Everyone is entitled to own opinion, but get the facts right

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A few weeks ago, Jimmy Lee submitted a heartfelt letter, “Obama does not know a thing about business,” in the Aug. 8 edition of The Lancaster News. Lee related his public service in the military and law enforcement, his (presumably successful) business experience and his dislike of President Barack Obama.
For his service, we owe him our thanks; for his business success, he is due our congratulations; and as an American, he is entitled to his own firmly held opinion and vote, as is any adult American citizen. But he is not entitled to his own facts. Some corrections are in order:
u First, Lee asserts that the Obama stimulus program (February 2009 American Reinstatement and Recovery Act) did no good because 79 percent of it went overseas. That is false: Nearly one-third of the $800 billion was in tax cuts for Americans that began immediately. Most of the rest went to state and local governments over a two-year period, to prop them up in the wake of their investment and revenue losses due to the 2008 financial crisis and plunge in the economy (shrinking at a 6 percent annual rate and losing more than 600,000 jobs a month in the two quarters ending as the program began.) Our governor at the time, to no avail, attempted to keep $700 million of that dirty federal money out of South Carolina. It was too little here and in other states. Since the recession began in late 2007, civilian government employment is down by hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide.
u Second, he asserts that government has no money of its own, that its money is all taken from the pockets of individuals. Not true, though widely expressed. While true to an extent for local government, former President Ronald Reagan proved that the federal government can spend way more than it receives in revenue, either by increasing the debt or creating new money. It has been doing both for most of the last 150 years.
u Third, and most absurdly, he asserts that the government does not provide for the roads and bridges that the president was referring to when he said, “You didn’t build that.” He points out, accurately, that they are built (mostly) by private contractors; but he neglects the fact that local governments provide most of the upkeep with their own work crews and equipment; and most egregiously, he ignores the fact that the private companies building and repaving the roads are doing under contract with, and funded by, the government, using stimulus act funds in some cases.
We are all entitled to our own opinions, but it would be nice if those opinions were grounded in reality, not based on misinformation, ideological bias and illogical reasoning.
I am grateful to be an American in America, where we are free to express our opinions, to inform ourselves, to think for ourselves and to pursue our own interests. May God continue to bless these United States.

Jim Bradley