Edward M. Sweatt and Carolyn H. Sweatt Publishers
Lynn Sweatt Carlson Editor
Susan Usher News Editor
Doug Rutter Sports Editor
Eric Carlson Staff Writer
Mary Potts A Peggy Earwccd Office Managers
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William Manning J'ressman
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PAGE 4 -A, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1994
Repeal Of Prison Cap
Is What People Want
Visiting in Brunswick County a few months back. North
Carolina Education Superintendent Bruce Etheridge told a politi
cal gathering how he tried to make a gift to the state penal system
of all the classroom trailers to he replaced by new buiJdings as
the statewide education bond is implemented. It seemed like a
sensible way to solve two problems for the price of one.
But the corrections department had no choice but to decline
Etheridge 's offer. It seems that classroom trailers, while apparent
ly a fitting environment for millions of North Carolina public
school students, don't meet the federal government's accommo
dations standards for people convicted of crimes against the peo
ple of North Carolina.
i\v.miciiii;li iiivaid"icau>~iu~wai . ruivi wpCi auun l/wjvii
Storm ended, vast storehouses of the rations on which American
servicemen and servicewomen subsisted were left over. But that
kind of food couldn't be used to replace or even augment the diet
of penitentiary dwellers. MREs fell short of the federal govern
ment's culinary guidelines for prisoners.
Is it any wonder that average citizens are fed up with waste,
inequity and downright silliness in government?
Maybe it took a Democratic bloodletting in Raleigh to do it,
but N.C. Attorney General Mike Easley has finally filed motions
in federal court to dismiss two lawsuits that provoked North
Carolina legislators to impose the state's reviled prison cap.
Whatever the stimulus, it's about time.
Easley contends the cases should be dismissed because the
federal crime bill requires states to operate safe, secure, constitu
tional prison systems but not to worry about square footage per
inmate. He also says he plans to ask the newly Republican-con
trolled General Assembly to repeal the cap and give more power
to the Department of Correction.
It's anybody's guess what might happen in the courts. But
there's a good chance a legislature riding the crest of a fresh con
servative wave will eagerly take its chances against the feds and
repeal the cap.
It's the kind of thing level-headed, law-abiding people asked
for all across this country on Nov. 8. Crime bill or no crime bill,
the people of North Carolina may lose to the federal government
over the prison cap and continue to be forced to open the prison
doors every time the inmate population reaches 24,5(X).
But it's time to stop assuming so and to fight for the rights of
prisoners to endure a little hardship ? at least as much as our sons
and daughters in school and our men and women in uniform have.
You Decide: Can There Be
Free Lunch With Tax Cuts?
BY MIKE WALDEN
The issue of cutting taxes is in the headlines again.
Republicans say they will work to reduce federal income tax rates.
President Clinton has also gently hinted that he may be looking at tax rate
cuts down the road, particularly for the middle class.
There are a number of issues regarding cutting tax rates. One of the
most interesting is a leftover issue from the 1980s: can cutting taxes actual
ly be a free lunch in that lower tax rates will cause so much more economic
growth that the government actually receives more tax revenues with the
Let's take this issue in steps. First, it's not controversial to think that re
ducing tax rates will generate more economic growth. If workers and busi
nesses know they will keep more of what they earn, it's likely workers will
want to work more hours and businesses will want to sell more products.
Both of these actions will make the economy bigger and increase the
tax base for the government. But this generalization works only to a point.
If tax rates were cut so much that defense spending had to be cut below
the point where people felt safe, or fewer tax revenues caused less road
construction, wh^h inhibited the movement of goods, then lower tax rates
could slow down the economy.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that lowering tax rates causes the
economy to grow faster. Does this automatically mean that with lower tax
rates and a bigger economy, the government will actually collect more tax
revenue? Not necessarily.
Up to a point, higher tax rates bring in more revenue to the government,
even accounting for the shrinkage in the tax base with the higher rates. But
beyond some point, higher tax rates can discourage so much economic ac
tivity that raising the rates causes tax revenues to decline.
This was the conclusion of the Laffer curve, but the idea has been in the
economics discipline for over 1(X) years. What is this magical tax rate point
above which increasing tax rates is counterproductive bccause fewer tax
revenues flow back to the government?
Obviously this question has been the focus of much study by econo
mists. They have reached the following conclusions:
Tax rates above 70 percent arc ccrtainly counterproductive. This means
that if the tax rate is above 70 percent, and it is reduced, then the govern
ment will actually see tax revenues increase. Since this is a free lunch, it
implies there is no reason for government to have tax rates above 70 per
Some research has found the magical tax rate point to be 50 percent.
This is more controversial because it's not hard for a person's marginal tax
rate (the rate paid on the next dollar earned) to reach 50 percent when taxes
at all governmental levels are included.
