Something that is not getting much attention this election cycle is the national debt; the annual deficits and the trade balance. The national debt is $7.3 trillion. There are about 294 million Americans, so each one of us, from the newborn child to the very oldest senior citizen, as co-signers of the loan for our Uncle Sam, owes about $25,000 each on the national debt.
We paid $290 billion in interest last year on the debt, about $1,000 per citizen. For comparison the total that the 50 states and the federal government spend on K-12 education is $390 billion. The interest on the debt is the third largest expense of the federal government behind defense and social services. Foreign individuals and governments hold about 40% of this debt, up from 15% a couple of decades ago. Lets hope they dont raise the interest rate or call in the debt. The Chinese are lending us money so we can buy more goods from them. (You load 16 tons and what do you get .)
The annual deficit this year is projected to be about $420 billion, up from $375 billion last year. We are borrowing the money to pay for the war in Iraq and the latest tax cuts. During the last year the President and the Congress have refunded a $300 tax cut to us and borrowed $1,500 back, or more correctly back from our children and grandchildren.
Another concern is the trade balance, or more accurately trade imbalance. That is the value of U.S. imports subtracted from the value of U.S. exports. In June of this year it was a $56 billion deficit. That is a drastic rise from $41 billion just a year ago. In the last couple of years the value of our exports have continually decreased and the value of our imports have continually increased. Things that used to be manufactured here are now manufactured overseas and then imported. If this gets much worse the dollar will fall in value causing gasoline prices to go even higher and increasing inflation. That is not very surprising when this administration actually gives tax breaks to companies that outsource their manufacturing overseas.
This dire economic outlook has occurred while the Republicans have controlled the White House, the Senate, the Congress and the Supreme Court. Democrats tax and spend (pay as you go). Republicans, at least those ersatz conservatives now in power, spend and tax our children and grandchildren. These debts are not going to go away and have to be paid by somebody. Remember that the best predictor of what youll do in the future is what youve done in the past, and the four-year economic record of this administration is deplorable.
Jim Rudolph Charlevoix County
I was not surprised to see that your coverage of Bushs visit to T.C. disgusted the man from downstate (Disgusted downstater, 9/23). He is probably used to the unilateral coverage that the president gets from such reliable sources as Rush Limbaugh, Bill OReilly, and Fox News.
It is obvious that none of the sources of news that this downstater has been exposed to has covered the protests that Bush inspires in the cities that he visits. Thank you for providing our area with coverage that does more than spout more unneeded rhetoric.
As an aside to the disgusted downstater, if coverage of protesters is so upsetting that you feel unwelcome in our area, I suggest you lock your doors and turn conservative talk radio on full blast so that you wont be exposed to any opinions that differ from your own.
Jeff Karafa via email
The setting Moon
I just have to say that I am going to really and truly miss one of the best stores in TC (re: New Moons Eclipse 9/23). Thank you so much for everything you folks have done, from supporting Mt. Holiday, to ordering hard-to-find recordings for me. I love your shop, all the cool posters, the atmosphere, the supportive staff and the great music you always had playing when I came in. I would have never heard of Pappa Chubby if it werent for you guys!
Am sad to see you close and wish you could stay. Good luck to you!
Vita K. Morse TC
There was a time when the Republican Party and its candidates stood for fiscal responsibility. That time is gone and George W. Bush is the proof.
“As President, Governor Bush will pay the debt down to a historically low level.“ So said the Bush-Cheney website in 2000. Pay-as-you-go, the old Republican line of common sense now belongs to John Kerry. Kerry is the fiscally conservative candidate this year; he voted for the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction act, the 1993 balanced budget act, and the 1997 balanced budget act. Senator Kerry is the only candidate this year to speak of a pay-as-you-go policy.
This administration‘s record is stunning: a record surplus of $236 billion in 2000, followed immediately by huge deficits leading to this years record short fall of $422 billion. All this in only four years and yet George Bush continues to campaign to make his tax cuts permanent and declare new spending initiatives for his second term. Its clear that his intention is to continue to blow up this ballooning deficit to unmanageable proportions, robbing from all of us a secure future.
This titanic failure with our nation‘s finances is one of so many significant failures this administration has forced us to endure. John Kerry has the courage and the integrity to face these difficult issues head-on and work hard to solve them. Please register and vote November 2.
