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Pulling the lever no easy task this Tuesday

As I See It

By the time this column is printed and this issue of MBJ is on the street, the primary for the Fourth Congressional District election will be upon us. I want to make some parting observations before you choose which lever to pull on Tuesday.

Last Tuesday night I was privileged to serve on a panel for the Council of Conservative Citizens’ debate which should have allowed the candidates to address the issues. Though six Republican candidates had confirmed their intention to participate in the debate, only one showed up — Ken Stribling. Two brave Democrats, Joyce Arceneaux and Carroll Rhodes, offered themselves up as sacrificial lambs to this conservative conclave.

Last week’s column listed some of the questions I intended to ask and I asked them. Since I represent the business community, I felt obliged to concentrate on business issues. I think I surprised the candidates by straying off the beaten path of the same old worn-out issues that seem to arise at every election. Just once, I would like to hear a candidate say they favored crime, higher taxes, more government, opposed education and couldn’t care less about Social Security. At least that would wake the audience up and create a stir.

I tried to launch some discussion about what would be good for America as opposed to just bringing home the pork to Mississippi. The two issues I chose were the building of Interstate 69 from Indiana to Mexico (cost $200 billion!) and whether military base closure decisions should consider local economic impact or be made purely based on military strategy. Sorry to say, responses were resoundingly to get the pork for Mississippi, national interest be damned.

Next, I tried my luck with overhauling the tax code. This plank is in everyone’s platform but I didn’t hear a workable proposal from anywhere in the crowd. Folks, the IRS ain’t the problem and curtailing them ain’t the solution. Intrusive, big government is the problem. Think with me for a second. Firstly, shooting every employee of the Internal Revenue Service will not lower your taxes one dime. Secondly, if you pay the tax you owe when it’s due, you will not have any contact with the IRS. I don’t care where the Highway Patrol has radar set up because I obey the speed laws and haven’t had a ticket in 29 years (it’s the truth!).

Let’s step over the splintered sidewalk of political issues for a moment and see what we might use as a gauge in selecting a candidate.

1. Look askance on anyone who claims to have simple solutions for our problems. Our problems are complex and not subject to simple, one-size-fits-all solutions.

2. Look askance on anyone who alleges that socking the IRS will solve our tax problems. Out taxes are too high, but not because of the IRS. They are too high because pork-barreling politicians have chosen to spend our tax money on projects and programs designed to make us dependent on government, get them re-elected and give us the tab for the whole disgusting affair.

3. Look askance on anyone who wears his religion like a badge of courage. Our faith is an important inner compass that guides our actions and should not be degraded by campaign rhetoric. Some of the worst politicians have perfect attendance at Sunday school.

4. Look askance on anyone whose propositions result in more government interference in our personal lives. You can be pro-life, pro-choice, pro-homosexual, pro-basketball or anything else you want to pro as long as you don’t suggest another Cabinet-level agency to administer your prejudices while further restricting my freedom.

5. Look askance on anyone who proposes that controlling the sale of new guns will solve our violence problem without addressing what is to be done about the hundreds of millions of guns already in society.

6. Look askance on anyone proposing that NAFTA could or should be repealed. Pure poppycock! NAFTA encourages lower cost, more competitive products to be produced and nobody, including this group of political wannabes, is nationalistic enough to pay more money for things just because they are made in America. Pure political rhetoric, not even fit to fertilize the flowerbed.

7. Look askance on anyone who proposes to solve the crime problem if sent to Congress. Crime is a state, not a national issue. Unless you long for a federal police force to curb jaywalking leave crime to the local authorities. All that will come of it will be expensive studies conducted in resort areas at your expense that will conclude that we have a crime problem.

Enough of that! I sincerely appreciate the candidates who braved the interrogation, my fellow panelists who braved the light turnout and moderator Cal Adams who is a pure professional. My regrets to those candidates who, for whatever reasons, chose not to attend after confirming that they would be there. My guess is that they realized that this panel would not be satisfied with worn-thin promulgations about opposition to crime, etc., etc., etc. We addressed some tough issues and when the going gets tough, the cowards get going (to a fish fry in Pike County we are told). Chow.

Thought for the Moment

Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.

— Irving Fisher, professor of economics,

Yale University, Oct. 17, 1929

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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