A few quick looks at the passing world | Columnists


With a nod to Thomas Sowell, one of the leading writers and thinkers of his generation, this week’s column is dedicated to a variety of topics. Until he retired earlier this year, Mr. Sowell was a master of the form, something he used sparingly but quite effectively and called Random Thoughts.

The attention given to Irma last week brought back memories of two major storms that left their respective marks on North Carolina. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and The Blizzard of ’93 will be recalled for decades simply because the rare nature of each. Hugo swept through the state and cut a wide swath of downed trees, interrupted power service and property destruction. The Blizzard of ’93 created snow drifts as deep as four and five feet in some parts of northwest North Carolina.

While it’s difficult to find good outcomes in major storms such as Harvey and Irma, the kindness and human decency shown in recovery and rescue efforts was extraordinary. When you strip away all the turmoil and disagreement, we’re all in this together and the human spirit endures.

In the midst of the media turmoil created by Irma, President Trump developed an alliance with the Democratic party to reach a debt ceiling agreement. The way he went about it was a clear shot at Republican leadership, and good for him. Next up is tax reform and it’s time for the Republican Party to wake up and accomplish true, lasting reform or step aside and let Democrats govern. Let’s hope that needed tax reform occurs.

Historically, despite what you might see and hear in the mainstream media, a reduction in taxes brings about an increase in revenue. There’s a lot of data to support that. Regarding the “tax the rich” mantra from liberals, a reduction in the tax rate typically means the rich end up paying more. I’m in favor of everyone—rich, poor, and those in between—paying less in taxes. That would mean reduced spending and a little fiscal discipline from politicians, and that’s just not going to happen.

Get ready, six-second television commercials have arrived. A concept that’s been bandied about for a while is now part of Fox Sports programming. It’ll likely catch on, driven in equal parts by advertising clutter, the quick-hit mentality of social media, and reduced attention spans found in the viewing public.

The NFL is attempting to overcome last season’s reduced television viewership and attendance numbers. The league has tweaked its schedule even more than usual to produce favored pairings, and the previously banned touchdown celebrations are now being allowed—minus taunting, of course. Was last season’s weakened performance a mere anomaly because of the attention given to the presidential race? Or was it caused by the distraction created by Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem? Or a little of both? Only time will tell.

Conversations with people in my generation show that a lot of us are dealing with eldercare issues. Aging parents need extra help and many are dealing with things we never dreamed of a few short years ago. The commonalities in elder behavior are striking when you engage in conversation with others who are dealing with the same things.

It’s mid-September and I’m seriously missing a good tomato sandwich. I won’t attempt to wax eloquent on the simple pleasure of that Southern delicacy, but my family enjoyed tomato sandwiches this summer probably more than ever. If you’ve ever had one, and I hope you have, then no further explanation is necessary. Note to self: might be a good idea to set out some late tomato plants.

Fall of the year creates a yearning for my hillbilly roots and a simpler way of life. There’s very little that compares to getting out at daybreak on a crisp fall morning with a chainsaw and sawing up an oak tree for firewood. The solitude, the connection with nature, the sheer joy and freedom of a patch of woods is like nothing else.

A recent article in a national newspaper, one that should have known better, indicated that changing the requirements for teacher certification is equal to lowering standards for teachers. That’s pure hogwash. Allowing competent, knowledgeable professionals to enter the teaching profession free from the bureaucratic mess that now exists does not equate to lowering standards. Changing standards and lowering standards are two separate concepts, especially when the change component is done with forethought.

 I’ve noticed when you connect the past to specific individuals and the accomplishments of those individuals, then young people respond much better than they do to simple facts and dates. Whether it’s Walt Disney or Wilt Chamberlain, young people enjoy learning about people more than they do learning about dry historical facts.

I’m sure most everyone is aware by now that Hillary Clinton has a new book out. Titled, “What Happened,” apparently it’s an analysis of the many reasons she lost last fall’s election to President Trump. There’s one quick way to sum it up, and it doesn’t require an entire 500-page book: She was a terrible candidate. Recent polls suggest that voters on each end of the political spectrum wish Hillary would retire and go into hibernation or whatever is it that failed politicians end up doing.

The writer teaches in the CTE department at Hickory Ridge High School. He can be reached via [email protected].

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