Paul Kelly TC
Madness of King George
A few examples from the exact wording in the Declaration of Independence from King George III:
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
Our forefathers declared their independence from Great Britain for these and other reasons. Today, Americans need to declare their independence once again. We need to take back our government from the commercial interests that control it. Thomas Jefferson called them the moneyed interests whose excesses had to be countered a representative government. It is time to restore a government that puts human needs first and responds to the necessities of the American people and their posterity.
K. A. Smith Cadillac
What follows is a brief written explanation why it is vitally important to the nation and the world who becomes the next Vice President of the United States of America.
In the 20th century, 18 men served the nation as president. Of those 18, Presidents William McKinley and John F. Kennedy were assassinated. Presidents Warren Harding and Franklin Roosevelt died of natural causes, while in office. President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke. President Richard Nixon was forced to resign. President Ronald Reagan came perilously close to being assassinated. And President William Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives, but was not removed from office by the Senate.
Consequently, five Vice Presidents became President: 1.) Theodore Roosevelt. 2.) Calvin Coolidge. 3.) Harry S. Truman. 4. Lyndon Johnson. 5.) Gerald Ford.
Congress exhibited gross negligence by not impeaching President Woodrow Wilson in 1911 and replacing him with Vice President Thomas Marshall, and Vice Presidents Bush and Gore came within a hair‘s breadth of becoming President.
Suffice it to say there is a strong statistical possibility that the next Vice President may become President. Therefore, be mindful of the very perilous times we live in and cast your vote accordingly.
Steve A. Redder Petoskey
He‘s a flip-flopper
While campaigning in 2000, George W. Bush repeatedly told us that he did not believe in nation building and would never take the U.S. into a war without an exit strategy.
He has engaged in both, with truly tragic results.
Did he lie, flip-flop, or just “miscalculate“?
H. Kirkland Osoinach, Ph.D
No opinions, please
I enjoy your publication and find it informative. Your stated mission is “Arts, Entertainment, News & Views.“ Why have you allowed the publication to focus on liberal-leaning politics? If political commentary is your mission, so state. And if so, make an attempt at “fair and balanced.“
Why not return to your primary mission and let the NY Times and others continue with partisan political commentary?
Adrian DenHaan Beulah
Thanks Adrian, but with a distribution of up to 28,000 copies in 13 counties, Northern Express Weekly is by far the largest and most popular weekly newspaper in Northern Michigan precisely because readers enjoy an alternative to the same old thing, especially our Letters page which welcomes every political viewpoint, including yours. -- ed.)
Why Kerry will blow it
If John Kerry loses the election in November he will have absolutely no one to blame but his surrogates. I cant speak for the voters at large, but in my circle of acquaintances, the bomb-throwing and outrageous rhetoric spouted by the likes of Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Terry McAuliffe, Senator Harkin and Geraldine Ferarro is beginning to turn the swing voters off.
The latest example of their kind of tripe is the flap and firestorm about the “newly discovered memos“ crowed over by Dan Rather of “60 Minutes.“ Harkin called these memos “undeniable proof“ that Bush shirked his obligation. CBS staff was informed by the widow and the son of the Air Force colonel who purportedly wrote the memos that they were neither the colonel‘s style nor his opinion. Every individual close to Col. Killian, including a retired Air Force colonel who served under Killian at the same time and place where Bush did, has indicated to CBS/Dan Rather that these memos were false. Their comments were conspicuously absent from the 60 Minutes segment.
Duh, gee! Wonder why? Is this unbiased journalism? If it is, I have a bridge in Manhattan for sale.
This is just the latest in a litany of unfounded, unproven allegations that give the Shriek-muffins like Gore, Dean, Harkin, McAuliffe. Kennedy and the rest of their ilk more to shriek about. In the final analysis, my money says that the bomb throwers are hurting Kerry more than helping him. Shriek on fellas, you will get Bush back into the White House despite your own best efforts.
Lee Oslund Mackinaw City
The true patriots
President Bush has real charm! Beware! Behind scenes, you might be stunned by evidence of deceit and calculated assaults on your freedom.
His 2000 campaign promises: smaller central government, less spending, more states rights, more unity at home, humility abroad. FACT:
Republicans are Big Government - more federal employees than ever, huge surplus squandered, deficits increasing, Iraq invasion (Gen. Franks revealed) planned even before 9/11. Aim achieved: War President.