Indeed, the federal income tax changcs passed in 1993 pushed many
households, including the elderly, into marginal rates higher than 50 per
So cutting taxes, if they're above 70 percent and perhaps 50 percent,
can be a free lunch in that the economy will expand enough to provide
more revenue to the government at the lower rate.
But if tax rates are below 50 percent, cutting rates becomes more prob
lematic because the government likely will lose revenue. At this point, citi
zens must balance the reduction in government revenues and services
against thi benefit of leaving more money in private hands and pockets.
Mike Walden, Ph.D., is a professor a I N.C. Slate University who teaches
and writes on economic issues, public policy and personal finance.
On The Road? Try
Th? Golden Rul?
"Over the river and through the
woods, to Grandmother's house we
go. 'I"he horse knows the way to car
ry the sleigh..."
Horse and sleigh aren't the way
we get around anymore, if it ever
was in sunny Brunswick County, but
we still travel in order to enjoy the
holidays with friend^ and family A
study by journalism students at the
University of North Carolina sug
gests Tar Heel residents who travel
for the holidays do most of their go
ing in-state and use the state high
way system as opposed to air, train
or other options.
Last year, reports the N.C.
Division of Motor Vehicles, 28 peo
ple died on North Carolina roads
over the Thanksgiving holiday and
13 died over the Christmas holidays.
Have I got your attention? I don't
want to become a traffic accident
statistic and I'm aimost certain you
don't either. The odds of it happen
ing get higher every year because
most of us just don't follow the de
fensive driving techniques we
learned in driver's ed. Our roads arc
Instead of practicing a fractured
"do unto others before they do unto
you" ? the motto of a young friend
of mind, why not he more charitable
and try the real Golden Rule: "Do
unto others as you would have them
do unto you."
Who among us wants to be re
sponsible for the injury or death of
Maybe these 1993 statistics will
convince you that we should pay
more respect to ine iuIcs of the road
and to fellow drivers:
? 1,384 persons were killed on
North Carolina roads and highways
in I W3, a 10 percent increase.
? One out of every 18 vehicles li
censed in North Carolina was in
volved in an accident
? One out of every 15 licensed
drivers was involved in an accident.
? 184.489 accidents were report
ed. an increase of 7 percent from
? 129,535 persons were injured,
up 5 percent from 1992.
? Speeding continues to be the
leading violation in fatal accidents.
? In 82 percent of aii accidents a!
least one driver was in violation of a
? For every 94 persons injured,
one person was killed.
? Thirty percent of all accidents
involved only one vehicle
? Alcohol was a factor in 34.4
percent of fatal accidents and 33.9
percent of persons killed
? 72 percent of all accidents hap
pen between 7 a.m. and 7 p m.. but
only 53 percent of fatal accidents
occur during that period.
S Sunday was the lowest accident
day with 10 percent of all accidents
? For motorcyclists, the chance
of being killed or seriously injured
when involved in a motorcycle acci
dent wits approximately I out of
? ?"hirty-onc bicyclists were
killed, a 41 percent increase from
? An accident was reported every
? One person was injured every
? One person was killed every six
Need any more convincing?
Cigarettes come with warning la
bels that you can choose to ignore or
not. Motor vehicles don't bear such
warnings and for good reason. It's
not the vehicle that is a menace, but
the person driving it.
A motor vehicle, in the hands of a
reckless and discourteous operator,
can quickly become a lethal
weapon. Behind each of those statis
tics arc real people who suffered,
and or lost valuable property as the
result of highway accidents. Most of
those accidents could have been pre
vented by people like you and like
Mope you had a happy and acci
dent free Thanksgiving, and that
you'll drive defensively throughout
the '94 holiday season and all year
round in |9*<5
/"AflAI Ik/ A
Thanks For Duct Tape, Vise-Grips And WD-40
The Thanksgiving holiday over
whelms me with Ihe urge to give
lhanks for the manv blevsings of
As usual, I feel thai kiul for good
health, for a well-adjusted (if some
what warped) family, for a roof over
our heads and a modest income (that
may someday allow me to trade in
my 135,000-mile car before it
breaks down on deadline day ? hint,
This year, however, 1 would like
to express my deepest appreciation
for the great technological innova
tions that have improved our quality
No, I'm not talking about inven
tions of obvious significance like the
automobile, the telephone, plastics,
motion pictures, the computer or ca
Nor am I referring to those equal
ly important new products like the
"Weed Eater," "Taxi Beads," the
"Ginzu" knife, the "Salad Shooter,"
the "Club" anti-theft device and the
"Topsy Tail" hair styler.
'Hiese represent important mile
stones in human development. But
today, I would like recognize the
three greatest inventions in the his
tory of mankind: Duct Tape, Vise
Grips and WD-40.
No home can be considered prop
erly equipped without this holy trini
ty of household maintenance. There
are few repairs that can't be made
easier (or at least jury-rigged) by us
ing one of these wonderful tools.
