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Citrus County Concurrent
Jan 09, 2023
In General Discussion: National
by Annie San Martin Martin Luther King (MLK) was an extraordinary American who believed in the "dream" that both " Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." He wanted all of God's children to live in harmony. Dr. King believed in the struggle of his black brethren and wanted to do this in peace. His life was chaotic: at 33, he was promoting his civil rights agenda; at 34, he caught the nation's attention with his "I Have a Dream" Speech; at 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize; but sadly at 39, his life ended tragically by assassination. Yet his legacy and message still resonates today. Dr. King stayed true to his nonviolence stance for Civil Rights with his march in Birmingham against unfair hiring tactics among blacks. In the north, many blacks wanted violence as the only way to change things concerning racism. Dr. King felt this was wrong and organized camp-ins for peace in Vietnam and for Civil Rights for all. He wanted a nonviolent way through camp-ins to show the plights of the poor. He once said that someday it would be "a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." It is now sixty years later and his message has become distorted with proponents of CRT (Critical Race Theory). Dr. King would surely have seen CRT as destructive as it lumped people into groups based on skin color or ethnicity. MLK was a Christian and believed that we were all children of God and in the image of God. CRT divided and shamed people which would not work toward his goal of bringing people together and to work together for equality. There have been many blemishes in our history. We can use history to learn from our mistakes but not to shame people. For there to be true equality, we need to unite people to work together for peace and equal rights for all. We need to teach the principles of MLK and not the principles of CRT.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Jan 01, 2023
In General Discussion: National
By Roy San Martin The top three countries with the strongest military are: #1. United States #2. China and #3. Russia. However, China's military has more service personnel (around 2 million), compared to 1.4 million for.the U.S. Yet when the COVID mandate was enacted, it forced 60,000 servicemen out of the Army. We lost some of our best warriors with real combat and leadership experience from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This caused low morale among those that remain. The House of Representatives recently passed to rescind the vaccine mandate and allow ousted servicemen to return to duty. But has the damage to morale already be done and their voluntary return is still to be seen. We have 1,957 fighter jets to China's 1,200 fighter jets. The US lags behind 68 to China's 79 submarines. Russia is a dismal third due to lack of motivation in the unnecessary Ukraine war. Morale in the military is important as it improves cohesiveness of the troops.Good morale will mean a stronger force and less likely to surrender. The Omnibus bill has some good benefits for morale: increasing soldier's pay by 4.6% and housing/food allowance by 11% to offset inflation. The bill includes $858 billion in defense funding for 2023 to cover new construction, major repairs to some bases affected by hurricanes this year, and money ( $27.9 billion as part of the fourth Ukraine supplemental revenue). Part of our defense is a secure border with a 17% boost in funding to hire 300 new Border agents. This will probably not be met due to low morale and lack of support by the present administration. Regular border funding would increase by 12% with an additional one-time bonus of $1.6 billion to address migrant increase at the border. We need to keep a strong military with major confrontations with Russia, China, and North Korea in the future. Money to boost our military, of course, is important but our president must be a team leader and role model. President Eisenhower summed this up in his remarks: "Guns and tanks and planes are nothing unless there is a solid spirit, a solid heart, and great productivity behind it." We need to find that purpose again and in any war give 100% with the American people and leaders supporting our soldiers. We need to remain the world leader in the world to restore world peace.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Jan 01, 2023
In General Discussion: National
By Richard Tomlinson Well it is a brand new year which means I will be getting older. Getting older is not always a bad thing. It is a time when I become more comfortable with myself. Some people want to turn back the clock. Not me! Aging is a time to recount my many stories and adventures. Many of the roads that I travelled weren't always smooth. But those times make life more interesting. Life should never be a journey to the grave in an attractive well preserved body. It should be a body that has a few wrinkles and is well worn but also well enjoyed with a martini in one hand and totally worned out with laughter and tears. What is weird about aging: when you are young you lie about being older. I remember I wanted to be older to buy that beer or go to R-Rated movies. As you get older, some lie that they are younger. But finally in old age, you start bragging about your true age. My grandfather lived to be his upper nineties and yet he still hunted, fished, and mowed his own grass. Like my grandfather, I became bald