Bush claimed Jesus as constant mentor. FACT: he questioned the patriotism of those opposing attack on non-terrorist Iraq, allows assault weapons, cuts overtime pay, calls wealthiest my base, favors large corporations, reduces our middle class, mocks environmentalists, disdains freedom of press and press conferences, locks up too many documents, opposes public inquiries.
Bush preached Freedom for the World. FACT: at home, our Bill of Rights, protecting citizens and states, disregarded by the Attorney General and White House; Congressional debate stifled, committees by-passed, independent- thinking staff disciplined, officers responsible for bad policy protected, respectful opponents prevented from seeing their president.
Friends, arent these disappearing rights true American values? Thus, who are TRUE patriots? We who treasure freedom of expression, a principled budget, level playing field, and willing to resist oppressors! Our name? LIBERALS. Be proud of that name!
A conservative international magazine noted for objective reporting, The Economist, stated, Mr. Bush has achieved his power less by winning support for more power than by weakening the authority of other institutions.
Will your vote stress, revive freedoms and integrity at home?
Rev. Grafton “Mac“ Thomas
Swift Boat Eyewitness
Veteran vouches for Kerry in Petoskey
By Roger Srigley
Petoskey residents heard the Swift boat saga straight from an inside source a week ago when a veteran of the battle told his side of the story dating back to the days when he was presidential candidate John Kerrys second-in-command.
Former U.S. Navy petty officer Jim Wasser served in Vietnam as a radar man with Senator Kerry aboard Swift boat PCF-44. He shared his experiences with a group of about 75 on the lawn of George and Kathleen Willaerts Petoskey residence.
I know John Kerry under fire and in harms way, Wasser said. He made the best command decisions when I served him then, and Im sure he will again. He is truly a veterans veteran.
NOTHING TO HIDE
Discussing the fact that some Vietnam veterans had challenged Kerrys heroism, Wasser said, If youre telling the truth you have nothing to hide, and John Kerry has absolutely nothing to hide.
Wasser told of traveling down a foliage-banked river, about as wide as this yard, and being fired upon from both sides. John Kerry was right there for us. I know John Kerry is a decisive leader because I was there.
Wasser recalled events of more than 35 years ago on a combat mission in Vietnam.
We went into a dangerous area that had numerous hooches and sampans, Wasser recalled. The enemy was thick. Once we got into the canal, we took a lot of small arms fire, followed by mortar. Our adrenaline was racing; we went right back at them with all the firepower we could muster.
Challenging some of the Bush war policies, Wasser said, there never was an Iraq exit strategy and there isnt one now.
When we were involved in Desert Storm I attended a meeting at which I saw 31 flags, each representing the members of the coalition fighting there. Today there would be five or six flags. John Kerry will fix that.
Wasser added that he feels George Bush still owes me and the American public a two-year tour of duty, and feels that the President hasnt supported veterans benefits.
Lilliane Colburn, who attended the gathering with her son Marcus, told the crowd that her son was still having trouble receiving some benefits required as a result of a military skydiving accident. An in-flight collision caused Marcus to freefall 3,000 feet to earth seven years ago. Marcus was a member of the elite Navy Seals Leap Frogs Team. After the fall he was comatose for many weeks, with multiple broken bones, facing a long and unpredictable recovery.
Marcus is a miracle, his mother said, but we experienced constant problems during the years we tried to obtain care for him and financial assistance for that care. Fortunately, I was able to pay for some of the medical bills, but Im worried about what will happen to the more than 7,000 veterans returning wounded from Iraq.
Im worried that parents or spouses will have to spend hours crying on the phone like I did trying to get the assistance that was rightfully ours, she added. She said she was still working on getting reimbursement for the $5,000 dental bill which was necessary to repair damage done during Marcus six months in a coma.
Marcus said his VA records were so out of order that he was reported Away Without Leave (AWOL) weeks after he was discharged.
Wasser said that Kerry was very sympathetic to causes such as the Colburns, and is dedicated to providing improvements for active and former veterans.
Petoskey resident Mary McCullagh had a special reason for enjoying Wassers Petoskey visit. She introduced herself and told him that she was from his home town of Kankakee, Illinois. McCullagh has lived in Petoskey for the past year.
He certainly is one of the most believable people Ive ever heard, she said, and Im convinced his report of John Kerrys courage and leadership is true.
Wassers appearance was arranged by local Kerry supporters, who contacted the Democratic Coordinated Committee in Detroit to organize the visit.
Asked what role he was playing in the campaign, Wasser said he was a volunteer, neither paid by nor controlled by Kerry or the Democratic National Committee.
