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Opinion
ONE MAN’S OPINION: EVEN FREEDOM ISN’T FREE
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ONE MAN’S OPINION: EVEN FREEDOM ISN’T FREE

ONE MAN’S OPINION: EVEN FREEDOM ISN’T FREE

ONE MAN’S OPINION: EVEN FREEDOM ISN’T FREE

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves," President Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865).

As has been documented in numerous public opinion surveys, Millennials, who as of this year became the largest demographic age group and population block in our nation, have a clouded understanding of the meaning of socialism. When asked, in multiple formats, if our nation would be better off if all incomes were collected by the government, and then redistributed in equal amounts to all citizens...an overwhelming nearly 80 percent of those surveyed emphatically said, Yes. I frankly find this more disturbing than the ongoing Opioid Crisis, which took the lives of nearly 48,000 Americans during 2018.

Since elementary school, I have been a student of history, our republic and the conflicts which helped build our nation into the world's strongest economy, and the only place I know where personal freedom reigns supreme. And with that said, I want my children, your children and our grandchildren to better understand that even freedom is not 'free.'

The parade of U.S. presidential candidates for 2020 already sounds like a sweepstakes race, with each trying to top the other with their Get Out, No Jail Everything is FREE card. Free college, free Medicare for all, free Daycare, free Basic Income... and the list goes on.

I purchase healthcare coverage via the federal Market Place Exchange, and though I can't say I have been pleased with many aspects of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, I had no coverage at all for a few years prior to that, due to a pre-existing medical condition. That said, me having health care coverage remains and should be my responsibility not my employer's, the federal government nor my neighbor.

I support subsidized and on-site employer sponsored day care, as an employee amenity, and deductible expense for the employer, but NOT mandated, federally organized and funded child care. If you think otherwise, pay a visit to your nearest local Head Start program. Georgia's lottery provides pre-K funding, but that program funds local schools and even private daycare facilities, leaving placement choices and related staffing concerns in the hands of parents, as it should be.

Much example is made of socialist programs in many Scandinavian countries, particularly Norway and Finland. Neither is a true socialist state, but both offer much higher income tax rates, greater redistribution of income and a larger safety net than the U.S. Having traveled to Iceland and other neighboring nations, the populations there are smaller, much more Euro-centric and generally less diverse. Tourism is easy and encouraged, immigration, non-native born citizenship, or the ownership of property is not particularly encouraged and in some cases practically impossible.

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Scandinavian country map

The immediate prior President of France raised the income tax rate for wage earners there to 75 percent. Almost overnight the top 300 wealthiest citizens of France became citizens of Belgium and other neighboring low and no-tax neighbors within the European Union. 

More recently stateside, Trump administration tax cuts removed a long-treasured tax haven of the full deductibility of state income and property taxes. Not surprisingly, with the cap on deductible residential property taxes now $10,000, hundreds of thousands of residents in high tax states have sold their property and homesteads, relocating to lower and no property tax states.

Not having served in uniform in our nation's military is perhaps my largest single life regret. Although time spent in the Georgia Defense Force (the Reserve's reserve) was worthwhile, it's not the same, and particularly not the same as serving during a time of military conflict. Those who have lost life, limb or a family member in combat, paying the ultimate price, know more than any others that the price of our continuing freedom is truly not free.

A warm visit just over a year ago to the land of fire and ice (Iceland) was followed by my more recent discovery that the world's tiniest nation strictly controls the birth rates of any fetus determined to test positive for a genetic marker for Down syndrome. Nearly 100 percent of those pregnancies are then terminated. Having a child with Down syndrome of our own, we can unequivocally state that this is a choice and price which the people of Iceland are collectively paying, and which they may not fully appreciate for decades, but it also makes the price of any return trip to that lovely island nation a bit too high for me.

