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The Readers' Forum: Monday letters

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A giant puzzle

President Biden gets more blame for inflation than he deserves.

That his administration caused inflation, or for that matter can fix inflation with the wave of a wand, fails to take into account that inflation is a worldwide problem, averaging 8.65% across major world economies compared with 8.2% in the U.S. It is indeed a mess, a worldwide mess.

During the past more than 40 years, inflation has been amazingly low due to a world economy that evolved over that time frame. The American public gladly embraced the high-quality, lower-priced internationally produced products and services. The complexities of this world economy could be compared to a giant jigsaw puzzle with new pieces being constantly added and existing pieces moved.

Then the pandemic hit and literally flipped the puzzle upside down with pieces flying everywhere. Many efficiencies were lost and are still being reconstructed. Add Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insane war dramatically raising oil and grain prices worldwide, China’s decision to continue COVID lockdowns, a still-fractured supply chain, a labor shortage resulting in higher wages and you have a recipe for massive inflation.

Solving inflation will take time, patience, world stability and the efforts of the best business and diplomatic minds here and abroad. Former President Trump’s “America First” approach simply won’t work. Like it or not, nothing has better demonstrated that we live in an economically interdependent world than what has transpired over the past three years.

Ken Burkel


Ninety percent by 2025?

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board member and current chair, Deanna Kaplan, who is facing a highly competitive campaign for reelection, made a very bold statement at a recent forum earlier this month. “Our goal is to achieve 90% proficiency in reading for all third graders by 2025.”

Our schools have never seen anything close to a 90% rate. And during Kaplan’s tenure on the board, the proficiency rate has plummeted from 55% to 40%.

As chair, she kept our schools closed and then kept our sons and daughters in masks. These poor decisions were devastating to our students, which is reflected in the steep decline in proficiency.

Lastly, under Kaplan’s leadership, the board recently voted to not follow the scope of the bond passed in 2016, going outside it instead to fund Philo-Hill Middle School, which is currently under capacity. Does Kaplan deserve another term?

Myra Bumgardner


Black neighborhoods

Thank you, Journal, for acknowledging in your Oct. 19 editorial “Two more tragic deaths” that we are witnessing the tragic manifestations of a society that we adults built.

The mid-20th century destruction of historically Black neighborhoods in Winston-Salem is another part of that legacy. In an extensively researched report entitled “Winston-Salem’s African-American Neighborhoods: 1870-1950,” preservation planner Langdon E. Oppermann cites this history.

When it came time to expand Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Winston-Salem State University facilities, Black neighborhoods were demolished. When transportation corridors such as U.S. 52, I-40, University Parkway and Peters Creek Parkway needed to be built, they were routed through Black housing. Later, under the euphemistic term “urban renewal,” the massive destruction of Black neighborhoods continued. Oppermann writes, “There appears to have been little regard for the nature of the housing destroyed; the philosophy and practices employed in determining ‘target areas’ made no distinction between ‘slum housing’ and the houses of successful Black professional and business people.”

The result? According to Oppermann, “Urban renewal projects and new construction did remove some substandard slum housing but also brought destruction to most of the city’s distinctive Black neighborhoods. What was not recognized during these efforts was the loss of a sense of community and neighborhood that came with the destruction of these houses.”

What will be our legacy going forward? Will we become a just and loving community for all of our residents or a community that continues to serve the interests of the status quo?

Linda Winikoff


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