My crewmates and I are on our last tour of duty right now and that duty is to get John Kerry to change his address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C, he said.
After Nov. 2 Wasser said he plans to go back to work at the Ruder Electric Company in Kankakee, Illinois, complete his third four-year term on the Kankakee County school board, and eventually retire and enjoy his family.
I do expect one thing from John Kerry however, he laughed, I want to go to one of the inaugural parties.
B R I E F S
CRY OF THE COUGAR: The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy is asking bow-hunters to be on the lookout for cougars this year.
Every year, thousands of Michigan deer hunters enter areas where there are cougars and some see the cats or their signs, said R. Charles McLravy, president of the Conservancy. Their reports have helped identify cougar home ranges in years past, so we are again asking hunters for help in obtaining information about this endangered species. Bow hunters have often seen cougars from their traditional tree platform blinds. We urge them to take video or still cameras to the blind when hunting this fall.
The organization is making a special appeal to hunters in Alcona, Iosco, Delta, Benzie, Leelanau and Roscommon counties. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is of particular interest because it is a high-use recreation area where the Conservancy has documented year-round cougar use. The National Park Service has a long history of sightings in the area, including a recent close-encounter with a cougar by one of the Lakeshores 1.4 million annual visitors.
Dont attempt to shoot that mountain lion, catamount, puma or whatever you care to call it: The cougar is protected by state law, and the Conservancy has established the Michigan Cougar Protection Fund to increase awareness of their presence and biology, aid future research, and curb illegal killing. Hunters and other cougar spotters can contact the Conservancy at 517-641-7677 or by email at email@example.com.
SOUND OF HAMMERS: Construction of 120 new housing units next to the Bear Creek Plaza south of Petoskey will begin immediately, according to the Strathmore Development Company of East Lansing.
Recently, the company and its affiliate, Petoskey Investment Group, L.L.C., received the go-ahead to construct up to 300,000 square feet of retail and 240 apartments on the site next to Wal-Mart despite voter opposition in a Bear Creek Township referendum. The company says the former environmentally contaminated site will provide much needed housing to the community, with the current construction being phase one of the project.
PUT A STUDENT TO WORK at Lobdells, a new teaching restaurant at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College.
Lobdells is now open for lunch only Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. The restaurant is located on the second floor of the Great Lakes Campus building, on the bay at 715 East Front Street in Traverse City. Dining is ala carte, prepared by Culinary Institute students. Reservations are suggested by calling 231-995-3120.
ON TOUR: Area resident Michael Moore is hitting the road with a Slacker Uprising Tour in an effort to get millions of traditional non-voters to the polls on November 2. The Oscar-winning filmmaker of Fahrenheit 9/11 and #1 bestselling author said he will embark on a 60-city tour to the 20 battleground states with a kick-off last Sunday, September 26 in Elk Rapids, and ending on Election Day in Tallahassee, Florida.
Moore will be appearing on college campuses (Penn State, Univ. of Arizona, UNLV, among others), NBA arenas (Seattle), and hockey arenas (Toledo). Nearly all venues will hold between 5,000 and 15,000 people, with students -- historically the largest bloc of non-voters in presidential elections -- admitted for free at virtually every event.
Moores show will consist of his monologue, interaction with the audience, and a few surprise guests. He also plans to read letters hes received from soldiers in Iraq (published in his new book, Will They Ever Trust Us Again -- Letters from the War Zone), offer prizes for people who register to vote, and conduct the worlds largest karaoke sing-a-long to John Ashcrofts Let the Eagle Soar.
GAY NUPTIALS? Whats Proposal 2, the Michigan Marriage Amendment, all about? Find out when the Traverse City Human Rights Commission holds a Town Hall Meeting at the Milliken Auditorium on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College on Thursday, September 30 at 6:30 pm.
On the ballot in November, Proposal 2 would amend the state constitution to provide that the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.
Panelists supporting Proposal 2 include:
-Richard Thompson president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor.
-Kristina Hemphill member of Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, the Lansing-based group behind the petition drive to constitutionally ban recognition of same-sex marriages in Michigan.
Panelists opposing Proposal 2 include:
-Jay Kaplan staff attorney for Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.
- Wendy Howell campaign manager of the Coalition for a Fair Michigan, the ballot question committee working to defeat the amendment.
The discussion will also include members of the Traverse City Human Rights Commission.