Not as bad as painted

With interest, I read the recent “Our Nation Changed” by Mike Masterson, which compared conditions during his long tour of the country in 1976 to those today. Some of its burning cultural and social issues defy quantification and are beyond my bandwidth for comment. But the facts are readily available on crime, gas prices and the economic health of American cities.

Inflation-adjusted gasoline prices have been surprisingly stable since 1976. After accounting for improvements in fuel efficiency, we on average pay less per vehicle mile traveled for fuel today than in 1976. Traffic deaths show an even more dramatic decrease. In 1976, the country had 22 deaths per 100,000 population, which fell to 13 deaths per 100,000 population in 2019.

While the recent increase in violent crime is certainly troubling, overall crime, violent crime, and murder have all declined steadily since the early 1990s and are well below 1976 today. According to the Uniform Reporting Code, the total number of reported crimes fell from 5,287 per 100,000 in 1976 to 2,489 per 100,000 in 2021, crime rates are now significantly lower than in 1976.

It implies that the state of cities today is alarming. After adjusting for inflation, the average household income rose from $56,254 to $67,465, with almost all of 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 bustling downtown, anchored by a historic courthouse. Sadly, now when I visit, I see an abandoned downtown, cheaply built and dying strip centers, and a cityscape obliterated by a proliferation of unsightly signs. Recently I read an article stating that Boone County was abandoning its historic courthouse.

So, Mr. Masterson, perhaps your prodigious writing skills could be put to good use in suggesting ways to improve Harrison. I would be happy to travel there and give you new ideas.



Average review, petty

If I were Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Little Rock, I would never spend a dime advertising in your newspaper. Eric E. Harrison’s May 5 review of his meal at Sullivan’s included many pettiness and critical details written in a vicious tone, apparently intended to harm and disparage, rather than inform a reader and patron potential.

And I stopped reading halfway through, offended for the restaurant, and that the Democrat-Gazette didn’t edit some of Mr. Harrison’s reviews, especially when he followed up particularly nasty comments with parentheses sarcastic and feigned appreciation, such as “woohoo” when acknowledging a discount on a side dish.

Democrat-Gazette, you can and should do better for your readers and your neighbors.


Hot Springs

Paper Blessings

One of the blessings we have in Arkansas is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I read it every day, but I don’t say “thank you” often enough.

In a recent article, Gwen Faulkenberry paid tribute to the bravery and courage of Ukraine’s Braveheart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. She then asked the question that one of her children had asked her: “Where is our Zelenskyy?” And then she told us why she couldn’t vote for our outgoing president if he ran again. Richard Mason explained why Ukrainians are resisting and will continue to resist. Usually, I’m not a fan of John Brummett’s chronicles. But I think I recognize honesty and integrity. I think his “Same Family, Worlds Apart” column exemplifies honesty, integrity, and I would add moral courage. I would support his suggestion that what we need in 2024 is more competent choice on the one hand and more moral choice on the other.



out of sheer emotion

I am embarrassed by letters to the editor from Arkansans Liberals bemoaning the potential repeal of Roe v. Wade. I am also extremely embarrassed by the political cartoons of the ultra-liberal John Deering on this subject and many others. I wonder if any of these opinion writers have researched or read the “potential” changes in Roe v. Wade.

Abortion should be a state rights issue, not a federal issue. I hope everyone who has written to the letters section with their thoughts on this has done their due diligence to back up their outrage and are not just writing to the paper out of sheer emotion.


Hot Springs Village

It’s basic arithmetic

Sarah Sanders, the future Republican candidate for governor of Arkansas, has said she wants to stop the exponential growth of the Arkansas government. Since we’re not talking about higher math (except for Republicans), I’d like Sarah to tell us in mathematical terms how exponentially bad the growth of the Arkansas government has been. Does the exponent change by 1? 2? ten?

To say that the growth of government has been exponential is a big BS unless you indicate the change in the exponent. It would be much more informative (which is not what Republicans want to be) to state the growth trend in percentages, which the public is more inclined to understand and easier to debate. Sarah, please use base 10.



For us, not for you

Has anyone noticed that the people who shout the loudest about their freedom and their rights are the very people who work to deny them for women and minorities?



James C. Tibbs