in my early thirties. Since I have less hair on my head, I decided to grow a beard to have some hair on my face. My grandfather used to tease his barber that his haircut should be cheaper as they should charge by the inch. They probably had to charge more as they charged a "search fee" to find what hair was left. As a whole, I am fairly healthy. My eyesight and hearing is not as good but my mind is still sharp. Too often people see aging as a process of life to fear and dread. Instead it should be anticipated with excitement. Having a sense of humor can help with the challenges and the aches and pains and can help us bear the unbearable much better. George Bernard Shaw summed things up best by saying: "We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." So enter this new year with a playful attitude. You will be a year older. Accept it and go on living.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Dec 20, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Cheryl Melton Early this morning, a possum met an untimely death with my car while I was heading east on Highway 44. Returning home later that day, it had become an unrecognizable mess. The buzzards had not even come to clean up the carcass as too much activity on the road.. This "mess" reminds me of the border crisis which is unrecognizable from only a few years ago. The border patrol has not been able to clean up the mess at the border. A few years ago, we were building a wall which would allow more security at limited entry points. Crossing the border at southern Arizona, migrants must cross the Sonoran Desert where temperature can reach over 100 F. Many die due to heat and dehydration. A wall would deter desert area crossings. In April 2021 the border wall project funded from the Defense Department accounts was cancelled. Since over 2.76 million are now crossing the border, Arizona placed shipping containers as a temporary border wall. This was met with a lawsuit from the Justice Department against the state as trespassing on federal lands. The "Stay in Mexico" policy has also been met with hurdles. It was felt that many would not show up to their asylum hearings if allowed in the U.S. However an 11 year study by the U.S. immigration courts shows 83% compliance in court appearances. The Mexico policy (2019-2021) expedited cases because the migrants usually stayed in Mexican border communities. Today, migrants can be in the U.S. for years before their first court date. Title 42 allowed restrictions on immigration during public health crises, such as COVID. Today the crisis is Fentanyl overdose deaths: 71,000 Fentanyl deaths out of 108,000 overdoses (2021). Most migrants are good people seeking the American Dream. But some migrants are bad and along with the cartel are responsible for these deaths through illegal drug smuggling. Now back to the possum: Do you know why the chicken crossed the road? To show the possum it can be done. We can get things done if we resort to common sense policies that will allow those migrants seeking a better life to find an easier way to "cross the road". Yet we need to be able to secure our border against the bad elements and drugs. Time for cooperation on both sides of the aisle in Congress.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Dec 17, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Ellie Brahe Russia's invasion of Ukraine was also an attack on our global security and peace created after World War II. The atrocities of war, including genocide, must only be retaliated with Russia's defeat. But at what costs? Since the February 24th invasion, the U.S. and allies have pledged economic, military, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Learning the total amount of U.S. aid is no easy task. There is the discrepancy between total aid appropriated versus aid that has actually been delivered. Aid can also be money or equipment which is difficult to put an actual price tag on. One estimate is that 68 billion dollars has been appropriated by Congress. From this amount: $17 billion (short term military support including weapons and training), $10.4 Billion (long term military support including tactical weapons and security), $9.6 Billion (18,000 troops to Europe to strengthen defenses), and $1.2 Billion (general support in future conflicts). This sum is only $38.2 billion of the total appropriated. Some of the confusion: Congress appropriates money, called budget authority, and then the President spends the money, called outlays. The wheels of government turns slowly. Looking a moment close to home: the U.S reported debt is $31 trillion. Note: billion has 9 zeros and a trillion 12 zeroes. The true debt when including unfunded social security promises and medicare is $147 trillion. When I googled the "Debt Clock": the figures were changing rapidly upward. Of this debt, China holds $1.08 trillion in treasuries. The Office of Debt Management ( U.S. The Treasury Department) believes that the U.S. government is just five years away from the time where every new dollar that it borrows from the public will go toward funding interest payments on the national debt. Wars and our economy are about numbers. We are at a crossroads where we have to fund this war to keep peace in the world. The cost for nuclear catastrophe are great and yet destroying our economy is a possibility also. More accountability of appropriated money for this war. On the National debt: we need to reduce tax rates, eliminate most tax deductions, and simplify the tax code which would raise revenue to reduce the deficit, Curbing the growth on discretionary spending with enforceable caps and streamlining government operations. Promote measures to strengthen the economy and industry in the U.S. The costs and the benefits are too great to ignore.