Letters: Respect the context

Johnson City Press • Jun 28, 2019 at 6:00 AM

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Respect the context

Connie Schultz writes (June 23) that she doesn’t want Joe Biden to be president because of his work with racist Democratic senators. Fine by me.

She then writes to provide “more context,” “Donald Trump tweeted that ICE officials would begin ‘removing millions of illegal aliens,’ which is his term for men, women, and children who are brown-skinned.”

Who knew that “context” means completely mangling the meaning of a well-established legal term like “illegal aliens?”

Here is some context for Connie: When Obama was elected, his party had control of Congress for two years. He had promised to do something about our dysfunctional immigration laws (of course controversial with the party out of power), but Congress did nothing. Trump ran on doing something about these laws (of course controversial with the party out of power), and his party had control of Congress for two years, but Congress did nothing.

In recent polling, around two-thirds of the public think that illegal immigration is a significant problem. Why won’t Congress do its job? One way to look at populism is to suggest it arises when the ruling elites fail to solve, or even attempt to solve, problems that average people find significant. Arising from that, the success of disruptive politicians like Trump, the presidents of Brazil and Hungary, and movements such as Brexit represent a form of class warfare in which the average people are repudiating or renegotiating an agreement with the technocratic, managerial and ruling elite that has been in place for decades because it is not working so well for the common person any more.

Now that is what I would call context. Calling people racist (or deplorable) is just useless virtue-signalling, and unlikely to win them over to your point of view.

Johnson City

Save Rocky Fork again

David Ramsey’s June 2 column about development in Rocky Fork references Unicoi County citizens making “a major compromise … exchanging their support for the development of a multi-million dollar residential resort for that of … a new state park,” which “would ultimately offset the economic loss of both current and future property tax revenue. ...”

First, that residential resort was not a legitimate prospect: the site was deemed unfeasible for development, and the buyers and sellers were prosecuted for various disreputable business practices. Second, Tennessee’s Conservation Compensation Fund pays property taxes for state park land. Third, the Impact Aid Program compensates counties for federal land ownership: Unicoi received $61,000 this year with no services expected in return.

While a residential resort would have brought additional taxes, after providing all the services the county would likely have had to raise taxes. Now, with this special place preserved, tourism can benefit the county economically — if the county is prepared to capitalize on the visitor increase. Large-scale road development in the 2,000-acre park would destroy the wild character of the larger 10,000-acre watershed, which is what attracts tourists — making it impossible to recoup the tens of millions invested.

Ramsey said it best in his own book, “Rocky Fork: Hidden Jewel of the Blue Ridge Wild,” “The Cherokee National Forest, that covered nearly half of the county, comprised a largely untapped economic asset of major proportions, and, in our assessment, adding the spectacular Rocky Fork Watershed to that asset would increase its long-term value to the community by far more than what might be derived from property taxes alone.”

Ramsey’s beautiful publication tells the story of Rocky Fork’s “salvation” from development. But the “rest of the story” starts where Dave’s book ends. Still under threat, Rocky Fork is worth saving — again.

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