The Opinion Shop

Bonus letters on income inequality, declawed cats, veterans, immigration and bicyclists

Letters that got overrun by other issues before they could see print:


Impeding progress

Regarding the Jan. 8 Under the Dome article “ The state’s income inequality: It’s graphic”: Since moving to North Carolina several years ago, I’ve been puzzled by the poverty in the counties outside the two or three that appear to be islands of prosperity in a vast spread of underused land.

Could it be that these “poor counties” are the result of land speculators holding land parcels for sale at prices way beyond their true economic productivity?

Providing precious tax money to jump-start development in these counties is like pouring gasoline on a fire. The cash goes right to the land speculators as increased asking prices for rent to use the land.

Property taxes in North Carolina are extremely low and often are way below the asking rate for land sales. Think of what would happen if the property tax rate on land (not on improvements) in these poor counties were raised to 10 percent, or higher, of assessed value.

Aside from anguish emitted from the land speculators, prices of land for development would drop. The increased property tax revenue could go for schools and other infrastructure needs. Jobs would be created.

The “poor counties” hold most of the land in North Carolina. Let’s put this land to productive use and get rid of the land speculators blocking progress.

Dan Farkas



Don’t avoid declawed cats

I specifically wanted an older cat, preferably one that had been declawed and a shelter “long timer.” I found the perfect cat at a reputable local shelter.

She does not exhibit any of the issues – chronic pain, altered stride, litter box difficulties, referred to in the Jan. 19 Life article “ Why you should not declaw your cat.

I would not declaw a cat. But, please, potential adopters, don’t overlook a cat “just because.” A declawed cat may make a wonderful house pet.

Judye Jacobs



Vets should work, not hike

As a Vietnam era veteran, I was very disappointed in your Jan. 17 news article “ VA gets veterans off the streets.”

The “veterans” profiled are very poor examples of “veterans needing help.” One had less than one year of military service. I also noticed that both quit paying jobs (albeit to aid ill kinfolk) and then later forgot to become re-employed! In a effort to become self-sufficient, they wisely took a “break” and spent a month “hiking” while a partially paid-for house left to them went to waste.

I believe that our sympathies are best reserved for and spent on real unfortunate veterans who are disabled and/or are having non-self-imposed rough times while they are giving 100 percent effort to fend for themselves.

These two “veterans” need mirrors so that they will be able to see who caused their plights in life. I call them “homeless by choice not by chance.”

When I left the military, I was married, and I immediately obtained a civilian job making $7 per hour (working all the hours I could get). I guess I didn’t think that “hiking” would pay my bills! God bless America.

Mark L. Kleinfelter



Immigrants bearing gifts

Eugene Robinson’s Dec. 19 column “ The case of the disintegrating GOP” was way off the mark.

He said that Trump called for spending $4 trillion here on infrastructure rather than on wars in the Middle East. He, Trump, was speculating only. He wasn’t calling for a massive public works spending plan. Trump is saying we have to do it smarter, and we have to do it better. We can’t afford to enter into any more hugely expensive, open-ended wars .

Then Robinson said that the GOP is upset about the changing demographics. Wrong! If the demographics were allowed to change naturally, that’d be fine. But the situation is being forced.

We have had decades of massive legal and illegal immigration. A lot of these people aren’t assimilating. Remember the Boston bombers were legal immigrants, same as was the case in San Bernardino, Calif.

We have to do it better and smarter. We should be letting in only those who will build up the country, who are eager and willing to contribute. The fastest growing groups are Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. If all these babies were being born to natives, that’d be one thing. But not all of them are being born to natives.

Robert Peele

Rocky Mount


Deadly ignorance

As a longtime cyclist, I agree with the NCDOT proposals. It’s safer if everyone would simply accept them and move on. Cyclists can be belligerent when motorists display their ignorance of the law regarding cyclists use of the roadways. Motorists can be antagonized when cyclists display their disregard of the law regarding intersections. Impatience and ignorance, in both cases, are often deadly.

Because of this, NCDOT probably is justified in acting as it did. The “informal group” guideline proposed by NCDOT will just be circumvented by breaking up into more groups of 29 or fewer, but I agree that organized events should definitely have a permit process so public safety officials can plan accordingly.

Unfortunately, most motorists do not understand the law, and many law enforcement officers do not, either. That is no reason for cyclists to flaunt their disregard for it. As usual, though, we have motorists on one side and cyclists on another who blare their opposition to anything that inconveniences them.

A bike vs. a 3,000-pound vehicle is a mismatch. Even if the motorist is at fault, it’s unlikely he or she will get a ticket, and by then it’s too late.

Robert Powell