So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Graham County. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Graham County. Show all posts

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Morality, Murder and A Miracle

Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Starr newspaper, Robbinsville, NC

May 31, 2020
What a week this has been. Let's start with the morality of the South Bay Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California deciding to defy reasonable limitations on their assembly. The church argued that limitations placed by California Governor Newsom were unfair because other secular places such as factories and supermarkets were not subject to the limitations imposed on the church. The US Supreme Court decided the issue in favor of the Governor on a 5/4 vote with Chief Justice John Roberts breaking the tie.

Chief Justice Roberts' opinion was based on his belief that matters of limiting the right to assemble in a COVID emergency were best left to politicians and administrators in each locality.

Roberts wrote, "The precise question of when restrictions on particular activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement."

So, what appears to be a liberal decision by a conservative Supreme Court Justice is really a conservative decision that clearly favors limiting the powers of the court to intervene. This is an important nuance especially in Graham County. There are more than 40 churches in Graham County. That is a large number for a small population. Our folks need their ability to attend church in the normal manner. There is a renewal process that goes on in a religious service. To many, it is sorely needed in these difficult times. The morality of social distancing, mask wearing and caution is so clear while the loss of individual rights is so minute in relation. Thanks to Justice Roberts for breaking the tie and doing the right thing. Let's all respect the temporary rules as affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Murder is wrong.

We all know that. When the alleged murder happens at the hands of a police officer, the right and wrong of the situation becomes much more complex. First, a few facts. There are 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. Since the first recorded police death in 1786, there have been more than 22,000 officers killed in the line of duty. There were 135 law enforcement officers killed in 2019 and 1627 in the past ten years. That is an average of one officer killed every 54 hours. This a tough and risky job without even considering the many injuries that occur while on duty. We should not forget that police officers and fire/rescue personnel are our first line of defense against the anarchy we all fear and are currently experiencing,

This does not mean that law enforcement officials can do no wrong. In fact, the pressures of the job, the need to make split second life and death decisions and the growing distrust and disrespect for the uniform cry out for more training in how to de-escalate situations and more transparency in how excessive use of force situations are investigated and resolved. The US Department of Justice provides a Community Relations Service to mediate local issues and deal with hate crimes. Its budget has been drastically cut.

There is searing pain and anger over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
There are honest people who want to peacefully protest and there are people who take advantage of this anger to loot in the guise of protest. Washington, state capitols and local leaders need to develop programs to reduce tension and provide positive channels of communication. It is appalling that the White House pours gasoline on these conflicts with comments like "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." This phrase has a racially charged history dating back to the civil rights protests. The excuse of not knowing the history of the phrase only speaks to not using it.

On a positive note, the successful launch of Elon Musk's Space X rocket in partnership with NASA returning launch capability to Cape Kennedy is nothing short of a miracle. During my career with Lockheed Martin, I was blessed with a tour of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where a shuttle was undergoing the 60-day turn-around process and an elevator ride up the tower where a shuttle would soon be launched. It was a defining moment to see what could be done when a message of hope and challenge comes from Washington and we all pull together. Frankly, it broke my heart when President Obama killed the shuttle program and we started paying the Russians nearly $90 million each time to launch our astronauts into space.

Right now, we seem to be sinking into a Sarlaccian abyss that threatens everything we hold dear. What comes to mind is Dante's Inferno and a group of politicians and bureaucrats casting about trying to emerge from a never-ending hellish fire pit. Come on folks. We expect our leaders to lead. We expect our leaders to put out fires. We expect our police to be guardians. We will survive until November when it will be possible to change course.

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:

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