Letters to the EditorNews

Letters: Alt Weeklies, the CHIPS Act, Social Security and More From Readers

Appreciate Alt Weeklies

Coming to Athens from the North 30 years ago, as I did, one of the first real tastes of Ath-life I had was Flagpole. It was one of the many things I discovered over the 20 years I lived there that made Athens so special. 

I now, thankfully, live on the Isle of Wight, another music mecca of a sort, not equal to Athens at all. But I still stay in touch and just finished listening to the “On The Media” podcast about the slow demise of alt weeklies in the U.S. and couldn’t help but think of the ‘Pole every minute. Thanks to all the people who love the old Athens (such as it is) and the advertisers, Pete, Alicia, Blake, Gordon, all the other contributors who keep Flagpole up and running. See what’s happened to the Village Voice to understand the value of your commitment.

Hey, y’all to everyone there.

Philip Burns

Ryde, UK

Republicans in Disarray

The struggle of the Trump campaign and the RNC to raise money in an election year is shocking, a clear sign that MAGA is unattractive even for core conservatives. The GOP itself is in turmoil, laying off dozens of staff, going through a rough leadership transition in an election year. Dozens of leading Republican officials, including state party chairs in key battleground states, have been indicted.

House Republicans are retiring in droves, leaping from the burning MAGA ship. Large-scale retirements are a vote of no confidence in the party itself, and the ones leaving are considered “serious” Republicans. The party is indeed splintering.

Steve Bannon, Team Trump’s former chief strategists, is going to jail. Peter Navarro, a senior advisor to Trump, is now in jail. Trump’s CFO went to jail last year, and is returning soon for committing more crimes. Most of his core 2020 campaign team were convicted or pleaded guilty of crimes. In Georgia, another former Republican insurance commissioner has pleaded guilty to fraud and could get 10 years in prison.  Everywhere you look there are crimes, crimes and more crimes.

The House Freedom Caucus, of which our congressman Mike Collins is a vocal member, continues to demonstrate via tweets and videos his lack of leadership. The House Oversight Committee chair, who helped make impeaching President Biden one of the GOP majority’s top priorities, has indicated that his fizzling inquiry will end without a vote.

What more do you need to conclude that today’s Republicans are incapable of governing?

Peggy Perkins


Collins Wants to Cut Social Security

The fourth Wednesday of every month, my husband and I gratefully find Social Security benefit payments have landed in our bank account, just in time to help pay the mortgage. About a fifth of all Georgians receive Social Security benefits: retirees, children of a deceased worker, widows and widowers, and disabled workers and their families.  

So you might feel frightened upon hearing the fake news: “Social Security is running out of money!” This is a message long pushed by Wall Street and the wealthy to weaken support for the program. And Republican lawmakers have joined them. In March, the Republican Study Committee, which consists of 80% of House Republicans—including our own representative, Mike Collins—proposed a budget that included cutting Social Security.  

Since it began in 1935, Social Security has worked like an annuity: You pay Social Security taxes during your working life and, when you retire, you receive a set monthly payment. Experts at the Social Security Administration estimate its future needs by tracking population data. For example, millions of retiring baby boomers were no surprise—experts accounted for boomers at birth.  

The 2024 Social Security Trustees Report states the program will pay out benefits at 100% until 2035. By then, additional funds will be needed, or benefits will drop by about 17%. According to Social Security’s chief actuary, the major reason for the predicted shortfall is rising inequality, the exploding gulf between the average and highest salaries. Currently, you don’t pay Social Security taxes on income over $168,600, which means almost 20% of U.S. wages are not subject to Social Security taxes. (Twenty percent of U.S. wages go to the top 6% of wage earners.) This disparity cost Social Security more than $1.4 trillion over the last decade. Asking the wealthy to pay their fair share would go a long way to fully funding Social Security past 2035. 

In contrast, Collins and the Republican Study Committee’s budget calls for $1.5 trillion in cuts to Social Security in the coming 10 years. These cuts include raising the retirement age above the current age of 67 and slashing middle-class benefits. They want to convert Social Security into a flat, poverty-level payment instead of an earned benefit.  

Polls show that 92% of us think cutting Social Security is a terrible idea. Almost two million Georgians receive Social Security, and its modest benefits lift a quarter of those beneficiaries out of poverty. Don’t you think elected officials who care about their constituents’ welfare would look for ways to expand the program, not slash it? Collins and the Republicans have it backwards. 

Barbara Burt


CHIPS Act Brings New Jobs

A South Korean company with technology developed in partnership with Georgia Tech has received federal funding for a new semiconductor materials factory in Covington thanks to President Biden’s CHIPS and Science Act. The act, passed in 2022, aims to boost domestic semiconductor production. Our Republican congressman Mike Collins voted against it, but thankfully there were enough sound-minded representatives that it passed.

Good-paying jobs and opportunities are coming to Covington in spite of Rep. Collins. Perhaps other counties in Congressional District 10 could get more opportunities for growth with the right kind of representative in the House. I say it’s time for a change.

Johnnie Ellington


The Economy Is Better Than People Think

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (a straight-talking Democrat who served in Republican administrations) once said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” This quote came to my mind when lining up the objective data on the economy with much reported polling on the economy. 

One obvious source of economic angst has been the loss in purchasing power from the post-pandemic surge in global inflation over recent years, which has now fallen back towards more normal levels. This past week, however, the (bipartisan) Congressional Budget Office ( released a report showing that household incomes have risen faster than prices since 2019. That finding was true for all income groups. 

In addition, the unemployment rate has been below 4% for 27 months (the longest period since 1952), and more than 15 million jobs have been created since President Biden took office. The only economic recovery since World War II that tops the current one was in 1949, making the recovery under the Biden administration the strongest in 72 years. All three of the nation’s foremost stock indexes hit record highs this week after the latest data showed inflation is slowing.

And yet, a recent poll found that three quarters of voters thought the economy was “fair” or “poor.” Why is there this disconnect? It is understandable that the average voter has frustrations. High grocery store prices reflect many adverse global developments. But there are more serious domestic distortions that attract little focus. Corporate greed was driven into overdrive through the pandemic. A monopoly of 10 corporations in this country controls most of the food production and distribution. Walmart made $155 billion in profit last year, yet they are laying off workers or forcing them into fewer hours and paying low wages.

The divide between reality and people’s beliefs highlights just how much it matters the way the media reports events. And the source(s) we use for information matters. We all have busy lives, and at times do not have the luxury to dig into the weeds for the data. But in this day and age, we need to become informed voters who will not be gaslighted into voting against our own interests.

Philip Suttle