphis City Schools for 12 years.
Having seen the political tomfoolery of the last 40 or so years, I feel compelled to point out this fact: It has cost a lot to reduce the Memphis City Schools to the level they are at today. It will cost even more to reduce them further. It would be less expensive to actually fix the problems, but it would appear that the majority of local politicians lack the guts, will, and/or intelligence to do so.
Red Banks, Mississippi
Who are "these people," and why do I find them so annoying? That's what I said to myself following the ridiculousness in Washington, D.C., that culminated in raising the debt ceiling and a half-hearted attempt at reducing the cost of running our federal government. Military personnel will now continue to receive checks for at least a few more months. People who paid into the Social Security system and who now rely on the government to fund the requirements of life will be able to exist a little longer. And poor children who have no control over their own destiny will receive the minimal resources that trickle down for basic necessities to keep them alive.
Who are these people who consider themselves patriots and claim to love America but don't give a damn about the well-being of so many of their fellow Americans? I'm not talking about the fools in Congress who would have happily driven us over the precipice to economic disaster. I'm talking about the fools who elected those fools.
According to my research, Tea Party members are disproportionately male, white, and older than the average citizen. They also are more conservative and better off financially than most of us. Many of them fall into the "born again" category as well. Judging from the membership of the Tea Party caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, Tea Party supporters are by far strongest in the South.
I'm in my mid-60s, white, a college grad, and have been a successful businessman. In dealing with numerous Tea Party types, I must say that government debt, although an issue with these guys, is not the main issue. Taxation, any kind of taxation, is the issue at the top of their list. Even in Tennessee, where the tax burden is the third-lowest in the 50 states, any tax is bad and, in their mind, unnecessary.
They have a big problem with any welfare program designed to assist the poor while, as an example, farm subsidies such as the $3 million collected by Tennessee 8th District congressman Stephen Fincher are just fine, because they identify with him and his values. (He's a self-proclaimed Tea Party supporter and gospel singer.)
In 2008, before the Tea Party began to become the abomination that it is today, Republican governor Mike Huckabee inadvertently predicted its birth during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. "One of the biggest problems in America," Huckabee said, "is that so many people in this country were born on third base and think they hit a home run." Well said, Governor.
I read in the newspaper this morning that we shouldn't play the "blame game" about the debt-ceiling controversy. But there is blame to be assigned for that debacle.
There is a well-worn statement: "Never negotiate with terrorists, it only encourages them." These past few months, much of the country has watched as the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people. Their intransigent demands for deep spending cuts, coupled with their almost gleeful willingness to destroy one of America's most invaluable assets, its international credit rating, were incredibly irresponsible.
Like ideologues everywhere, they scorned compromise. When House speaker John Boehner tried to cut a deal with President Obama that included some modest revenue increases, they humiliated him.
These are true extremists who have infiltrated the halls of Congress. Negotiation is futile.
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Which leads me to put on my Dr. Phil face and say what has to be said: It's time for Memphis and Shelby County to start seeing other people. We've tried for years to patch things up, to come to some sort of mutual understanding, but we need to admit that we have irreconcilable differences. We don't even know each other any more ...