Archive for November, 2012

Two views: Should Georgia establish health exchange?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Georgia should not establish a state health exchange under the auspices of Obamacare, argues a writer with a libertarian think tank. After all, the state will have no real control over the exchange. It would cost too much and would also mean higher taxes. But a local health policy expert says it’s a great deal for citizens who can take advantage of new federal tax credits to purchase private health insurance and will see billions pumped into the state economy.

Commenting is open below Tim Sweeney’s column.

By Michael F. Cannon

President Barack Obama has won re-election, and his administration has asked Georgia officials to decide by today whether the state will create one of ObamaCare’s health insurance “exchanges.” Georgia also has to decide whether to implement the law’s massive expansion of Medicaid. The correct answer to both questions remains a resounding no.

State-created exchanges mean higher taxes, fewer jobs, and less protection of …

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Workplace bullies: Back off!

Moderated by Rick Badie

Last week, Fulton County banned bullying in the workplace, making it a firable offense. The director of a workplace institute praises Commissioner Bill Edwards, who proposed the rules for addressing the harm bullying inflicts on victims and the work environment. While a criminal justice professor applauds anti-bullying policies intent, he says they aren’t an instant answer. And another professor suggests that Georgia adopt legislation geared to deter bullying.

Fulton takes stand against bullying

By Gary Namie

The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) introduced the British term, workplace bullying, to Americans in 1997 and has since refined it to refer to malicious abusive conduct. It is a nonphysical form of workplace violence. Bullying involves deliberate wrongdoing that undermines work.

According to the WBI 2010 survey, 35 percent of respondents, an estimated 54 million workers, reported being currently or historically bullied; 15 percent only witnessed …

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Is the Savannah Port plan a sound investment or wasteful and harmful?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Federal officials recently signed off on a project to deepen the Port of Savannah so that it can accommodate super-sized containers ships. The project remains in muddy waters, though. South Carolina officials, who have threatened lawsuits, dislike the project and think deepening the river to 47 feet will hurt the environment. (They prefer 45 feet.) Today, we present two views on the issue.

Savannah Port plan is sound investment

By Curtis Foltz

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is a critical investment in our national infrastructure. It helps to ensure economic competitiveness while protecting natural resources. The project was authorized by Congress, informed by more than a decade of exhaustive study and extensive public input, developed by a collaboration of state and federal agencies, recently accelerated by the president, and now approved by the federal government. It is ready for federal funding and construction.

America’s ports support …

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Improving manners on MARTA

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Panhandling? Loud cellphone conversations? Music bleeding through headphones? Most MARTA customers have pet peeves about riding trains and buses. Today, a MARTA executive writes about a new public-awareness campaign to tackle rude behavior by its riders. In our second column, a national transit veteran says that privatization of some functions can help MARTA, even while the agency remains a true public service.

Commenting is open below Tom Downs’ column.

By Ryland N. McClendon

It’s still true that one’s home is one’s castle. But the way we conduct ourselves in public places – such as MARTA trains, stations and buses – should be a totally different matter.

That’s the message MARTA got loud and clear recently after surveying 5,700 customers who shared their feelings about “nuisance behaviors” they experienced while riding the system.

Most of the offensive behaviors ranged from mildly annoying to downright rude — people talking loudly on …

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Election season’s over, now problem-solving must begin

The latest contests are behind us in the contact sport that is election politics. It is time to move on.
Americans fervently disagree, debate and then act on the challenges of the day at voting screens. We did that last week, deciding matters from who would sit in the White House down to whether Georgia should bring back a state commission on charter schools.
Tuesday’s election results show that we remain a nation divided along the brightest of lines. President Barack Obama saw a thin margin of re-election victory in the national popular vote. Here in Georgia, we remained reliably red, with Republican Mitt Romney garnering 53 percent of the votes.
Strongly held divergent beliefs are as old as American history or government, as the enduring nature of our two-party political system proves. The danger to effective governance and the republic itself comes when robust argument becomes the end-goal — rather than simply being part of the process of getting needed things done. …