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Dec 16, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Annie San Martin The U.S. is a republic and not a pure democracy. Our founding fathers wanted to protect our country from the excesses of democratic majorities which would weaken our institution in the name of greater "equality". As a republic, our forefathers saw the importance that the non-majority community contributed to the republic's welfare and our political justice system. This careful balance is being threatened by those who promote social equality that threaten to undermine the social, religious, economic, and familial roots of our political freedoms. A good example: Religious freedom is a fundamental American value that we cherish and work hard to defend. LGBT people have gained greater equality under the law. However it is troubling if one is forced to perform a service that goes against his religious beliefs. TheSupreme Court agreed to allow people to claim religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws. Not every business man will discriminate based on his religious beliefs. So this ruling gives a voice to both sides and does not hinder our freedom of religion or free speech. When it comes to elections, the popular vote is used to elect our local and state representatives. However the Electoral College was put in place to elect the U.S. President. The reasoning was to give all 50 states a voice in the process and to ensure that the more populous states did not overpower the smaller states when choosing our nation's leader. Presidential candidates must campaign to appease different groups of people than only to the populous states. In close, contested elections, recounts will usually be confined to a state or two, rather than an across-the-country. The Electoral College eliminates demands for run-off elections. This system seems to be working as in 227 years, the popular vote winner has lost in the electoral votes only five times. As a republic, all (small states and large states) have a voice. The U.S. is a republic and not a pure democracy. Our founding fathers wanted to protect our country from the excesses of democratic majorities which would weaken our institution in the name of greater "equality". As a republic, our forefathers saw the importance that the non-majority community contributed to the republic's welfare and our political justice system. This careful balance is being threatened by those who promote social equality that threaten to undermine the social, religious, economic, and familial roots of our political freedoms. A good example: Religious freedom is a fundamental American value that we cherish and work hard to defend. LGBT people have gained greater equality under the law. However it is troubling if one is forced to perform a service that goes against his religious beliefs. The Supreme Court agreed to allow people to claim religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws. Not every business man will discriminate based on his religious beliefs. So this ruling gives a voice to both sides and does not hinder our freedom of religion or free speech.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Dec 10, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Ricard Musgrove In 2019, we visited Washington, D.C. ,our nation's capital in "the land of plenty". And yet among this wealth were many homeless people. The sad memory of an old black lady that rode the shuttle by day to have a place to sleep and keep warm. I have become accustomed to the concept of homelessness as a part of the city’s culture. I saw tents and lean-to's on sidewalks. This week we took a trip to Savannah, a historical city of wide streets and 24 public squares. It was considered America's first planned city and yet many of the squares are places where the homeless slept and panhandled for money and food. I have always been a compassionate, understanding person. Many of these homeless have had terrible stories that lead to their sleeping on benches and begging for money from every passer-by. Not all but some of these homeless people are simply lazy and do not seem to possess a desire to help themselves out of their current situation. I don't mind helping someone that helps themselves. I saw a guy rummaging through the trash bins behind a bar for recyclable cans. At least he was not just relying on a handout but trying to also earn a little money. Affordable housing accounts for about 30% of a person's monthly income. Many people on minimum wage could not afford a one-bedroom apartment at "fair market rent". The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness found that fighting homelessness can be expensive. However it is much cheaper to provide housing at a cost of $10,000 per person per year than leaving them homeless which with the cost of law enforcement, jails, hospitals, and other community services would be over $31,000 per person per year. The government has been part of the problem in many locations by focusing more on creating housing for drug addicted chronic unemployable homeless. It has been biased in funding programs that don't require sobriety, work, or behavior changes as a means to being more self-sufficient. With no accountability and no prohibitions for destructive behavior, it attracts people who seek these benefits. You get the people off the street but are not helping them. Officials should develop mandatory work programs when providing taxpayer funded services and shelter as a requirement. This will better the community and help build pride among these people who desperately need our help.