Letters, Jan. 18
Re-examine defense spending
To the editor:
All the recent talk of sequestrations, debt ceilings. and defense cuts may seem far distant from us in Haywood County. But not so. These things affect us directly and personally.
Some argue, for example, that cuts in the defense budget would cost jobs and put our troops at risk. Consider these facts, though, before jumping to such conclusions.
According to the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Census, every $1 billion of defense spending creates 8,500 jobs. The same amount allocated for tax cuts for personal consumption generates 10,800 jobs; invested in home weatherization and infrastructure 12,800 jobs; in health care 12,900 jobs; in education 17,700 jobs; in mass transit 19,800 jobs.
Generals, defense contractors, and war industry CEOs are grossly overpaid. The average compensation package of the CEOs of the top five Pentagon contractors last year was $21.5 million. With the average US worker earning $45,230, this means these CEOs are paid more in a day than a worker is paid for a whole year. The compensation limit for contractor executives was raised in 2012 to $763,029 — almost double the U.S. President’s salary of $400,000, and 38 times the $20,000 wage of an army private.
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, active generals receive perks “befitting a billionaire, [such as] “palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags and press their uniforms ... [and] food prepared by gourmet chefs” — all courtesy of our taxpayer dollars. Once retired, they get a $220,000 pension, plus stipends for work in the private sector defense industry, and $200-$340 per hour for consulting or mentoring tasks.
The flaws and cost overruns in the development of new weapons systems are excessive. For example, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapon in history, has cost billions already, has 13 design flaws that will cost a billion more to fix, is years behind schedule, and still far from being operational.
Similarly, the littoral combat ship, intended to clear mines, hunt for subs, and combat small boats in shallow waters, has already cost $8 billion, still has a host of problems, lost power on one venture, and developed 17 cracks on another. The Defense budget could be significantly reduced by dumping such boondoggles.
With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan soon to be over, we will be back to peacetime. Troop levels can be reduced, and these expenditures for costly generals and faulty weapons can be eliminated.
Just half the budget allocated for research, development, testing and evaluation of these weapon systems is $39.6 billion dollars. If this were given back to every city and town in the US, it would amount to $125 per person. For Waynesville (population 10,000) that would come to $1,250,000. For Haywood County (population 60,000) that would be $7,500,000 — for schools, health care, social services, road repair, renewable energy development, you name it, expenditures that would benefit us as local citizens.
Conclusions: Our tax dollars spent on contractors’ salaries and generals’ perks don’t help our troops. Defense budget allocations for flawed weapons actually put our troops in harms way. Defense dollars (designed for destruction) don’t create as many jobs as most budget items that help people in constructive ways.
We in Haywood County would be much better off if the federal budget were balanced by cutting these unnecessary and expensive items, and our tax dollars shifted to debt retirement and human services.
We must communicate these preferences to our elected officials.
Thanks for being a caring community
To the editor:
My boyfriend Johnny Splawn, myself Tammy Williams, and our little chihuahua Coco were visiting the Maggie Valley/Cherokee area on 1/13/13. We got to Waynesville on our way back home to Chesnee, South Carolina. when we got into an accident and totaled our car.
The officer, named McHaffey was very nice along with everybody else at the scene. They even tried calming our dog who was thrown around the car and was very shaken but luckily uninjured. Caldwell’s Towing came out and towed our vehicle to their lot. Darien from Caldwell’s was very helpful. They were closing so he told us that there was a restaurant next door. So, we walked next door, but we couldn’t go in because we had our dog. The restaurant was named Ammon’s Drive Inn Restaurant. We sat outside for around 3 hours waiting on our family to come pick us up, they had to come from Duncan, S.C.
The people in Waynesville were very nice and concerned, even stopping to pet our dog. A employee from inside the restaurant came out and said she was going to bring us out burgers, fries and drinks on the house. Even bringing our dog Coco some hamburger patties and water. We we’re very grateful for that!
The food at Ammon’s was awesome and they did and excellent job. I would recomment Ammon’s to anyone who hasn’t been there.
Again, we want to extend our gratitude to the caring and concerned employees at Ammon’s.
Johnny Splawn, Tammy Williams and Coco
Chesnee, South Carolina
A senseless tragedy
To the editor:
It is with sadness that I am writing about this year’s Christmas decorations at Lake Junaluska. Each year many volunteers work very hard to put up wreaths, garlands, bows, lights, nativities, luminarias, etc. wanting to make the Lake a place for all to enjoy as we celebrate the birth of Christ.
Spotlights, cords, and some wreaths with electric candles were taken. Of the wreaths left on the posts along the Rosewalk, 12 or more had the candles and bulbs purposely smashed. A solar string of lights on the tree placed inside one of the gazebos was cut in several places and cannot be repaired.
Besides the cost of trying to replace these items and the hours spent to make the community a place of beauty for all, we cannot understand what purpose it could be for the culprits to spend their time destroying the decorations. We want everyone to feel welcome to come at any time and to enjoy the beauty and solitude the Lake offers especially during the Christmas season.