Letters to the editor

Mar. 17, 2013 @ 02:52 PM

Smart, not common-sense, solutions

Common sense would say that if you make life hard and long for criminals in prison, they won’t want to go back.  If so, why do we have a recidivism rate of about 70 percent?  Could it be long prison sentences in such a restrictive and rule-based world actually help take away the initiative that many inmates entered with?  When released, very little help is provided to get back on their feet.  We spend $30,000 a year to imprison but virtually nothing to help reentry.  Drug trafficking, for example, guarantees for life that you will receive neither food stamps nor any kind of government assistance.  And, finding life tough on the outside with virtually no help and plenty of obstacles posed by an unforgiving populace causes many guys to either go back to what they were doing or intentionally reenter a prison system where they have learned to survive.

Sometimes common-sense solutions have terrible results.  Locking up drug users hasn’t deterred drug use one whit.  Some do it just for the thrill of knowing its illegal.  Drug use dropped in Portugal when it was made legal.  California spends more on incarceration than on higher education.  That state is rethinking its “three strikes” law since they simply can’t afford it.

Life without parole is an inhumane idea for all but a few cases.  When inmates reach 65, they remain on the states’ health bill, not Medicare.

We need to move away from “common-sense” solutions and begin to look at smart ones.

Larry Bumgardner

Durham

Concern for poor, or profit?

Upon learning that the leaders of the NC General Assembly were moving forward with tax reform legislation that would replace corporate and personal income taxes with a sales tax, one wonders if the Wizard of the North Carolina, libertarian, capitalist Republicans shouted; “Not so fast!”

Arthur Pope was Gov. Pat McCrory’s pick to serve as director of the Office of State Budget and Management. He co-founded the Libertarian Party of North Carolina in 1976 while attending The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Yes, that “liberal-infested” university campus.

According to the Jan. 23 News & Observer, Pope expressed concern that a higher sales tax would be “absolutely, no doubt” regressive. He thought the system of income, sales and property taxes would be more “balanced."

Interestingly, the family business that he inherited, Variety Wholesalers Inc., is invested in retail franchises that include Maxway and Roses. The success of the business is heavily dependent upon the purchasing power of the working poor.

The International Directory of Company Histories reported that Variety prefers to operate stores in midsize towns that have “at least 25 percent African-American population within five miles with a median household income of less than $40,000.”

A higher sales tax burden on the working poor would result in less profit for Variety and similar retail businesses.

Concern for the poor, one’s business profit margin, or both?

Charles L. Recktenwald

Durham