As always, when I send in Letters to the Editor such as this one, and on the rare occassion the Tennessean runs them, I get feedback from readers. This is mainly because the folks at the City Paper tend not to run my e-mail address with my letter, I suppose to protect my privacy. At any rate, I enjoy getting feedback to what I've written, with the names abbreviated to protect the innocent:

Greetings my friend

I think John Wilder is a fine gentleman. He has served many years with honor. I think what bothers a lot of us about his election as speaker is that we have worked so hard to achieve a majority in the Senate that we just wanted to see the leadership position that we all worked for.

But that is not my main concern. My main concern and the reason I wanted to see a Conservative in that role is to absolutely stop the income tax issue from being brought up in the Senate again. It remains a fear of so many of us in this state. I know that the Democrats and even a few Republicans would really like to get their hands on that money. The bright side is that an income tax grows less likely with every election of the legislature. What are your thoughts on the matter? I look forward from hearing from you for this is the way I learn various points of view.

Thank you,

R. Russell

My response:

Mr. Russell,

I agree with your point that the income tax issue falls further behind every legislative session. While there are many reasons, I say that it is because of the fiscal discipline the state has exhibited over the past few years. I personally believe that the income tax is better suited for Tennessee than further hikes in sales taxes or continuing to butcher programs, such as TennCare.

But all that said, I am optimistic for the state in the coming years, and do not see an income tax on the horizon. If we can continue to manage the books and not get too crazy on hot-button social issues, we should be fine.

Thanks for the note,

- Stephen Yeargin

And back again ...

Thank you for the well spoken response. It is always refreshing to speak with people who might have differing ideas yet can still speak civilly and without the anger so common in the masses on every side. I hope we can all work together for a bright future for Tennessee.

R. Russell

Of course, not all went so well. I'll run my response here if I ever get e-mail back from these folks.

It's always interesting to try to understand where someone is coming from without knowing anything about them.

If you don't think Wilder is power hungry, you need to pull your head out of the sand. He's just like every politician I know. All it's about is power. Why else would a politician spend absurd amounts of money to be elected to a low paying job.

Best regards,

B. Thomas

Then there's the the hypothetical arguments ...

Suppose that the democrats had won a 17-16 majority in the senate in November 2004 election after republican control in that body of 160 years and then turned around and elected a republican speaker for the 18th time... Would you have written the same letter to the Tennessean? I'll wager that you would not have.

S. Moore

Related: Wilder elected Speaker Letter to the Editor