By Ray Knapp

Are you tired of political robocalls? All things come to an end and on Election Day, the 2nd of August, you will hear your last ones for a while. The recent groups of graduating high school seniors know the meaning of “oxymoron, paradox and antithesis” – so do politicians, and frequently use all three leading up to election day through these unsolicited calls.

“Oxymoron” is a self-contradicting word or group of words. For example: Unicoi County’s tax base is shrinking while tax hikes are looming. Or, maybe the word for that should be “paradox,” which is a statement or argument that seems to be contradictory or to go against common sense, but that is yet perhaps still true. For example the almost completed million dollar Trail Tunnel that runs under the highway to Fishery Park, in my opinion is an expensive and needless endeavor, yet – I may be wrong. I have been told, “We got a grant for that.” Well, that’s true, $885,000, but if I recall right, Erwin had to kick in about 20 percent in matching funds. And even grant money comes from taxes. The state or federal government don’t issue grant money from thin air. Or, do they? The question about grant money coming from out of nowhere may be an oxymoron and not a paradox.

As far as the tax base shrinking: That Census I complained of having to fill out in 2017 determined nearly a thousand taxpayers coming off the rolls in Unicoi County from 2010. Some of that was likely due to the closing of the railroad yard and subsequent loss of about 250 jobs.

On the bright side, one thing the county is doing for dogs is purchasing some land for a dog park, where, on a day’s outing, you can take your house dog and let it roam free with other dogs. I’m sure the dogs and their owners will enjoy it – at taxpayer expense.

I don’t often argue with people, but in one column I mentioned the RISE Erwin Group that sponsored the colorful little elephant sale last year and gave the profits to the elephant sanctuary over in Hohenwald, Tennessee – I stated: That was quite thoughtful and generous. But a fellow recognized me at a local store and disagreed. He said he liked what the group was doing, but the money should have been given to the poor in Unicoi County, not to a bunch of worn out elephants. I pointed out it wasn’t tax money. I wonder what his thoughts are about our tax money being spent on a dog’s playground and not being given to the poor.

Churches, and non-profit groups, like the Kiwanis, Ruritan and many others work hard to help the poor. There are several government programs for the poor – and while it is not often true; some people wouldn’t be poor if they would work, instead of looking for handouts.

On the bright side, a couple of new businesses; one that builds yard sheds and another which builds Kayaks will soon be welcomed to the county – adding two or three dozen jobs to our ailing economy.

We don’t expect our political leaders to make everyone happy with the stewardship of our taxes, the walking trail, for instance, does add to the quality of life in the county for a few, and I may take my pup to the dog park one of these days.

While we all complain and have different ideas about how our tax money is spent, we need to think things through by the use of political parallel language; this is known as “Antithesis.” Like, “action, not words,” or as President John F. Kennedy once said: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

That last sentence especially applies to those running for any political position; county, state, or federal. Before you vote, do some research, and think of this “paradox:” Sometimes a newcomer who doesn’t know all the political ropes, or where is office is located if he won, may be your best representative and spend your taxes more wisely than a seasoned politician.