 

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News

  • As lies go, it wasn’t a very ambitious one.  But Avery Niles’ false claim, under oath, that he received an associate’s degree in criminal justice cost him his job on Wednesday.  Niles, who was the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice commissioner, offered to resign effective Sept. 1. He submitted his resignation to the DJJ board, which was meeting to deal with the brewing controversy stemming from Niles’ testimony in a 2017 lawsuit filed by a former department administrator.  In a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp announcing his resignation, Niles wrote, in part: “I am very proud of the work that was accomplished during my tenure and will forever be grateful for this tremendous opportunity.”  He continued, “I want to thank you for allowing me to serve in the capacity of Commissioner, and if there is any other opportunity for me to continue my service with your administration, please let me know.” But the DJJ board chose not to accept Niles’ resignation, voting instead to fire him immediately. Kemp approved the decision, the DJJ said in a statement.  Niles, one of the many Gainesville-based appointees of former Gov. Nathan Deal, had led the DJJ since 2012. He had previously served 25 years with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.  RELATED: » Kemp promises to reform how GA treats sexual harassment victims » Tight job market leaves Georgia’s youth jails chronically understaffed Niles’ tenure at the DJJ was marked by problems often unrelated to the commissioner. Staff shortages at juvenile justice facilities nationwide are not uncommon, and that problem only grew worse in 2018, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found. The department’s own weekly staffing reports, obtained by the AJC, found that six of the state’s seven long-term youth detention centers, or YDCs, were dealing with greater shortages in juvenile corrections officers than experienced in 2017.  A spokesman for the DJJ has said Georgia would like to stop placing 17-year-olds in adult prisons for certain less serious crimes, but it lacks the staff to care for them. Georgia is among only a handful of states that still incarcerate juveniles in adult penitentiaries.  The DJJ has also dealt with accusations that it mishandled claims of sexual harassment by staff from other employees, a widespread problem in Georgia government agencies, according to a separate AJC investigation.  The DJJ wasted no time in erasing Niles from its website, removing his photo and a link to his bio within an hour of his dismissal. 
  • The brother of a woman shot by her husband at a medical clinic in Potts Camp, Mississippi is honoring his sister’s life. Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, state representative candidate Carl Robinson shot and killed his wife – Latoya Thompson – before turning the gun on himself inside the Williams Medical Clinic. The couple had been married since 2014, but court records show Robinson, 43, and Thompson, 33, had filed for divorce in April.  According to legal records, the two filed a joint complaint for divorce April 26. At the time, only one lawyer was involved.  That changed Tuesday morning. Records show that Thompson hired her own attorney and that she changed her mind about a previous agreement she signed about child custody, support and other details July 15.  Now, Thompson’s brother said his family is remembering her for her love of life and passion for singing. “She was a singer, she was our little songbird. Ever since she was a kid, she was always singing something. Beautiful smile, beautiful spirit,” said Kevin Thompson. Thompson said his sister loved her family, especially her 3-year-old son.  His last memory with her is from Saturday, when he traveled in town for their grandmother’s funeral in Lamar, Mississippi. “She was just real happy this weekend, and that’s what I take from all of this,” Thompson said. Three days later on his way home, Thompson found out his sister was shot by her husband.  Investigators said Robinson shot Thompson inside the clinic, where she worked as a receptionist. He then killed himself. Three staff members tried to help Thompson after she was shot.  According to Marshall County officials, staff attempted to perform CPR on Thompson to resuscitate her, but she died before she could be airlifted to a hospital. Robinson was running for state representative in Mississippi, officials confirmed. According to Robinson's campaign Facebook page, he was running in District 5 for the upcoming election. “I was mad at what happened to my sister. I was sad at the fact that I lost my sister, and I was numb because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Thompson said. Thompson said he knew her husband, but he did not know the specifics about their relationship. “I knew he had a temper like most of us did. I didn’t know to what extent,” he said. “You may know someone is off but never think they would go to this extent.” Thompson said his focus now is being there for her 3-year-old son. He said he will include Robinson’s family in the child’s life. “We are going to work together to make sure he has the best of both. It would be unfair for us to shield him and hold onto him,” he said. He said a memory he will hold close to his heart is their last conversation – when she told him that she loved him. Funeral arrangements have not yet been planned.
