This is Viewpoints for Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 15, 2014 

The least of these

The message about helping the poor does not resonate with wealthy politicians abusing power within the richest city in America, Washington, D.C. At the current time, my wife and I are taking home $140 less in pay due to increased health insurance premiums and deductibles, higher co-pays at the doctor and the expiration of the 2 percent FICA tax break. If I asked President Obama or U.S. Sen. Harry Reid why we are not saving up to $2,500 per month as President Obama stated following passage of the Affordable Care Act, I would be called a liar or the question would go unanswered.

If I traveled to Washington and held up a poster that stated Matthew 10:42, “And if you give even a cup of water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded,” and pleaded my case, I would likely hear from the IRS. I would join Franklin Graham’s Christian ministry and the right to life organization whose members were asked by IRS officials about the content of prayer within their meetings.

Despite the least of these (particularly working-class Americans) being lied to on a daily basis by the political class, we should continue to pray for God’s protection and blessing on this nation. Ever since the Great Society was implemented 50 years ago, approximately $15 trillion in tax money has been spent to combat poverty, but the poverty rate has not improved. In conclusion, Proverbs 11:14 will always prove true. “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; with many counselors, there is safety.”

-- Alan Preston


Looking after the young

I hope the community leaders of Macon recognize the efforts of Charles E. Richardson and Charles McGhee, who have offered righteous solutions to serious problems young folks experience today in Macon. McGhee has written two excellent Viewpoints letters in the past few weeks (and many more over the years) literally begging for support from churches, social organizations and city leaders for his constructive ideas to make real differences in our community. Of course, Sir Charles has always tried to positively influence young people through his newspaper columns, his radio show and community involvement over the years.

These gentlemen and others who share their concerns should be respected and supported with local financing, political support and volunteer services to mentor and create new leaders to carry on this important job. What a blessing to Macon if droves of young people begin to take more personal responsibility for their life choices and at the same time improve their future chances for success in the game of life. These two gentlemen are following a high calling, and I admire them both.

I met McGhee many years ago at Robins Air Force Base. He taught classes on human relations and how to understand cultural differences and work through problems and such. He was outstanding at that job (I’m sure he worked elsewhere as well). He is a fine person who really cares that many young folks in Macon will not survive their teen years. Cheers to both.

-- John Brogden

Warner Robins

Be careful where you cut

I am a fiscal conservative and a former two-term Republican elected official in Georgia. As such, I believe we need to balance the federal budget, reduce the deficit over time and raise the debt ceiling automatically each year to pay our existing debts rather than default on them like deadbeats do.

Here is how:

1. Cut military spending, which is out of control and has doubled in the last 10 years to over $700 billion dollars annually;

2. For everyone making over $200,000, repeal the Bush tax cuts which have not created jobs in the past decade while substantially increasing the deficit;

3. Tax all earned income for Social Security, not up to a little over $100,000 like we do now;

4. Slash corporate welfare such as unneeded government payments to wealthy oil companies and massive corporate farms;

5. Shrink the federal government workforce, freeze its pay scales and provide mandatory end-of-life counseling to eliminate medically unnecessary care under Medicare.

Ryan and others in Congress, as well as Obama, seem intent on cutting earned benefits programs, which they call entitlements. According to a recent Pew survey, 60 percent of Americans say it is more important to keep Medicare and Social Security benefits as they are versus cutting the deficit. Slashing these earned benefit (not entitlement) programs that provide a middle class safety net is not supported by taxpayers. I can guarantee you that politicians advocating this approach will pay for it at the polls in 2014 and 2016 regardless of which party they represent.

-- Jack Bernard


A better way

Airport security is in the news based on the disappearance of a Malaysian 777. We have to remove our shoes, our belts and our jackets. We stand in long security lines waiting to go through full body scanners, and if we haven’t experienced one personally, we’ve all heard jokes about the full-body pat down. But what about the validity of our passports?

With airport security in such disarray, I wonder why the TSA couldn’t expand its Trusted Traveler program? Trusted Traveler lets low-risk travelers pre-register with U.S. Customs, including a fingerprint scan, which can then be used to expedite airport security while traveling in and out of the country. And, the chance of using a fake passport is close to zero.

The TSA started a pilot program last year, called PreCheck, which allows passengers who submit to pre-approval to go through expedited lines, keep their shoes on, as well as keep their laptops and liquids in their bags. There is also a private company running a domestic version of this program, called CLEAR, but it is currently only available in a handful of airports.

These programs are clearly in their early stages, but they have potential to make airline travel a little easier and a lot safer. Instead of spending millions of dollars every few years on new machinery, the TSA could invest the same resources into a speedier security system that puts less pressure on the passenger and provides security with good results. If the TSA decides it wants to offer all Americans the chance to register for quicker security lines at the airport, I am certain thousands of people would line up for the chance. It seems that would be the better investment.

-- Greg Raiff

Chief Executive Officer

Private Jet Services

Seabrook, N.H.


Romain Dallemand was hired by a 5-3 vote. Those voting “no” were Sue Sipe, Lynn Farmer and Gary Bechtel. From the time of his hiring, he had an almost guaranteed 5-3 vote for virtually everything he wanted. Look where it got us. I was in the courtroom when Ron Collier’s suit was discussed, and the questionable details of the BOE involvement in giving money to the Macon Promise Neighborhood were made public. It sounded fishy at the time and still stinks.

The next critical event was when the 2012 BOE rushed through the extension of Dallemand’s contract, early and before new board members could be seated. Again, I believe the vote was the same 5-3.

Next came his request for a buyout. Such a sweetheart deal: $350,000, plus benefits and a juicy “hold harmless” agreement to boot. Paid in full, he is gone. At least two lawsuits against him were either dismissed or settled in order that Bibb County taxpayers would not have to pay additional legal fees in his defense.

And now that the heat is on from the audit, Dallemand skips the country and says the only deposition he will give will be given in Haiti. These actions are not in any way admissions of guilt, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it just might be a duck. And the nonprofit behind the Macon Promise Neighborhood now wants to sell Ballard-Hudson back to the BOE for $7.8 million (they paid $220,000).

Get a grip, Bibb County. Board attorneys, board members among the five and Dallemand all have serious questions to answer. Will there ever be accountability? The taxpayers, not to mention the children, deserve to have this matter come to the full light of day and to be prosecuted if necessary.

-- Peter K. Christensen

Warner Robins

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