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Community Forum: Government takes more than it needs
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I am always encouraged when I see a letter to the editor written by a high school student. It gives me hope for the future. This time it inspired me to write my own letter.

I agree with Kelcie Evenson's statement Wednesday that we need to appreciate what a blessing it is to live in the United States, and I am also encouraged that Ms. Evenson plans to join the ranks of taxpaying citizens next year. (we need all the help we can get)

However, I am very concerned that she stated that she is a high school senior taking an economics class, then she demonstrated a failure to understand the graphic displayed in her class and the definition of gross domestic product. These two problems left her resulting argument void of real meaning. I hope this is simply a mistake and not characteristic of the economics education we are giving all our students.

She asserted twice in her letter that according to the graphic shown in her class, a percentage of GDP in the U.S. comes from taxes. GDP is, to quote the Oxford dictionary, the total value of goods produced and services provided within a country during one year. Taxation is not an element of GDP. It is a function of government that removes capital from the private sector for public use.

I assume the graphic attempted to create a meaningful way to compare economies of vastly different sizes by showing what percentage of private capital is being moved to the public sector. I am grateful our taxes provide for our common defense and promote the general welfare, through roads, education and financial assistance for the needy. But I am concerned that we may be losing sight of the fact the all income is the result of an individual's labor and therefore their property.

Taxation is the process by which some of that private property is given up to the state in order to fund the mutually agreed-upon functions of the state. Government does not produce income; it is funded by the labors of its citizenry. Right now, according to the Tax Foundation, Americans will have worked from Jan. 1 until April 13 to earn enough to pay all their federal state and local taxes for 2009.

Think about that again: from Jan. 1 until April 13, none of your income was really yours; it was as if you signed all those paychecks directly over to the government. The ballooning federal and state budgets guarantee that we will all be spending more time working to fund the government and less to provide for our families.

I think that is why so many people turned out for the tea party rallies. They are beginning to see how growing government will directly affect their ability to provide for themselves, and potentially significantly change the character of our nation.

Barbara Farmer

McRae inspired his employees
J.M. "Ray" McRae was a great man for those of us who worked for him. He was a leader and an inspiration. He taught us to be the very best at our jobs and to be true professionals.

He taught by example and encouraged us to be community-minded and support our town. He made sure someone from the bank was on a community organization. He was responsible for bringing many of our industries to Gainesville. His legacy will be long remembered. He was a true icon.

Mickie Little

Trout is the new excuse for taking more water out of Lanier
Here we go again. Lanier sinks or swims.

I read in The Times on Friday morning that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be releasing more water from Lake Lanier. Say what? We're just now seeing water levels slowing coming back up and starting to fill our coves again and they want to pull the plug. Give us a break!

We're still 7 1/2 feet down from full pool of 1,071 feet above sea level. But wait; the entire basin for once has been managed properly and all other lakes and even the Apalachicola River region is running normally for this time of year. Not that they were ever denied water to maintain their levels, but that's another story.

You can go back and look at the 2005 levels in the basin and see all are on target except Lanier. So let's have a reality check and maintain the low release status that has finally put water back into Lake Lanier.

Carol Couch, the director of the Georgia EPD, needs to make Lanier recovery her top priority. We've heard every excuse why more water is needed downstream from Lanier, but now she has added a new one: The trout. Carol, we can find trout in low level mountain streams in North Georgia. There is plenty of water still flowing in the Chattahoochee to make them happy without more being added.

Will we ever hear the truth out of the governmental departments that have the finger on the button that controls the dam? It's sink or swim time again and once they release more water it will be tough getting it back.

Jane Browder