Not as bad as painted
With interest I read Mike Masterson's recent "Our changed nation," which compared conditions during his extended 1976 tour of the country to the present. Some of his hot-button cultural and social issues defy quantification and are not in my bandwidth for comment. But facts are readily available about crime, gas prices, and the economic health of American cities.
Gas prices adjusted for inflation have been surprisingly stable since 1976. After accounting for improved fuel efficiency, we are paying on average less per vehicle mile traveled for fuel today than in 1976. Traffic fatalities show an even more dramatic decrease. In 1976 the country experienced 22 fatalities per 100,000 population, which dropped to 13 fatalities per 100,000 in 2019.
While the recent uptick in violent crime is certainly troubling, overall crime, violent crime, and murder have all steadily declined since the early 1990s and are far lower today than 1976. According to the Uniform Code of Reporting, overall reported crime has declined from 5,287 per 100,000 in 1976 to 2,489 per 100,000 in 2019. Violent crime has declined from 467 per 100,000 reported instances in 1976 to 379 in 2019, and murders from 8.7 per 100,000 in 1976 to 5.0 in 2019. Even adjusted for the recent increases in 2020 and 2021, crime rates today are significantly lower than in 1976.
He implies the state of today's cities is cause for alarm. After adjusting for inflation, the mean household income increased from $56,254 to $67,465, with almost all this increased wealth being created in cities.
I grew up about 25 miles from Harrison where Mr. Masterson now resides. Harrison was attractive, proud of its vibrant downtown, anchored by a historic courthouse. Sadly, now when I visit, I see an abandoned downtown, cheaply constructed and dying strip centers, and a townscape obliterated by a proliferation of unsightly signs. Recently I read an article indicating that Boone County is abandoning its historic courthouse.
So, Mr. Masterson, perhaps your prodigious writing skills could be put to good use suggesting ways to improve Harrison. I would be happy to travel there and give you some new ideas.
Review mean, petty
If I were Sullivan's Steakhouse in Little Rock, I would never spend a dime advertising with your newspaper. Eric E. Harrison's May 5 review of his meal at Sullivan's included extensive pettiness and criticism of details that were written with a tone of meanness, seemingly intended to harm and disparage, rather than inform a reader and potential patron.
And I stopped reading midway through, offended for the restaurant, and that the Democrat-Gazette wouldn't perform an edit on some of Mr. Harrison's critique, especially when he followed particularly spiteful comments with parenthetical snideness, and feigned appreciation, like "woohoo" when acknowledging a price break on a side item.
Democrat-Gazette, you can--and should--do better for your readers, and your neighbors.
Blessings of the paper
One of the blessings we have living in Arkansas is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I read it every day, but I don't say "thank you" often enough.
In a recent paper Gwen Faulkenberry paid tribute to the bravery and courage of Ukraine's Braveheart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. She then asked the question she had been asked by one of her children: "Where is our Zelenskyy?" And then she told us why she could not vote for our immediate past president should he run again. Richard Mason shared some insights on why the Ukrainians are resisting and will continue to resist. Usually, I am not a fan of John Brummett's columns. But I think I do recognize honesty and integrity. I think his column "Same family, worlds apart" exemplified honesty, integrity, and I would add moral courage. I would second his suggestion that what we need in 2024 is a choice more competent on one hand and more moral on the other.
Out of pure emotion
I am bothered by the letters to the editor from the liberal Arkansans who are lamenting the potential repeal of Roe v. Wade. I am also extremely bothered by the ultra-liberal John Deering's political cartoons concerning this subject and many others. I wonder if any of these opinion writers has researched or read the "potential" changes to Roe v. Wade.
Abortion should be a states' rights issue, not a federal issue. I hope everyone who has written to the letters section with their opinion about this has done the due diligence to back up their outrage and are not simply writing to the newspaper out of pure emotion.
Hot Springs Village
It's basic arithmetic
Sarah Sanders, the soon-to-be-anointed Republican gubernatorial candidate for Arkansas governor, has stated that she wants to stop the exponential growth of Arkansas government. Since we are not talking higher math (except for Republicans), I would like Sarah to tell us in mathematical terms how exponentially bad the growth of Arkansas government has been. Is the exponent change 1? 2? 10?
Stating that growth of government has been exponential is great BS unless you state the change in the exponent. It would be far more informative (which is not what the Republicans want to be) to state the change in growth as a percentage change, which the public is more inclined to understand and is easier to debate. Sarah, please use base 10.
For us, not for thee
Has anyone noticed that the people screaming the loudest about their freedom and rights are the very ones working to deny them for women and minorities?
JAMES B. SAWYER