incoming (2006-11)

Kelo Question Explained

Tax Tribulations

Careful What You Wish For

Sugarcoated Torture

Kelo was not about “a Connecticut municipality’s right to condemn under-utilized urban properties to allow for economic redevelopment, in that instance a $270 million pharmaceutical research facility.” The research facility was already built at the time of the case; the property owners whose land needed to be taken for the facility itself were dealt with fairly. (Pfizer bought the house that a former bass teacher of mine lived in, and he and his family had no complaints. While the facility was being built there was no outcry at all about eminent domain abuse.)

The so-called “under-utilized urban property” of the Kelo case was a functioning and healthy lower-middle-class neighborhood, Fort Trumbull, and eminent domain was being used not for a research center, but for a rather vaguely proposed hotel and condominium project intended to ride on the success of the adjacent Pfizer facility.

It was the bad luck of the residents of Fort Trumbull (many of whom had been there for generations) to be less than affluent, but to be sitting on a piece of prime waterfront real estate that the New London Development Corporation deemed more worthy of occupancy by someone who would pay higher property taxes.

I never considered myself anti-eminent domain. For truly public projects, I’m still not against it. But the Kelo case was a different matter altogether.

Bill Morrison

Tax Tribulations

She stated that “we already pay 9.25 percent in sales tax.” Currently, a bill sponsored by Knoxville Sen. Tim Burchett and Knoxville Reps. Joe Armstrong and Harry Tindell proposes a food tax—cigarette tax swap (Senate Bill 3626 and House Bill 3611). This is a revenue-neutral tax swap filed for the 2006 session that will cut the state food tax in half, from 6 to 3 percent, replacing the lost revenue with an increase in the cigarette tax. Most states do not tax groceries at all! Tennessee’s cruel and unjust food tax makes it difficult for families to feed themselves healthy meals.

Meanwhile, at just 20 cents a pack, Tennessee has one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the nation, even lower than big tobacco-producing states like Kentucky and Virginia! Tennessee is well above the national average for food tax but is far below the national average cigarette tax of 91 cents a pack. Do I smell the smoke of political influence?

Tennessee needs to reevaluate how fair its revenue-tax structure is, because right now it is easier to buy a pack of smokes than to put a decent meal on the family table! And we wonder why TennCare is overburdened with health claims!

Frank Meeuwis

Careful What You Wish For

As the two-time Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne, who recently passed away, put it: “It is because there are evil, incompetent people in the world that we must never give government the power to enforce morality, economic equality, or any other social goal. The coercive power of government is always a beacon to those who want to dominate others—summoning the worst dregs of society to Washington to use that power to impose their will upon others.”

I often had to remind people that Adolf Hitler was just a common street thug before rising to power. Politicians never believe in fighting fair. They exploit and enrich their own powerbase while their minions do the dirty work. At least a street thug fights fair. So, my message to those who advocate more government intrusion into people’s lives is simply be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

Chris Fortner

Sugarcoated Torture

Take the abuses at Abu Gharib prison camp. I saw bad, disgusting pictures in our press that showed people being humiliated. But I never saw blood, or someone in the act of punching and kicking an inmate. I had to be alerted to photos in the Australian press for that.

One look at those pictures and what I already thought was confirmed five-fold. What we did there was torture, and it was wrong. I don’t care what the prisoners in these photos did.

Americans don’t do these kinds of things to our enemies. My father, who fought in the Pacific Theater in World War II, has always made this point: The Japanese soldiers, forced to do so by some of their officers, tortured American prisoners. The Americans did not torture Japanese or German prisoners. And believe me, emotions were running high during a long war in which almost 300,000 Americans lost their lives in battle alone, not counting other causes, compared with 147 battle deaths in the first Gulf War. My father is extremely proud of the restraint and civilized behavior of American troops. I do agree we overreacted and were very wrong to incarcerate American citizens of Japanese descent. I don’t think any of them were tortured, though they did suffer greatly.

We are supposed to stand for the Geneva Convention, for civilization, for humane treatment of defeated peoples. We need to stop this. Write to your senator, congressman and the president, and insist that this behavior stop and those responsible for previous acts be punished.

Even if you don’t care one bit about what happens to Iraqis or other “foreigners,” think about yourself. Every one of these violent abusers shown in these pictures will someday leave the military and come home—maybe to your community. Do you want people like this in your neighborhood? Dating your daughter? Coaching Little League? After their violent, anti-social behavior has been condoned by their superiors? Think about it, America. Timothy McVeigh, former machine-gunner in the first Gulf War, blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and wounding at least 800. John Allen Muhammed, former Army expert marksman, killed 10 people and wounded two during his stint as the “D.C. Sniper.”

Who should you be afraid of? Foreign terrorists or violent psychopaths we help create ourselves every time we turn a blind eye to their behavior? They look just like you, too, so you can’t easily “profile” them. McVeigh had blond hair and blue eyes. I in no way mean to imply that all members of our armed services would perform such acts, or that they are violent psychopaths. I’m sure the majority of servicemen and women denounce such acts. But those who are, need to be stopped and punished.

See the pictures at .

Write to President George W. Bush at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.

To find out how to contact your representatives, go to and follow the links to the House and Senate.

LouAnn Blocker

Guidelines for Incoming Mail