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Dec 07, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Kerin Resch Since living in Florida, my standard footwear is flip flops. In summer without socks and as a fashion faux pas: socks in winter (mind you: just around the house). Flip flops got its name from flopping back and forth against the soles of one's feet when one walks. Some candidates are flip flops on their policies and ideas There was a 2006 robocall message from a gubernatorial candidate which said: "I’m pro-life, I opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants, I support traditional marriage, and I have never supported a new tax or big spending program. I support a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, and I oppose adoption by gay couples, and I work to ensure the right to display the Ten Commandments in public places." Today this message would sound racist, homophobic, etc. This candidate is now running again for Governor of Florida but has flip flopped not only on policies but also on party affiliation (Republican to Democrat). Most voters like a candidate that "sticks to his guns" and does not flip-flop with the changing political winds. Indecisive people make poor leaders. We have a good Governor Ron DeSantis who has been decisive on many major issues that have affected Florida from the pandemic (keeping businesses and schools open), election integrity, parental rights, the environment, and keeping Florida a productive state. DeSantis' fiscal policies has enabled Florida to have a $20 billion budget surplus.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Dec 02, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Dennis Melton Who benefits the most from the open border; the Cartel, the migrant, or you? Let's first look at the Cartel. The Cartel earns over $500 billion a year in human trafficking and drug smuggling. The fees for migrant transport can range from $8,000 to $15,000. The money does not guarantee passage as people that are hurt or can no longer keep up are abandoned to die in the desert. Transporting people (usually women and children) for sex is just another sinister source of profits for these violent smugglers. These criminals make no distinction between abusing a woman’s body by forcing her to swallow bags of drugs or by forcing her to have sex with hundreds of men as her "payment" for passage. Now take a look at the migrants. Congress passed in 1996 new Welfare Reforms which with a few exceptions, most non-citizens are not eligible for most welfare benefits until they had been in the U.S. for at least 5 years. Migrants would be "public charges" as receiving benefits may become an incentive for immigration. Biden has weakened the law by interpreting public charges as those that have receipt of cash benefits or have long-term institutional care. This ruling is a slap in the faces of taxpayers as it ignores the other public benefits such as: medical, housing, food, and education which these migrants are now considered eligible. Each state now shares the burden of public housing, schools, and other services. Texas alone where most migrants enter is costing the state over $850 million dollars. Florida also spent a combined $52 million on immigrant births through Medicaid programs.. In the USA, the largest cost has been $1.6 billion to educate children of migrants. 2017 data puts costs at $8,075 per migrant annually. 2022 costs are difficult to obtain. Now let's look at you. We should welcome legal immigrants with open arms and treat all immigrants humanely. Prosecuting illegals has not been a deterrent. It is considered a misdemeanor with 6 months maximum punishment. From 2017, the migrant costs outweigh the collected taxes by a ratio of roughly 7 to 1 ($135 billion vs $219 billion). So who benefits the most? The answers are the Cartels with the migrants only as pawns in this sinister scenario. A more secure border and less strict immigration laws making the path to citizenship much cheaper and quicker is our best solution.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 30, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Ellie Brahe When establishing the constitution, our forefathers could not foresee all the changes today from medical breakthroughs to space travel to the internet. These marvels have also challenged our freedoms. The popularity of the internet was well established by 1996 with over 20 million American users. Today, 92% have internet access. In a 1997 case, Reno v ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled that the internet is entitled to the same degree of free speech protection as extended to the print media as opposed to a reduced level given to the broadcast media. Apple Computers (Apple) stood firm for the First Amendment in 2016 when the FBI wanted to get in the "backdoor" of Syed Farook’s iPhone. Farook and his wife Tasheen Malik headed a a terrorist mass shooting of 36 people and attempted bombing at a local shoppi ng center on December 2, 2015. