Letters to the Editor:
Published 12:21 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003
James Crawford's article appearing in the paper of Feb. 19 illustrates the misunderstanding many people have about our government.
First and foremost, the government's purpose is not to help people. Charity is a function performed by an individual or a church, not a government. The sole purpose of our state government is articulated in Article I Section 35 of the state's constitution. It reads as follows: "That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression."
In this same vein it is not the government's responsibility to redistribute wealth. This socialistic concept is what he is calling for when he complains about the less affluent having to pay taxes.
Mr. Crawford and many others have been convinced the government and its bureaucracies can replace the lack of personal responsibility of a few with the labor of the many responsible taxpayers. He calls for equality, then wants a progressive tax. An equitable tax system would tax everyone at the same rate regardless of the amount of money a person brings home. We should reward our hard workers with a fair tax system that does not punish people for achieving.
Mr. Crawford also pointed an accusing finger at the state's constitution. I will be the first to admit that our constitution is far from perfect. Where the finger should have been pointed, however, was at our state legislature. The constitution has never stood in the way of anyone who had enough money or clout.
Case in point – the City of Atmore's recent purchase of land for an industrial park. Every town and county in the state who has had wanted to purchase land for economic development has had to get a constitutional amendment. Examples of these amendments are Amendment 190, 624, 415, 308, 624 and numerous others.
To my knowledge, neither Atmore nor Escambia County has placed an amendment before the people, yet they purchases property for economic development outside of their corporate limits. Did the consitution prevent the officials of Atmore from getting what they wanted, at the expense of the citizens located by the purchase? The answer is no. Nor would it stand in the way of tax reform if the legislators really wanted to push it through.
It is easier for us as a community to place the blame on a document instead of on ourselves. We are the ones who have elected the same officials into office agian and again. Skippy White and Pat Lindsey have been in Montgomery for years, and we are reaping what we have sewn. Neither of these two gentlemen to my knowledge has worked to get the public behind any type of constitutional reform.
The news editor also focused attention on Governor Riley. Governor Riley has only been in office for a month, but he has signed several executive orders to bring sunshine on our government that has been in the dark far too long. He has also appointed an independent commission to propose corrections for some of the most glaring problems with our constitution, with the main one being our state legislature has too much power at the expense of the executive branch.
However, the legislature has to approve these changes, and I do not expect any of the lifetime politicians to relinquish any of their power for the good of the state.
If Mr. Crawford, The Advance, and the public want to bring a change to the constitution, they need to focus their energies on putting pressure on our legislators. Unfortunately, the legislature has to be the body to give the Governor the tools he needs, to bring an end to the corruption and pork the body has lived on for decades.