Archive for August, 2013

Cellphone rudeness

Smart phones, tablets, laptops and other marvels of the digital age keep us more in touch with each other than ever before; yet because of the way we use these devices, sometimes it seems we’re more disconnected than ever. When we “multitask” while carrying on a conversation with another person, are we being technologically savvy or just plain rude? Two social media experts — a Georgia Tech professor of the Generation X cohort, and a mobile strategist of the millennial generation — weigh in on the subject.

Commenting is open.

The rudeness of importance

By Ian Bogost

Everyone’s been there: You’re having a face-to-face conversation when your interlocutor reaches for her smartphone. Just as often you’re the culprit — pawing your iPhone at a family dinner, stealing glances at Facebook during a business meeting.

It took 50 years for computers to move from office basements to handbags, and scarcely five more for them to enter our pockets. Now we take them …

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Enroll America

Moderated by Rick Badie

Today, a campaign in Georgia and elsewhere to educate the nation’s uninsured about the Affordable Care Act comes under scrutiny. A conservative writes that efforts by Enroll America, the nonpartisan organization that aids the awareness campaign, will benefit “health industry players” that support Obamacare. Co-authors for the other article suggest otherwise.

Enroll America’s free advertising

By Virginia Galloway

Looking for a quick, easy way to get rich? Forget playing the lottery or saving and investing wisely. In 2013, the road to riches is much easier: Just get friendly with the Obama administration. Dollars will come.

That’s the lesson we can take from the President Barack Obama’s controversial health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Many of the president’s health care industry supporters and allies stand to make fortunes, It’s the latest evidence that Obamacare is a leading example of government cronyism.

Since it was passed into …

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Robust exports in Georgia

Moderated by Rick Badie
Georgia businesses are successfully exporting goods and services to the world, so much so they accounted for a state record in the first half of this year when compared to the same period in 2012. Merchandise exports increased 4 percent, from $17.8 billion to $18.5 billion. Today’s guest writers note the economic importance of the respectable gain.

Exporting is good for Georgia businesses

By Don Nay

When I left Atlanta at the end of 1990 to serve in Europe, Africa, Asia and Washington with the U.S. Commercial Service, the Braves had the worst record in baseball. Times have changed. Now, Georgia can boast about more than the Braves.

In addition to exporting our baseball prowess, the state also has come a long way in exporting our goods and services to the world. New data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that Georgia hit a record for exporting in the first half of 2013.  Merchandise exports increased 4 percent in the first half of 2013 …

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Clayton transit fix

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Our recent page devoted to the public transportation mess in Clayton County prompted some thoughtful replies. Today, a former state highway executive says Clayton needs to establish a privately operated bus system, while a local lawyer discusses how longer commutes — those typically endured by low-income residents — can make job applicants less appealing to potential employers because they impact workplace turnover.

Commenting is open.

Clayton County can turn things around

By Bob Dallas

I applaud former state Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam and County Commission Chairman Jeffrey E. Turner for their leadership in seeking to re-create the Clayton County transit system. They correctly observe how destructive it was to citizens and employers when in 2010 transit services were eliminated due to budgetary constraints. This impact not only affects Clayton County but all of metro Atlanta, as needed workers are unable to get to where the jobs are. The impact on …

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Get tougher on drunk driving

By Barry Martin

There are a few facts about drunk driving that I find alarming: Every 53 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in a drunk-driving crash; and, a drunk driver will drive drunk 80 times before the first arrest. Closer to home, in 2011, there were 277 lives lost in an alcohol-related crash, and more than 31,000 DUI arrests in Georgia.

The end of summer signals an increase in drunk-driving crashes, as do holidays. With the Labor Day holiday a week away, I am reminded of the July 4th weekend and the seven car pile-up in Clayton County that resulted in six DUI arrests. This left me speechless. How and why could something like this happen?