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Leadership, creativity – not government – can restore our nation

By Kelly McCutchen

After Election Day, there was less uncertainty in America. But will there be greater confidence? The election will not solve fundamental issues such as transportation, education and health care. Doing so requires strong leadership at the state and national level.
Leadership is not just about ideas and policy. It’s about taking the initiative to bring people together for a common goal. This is important: America appears more politically polarized than ever. Imagine if this nation could function consistently at the level of unity shown after tragic events. There was no Republican versus Democrat in the wake of 9/ 11. There is no “us versus them” when tornadoes or floods strike .
Think this is too Pollyanna? Consider last year’s sweeping criminal justice reforms. This legislation passed the Georgia General Assembly unanimously. Other than resolutions praising Miss Georgia or some hometown hero, nothing passes Georgia’s Legislature unanimously. There …

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Obama needs to prove himself to large segment

By Andra Gillespie

The 2012 elections are safely behind us, but sadly, our politics have hardly changed. In the days since President Obama won re-election, Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives and Democrats retained control of the Senate, politicians and pundits have all weighed in on the prospects of getting anything done in Washington. The prognosis is not hopeful.
Because the balance of power did not change, both sides appear to merely tweak their old agendas. House Speaker John Boehner for instance, has pledged to work with President Obama to help avoid the fiscal cliff. To his credit, he has offered to consider some revenue increases in concert with budget cuts. However, he still wants a tax rate cut for the highest income bracket.
In reality, it is going to take a lot more effort to bridge the divide between President Obama, House Republicans and Senate Democrats. All sides have their preferred policy positions, but Tuesday’s voters have …

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Going beyond crime stats

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Despite the poor economy, there has been a surprising decrease in crime in some metro Atlanta communities, including Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. The city of Atlanta has seen a slight uptick in the last year, but since 2001 the numbers of violent and property crimes are way down. But a criminologist at Georgia State University writes that the new FBI statistics can be misleading and fleeting.  Also, I talk with a neighborhood safety veteran about how crimes are changing on a street level and how his community has improved.

Commenting is open below my interview with Greg Scott.

By Robert R. Friedmann

Crime statistics happens to someone else somewhere else. When it happens to us, crime is at a 100 percent level. A single murder, burglary, rape or robbery is one too many.

Yet, it is important to look at crime statistics because they provide a helpful, albeit limited, reflection of the public health of a given city, county, state and the nation, …

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Registering voters, watching Venezuela

Moderated by Rick Badie

An estimated 133 million Americans cast ballots in the U.S. presidential election. Today, a local advocate talks about her non-profit’s efforts to register and encourage more Asian-Americans to cast ballots this year. And two political activists share their experiences as observers of the Venezuelan presidential election.

Commenting is open below.

By Helen Kim Ho

Voting is often associated with duty, responsibility and obligation. Civic engagement efforts often guilt-trip people to the polls.

That’s because inspiring people to vote is hard work. Voter apathy is prevalent in our country. In the 2008 presidential elections, only 64% percent of eligible citizens voted, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We have the lowest voter turnout among a sampling of 14 developed countries, based on a Columbia University study.

Despite our freedom and success, we’re one of the most civically depressed societies in the world. Polls show a high degree of …

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Banks, bankers: Where’s the trust?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Rebuilding, or maintaining, trust in any relationship can be difficult. Banks, given the industry’s financial crisis, must work to restore customer trust, thwart negative perceptions and deflect criticisms. Today, the president of the Georgia Bankers Association writes about our state’s financial community, while a business school professor challenges the industry to display more transparency.

Banks, bankers take public trust seriously

By Joe Brannen

The 278 FDIC-insured banks in Georgia depend on, ask for, and earn the trust of Georgians every day.

We live in an era when opinions are often driven by the most sensational news story, the last lawsuit, the most vicious tweet, and the ranting of too many public figures. Recently, a lot of that has been directed at banks.

While criticisms of some banks are well-covered, well-known and in some cases even deserved, there are many ways banks have performed that are trustworthy.

Successful banks take the …

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