Zoo conditions were deplorable
I had family in town and since it was a cool day, I decided to take them to the zoo. It's been five years since I last visited (it was great then), and I was so shocked this time at the condition of it ... and the animals! There were way too many deer in there pacing on dirt and mud, with no grass or hay anywhere.
The signs (ones that were readable) were hanging on bread ties. Their old machines and cars were filthy.
I know we had a lot of rain, but most of those animals had nowhere to get out of the mud. The two Bengal tigers and the lions had mud and water dripping from their undersides from pacing and laying in it.
Too many terrible conditions to mention.
I'll never go back.
Reason tells us God exists
I chuckled while reading atheist John Wright's March 31 opinion about believers, "You only abet delusional behavior."
He's reacting to our "know it all" attitudes, and I think he's onto something. He echoes a grouchy old desert buzzard who complains that life presents many questions but very few answers.
Ecclesiastes tells us that you are born, life means absolutely nothing, then you die! To try to make sense out of this world is like "chasing the wind." Sound familiar, John?
Five hundred years later St. Paul cries out "How deep are God's wisdom and knowledge ... Who can explain his decisions or understand his ways?" (Romans 11:33).
In 1000 A.D. Anselm of Canterbury proclaims, "Theology is faith seeking understanding." That's what believers do, John. God is silent. Creation is God talking, and we're all trying to figure out what he is saying.
I believe the Hebrew tribes answered our questions very well 3,000 years ago with Genesis, the 10 Commandments, the Prophets, the Psalms and finally, Jesus of Nazareth. You have a hotline to God, John. It's called your conscience. If you were asked to name the 10 most serious sins, you'd probably come close to Moses. Try it.
To me the clincher of life after death is human suffering. It wears 10 different faces, and you've walked with them all, to say nothing about Haiti and Japan. Our suffering atones for our sins many times over; we all experience hell on earth. A creator who watches a person squirm for a lifetime and then die into nothing is a vicious monster. Right reason (part of creation) convinces me that God is waiting for us with wide open arms when we die.
We don't have absolute certitude, John; we live by faith and hope. Pardon the bluntness, but I believe my view is far more reasonable then yours. When you die, God will greet you with "Surprise!"
A fix for unemployment insurance
Re March 27 Tourism Talk column, "Benefits pressure tourism"
While informative, the article leaves out some key changes that have hit S.C. employers with three new tax increases.
Facts: Beginning in 2011, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce taxes the first $10,000 each employee earns versus the first $7,000 that was taxed in prior years. Next, the highest state unemployment tax rate for prior years was 6.1 percent - the new highest rate beginning in 2011 is 11.279 percent. This means employers with the highest rates - seasonal or not - have gone from paying $427 for each employee earning $7,000 per year to paying $1,128 for each employee earning $10,000 per year.
As if that is not enough to force S.C. employers to re-evaluate their hiring practices, they are also charged interest by the federal employment taxing authorities on employees' wages because the state can't repay the money advanced for extended unemployment benefits. While Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Greg Ryberg and others named in the article spin their wheels searching for ways to help S.C. employers with this dilemma, there is an easy and speedy solution: leave the new tax rates in place but roll back the maximum wages taxed (currently $10,000 per employee) to the first $7,000 earned by each employee as it has been in prior years.
This way, no one has to figure out a new and complex tax structure while time, money, and jobs slip away. The proposed change should be an easy fix when the legislative session meets - it still provides significantly more money for the state and provides "some" relief to all S.C. employers.
Janie B. Ripple
Animals weren't being taken care of
Re March 28 Karyn Barber letter, "Don't trust PETA on animal care"
I knew Elizabeth Owens before she started Sacred Vision, we can give her the benefit of doubt by saying she had good intentions. However like most or all hoarders she quickly became overwhelmed. So many irresponsible cat owners used her facility as a dumping ground for their unwanted cats and kittens.
She had been reported to country officials prior to PETA coming in, nothing was done. Many of the cats at Sacred Vision lived for seven, eight years or longer in a cage without ever having fresh air, sunshine or the very basic conditions for a decent, healthy happy life that every animal should have.
It is shameful for Horry County and our citizens that it took an outside group to end this horrible animal cruelty. I personally saw one of the cats from Sacred Vision, a very sweet older animal who was very dehydrated, diabetic and with a very swollen open wound on her hind leg that was left untreated.
Our state laws require that an animal must have medical treatment or be euthanized if suffering; that is not difficult to understand. To defend Elizabeth Owens is to defend extreme animal cruelty. The county did not take PETA's word that animals were suffering. They were shone videos, pictures and given proof. It's unconscionable that it was allowed to continue for as long as it did! I as most people abhor euthanasia, however sometimes it's the last and only kindness we can offer to our animals.