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The History & Evolution of the Outhouse 

In response to our request for readers to submit their most heartfelt wishes for 2018, Julie M. Kemper writes to say that her wish had already been denied. "But since I'm not the only person in this situation, I'll write to petition your newspaper to please remember us a bit more. If there are roughly ten million North Carolinians, how many of us are there? Maybe eight hundred thousand is my guess. We are North Carolinian citizens who are politically denied access to any health care. We want health care, would like to help buy into our health care, but we are denied even the possibility of access. Not because we don't qualify for Medicare (we probably do), nor because the state cannot afford to permit its poorest citizens access to Medicare (as nearly every other state does), but because certain state politicians deliberately ensured our denial.

"This autumn, when I heard that the deadline for 2018 ACA sign-up had been moved up to mid-December, I actually went in person to an ACA gatekeeper to ask how I was supposed to know if I qualified if I didn't yet know the results of my 2017 income. I was told to guestimate, based on my previous tax returns. I'm an optimist and replied that I hoped in 2017 I would break $10,000, which was North Carolina's minimum last year to qualify for ACA. The gatekeeper informed me that the minimum also changed: as of now, it's $12,600. He suggested I contact [the government] anyway so that I won't get tax-penalized for the lack of sign-up (which I've done now for the sixth year). He also suggested that I get my health care through a charity. I thanked him, then reminded him that charity does not equal health insurance. It just doesn't! I'll turn fifty-seven in a few days. I anticipate enduring the constant dread of being uninsured for a sixth year, hoping I live long enough to qualify in 2019."

A recent Soapboxer column—"A Republic, If You Can Keep It" [January 3]—drew an impassioned rant from Robert Huckabee: "I have not seen so much hate and crap since the 1960s. This nation suffered eight years under a Muslim trained and educated as a communist/socialist anti-American DNC stooge, but your paper is savagely anti-Trump. In a couple of weeks, I am going to a class on 'The History & Evolution of the Outhouse.' I think I will bring a copy of your paper as a show-and-tell extra. People who are familiar with how an outhouse system works will recognize how your paper is perfect for that system." 

Sick burn, bro.

In other matters, an article by Amanda Abrams about the effects of gentrification in Durham's East End was a popular topic online. "While I think it's important to highlight some of the unscrupulous behavior by individuals, it distracts from the real structural remnants of racism that got us to this point," writes AndrewL. "The real problem is this engrained notion that we can kick black people around to different neighborhoods as we see fit."

Ron Bonzani points to underlying causes as well: "Disgusting. Not a word about the social, political, or economic forces that allowed the neighborhoods to get so bad in the first place. Local, municipal, and state governments have never cared about black neighborhoods, and that's why slum lords were allowed to flourish. Then twenty years later, some white folks come in and say, 'Hey at least we're better than the slumlords!'"

Ron Corey says he doesn't get the area's attractiveness. "I can never see any reason that anybody would pay the prices on housing or rent that are being pushed right now in these new apartments and small houses or old refurbished houses. All these folks are living about two blocks or half a mile away from a shooting or drug deal or high unemployment and blight."

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