You provide a valuable service, and I wanted to express my gratitude for getting to be part of it.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Birth of Constitution Important

Roger Carlton, columnist for Graham Starr newspaper

This week the Constitution of the United States is 232 years old. 
The Constitution is the governing document that establishes the form our federal government takes and the powers and limitations on those powers. The original document was not meant to be rigid and was amended in a 10 Amendment Bill of Rights in 1789 two years after the Constitution was adopted. 

We are still arguing about the meaning of these rights such as limiting freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and the limitation on establishing an official religion. We even tried to ban alcohol in the Eighteenth Amendment and the failure of that approach to create a better world was mercifully repealed thirteen years later in the Twenty-first Amendment. 

Thirty-three amendments have been proposed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification and twenty-seven have passed. Just to show how our Congressional representatives think things need to change, there have been 11,770 proposed amendments during the past 232 years, and thank goodness, less than one-fourth of one percent have passed. Perhaps all these attempted amendments show why we have such busy courts.

Remember that the Declaration of Independence got the ball rolling in 1776 which has come to be known as Independence Day or the Fourth of July. I read that marvelous document in its entirety while writing this column. It is worth 15 minutes of your time to do this as well. 

Here are a few conclusions from my reading.
The bulk of the document is a long list of grievances against British King George II. Perhaps the most important grievance is embodied in the words, "A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." 

Of equal importance are the words, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." 

Well, to further prove that the Constitution is a living document, it took a Civil War and the Thirteenth Amendment to end slavery and women were not given the right to vote until the Nineteenth Amendment which was approved by Congress in 1919 (100 years ago} and ratified by the States in 1920.

So, if we declared independence in 1776, won the Revolutionary War in 1783 and adopted the Constitution in 1789, how were we governed during those  years? 
There was an interim document called the Articles of Confederation which established an interim form of government. This document was adopted in 1777 but not ratified by the states until 1781. It is nothing short of a miracle that reasonable people could come to a series of compromises that carried us through the the Revolutionary War and the brief period until the Constitution was written during a long hot Philadelphia summer. There were 55 Framers and 39 were signers. The youngest was Jonathan Dayton (26) and the oldest was Benjamin Franklin (81). The average age was  forty-two.

Please join me in celebrating the birthday of the Constitution of the United States. 
The democracy for which it creates guidelines and the fact that the basic document cannot be changed without an amendment process has kept us together through the Civil War and numerous crises. The Preamble to the Constitution says, "In order to form a more perfect Union." The word "more" says it all. 

If the Framers wanted a static document, they would have left the word "more" out of the document. There were approximately 2.5 million people in the 13 colonies in 1776 and there are 330 million people in the United States today. We have a lot "more" work to do to figure out how to preserve and enhance democracy in today's complex times, but we have the foundation to do that in the Constitution.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Saturday, September 28, at Mountain Regional Library in Young Harris, Georgia, Patricia Zick, well-published writer who now lives in Murphy, NC will teach a workshop from 10:15 - 1:15.
NC Writers' Network-West is sponsoring this valuable experience for local writers. We appreciate the Mountain Regional Library hosting this event.

Patricia who writes under the pseudonym of P. C. Zick, will discuss the use of the Internet for self-publishing. 

The Road to Publishing

Author and editor, Patricia Zick, will present The Road to Publishing, a writing workshop on Saturday, September 28, 10:15 - 1:15, at Mountain Regional Library in Young Harris, GA. The library is located at 698 Miller Street
Young Harris, GA  30582. Phone: 706-379-3732
The workshop will explore the different choices for publishing a book, but the main focus will be on the steps involved in self-publishing a work of nonfiction or fiction using Amazon’s publishing platform.  Zick, the author of twenty-five published books in a variety of genres, will demonstrate how to prepare a manuscript, define publishing concepts, and walk through the step-by-step process for uploading a book for both Kindle and paperback publication to the online retail site.
 Zick’s writing career began in 1998 with the publication of her first novel by a small publisher. She used a traditional publisher for her next two novels and worked with an agent for several years. However, when the Independent (Indie) publishing movement began gaining momentum in 2010, she was ready to try something different where she had more control over the process, the work itself, and the payments for that work. Patricia Zick has also worked as a reporter, editor, and publisher of a small newspaper in north Florida. The skills learned in those jobs helped with her venture into the world of an Indie author.
She is a freelance editor who has helped more than a dozen writers go from a rough draft manuscript to a final published author via Amazon.
The three-hour workshop will showcase what it takes to publish independently. It may not be the road for everyone, but at the end of this class, attendees will have a good idea of what route will work for them.
Attendees may bring a sandwich or snack and a drink. We will take a short break near noon. No kitchen facilities are available.

