Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Enough with the Doom & Gloom

Robert Downes - July 7th, 2008
If ever there was a time to recall Mark Twain‘s great line on statistics, this is it, considering all the doom & gloom about the economy:
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.“
If you read the newspapers or follow the TV news, you‘d think the wheels were falling off America. But check the story behind the story on these widely reported downers:

• “Car sales at a 15-year low“: Are you smarter than a fifth-grader? The leaders of the Big 3 automakers aren‘t. In their quest for short-term profits, they kept churning out SUVs and pickup trucks like there was no tomorrow, and neither they (nor the dealers) had the wits to see that these gas-gobblers were doomed to extinction. Now, they have excess inventory and no buyers. Go figure.
Is that bad? Not at all. Now every car company in the world is scrambling to build smaller, energy-efficient cars. Currently, Toyota can‘t meet the demand for its Prius hybrid-electric car, or fill orders for its fuel-saving models.
That means the auto industry is on the brink of a bonanza, not a disaster, with drivers clamoring for vehicles that make more sense.

• “Unemployment on the rise“: Part of this is tied to the auto slump (which will fix itself), with unemployment at 5.5% and a general “under“ employment of 9.7% expected by 2009, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
But consider that the first wave of 75 million baby boomers are retiring. Some of them will extend their careers to make ends meet with part-time jobs, but there will still be tens of millions of boomers saying “take this job and shove it“ over the next 25 years. We‘re on the brink of a huge labor shortage and there will be plenty of jobs for young people, replacing their moms and dads in the workforce.

• “The weak dollar is sending America down the tubes“: Part of the reason gasoline costs so much is because the dollar isn‘t what it used to be. If you had purchased $10,000 in euros a few years back, you‘d have $15,870 now because the dollar has declined that much in value.
Thus, America has become a bargain basement sale for investors around the world. The Chinese and Japanese alone have invested more than $50 trillion in the U.S.A. Then there are the Brits, the Saudis, the financiers of Singapore and Hong Kong... it‘s a big list.
Tourism is on the ropes in Europe because so few Americans are headed overseas this summer. Conversely, Europeans and Asians are flocking to America because prices are at rock bottom here.
Those foreign economies can‘t afford to let America fail because they are chained to our fate.

• “Tough times for Northern Michigan:: True, the Dura Automotive plant is closing in Mancelona, losing 250 jobs. On the other hand, the $80 million Turtle Creek Casino just opened in Williamsburg, adding 200 jobs -- and the place is going gangbusters.
Despite all the pessimistic predictions, tourism is still on a roll in Northern Michigan, with major articles lauding our region in the Detroit Free Press and USA Today. Bigger, better casinos in Petoskey and Traverse City are bringing in more tourists, and we‘ll also see more Canadian visitors here, taking advantage of better exchange rates.
Other positive trends:
• Our local wine industry is booming with reports of sales increases of 20-25%.
• Currently, movie star Ray Liotta is making a film in Benzie County, with more Hollywood filmmakers on the way. As noted recently in the Express, the likes of Clint Eastwood and Johnny Depp have been spotted here, scouting the region for film projects.
• The Traverse City Film Festival continues to grow. Madonna‘s participation this year can only help boost tourism and the region‘s prestige.
• Home sales down? That means the price of housing is becoming affordable again after a decade in which real estate speculators drove prices up by “flipping“ homes for quick profits. Good news for buyers.

Much of what we think about the economy is a matter of perspective: Think of this as a time of opportunity, rather than a downturn.
And remember that even a bad economy can‘t change the fact that we‘re living in the closest thing to paradise in America. We‘re still home to some of the finest beaches in the country, fabulous festivals, and 250 million lbs. of cherries. Life is sweet in Northern Michigan -- literally a bowl of cherries -- especially this time of year.

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