Can you imagine a world without
WD-40, the miracle penetrating lu
bricant and moisture displacer?
Everybody uses it for stopping
squeaks, freeing sticky door locks
and loosening rusty bolts. But there
are countless other applications.
I once "repaired" an expensive
stereo amplifier with WD-40. This is
quite a feat for someone whose
knowledge of electronics ranges
from "plug it in" to "switch it on."
A friend gave me the classic old
amplifier after he bought a nice new
one. The only trouble was, it didn't
work. Not even after I plugged it in
and switched it on.
Eric .-mmfi ;
Carlson f?T I
"You probably just need to clean
the contacts," he said. I nodded
knowingly, without the slightest idea
of what that means.
Ignoring the warning about "NO
USKR SERVICEABLE PARTS," I
removed the amplifier's metal hous
ing and set the mass of complicated
circuitry on the front porch I adjust
ed the garden hose to its most potent
spray and gave it all a good clean
ing, contacts and all.
After shaking out the excess wa
ter, 1 hosed down innards with an
entire can of WD-40 and set the amp
in the sun to dry. A few hours later, I
plugged it in. I switched it on. And it
has worked like a charm ever since.
Vise-Grips are the tool of last re
sort (short of a hacksaw) for remov
ing stubborn nuts. Particularly after
the six flat sides of the nut have
been rounded into a swirl of scaned
metal by using the wrong sized
No problem. Just clamp on a set
of Vise-Grips. Bash the rugged met
al handle with a big hammer and off
comcs the nut! It ain't pretty, but it
works. (Especially with a little WD
40 to loosen things up.)
Vise-Grips once spared me a 20
mile push through the New Mexico
wilderness during a cross-country
motorcycle trip. I somehow man
aged to break the gearshift lever and
was stranded in the desert with a
useless stub of metal protruding
from the transmission.
No problem. I just damped a set
of grips on the spindle, creating a
handy shift pedal. It worked so well,
I rode for another week before re
Another little-known use for
Vise-Grips is to roast peppers. Just
clamp a big set uf gups on the stem
Ilm gives >ou enough distance to
hold the pepper safely while scorch
ing the outside skin with a blow
torch (I am not making this up /Vsk
And what would we do without
Duct Tape, that wonderful silver
binding material developed tor the
heating, ventilation and air-condi
tioning industry'.' There is no limit to
the possible applications for this
king of all adhesive tapes
Who hasn't seen an entire car
window replaced with Duct Tape'1
Campers should take along Duct
Tape to patch a tent, splint a
sprained ankle or make a waterproof
bandage I once saw a serviceable
canoe made of a wooden frame cov
ered with Duct Tape. Even armed
robbers love it for binding and gag
One winter I was on a surfing trip
to Puerto Rico, where we stayed
next door to a cottage full of young
Brazilians. They spoke almost no
English except a few words they
picked up from Erank Zappa rec
ords, of which they were great fans.
Paddling out in the morning, you
could hear them chatting away in
Portuguese. Then, for no apparent
reason, some bizarre song lyric
would ring out in perfect English:
"Moving to Montana soon...
donna /><? a dental /loss tycoon...
One ot the Brazilians bounced off
the reel one J as and got a big slice
in hi\ hoard 1 armed )usl as he was
climbing oul ol the water, expecting
to spend the day fixing the ding in
stead of surfing.
I opened the trunk of our rental
tar. grabbed a roll of Duct Tape and
slapped on a patch that would hold
v^ater out until he could make per
manent repairs The Brazilian was
awestruck He examined the results
with utter amazement.
rhat night, after several rounds of
pina colada, he offered to trade me a
handful of strange bills for the Duct
lape In the interest of international
relations (and knowing I could get
another roll tor a couple bucks) 1 ac
l^ter, I showed one his buddies
the money and asked what il was
worth lie told me they did not have
Duct l ape in Brazil and assured me
I had been well paid for it.
"You have make.. .a good... busi
ness," he said
So perhaps I will go down in his
tory as the person who introduced
this important product to the South
American continent. You may even
hear people singing songs about me:
"Moving to Sao I'aulo soon...
donna be the great Duct Tape
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Board Asked To i
Position On VFD
To the editor:
This letter is to the Brunswick
County Commissioners Last week 1
read where you appropriated money
for different needs in the county.
Please rethink the decision to cut out
the continuous fund for fire and res
cue. We really need the help.
We were completely left out this
year. We are having even more
fundraisers than usual just to keep
operating our departments
We as firemen give our time all of
the time without even getting a
thank-you. 1 ask that when you meet
again, please reconsider helping us
out this year instead of saying
"maybe next year."
EDITOR S NOTE: Richard Evans
is chief of the Civietown Volunteer
(More Letters, Following Page)