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Apple's refusal to write the software code to gain access to the iphone. The court upheld software as a part of free speech. Eventually, the FBI gained access on their own to the iphone. Apple now is "see-sawing '' on free speech. With major COVID lockdowns, it has bowed to China's demands by removing VPN apps which allow users to encrypt their IP address and redirect users' iCloud data to government data centers. However Apple retorted these claims by saying that it saw the importance of an open society. Yet in the latest iPhone’s version, Apple restricted the use of Airdrop in China. This would have allowed wireless file-sharing features to secretly spread messages which would help those plotting against their government in the name of freedom. Apple is not only against free speech in China--think again. Whatever your opinion of Twitter should not matter. It is a social platform for free speech whether in the form of blogs and social networking. Apple does not agree with Elon Musk's policies with Twitter and has threatened to remove the Twitter app from the App Store as part of its "app review moderation process". The government can not restrict Free Speech but a private company can legally restrict as long as no governmental entanglement with that restriction. A worldwide internet means interpretation of free speech will differ. Court challenges will occur with changes in this technology. Hopefully our courts will follow our constitution in their interpretation or our republic will falter.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 28, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Roy San Martin Don't you hate this? You get a song stuck in your head and think about it everywhere. I heard "Every Breath You Take" and keep singing the words: "Every breath you take And every move you make Every bond you break Every step you take I'll be watching you". It sounds more sinister than a love song. But it also made me think about the popularity of the social platform, Tik Tok which "watches" its users as a data espionage issue. ByteDance, a Chinese governmental company, owns Tik Tok. Cybersecurity experts warn that China has already been monitoring its own people through this technology and could also gather and exploit information on Americans. Tik Tok users find entertainment and information here. China controls the largest part of the digital" territory" of the world through its popular Apps: WeChat, Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ, Douban, Baidu Tieba, Xiahongshu, and Youku. All seem to send users' data back to Beijing. In fact, these Apps are entering the financial markets as WeChat has issued a digital Yuan to promote digital currency. Many social apps track the location of their users for "advertising" purposes. They claim that ads will be specific to the area that the user lives. But FBI sources have noted Tik Tok had specifically tracked the physical locations of US government officials, activists, public figures, and journalists. The U.S. Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. noted that Apps like Tik Tok had financial information on Americans which could be used in future business negotiations. The Chinese warrier, Sun Tszu believed the ultimate goal of warfare is to win without fighting. China is winning by controlling the digital territory and minds of the world. Sun Tszu said: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Through Tik Tok, China is learning all about the Americans (their enemy) and will not succumb in the final battle.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 26, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Richard Tomlinson I remember when I was first on my own after college, I lived in a duplex. My neighbors were a blind woman and her adult daughter. They were nice and chatted with them often as I came and went. But they had little in the way of money or comforts. I really don't remember what I got them as a Christmas gift but I wanted to see a smile. When I brought the small gift, they thanked me awkwardly and went inside for a few moments as they said they had a gift for me. After a lengthy time, they returned with a hastily wrapped gift. I opened it as soon as I got home to find a Daytona Beach towel. It made me feel sad as I had put them on the spot. They had to find something to give me in return. I learned a lesson that day. If I am the receiver of an unexpected gift, I will show my heartfelt appreciation. I won't reciprocate a gift back to them as it cheapens their gesture. Perhaps months later, I might do something for them . A gift should be given to bring joy to the receiver. When we give a gift, we also experience feelings of expectant gratitude, to be rewarded, and to be praised for our actions. But we should not let our ego take over. Instead, we should put ourselves in the recipient's place and see the joy that he got out of receiving the gift. It is a joy of knowing that someone thought enough to want to give a part of themselves whether a physical gift or their time to another. Many feel Christmas has become too complicated. Madison Avenue seems to rule the season. The Three Wise Men brought gifts for the Baby Jesus. But that tradition has become piles of presents which means mounds of accumulated debt. We must simplify the season. For a Christian, it is the birth of Christ who was sent to save us from our sins. For others, Christmas is a celebration of steadfast love with family and friends through our gifts. Gift-giving should be an altruistic act of unselfish concern for the well-being of others. Simplify things and have the best Christmas ever!
