Letters to the editor are what makes any periodical more of a community, but in [the Oct. 17] issue, the Opinion section ended with a prepared statement, an open letter co-authored by top members of two conservative organizations that have no connection to the Asheville area except for their apparent admiration for our representative Mark Meadows [“Meadows Stands Up to Special Interests in Farm Bill,” Xpress] If they simply wanted to draw our attention to the long-running farm subsidy loopholes, they didn’t have to mention his name three times in the span of four paragraphs.
The National Taxpayers Union, based in Washington D.C., describes itself as nonpartisan and is a registered 501(c)(4), meaning it claims its entire purpose is for general public welfare. Despite this, donations from the Koch brothers and Philip Morris reflect their narrow focus on an implicit ideology shared by the Republican Party: that the average person only benefits from fiscal “freedom,” and taxes are only ever a negative impact on citizens.
No case was made that N.C. residents in particular suffer from state or federal taxes siphoned by folks who cheat on farm subsidies. We know conservative congressmen would prefer not to spend the difference on our behalf anyway. In fact, the elimination of the estate “death” tax (common cause for the NTU and Meadows) implies the same result: lots of people keeping sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, each, that they did not earn, at public expense.
Taxpayers for Common Sense, true to the name, has made recommendations to severely cut the federal military budget. But the only military spending bill Mark Meadows has said no to was [September’s] (passed) package which primarily funds retirement, maintenance, and environmental restoration for all four branches. The author hailing from this group is also a member of the Heartland Institute, another friend of Philip Morris that fought to deny the damage of cigarette smoking decades ago and now champions climate science denial.
As the former Yale Law School dean Robert Post once put it, “Nothing could be more damaging to the First Amendment than to equate it with a specific economic perspective.” Regardless of what you think about our presidential lapdog representing District 11, and whatever it is you think about our conservative court system, it seems to me that a local publication should not yield its opinion section to prepared advocacy statements from organizations outside of the state. Half of the magazine is advertising already.
— Sean McBride
Editor’s response: We appreciate feedback from our readers. However, the letter in question was not an “open” letter in that it was addressing Xpress readers, not a third party. Nor was it a paid advertisement. We do occasionally run letters written by people outside the area if the letters concern local people or issues, and this was one of those occasions.