Letters To the Editor 

Eliminating Success?

At the most crucial juncture in its history, Memphis City Schools as a corporate enterprise ought to be fiercely protecting what's working, not eliminating proven successes.

Among the 33 teachers laid off in Thursday's MCS decision was Dr. D. Smith, guidance counselor at Grahamwood Elementary. Those looking for great examples of public education within the Memphis city limits need look no further than Grahamwood, where a widely diverse base of 950 students demonstrates the best of what is possible.

That Grahamwood can be so successful as both a Title I and an optional school is largely due to how the administration, teachers, and support system work together seamlessly. The anchors in this equation are the principal and the guidance counselor. In Smith, Grahamwood found a caring individual perfectly suited to the needs of every one of the school's elementary students.

Instead of breaking what was fixed, MCS would be better served to dig deeper and remove the problems that give good schools a bad name.

Jennifer Balink

Jobs in Memphis

Steve Jobs may have been the best candidate on the liver transplant waiting list in Memphis, as Dr. Eason claimed in John Branston's column (City Beat, October 13th issue). But there is anecdotal evidence that Jobs managed to get himself on numerous transplant waiting lists around the country by buying "residences" in various cities. This is hardly an option available to anyone but the uber-wealthy and is "gaming" the system at large.

I don't begrudge Jobs using his wealth to gain a couple precious years of life, nor is this a criticism of the Memphis team of surgeons. It's just another example of how the American health-care system favors those with money.

Steve Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Cain's Math

Per my calculations on the wannabe 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan: At the end of 2011, a single person who will be at least 65 years old and not blind and not filing as a head of household who takes her/his total authorized standard deduction of $7,250 and her/his one personal exemption of $3,700 and whose total income is less than $34,458.33 would pay more income tax under a 9 percent "flat tax," which allows for no deductions and which allows for no personal exemptions.

Simply put, paying 9 percent tax on $7,250, which would no longer be a standard deduction, and paying 9 percent tax on $3,700, which would no longer be a personal exemption, would amount to a $985.50 increase in tax payment.

"Under Cain's plan, the then-combined local, state, and national sales tax would be 16.75 percent."

Under his 9-9-9 plan, I wonder how much less/more in taxes overall, personal and corporate, businessman Cain would be paying. Under Cain's plan, I understand that a national sales tax of 9 percent would be added to new purchases, in addition to the existing local and state sales taxes added to purchases. Where I live, there is already a combined local and state sales tax of 7.75 percent on purchases. Under Cain's plan, the then-combined local, state, and national sales tax would be 16.75 percent on purchases.

Robert Truax

Westboro Baptist

The Supreme Court decision upholding the First Amendment right of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, to picket at the funerals of military personnel was a victory for our constitutional rights but a defeat for morality in this country. These misguided disciples are reminiscent of the Nazis and other fascist elements who persecuted gays, the clergy, Jews, gypsies, and various ethnic peoples in the 1930s and 1940s. They should be looked upon as anti-American bigots who are trying to undermine our military and tear at the fabric of our country. States should pass laws which prohibit such provocative and anti-American behavior within one mile or more from a funeral ceremony.

Donald A. Moskowitz
Londonderry, New Hampshire

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