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 22, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Dennis Melton In September 2022, a suburban family were awakened at 7:05 a.m. with pounding on the door by 25-30 armed FBI agents there for the arrest of Mark Houck. Back in 2021, Houck, a pro-life minister, had shoved a pro-abortion volunteer after the man had repeatedly curse Houck's 12-year-old son. The charges were later dropped. But Merrick Garland's Justice Department decided to pursue the case with this unnecessary show of force. When Houck had open the door that morning, he had agreed to go peacefully. Before taking him away, the agents forced his seven hysterical children upstairs in a bullying manner. It is very odd that the Justice Department used so much energy on a minor altercation while ignoring the many violent attempts to terrorize pro-life pregnancy centers. Another FBI raid unfolded in March 2022 in Los Angeles. FBI agents raided the safety deposit boxes of 800 customers in a Beverly Hills bank and collected over $86 million dollars, rare jewels, old coins, and precious metals. Their reasoning is that there had been criminal activity. In over eight months time, there has been no proof and many have filed a lawsuit that this dragnet forfeiture operation is unconstitutional. Yet the government has yet to return the property. There is a provision in the "Build Back Better Bill" which was very controversial. It would require banks to report deposits and withdrawals of $600 or more. This was later raised to $10,000 and will become effective in 2023. The American Bankers Association believes it “raises significant concerns regarding the privacy of personal financial information". Not all people have been treated equally by the FBI. Some that have been proven to have commited a crime such as Hunter Biden, Peter Strzok, Andy McCabe, and Michael Srussman have never been "visited" by the FBI. These people are high profile people, but what about ordinary citizens? Thanks to the Patriot Act, we now classify both domestic and international terrorism in which the government can seize your assets often without notice. At a civil hearing, it must prove that the assets were involved in terrorism by a burden of evidence. Our judicial system is based on constitutional laws which protect our rights that are fundamentally important. We should rely on the Supreme Court to interpret these rights in accordance with the Constitution. We all need to be vigilant and protect our freedoms from within.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 20, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Don Farley Today when you turn on the news, it is about two political parties (Republicans and Democrats) and the bickering in Congress. But when the Constitutional Convention delegates met in Philadelphia in 1787, they purposely omitted any mention of political parties from the constitution. Many harken back to the bloody civil wars in England in the 1600's where political parties were seen as corrupt and self-interest. In 1796, George Washington's farewell address warned against three dangers that could destroy the union: "regionalism, partisanship, and foreign entanglements. " On regionalism, he said: “The name of American…must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” These words fell on deaf ears as sixty-five years later (April 12, 1861), the first engagement of the Civil War took place at Fort Sumter (Charleston, S.C.) which almost destroyed our nation. People want to belong to a group with similar ideas. Political parties sprang up right away both for and against the Constitution. By the presidential election of 1796, there were two main parties: Federalist (Alexander Hamilton) and the Democratic-Republicans (Thomas Jefferson and James Madison ). Today we have the Democrat and Republican parties. 59% of Americans see a great deal of difference between the two parties in 2022 up from 55% in 2020. Americans seem more polarized and each election means "the fate of our nation lies in the balance". Talk radio and social media, though informative, have contributed to the polarization. Political gridlock in Congress might eventually lead to political compromise and return to civility and rule of law. Hopefully this can happen in the next 10 years or 50 years before this country is changed forever. America has tried to remain an isolationist but reluctantly intervene in the two world wars. We have used "nation building" to correct flaws in foreign governments. The world has grown smaller and more dependent on each other. We learn during COVID about our dependence on China which is over $521 billion dollars or 17.2% of China's exports. Our forefathers envisioned the principles of checks and balances of power. Regional and party differences need to be met with compromise. We need to apply our history lessons of isolation and shrink our involvement in foreign commitment. We need to repair the damage from these three dangers that Washington has warned against before it is too late.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 17, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Annie San Martin This is one of my favorite times of the year. It reminds me of the story of the blind boy who was sitting on the sidewalk with a sign that read "I am blind. Please help me". There were not many coins in the blind boy's hat. So a passerby took the handmade sign and wrote a different message on the other side. In no time, there were coins jingling in the hat from each person that passed. The next day, the blind boy heard the familiar footsteps of the passerby and asked him what changes had he made to his sign. People had started donating coins. The passerby said: "I made your message more hopeful". I wrote: “Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.” The second sign showed a more positive message that we should be thankful that we can see the beauty in this world. Years ago, a friend in Columbia, S.C. was walking along the river. There was an old black man fishing. My friend noticed a slight slant to the old man's smile. In talking, he learn that the man had suffered a stroke only six months before and yet he was strong. He did not appear to have any frailties. The man said that after the stroke, his son carried him outside daily to the grandchildrens' swing