Not a Clue?
This is from one of those Democrats who "don't have a financial clue" as J. Mitchell wrote last week (Letters to the Editor, October 11th issue). I have news for Mr. Mitchell: Federal debt more than doubled under President Reagan and went up 50 percent under President George W. Bush, who wanted to fight a war without paying for it.
My aim is to find out what went wrong with our economy (rather than point fingers). Then, we can determine what role, if any, the federal government might play in helping us achieve a recovery. The top culprit was the easy availability of credit, which drove up the cost of homes, health care, college tuitions, and many other assets. When it becomes obvious that we can no longer pay for these assets, asset values fall. Housing values are not coming back, because we have inadequate income. Corporations are not going to begin investing in new plants on any large scale for the same reason: inadequate income.
The economy was very sick in 2008, and sick economies take a long time to regain their strength. At this stage in our recovery, most American families still need to pay down debt rather than spend more, so there is little incentive for corporate America to begin a hiring spree. This means that federal tax revenues are not likely to increase very much, and, to avoid adding to our debt, federal taxes will have to go up. The good news is that our free enterprise system will rebound. But if we expand too rapidly, we will quickly find ourselves back in the same trap that got us into this mess in the first place: easy credit, lax regulation, and only five balanced budgets in 50 years, hardly President Obama's fault.
As a supporter of Memphis Tigers football, I have been around for some big victories over the years. The Tigers have beaten Southern Cal, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Auburn, to name a few. These were greats victories, but the Tigers' 14-10 win over Rice in the cold rain was something special. It was the first win for Coach Justin Fuente as he leads us into the Big East Conference next year. Fuente and his staff are going to make Tiger football a winner.
I implore Memphians to check out this Tiger team over the next three home games and show these kids the city of Memphis supports their hard work. They deserve it.
Driving While Old
Having experienced this four times with older relatives, I can agree with Michael Wassmer's assessment (Viewpoint, October 11th issue) that older drivers need to be tested more frequently.
One correction: The automotive stopping systems are brakes, not breaks.
E.D. (Duke) Martin
ALEC and Virtual Schools
As a lifelong educator, I am troubled by what is happening to public education. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has become the mechanism for corporations to exercise political power. Technically, ALEC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C. However, they are skewed to ultraconservatives. Coordinating efforts with 2,000 state member lawmakers, these corporations introduce model legislation to benefit themselves.
Recently in Tennessee, ALEC created and provided members its model Virtual Public Schools Act, making way for students to earn a high school diploma without ever entering a classroom. State senator Dolores Gresham, who has served as an ALEC Education Task Force member, introduced the bill to the Senate nearly verbatim, even using the same title.
The Virtual Public Schools Act passed in June 2011. Shortly thereafter, K12 Inc. (based in Virginia) won a no-bid contract from the Union County School District to create the Tennessee Virtual Academy and received $5,300 per student from the state for the school year. This program drains taxpayer funds while enriching a corporation, which keeps the money for its operations, even though it is an online school with no physical facility and very low overhead. K12, Inc. charges taxpayers the full price to "educate" a student and then works to maximize its profit.
Gresham, chair of the Senate education committee, has diverted our taxpayer dollars to these virtual schools and now has her eyes on vouchers. Gresham's enormous campaign war chest is funded by the same companies that stand to profit from her so-called education reforms. There is a better choice in the November election. Meryl Rice cares about the future of public education and, more importantly, our children.