When the opposition no longer has a voice

By Ken Reynolds

Every day there are reports of protests about issues or individual people. Americans have plenty to protest. Speaking out in support, or in opposition, is a part of what our country is. We exercise our right to make our opinions and our voices heard.

We cherish the right to speak our minds and to disagree with those who have or who want to gain power. It is a precious right, and voicing opposition keeps us from falling under the tyranny of the majority, or the power of an autocrat. A government based on the consent of the governed risks the wrath of its citizens when it attempts to silence opposing or unpopular views, but when the opposition is silent, the ones in power stay there, whether we want them or not. Continue reading

Keep the Johnson Amendment

By Ken Reynolds

In his talk to religious leaders at the National Prayer breakfast in February, the president vowed “to destroy” the Johnson Amendment. His vow is not a surprise. The 2016 Republican Platform supports repeal. A bill to change the law has been introduced in the House.
If you are among those who attend church in hope of solace and to worship among people of like beliefs, you may want to consider carefully what the president is vowing to destroy. Repeal has potential impact on every tax-exempt organization, including churches, charities and service clubs. Continue reading

Why Go To Houston In July?

by Marty & Ken Reynolds

Newly transplanted, eight year old Katie at swim practice.

Newly transplanted, eight year old Katie at swim practice.

Who would want to leave the cool mountains of North Georgia to spend a hot July week in Houston?

Had it not been that our daughter, a kidney transplant recipient, was competing in the Donate Life Transplant Games of America we would have stayed here. But parental love prevailed, and we braved the mid-summer heat in Texas.

In 1982, our eight-year-old daughter, Katie, swam in a meet in Richmond, Virginia. As she got set to dive into the pool, faces turned toward her. We heard voices murmuring, “That’s the little girl who had the kidney transplant this winter!” Continue reading

No Fiction Pulitzer

The Pulitzer Prize Board did not select a fiction prize winner. Ann Patchett, author and bookstore owner eloquently expresses her disapproval of the board’s non-award. I recommend her April 17 N Y Times Op-Ed “And the Winner Isn’t . . .”

Patchett says, “Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.”

The author and Karen Hayes are co-owners of Parnassus Books in Nashville. Together they are demonstrating that physical bookstores are not of the past.

To read Patchett’s full column follow this link http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/opinion/and-the-winner-of-the-pulitzer-isnt.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120418

Supreme Court to address Obamacare

The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will address the constitutionality of the Obama health care reform bill. I hope we are about to put to rest the controversies over Obamacare. We have other important issues that our politicians should be addressing. It is time to move forward.

The administration and its challengers seem to have focused all their attention on that issue while millions of Americans remain jobless. Controlling the cost of and providing access to health care are important and complicated issues, but there is no justifiable reason for not devoting equal energy and resolution to the jobs issue. I expressed that view more fully in my column Health care is not a walk in the park in the November issue of Smoke Signals.

Debt and remedial classes in college

What has happened to the solid old notion of avoiding debt? Repayment has been a nagging problem since the inception of the Student Loan program. But now the Education Department reports a dramatic rise in late payments of student loans and in the number of those loans referred for possible legal action. No doubt the current recession is contributing to the problem, but there is another less publicized cause. In my opinion, the false belief that everyone should go to college has led to unrealistic academic and career expectations.

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Of what value is the right to express a thought if no one is willing to listen?

If we do not teach our children to disagree reasonably the next logical step is unreasonable disagreement. The step after that is violent disagreement.
We can change what we believe, but are not likely to do so unless we make a conscious decision to consider different information and opinions. Why would anyone want to do that?

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Not Everyone Should Go To College

Between 1944 and today we somehow morphed into an “everyone should go to college” national mindset. I accept the risk of being labeled a curmudgeon, but not everyone should go to college. There is a major difference between advocating college for every student and encouraging individual students to prepare themselves to make their way in the world. If college and knowledge work is what a student wants and is suited for, then we should encourage that student.

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