  • A Mableton man is accused of hiding his 5-year-old son from his wife — who has a temporary protection order against him — before leading deputies on a three-hour manhunt, authorities said. Quantavious Carrol, 27, faces 10 charges after the Thursday chase, which ended with deputies using a Taser on him, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Deputies tried to pull over Carrol’s vehicle, which also had a passenger inside, near Upper Riverdale Road and Tara Boulevard, the release said. Carrol, who allegedly knew he violated the restraining order, drove away from the traffic stop on I-75 North. While driving, he’s accused of throwing a stolen handgun of the window. The gun was stolen out of Gwinnett County, the release said. The chase continued onto I-285 and ended on Fairburn Road, where Carrol got out of the vehicle and ran away, the release said. The passenger was blocked inside the vehicle and was captured by deputies. His charges have not been released. Carrol continued to run, and deputies found him after searching for about three hours, authorities said. He allegedly fought with deputies after they located him, which is why a Taser was used. The 10 charges against Carrol include fleeing police, obstruction, not having car insurance, theft by receiving and multiple driving citations, records show. He remains held at the Clayton County jail without bond. The 5-year-old has been reunited with his mother, the release said. In other news:
  • An Indiana man has been charged with endangering the welfare of children after authorities said he took kids to Kentucky and forced them to sell candy for him. >>Read more trending news Shawn Floyd, 54, of Indianapolis was arrested last week in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a statement. The 12 children involved in the case were taken into protective custody. Floyd is accused of taking 12 Indiana children to Kentucky and forcing them to sell candy for profit, the statement said. The children were allegedly made to sleep in one hotel room with three adults, and had to purchase their own meals and water, according to the statement. The youngest child was 11, the office said. Kentucky labor law requires a person to be at least 14 years old to be employed. Beshear's office was notified July 12 of about 25 solicitor permits issued in Bowling Green, mostly for minors. The office had also received previously reports of Floyd possibly being involved in human trafficking in several Kentucky counties, the statement said. 'I want to commend the work of the Bowling Green Police Department and our human trafficking investigator,” Beshear said. “Their actions prevented any further possible exploitation or suffering for these children. When it comes to preventing such crimes, it requires cooperation across agencies and promoting awareness of such actions in every community.” Floyd has a pretrial conference scheduled for Sept. 4 in Warren County, Kentucky, WANE-TV reported. Online records show Floyd has bonded out of Warren County Regional Jail. Anyone who has information on people being exploited for commercial sex or labor can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (or text 233733) for immediate assistance.
  • A California family is mourning the loss of their 9-year-old daughter and warning others about the dangers of underwater pool lights. >> Read more trending news  McKenzie Kinley, who was just shy of her 10th birthday, was killed Sunday after she was electrocuted in her family’s backyard pool in Citrus Heights, according to news reports.  The child was killed after touching an underwater light fixture that was not sealed and was under repair, KOVR-TV reported. “As much as we know, she grabbed the pool light, and it electrocuted her,” the girl’s father, Cliff Kinley, told the news station.  Sacramento County rescue crews rushed to the scene, but were not able to save the child. “Thank goodness it didn’t get anyone else, because there were four other children in that pool,” Kinley said. Kinley said the family is talking about the tragedy to warn other people about the potential dangers in backyard pools. “If nothing comes from losing my daughter, at least this could save others,” the child’s mother, Lisa Moore, told KOVR. The family started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
  • A former Atlanta attorney and his son were sentenced to nearly six years in prison Tuesday for a banking and investment scam that netted them more than $15 million, authorities said. Donald Watkins and his son Donald Watkins Jr. were convicted earlier this year  of deceiving former NBA star Charles Barkley and using the name of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support the scam. Watkins was sentenced to five years in prison, while his son got 27 months behind bars, The Associated Press reported. The elder Watkins was also ordered to pay $14 million in restitution.  During the trial, witnesses including Barkley testified about losing more than $6 million in investments and loans to the former attorney. Barkley said he was friends with Watkins, who split his time living in Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Other athletes who lost money in the scheme included former NBA player Damon Stoudamire and former NFL players Takeo Spikes and Bryan Thomas. Rice testified that Watkins used her name to promote an energy business without her permission, the AP reported. She declined to get involved, but Watkins included her name in emails to investors anyway, she said. As a lawyer, the senior Watkins once served in Montgomery as a city council member. He helped defend HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy in a fraud that nearly bankrupted the company, now known as Encompass Health. He has also worked on various civil rights cases. Watkins reportedly only had a net worth of few thousand dollars despite portraying himself as wealthy, the AP reported. He attempted to purchase a major league baseball team and the the St. Louis Rams before the team left for Los Angeles.  In other news: