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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Pete Jackson: Draw your own conclusions

  • In light of Mississippi's new found progressiveness, perhaps we should take this opportunity to look at our state of affairs and see where we stand.
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  • Something to think about. Folks, congratulations are in order to the state of Mississippi who very recently (February 2013) finally, officially ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution--thus becoming the last state in our union to do so. With Mississippi becoming more progressive, it may appear that the good folks of Mississippi are tired of their status as one of the bottomfeeders. They may be ready to move up the food chain. FYI, the Thirteenth Amendment reads as follows:
     
    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
     
    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
     
    In light of Mississippi's new found progressiveness, perhaps we should take this opportunity to look at our state of affairs and see where we stand. As you no doubt know, the election results in Arkansas (November 2012) brought a sea change to the states political landscape. After one hundred and thirty eight years, both houses of the Arkansas legislature are now under Republican control. Additionally, all of our representatives in Congress are Republican with the exception of Senator Mark Pryor. After one hundred and thirty eight years in the wilderness one would think that they would have, if they ever believed their own mantra, a comprehensive plan for implementing the following: (1) less government; (2) expanded free enterprise; (3) increased fiscal responsibility; (4) more individual freedom; (5) less intrusiveness in everyone's lives; (6) reform of government ethics; and (7) more sunshine and openness in government.
     
    As a group, Republicans have been beating other folks over-the-head for years on most of these issues and in many instances they should be applauded—if one practices what one preaches.
     
    Let's now see how our Ledge is doing early on. The first item above " (1) less government " should be easy stuff for my Republican friends. I must admit, I was quite surprised when one of their very, very first efforts (after one hundred and thirty years) was to pass a bill that allowed concealed guns in church. I had no earthly idea that concealed packing in church was on the Ledge's fast-track agenda but hopefully the church folks will be able to keep the guns holstered
     
    Of equal and perhaps greater importance in the Ledge's effort to install "(1) less government" was to dictate to Arkansas women what they can and can't do with their own bodies. Early on in the lawmakers discussions several ideas were floated concerning how to verify exactly where in the pregnancy timeline one was. Among these ideas was the use of wand like vaginal probes and/or abdominal ultrasounds.
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    Another vote for "(1) less government" would be the law just enacted that bars coverage for most abortions on the state's health insurance exchange or maybe a new law concerning voter ID badges.
     
    Moving on to number 2 on my list "(2) expanded free enterprise"—the Koch Bros Big River Steel LLC indicate that they want to build a 1.1 billion dollar steel mill near Osceola. The advertised number of employees is 525 with an average pay (salary and bonus) of $75,000. Of course this "(2) expanded free enterprise" venture needs to be backed by Arkansas taxpayers to the tune of 125 million dollars in bonds. Additionally, the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System will also be requested to invest 60 million dollars to the project. It's hard for me to believe that the Koch Bros would be involved in accepting some union money. It was just a short time ago when President Obama suggested that free enterprise included not just the entrepreneur, but the folks who went before us who built the bridges, the roads, the tunnels, the railroads, the financial system etc. etc. For his trouble, the Republican landed on the President with both feet—the rapid conclusion by them was that he was anti-business.
     
    I think we all need to take a very deep breath to help embrace and admit the reality that the vast majority of business is in some way a cooperative effort.
     
    Draw your own conclusions.
     
    Now that the tax season is upon us, I thought that you might enjoy reading this item from Businessweek.com just prior to paying your federal and state income taxes. "Facebook's first annual earnings report showed $1.1 billion in pretax profits, but the social networking firm will likely pay zero federal and state taxes. Instead, thanks to some clever bookkeeping, the company is expected to receive a $429 million tax refund."
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