MADD Georgia works very hard throughout the state to stop drunk driving, help victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. We also have found effective ways to reduce drunk-driving crashes, injuries and fatalities. These countermeasures, part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, include high-visibility law …

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Why Florida says Georgia’s all wet

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he’s taking Georgia to the Supreme Court over the contentious dispute involving water released from Lake Lanier. Today, a Florida water official writes that Georgia is monopolizing this precious resource and contributing to the decline of Apalachicola Bay. A Georgia water official writes that our region is not to blame, and we’re actively conserving more water.

Commenting is open.

Georgia consumes unfair level of water

By Jon Steverson

I was proud to be standing with Gov. Rick Scott when he recently announced that Florida would take historic legal action to protect the environment, economy and people of Apalachicola Bay and Northwest Florida.

This effort, to ensure that Florida is treated fairly as water demands continue to increase upstream, is not the slightest bit “frivolous.” It exemplifies Gov. Scott’s commitment to fighting for the future of Florida families that depend on freshwater from the Apalachicola …

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Black-on-black crime

Moderated by Rick Badie
A cry erupted from many, notably in the black community, following the not-guilty verdict of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black boy. Some activists, pundits, moms and dads suggested that blacks in general — and our community as a whole — should address a potentially highly charged topic: black-on-black crime. Today, we present two writers with personal viewpoints on a topic that we want to become an ongoing discussion in Atlanta Forward.

The start of a tough conversation

By Rick Badie

Earvin “Magic” Johnson shocked the world on Nov. 7, 1991 with the announcement that he’d contracted the HIV virus and would retire from the NBA. In 1991, AIDS was the second-leading cause of death among men 25-to-44 years old.

Ignorance, homophobia and flat-out fear crippled a true understanding of AIDS, a mysterious malady at the time. Magic, who spoke openly and honestly about his health and how he’d acquired the virus …

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Millennials and money

Moderated by Rick Badie

The millennial generation, the grandchildren of baby boomers, has got some issues with money. Many fear the stock market, according to a Wells Fargo survey, and would rather pay down debt first than save for retirement. Today’s guest writers say such a lack of economic confidence makes millennial financial planning a challenge.

Millennials should start to save now

By Marc Daner

As millennials toss their graduation caps this summer and hope to soon land their first real jobs, they will face managing their finances while in the red.

According to a recent Wells Fargo study on millennials, 54 percent say debt is their “biggest financial concern currently,” surpassing day-to-day expenses. Forty-two percent say their debt is “overwhelming,” double the rate of baby boomers surveyed for comparison.

And while most consider themselves savers, 51 percent are putting off saving for retirement until their 30s.

We wish they wouldn’t wait. In our business, …

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Distance-based fares for MARTA?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Two legislators on the MARTA oversight committee have suggested to the transit agency that it do more research on distance-based fares, and employ such a system to raise revenues. Today, MARTA’s leader explains that it’s a complicated process to switch, and it would be premature to do so right now, as the Atlanta Regional Commission is studying further integration of suburban bus systems with MARTA. In our second column, a transportation analyst writes how distance-based fares could help MARTA.

Commenting is open.

The future of transit fares

By Keith T. Parker

As MARTA advances its transformation initiative to fundamentally improve the way we do business, we are listening closely to those urging us to overhaul our fare structure, most notably to implement variable-based fares.

We appreciate their suggestions and want to provide information about some important developments that are already underway.

By far, MARTA is the largest provider of bus, …

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Do we need a state history museum?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Last week, the AJC reported on a proposal by the governor to spend $17 million (in 2011 costs) to develop a state history museum in the old World of Coca-Cola building — to kick-start a new tourist zone near Capitol Hill in downtown Atlanta. A similar funding proposal failed twice before. Here are three views on the latest idea from experts in the field.

Commenting is open.

Better to help our existing museums

By Salvatore Cilella

Several months ago, aggrieved patrons and supporters of the Georgia State Archives were successful in overturning an ill-conceived effort by the secretary of state to virtually close the archives over “budgetary concerns.” Recently, Gov. Nathan Deal and a handful of legislators have been mulling over resurrecting the notion of a state history museum in the mausoleum known as the old “World of Coca-Cola” building near the perennially resuscitating Underground Atlanta.

The AJC reported Aug. 6 that the state may enjoy a …

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