Letters to the Editor

Thaw, or hard freeze?

“Free The Thaw” signs have sprung up across town like Asters in September. Ironically, almost all of the signs I see are in front of houses that will be grandfathered into the thaw. The thaw campaign promises the thaw will give us fairer taxes, better housing, and better jobs. These promises are empty and fall apart under the slightest scrutiny.

To begin, the thaw is hardly fair as it disproportionately shifts the city’s property tax increase onto young working families buying their first home. It is simply a continuation of the strategy behind Obamacare of shifting the tax burden of generous perks for boomers to underemployed debt-laden young people. The thaw will push these families, many military, out to Harris County and Phenix City and fill their municipal coffers, not Columbus’s.

The thaw will also not create better housing. As cheaper housing expands outside Columbus, there will be reduced incentive for all but the wealthy to buy and refurbish older homes in Columbus. Mixed-income areas, such as Lakebottom, will be gentrified while low-income areas, like the Buena Vista Road corridor, will see accelerated blight and increased crime.

The most specious claim is that the thaw will create better jobs. The only jobs the thaw will create will be more bureaucracy. The thaw will limit private sector growth and drive away new businesses, entrepreneurs, and young families, all necessary to a healthy local economy. Columbus needs to find a way to increase its tax receipts by driving economic growth, not stifling it.

Thawing the freeze will not bring any of the benefits its proponents advertise. Instead, it is likely to have severe negative long-term repercussions for the economic growth and competitiveness of Columbus. I strongly urge the voters of Columbus to reject the thaw on November 8th.

Hayden Barnes, Columbus

Fairness and progress

For the past year, the property tax structure has been debated by politicians, analyzed by experts, and discussed between friends and neighbors. This coming November, the citizens of Muscogee County will have a very important decision to make — whether or not to keep a system that has been in place for 30 years or retire it and move forward with a plan that would greatly benefit this city for years to come.

As a concerned citizen living in this community, I feel that the current property tax system is outdated and I fully support the Thaw the Freeze campaign. When I moved to Columbus in 2007, it did not take me long to notice that many of my co-workers did not live here. They may have worked and enjoyed everything else that Columbus has to offer, but lived in the surrounding areas of Harris County, Phenix City and Fort Mitchell because of the inequalities with our property tax system.

Columbus needs a system that is fair to everyone. New property owners pay a higher amount in taxes for a home that is comparable to or less in square footage than their next door neighbor. As long as the property tax freeze remains, people will continue to be discouraged from living in this great city.

Tamika McKenzie, Columbus

Some ‘oppression’

Mr. Kaepernick’s recent refusal “to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” raises several issues. First, notwithstanding the First Amendment, he is wearing the uniform of his employer which in turn is under contractual obligations to the NFL. This is the same NFL that years ago restricted Jim McMahon’s right to raise awareness of juvenile diabetes on his headband, and today tells players how high to wear their socks. He has a right to free speech to be sure, but so does his employer.

Second, what sort of “oppression” is he protesting? Is he protesting the country that freed the slaves in 1865? Perhaps he is protesting the country that freed Europe and Asia from the Axis oppression in 1945? Maybe he is protesting the country that created the Civil Rights Act. No doubt he is protesting a country where President Obama and Dr. Ben Carson can rise to the pinnacle of their professions.

Years ago, Moses said to the Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” I have no doubt that today Moses would say instead, “Let my people go to America.”

Third, the oppression Mr. Kaepernick perceives in America is nothing compared to what man has wrought throughout history. Ask the Jews, the Armenians, the Hutus, the Tutsis, the Bosnians and millions of others if they would trade the America today for the “oppression” visited upon them.

Finally, throughout history, people of true and sincere conviction have done more than just refuse to stand. Instead, they dedicated themselves — personally and materially — to curing the problem. Anyone want to bet he quits the NFL and goes to inner-city Chicago to stop gang violence? Thought not.

Michael Fox, Midland

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