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Opinion Letters

The poor will always be among us and how we treat the poor speaks about who we are as people and as a nation. I read two opposing views concerning the care of the poor in local papers this past week. One in The Macon County News (6-27-2013) and the other in The Franklin Press 6- 28-2013) Written as letters to the editors, both use Biblical references to defend their views on government programs for the poor.

One letter makes use of Mark 14:7 where Jesus is to have said, "You will always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can give to them." There is no mention as to the context of this story. Jesus was admonishing those who were scolding the woman who was anointing him with expensive perfume. Yes, the expensive perfume could have been used to benefit the poor, but the overlaying theme was about Jesus and his death and burial. It was not care of the poor.

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Imagine that you have a farm with a creek running through it. You water your garden and some livestock out of that stream. One day you notice that your garden is dying and your livestock are getting sick. You ask your upstream neighbor if he’s seen anything similar. He hasn’t, but says in passing that he’s been poisoning plants in the creek. He then tells you not to worry because he decided that the poison in the creek would not go past his property line and into yours.

Sound absurd? That’s because it is! Nevertheless, our state Senate has passed a bill which does exactly that for groundwater contamination. Senate Bill 612 moves the compliance point (where concentrations are toxic) from a location close to the source, downslope to the owner’s property boundary. It’s as if, by legislative declaration, gravity will cease to work and not move the contamination onto the adjacent property.

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There's been a lot of "Hammer on Higdon" sentiment in the news lately. Commissioner Higdon ran on a promise of smaller government, less spending and less taxes. It's refreshing to see a politician who is willing to stand by his convictions and promises. Higdon has not allowed any special interests to sway him.

Although Higdon, won his election by a substantial margin we continue to see one 3 to 2 vote after another with Haven usually siding with Higdon in the minority trying to control the growth of government and spending. Higdon and Haven recently tried to lower property taxes proposing a 4 and-a-half mil decrease and proving the county had the funds available. They felt the taxpayers could use a break. It fell on deaf ears. Not even a compromise or token half-mil reduction.

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I would like to share with your readers what I have come to realize are fundamental objectives of the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society, which is the local Audubon chapter for Cashiers, Franklin, Highlands, Scaly Mountain and surrounding areas of Macon and Jackson counties. Education and partnering with local schools is one such goal. Initiating and promoting programs that lead to enhanced, safe habitat for native birds is another. Being a local advocate for conservation within our community is a third.

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