Ariana Mangum: North Carolina on the move again, backward

August 16, 2013 

Ariana Mangum


When I moved to North Carolina in 1954 so my Tar Heel-born husband could attend UNC, this state was moving forward. It was a tobacco-growing state and had little manufacturing except in cigarettes, furniture making in the Thomasville and High Point region, cotton mills, golf, and poultry processing.

North Carolina was on the move. It was not as tradition bound as its neighbors, Virginia and South Carolina. It was progressive. Nor did North Carolina look back to colonial times as they did in Williamsburg and in Charleston, or to the Civil War with all of its horrors.

Now the General Assembly is spoiling our schools, our livelihoods and our unique way of life. My husband is in a veterans home and living on benefits. I have had to reduce my income, which is small, to accommodate his needs. My own health is not good. We live longer, and our health declines as we grow older. I have been in and out of UNC Hospitals twice since November with heart trouble. Are we to suffer from these cutbacks after we have worked and paid into retirement funds and Social Security?

The most hurtful are the reduced services for children. I taught Special Needs classes both here and in Ireland. I also taught dyslexic children who have struggles with symbols such as the alphabet and musical notes. Letters are symbols for sounds. It is difficult for some people, some of whom are very bright, to learn to read. These children also have trouble with numbers, which makes math difficult and can cause problems when one tries to keep a checkbook. Many very intelligent people have dyslexia, and they should be helped by our schools to achieve their potential.

The General Assembly is also cutting and slashing vital services for the poor and the elderly. Are we to suffer from these cut-backs? We shall find more people living in the woods and more children going to bed hungry. Recently the General Assembly enjoyed a $5,000 weekend per person at a spa in Greensboro. Who paid for that?

An elderly woman whom I met in the grocery store said she would like to protest on Moral Mondays, but she was not physically up to it. I am not either, but friends of mine have gone.

Why don’t those $5,000 weekend legislators give that money to the state and stop pleasuring themselves? They seem to have contempt for the poor, the struggling and those less fortunate than they are. Ask a child whose family goes to bed every night hungry where that $5,000 is best spent. Ask the patient in the hospital who can’t afford the expensive medicines prescribed. Ask the mother who just lost her baby because of lack of maternity facilities in a rural hospital.

The Democrats spent money where it was needed in spite of debt. The people of North Carolina mattered to them. The crowd who’s in now are only concerned about saving money. The state is suffering, the hospitals, the benefits, the schools and all of us who live in and care about North Carolina.

Where are the forward-looking men like Terry Sanford, Luther Hodges and Sam Erwin? They carried this state forward with the introduction of the Research Triangle Park. They got international businesses to locate in North Carolina and our economy grew and flourished. People moved here from other states because they felt North Carolina was a progressive Southern state. Where are they now? Will these companies move out? Will the prosperity they brought go elsewhere?

Ariana Mangum lives in Chapel Hill.

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