set. He used the bars and exercised to gain his strength and coordination. He was grateful and thankful that people cared and wanted to overcome his condition. Today many see Thanksgiving as a gluttonous feast. We need to learn to regularly practice expressing gratitude rather than criticism. We will always have something to complain about but step back sometime and turn those complaints into something to be thankful for. When we sit around the table among family, among friends, or when alone: reflect on the good things in our lives. This letter is rambling but the main point is be thankful for what you have and think positive. Life will give you 50 reasons to cry. Change that into 100 reasons to smile. We cannot change the past but we can prepare for our future with hope. Make Thanksgiving a part of your "everyday" and not just once a year. To see others smiling is a beautiful thing. To know that you were the reason for their smiling is even better.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 16, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Tina Sanders I am not a financial wizard by any means. That is why you won't find me living in a large mansion or driving around in an Aston Martin. You won't see me buying Cryptocurrency which I know little about. All I know: it is a digital currency used as a medium of exchange through a computer network. I don't understand how the value is determined. The cryptocurrency exchange is rife with ponzi schemes and rug-pulls. A major rug-pull happened recently with FTX cryptocurrency exchange. U.S. Aid money for Ukraine was invested in FTX and later liquidated to avoid financial reporting in a pyramid scheme. This money increased the value of FTX crypto which would lure more investors. FTX at its peak had capital over 200 billion dollars but a few days ago it went bankrupt. At least a billion dollars has " mysteriously" disappeared. Samuel Bankman-Fried (FTX Founder) is the second largest donor to the Democrat party. He formed "Protect Our Future PAC " that spent over $1.9 million on suburban Atlanta candidate Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA). Both Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL) received $2,900. Other recipients include Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Salud Carajal (D-CA) who got $2900 and $5800 respectively in their tight races. Protect Our Future spent $10 million to boost Carrick Flynn (D-ORE) chances in a crowded Democratic primary. Loopholes in PACs mean that it is more money donated to campaigns with less transparency as to who is donating. FTX donated mainly to Democrats but a few Republicans also benefited. $44,000 went to the National Republican Congressional Committee which is chaired by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) who is a vocal crypto supporter. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) also benefited with a $2900 donation . We have only scratched the surface of the FTX Bankruptcy Scandal. When clients began asking for their money as a return on their investment, they discovered that it was not there much like a pyramid scheme. We need to investigate this further and find out who knew what and why. Our Campaign finance system (especially PACs) cause a growing disconnect between candidates and the people they are supposed to represent. Super PACs allow wealthy special interests to pour more funds into a campaign and shield the donors' identities. We need better commonsense campaign finance laws to prevent other FTX scandals in the future.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 15, 2022
In General Discussion: National
Former President Donald Trump is expected to announce his 2024 presidential bid tonight. Do you think he actually announces tonight? Do you want to see President Trump back in office or are you going to hold your support to learn more about his potential challengers?
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 14, 2022
In General Discussion: Local
By Rudy Brooks On November 1st, I should receive a Citrus County Property tax bill from Janice Warren. Property taxes have been around since 6000 B.C. Clay tablets from the city-state Lagash (part of modern day Iraq) showed figures called "bala" or rotation. Tax assessors would focus on different areas of the city-state monthly to access the tax value for the king. During the dark ages , the manor lords had to pay a tax for their lands to the king. Today it is a tax which generates revenue for the local government's budget. It works well in generating about 3/4 of the local taxes and 1/2 of the local government revenue excluding state and local aid. Some feel the property tax is a tax on capital which would make it a progressive tax. Usually property value continues to increase annually. Low-income families with lots of kids consume more in government services (such education) than they pay in taxes. Actually better education helps the country's economy with higher paying jobs and better infrastructure. In 1995, the Florida Constitution was amended to limit the annual increase in assessed property value (with Homestead Exemption) to 3% or the change in the consumer index--whichever is lower. The assessment can not exceed fair market value and is limited to property value and not property taxes. Property taxes are due by March 31st. However the taxes are discounted if paid in November (4%), in December (3%), in January (2%), or in February (1%). Paying early saves money. The property tax is a stable reliable revenue source. Some suggest doing away with the property tax and raising the sales tax to perhaps 11-12% would be more equitable. Sales taxes are regressive tax. Low-income people would spend a greater proportion of their budgets on consumption and on goods, which are taxed, rather than services, which are not. Local property taxes must be administered fairly and the tax burdens distributed equitably among taxpayers (homeowners and business owners). An old proverb says:" The best things in life are free, but sooner or later the government will find a way to tax them." Florida does not collect property taxes--only local county governments levy real estate taxes. Thus this helps keep them lower than most states. We don't live in a bubble and benefit every day from these tax dollars that are collected. So send that check and pay your taxes!
