Your letters, July 13

July 11, 2014 

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Family event fees excessive

I have lived in Durham for over 25 years and am astounded at the fees charged by some of Durham’s family-centered events and activities.

Twenty dollars to attend the Eno Festival?

Ten to $14 to visit the Museum of Life and Science?

An average family of four, especially one who has been hit hard by the recession, can’t easily fork out $50 to $80 in admission fees alone.

Why have Durham citizens been priced out of attending and appreciating their own treasures?

Barb Goldstein

Durham

Amused and enraged

I was alternately amused and enraged by John Hood's use of the terms “fiscal liberal” and “fiscal conservative” in his commentary (DN, July 2, bit.ly/U1zmYK). This novel use of the language either belies any understanding of the current political environment in the United States or is simply a mendacious attempt to deceive.

There used to be politicians who could accurately be described as a “fiscal conservative.” They included people like Lowell Weicker and Bill Clinton (whom, I suspect, John Hood would not credit as such even though he indisputably was). The Republican Party has actively eliminated them from their party and replaced them with social conservatives who had no problem spending trillions of current and future dollars on misguided wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Democratic Party has chosen not to emphasize the successes of the Clinton era and has allowed themselves to be caricatured by people like John Hood.

There has never, ever been a “fiscal liberal.” That’s a term people like John Hood use to denigrate those that believe that government has a role to fill in protecting the weakest and lest successful in a market economy. John Hood and his ilk may believe that the private sector will protect the weakest members of our society but history shows no evidence to support that position.

Nobody, politically liberal nor politically conservative, wants the government to waste their taxes. We all share a genuine dislike of taxation. We also all share the benefits of good government. Instead of perpetuating the dysfunctional politics of the current age, people with published voices, like John Hood, should be trying to find common ground. Nobody wants wasteful government.

We may legitimately differ on the appropriate roles of government but we all agree that, whatever roles we authorize our government to fill, government should be as free of corruption and inefficiency as the best private institutions. How about you spend some time thinking about that, John? We'll all be better off when people stop perpetuating differences and start focusing on areas of agreement.

Nick Layzer

Durham

Marijuana misunderstood

Re: “Lawmakers: This isn’t medical marijuana” (DN, July 6, bit.ly/1zn4lPp )

It is clear the total lack of understanding that our lawmakers have in regard to this potentially blockbuster plant in regards to fiber, oil for diesel and medicine, and recreation.

If you really want to join the 21st century and throw off the shackles of “reefer madness” then legalize the plant totally. It would transform our state in terms of reducing incarceration, money spent on policing and bring in tax revenue by the truckload. Jobs would explode in this state and bring agriculture back with a vengeance.

It would be refreshing if our legislature would be at the vanguard instead of the rear on at least one social issue. The nanny state mentality is counter to what our founding fathers envisioned.

Kyle Edwards

via thedurhamnews.com

Berger running on empty

In a June 27 letter (N&O, bit.ly/1oy3FPV), Sen. Phil Berger says that he took the HK on J’s 14-point agenda and evaluated it as a budget proposal. Despite its “laudable goals,” this agenda costs too much, he says. No legislator has tried to pass it as a bill, which proves it is not practical.

This is like holding up a can of gasoline and complaining that you can’t get the key in the ignition, then declaring that nobody else has even considered driving the gas can. Never mind that it’s not even a car.

Nobody ever proposed putting the 14 points into law. The same can be said about the Sermon on the Mount or my to-do list. If we repeal tax giveaways for the super-rich and restore the Earned Income Tax Credit, there will be money for schools, teachers and unemployment benefits. The American Conservative (“How Raleigh’s Republicans forgot the working class,” August 2013) charges Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis with “policy choices that hurt working-class families” and “an inability to defend their reforms without relying on stale conservative rhetoric” and urges them to lift the “increased burden on the working-class families in the bottom 40 percent of taxpayers.”

Let’s start there and see what the experts say.

Tim Tyson

Durham

Money and priorities

I was a special ed teacher for nine years in the public schools in Durham and in Maryland. When I moved here from Maryland because my husband got a job here, I took a big pay cut. North Carolina is number 46 in terms of funding for public schools. We are last in the Southeast on per pupil funding. I worked 65-plus hours teaching, grading papers, communicating with parents and writing lesson plans (and most teachers do).

The way we attract quality teachers is by paying them more. One of my favorite teachers growing up was Ms. Stewart in fifth grade in Nashville, Tenn., at Rose Park Elementary. She took us on walking field trips every week across a big field to the public library. Ms. Stewart was a very dedicated and loving teacher. All kids deserve to have excellent teachers who are paid a decent wage.

Our N.C. senators, in their budget, cut 7,400 teacher assistants this year.

Over the past two years in our state over 11,300 assistants will have been cut. Our teachers and students bear that burden.

Budgets are not about money, they are about priorities. PreK-12 grade education is a cause that merits our generous support and our most devoted efforts.

Rita Rakestraw

Knightdale

Turkey’s rights

I join the Americans of Turkish descent, members of the Pax Turcica Institute, to strongly oppose House Resolution 4347 – Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act, currently referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Influenced by some anti-Turkish interest groups led by its chief sponsor, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Cal.), HR 4347 constitutes a brazen and offensive interference in the religious affairs of Turkey, a key U.S. and NATO ally.

HR 4347 unjustly accuses Turkey of religious discrimination based on a purely racist and preposterous historical narrative. It suggests turning over part of Turkey's diverse cultural and historical heritage to some allegedly “rightful owners,” while essentially denying the Turkish people the right to exist on their homeland. In its pinnacle of absurdity, HR 4347 derives an ownership of Mount Agri (Ararat) in Eastern Turkey as a Christian “holy site” from a Biblical legend of Noah’s Ark, the existence of which was never established.

Since its establishment over 90 years ago, the Turkish Republic has been the world's first successful secular democracy with a predominantly Muslim population. This achievement was largely due to the reforms that separated church and state while equally protecting religious freedoms. More specifically, Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution guarantees the citizens’ rights for freedom of conscience, faith and religious education.

By its unwarranted assertion of an ownership claim based on some religious sentiment, HR 4347 also contradicts the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits federal and state establishments from any religious preference. I appeal to conscience and common sense in dismissing HR 4347 which insults not only the Turkish people, but the very intelligence of American taxpayers.

Hal Maner

Durham

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