Zick lives in Cherokee County, NC with her husband, Robert, during the spring and summer. They spend the cooler months in Tallahassee, Florida. In both of their homes, they share a love of the outdoors. They kayak, hike, garden, and play golf. While her husband tends the garden, she can be found at her laptop pounding out her next novel or preparing manuscripts for publication.
Published as P.C. Zick, she’s in the process of completing a seven-book series of sweet contemporary romances set in Chicago. Her Smoky Mountain Romances, set in Cherokee County, chronicle the stories of a small community of people who drawn by love, come together, as family. She also edits books for others in her spare time.
Zick is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West which sponsors this event. To register, send a check or money order for $40.00 to NCWN-West, % Glenda Beall,  581 Chatuge Lane, Hayesville, NC 28904. Registration must be made in advance.
Please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne or any scented products. They can make some of us very ill. Thanks for your consideration.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Can I Prompt You to Write?

How many times have you felt you just could not write, could not think of a topic or get motivated to begin?

Well, we all  have those moments, but those of us who are not working on a particular manuscript or subject we want to explore, often come up empty when we have the time and want to write.

I like prompts to help me jog my writing mind. I often just need one line or one suggestion to get the juices flowing and then can't stop until I finish my story or essay or poem. Some of my best poetry is the result of prompts in writing classes. 

Also, I think writing in more than one genre is helpful. I might get an idea that works great in a poem, but would not do well as a fiction piece or personal essay. It is fun and interesting to write a poem and then write a story from the poem. Writing poetry forces the writer to search for the very best words, and helps keep the fiction from running on with too many adverbs and adjectives. 

Writer's Digest has an article filled with a variety of prompts. Check them out and let me know if you found something here that awakes your muse.

Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Tariffs: Terrific or Terrible?

Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star newspaper is sharing another of his articles with us today. We can learn much from Roger's insightful words. As writers, we cannot be fearful of what some readers might oppose. Writers are here to make the world think, to show others what they might have missed. Let us know what you think. 

There is no shortage of hot topics for this column. 

This week Hurricane Dorian has been top of mind as well as a new mass shooting in Texas. Politics and who told the biggest lie or made the biggest gaffe has kept the pundits and talking heads busy as they desperately try to fill 24 hour per day news cycles. Buying Greenland from Denmark was a big story that far exceeded the Louisiana, Alaska and Gadsden purchase coverage many years ago. In my view the story that impacts the most people in Graham County is the trade wars with China.

Let's see if we can agree on some definitions
A "tariff" is used to restrict imports by increasing the price of products or services. There are two types of tariffs. The first is product specific like a $1000 tariff on a vehicle made in another country. The second is ad valorem which means that the tariff is a percentage of the price of a product. In either case, the producing country does not pay the cost of the tariff nor does the importing company. The cost is passed on to the consumer eventually. No one in the producing company or the import and distribution chain is in business for charitable purposes. Costs must eventually be passed on to consumers or you go out of business.

"Free trade" means that goods and services flow without limitation between countries and "restricted trade" means that barriers or limitations are placed on the goods. The cons of free trade are that it erodes national sovereignty and encourages a race to the bottom in wages/benefits, worker protections are diminished and product quality erodes. The pros of free trade are that it encourages competition, lowers prices to consumers and forces companies to innovate. The risks of restricted trade are loss of jobs and market share in the country imposing the tariffs, the receiving country will retaliate with their own tariffs and a trade war may ensue. 

A "trade war" is when countries try to damage each other by targeting certain products that are key industries or have political clout which puts  pressure on the elected and appointed decision makers. A trade war began after the Smoot Hawley tariffs were enacted in 1930 to protect Depression era industries from foreign imports. It increased 900 tariffs by an average of 40 to 48 percent. This worsened already terrible economies in Europe and was a contributor to World War II as Hitler and Mussolini appealed to economically stressed people who needed someone to blame for their problems other than their own leaders.

"Intellectual property" is a key issue in the confrontation with China. This basically means that our patents and designs/processes are stolen by Chinese manufacturers. There are many cases of this and the cost to protect designs is so great that some companies find it difficult to compete with foreign manufacturers. "Anti-dumping" regulations means that foreign companies cannot sell in the United States at prices below those in their own country and if they do monies are paid into a fund to help the impacted companies in the United States. 

This is the true reason why the Stanley plant closed because Stanley received nearly $50 million in these dumping payments and only used $9 million to modernize the Robbinsville plant. Stanley lost a lawsuit on this issue and was required to pay back more than $20 million. The company management and directors decided to close the plant rather than pay back the money. The Chinese competition did not cause the plant closing. There is much more to this story but space does not allow a full account.

There is merit to acting tough in this trade war. 
Our negotiators certainly have the Chinese leadership's attention.The problem is that positions seem to change daily and the desired outcomes have not been explained clearly to those American workers and consumers who are impacted in their already skinny wallets and diminishing 401Ks if they are blessed enough to have one. Case in point. Agricultural exports to China were $24 billion in 2014 but will likely be below $3 billion in 2019. We deserve more than tweets and hollow accusations. Patience is wearing thin.

You might like to read other articles by Roger:

Let's Remember Lee Iacocca

Peter Fonda Passes of Lung Cancer at age 79