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 11, 2022
In General Discussion: National
By Richard Musgrove It seems that where a person's name is on the ballot can affect their chances of getting elected. This is more apparent in "low information elections' '- where voters are not able or willing to find out much information on all the candidates. When it is a relatively important selection and party affiliation is also known, then ballot order has little or no effect on the voter's decision. Some have suggested that randomizing or rotating ballot order, even a little more costly, might yield legislators who enjoy the most support of the voters. Alphabetized ballots allow for less deserving candidates to always win and actually be worse off for the state. Most Asian names are farther down the alphabet such as Leung, Wang, or Zhang. This is less advantageous and more likely these candidates would lose in an alphabetized ballot. Thus we need to reform ballot order rules in order to conduct fair elections. Since this is a complex issue, we should be careful of arbitrary rules on ballot order which might interfere with the best qualified candidates winning the election. California used to always put the incumbent first on the ballot. This gave this candidate a 3 point advantage according to several studies. California Code, Elections Code - ELEC § 13112 was enacted to ensure fairness. The Secretary of State has a randomized alphabet drawing of each letter of the alphabet. That is the order that the candidates will appear in all ballot races. For example if letters were drawn X, R, A, C, B then Xavier, Ross, Anderson, Collins, and Bailey would be the order of Candidates on the ballot. Eighty-two days before the primary and eighty-two days before the general election, a randomized alphabet drawing will take place. Thus ballot order changes between all elections. Voting is a responsibility that should be taken seriously. We will always have uninformed voters. Perhaps randomized alphabet drawings will level the playing field for candidates. The U.S. ranks 31 out of the top 50 countries on voter turnout. It is difficult to determine the percentage of voters that are uninformed . Sadly this could undermine our democracy.
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Citrus County Concurrent
Nov 10, 2022
In General Discussion: Local
By Ellie Brahe Well the elections are over until 2024. We can now relax. But elections always seem like musical chairs in which someone is left without a chair (position) as they were voted out. It got me thinking of many things. Marco Rubio ran for U.S. Senator from Florida. Since he represents all of Florida, Florida voters voted whether to re-elect him or not. Since he does not represent Georgia, Georgia voters did not vote to elect Rubio. Ralph Massullo was elected State Representative for House District 23 which covers a specific area of Citrus County and a little of Marion County. Voters of this area voted to reelect Ralph Massulo. Dade county voters could not elect Ralph Massulo as they did not live in District 23. This sounds all confusing. And yet we elect our Commissioners at large. They are required to live in their district (at least after the election) and yet all of Citrus County votes for all 5 commissioners. Recently Diana Finegan won the commissioner district 2 position. She resides in Homosassa which is part of that district. Yet her opponent Paul Grogan lived in Inverness (District 4) but would have moved to Homosassa if he had won the District 2 position. I live in Lecanto and not in Homosassa yet I could also vote for Diana Finegan. We need to stop the confusion and go to single-member district voting. If I lived in District 1 (for example) then I would only vote for the District 1 commissioner that would then represent the voters of my district. I would not vote for all 5 commissioners. This would be a fairer representation of the local issues of that district. We have elected members of congress and state legislatures from single member districts. This provides more equity for the voters. You have someone that represents your interest as a region. The elected commissioner is more accountable to his local district instead of diluting his accountability by representing all the voters of Citrus County. Let's keep things simple. This benefits localized democracy. It allows the elected commissioner to focus on the needs of their localized voters rather than the interest of all.
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Citrus County Concurrent

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