Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Soldiers killed at Fort Hood died on the battlefield, killed by an enemy combatant who, astonishingly, managed to evade detection despite obvious clues. This massacre requires in-depth independent investigation.
● If legislators ever needed an object lesson in why they should never cite a particular cause or program as a reason for raising taxes, they got it Sunday. State auditors examined four departments and found that they collected $174 million from 347 “user fees.” But not every dime of “fees” collected went to the particular program — solid waste management, for example. Some went into the general fund to finance higher, more immediate needs. Georgia badly needs a constitutional amendment to outlaw the practice of linking taxes that are disguised as “user fees” to a specific program. Special interests consider the money “mine” and some programs are awash in designated cash, while others of higher priority starve to death.
● The two Georgia Democrats who voted against Nancy Pelosi’s health care heist — Jim Marshall of Macon and John Barrow of Savannah — have one thing in common. They’re vulnerable to defeat when the impact of the public option and the hidden and indirect taxes hit home. Want to know why the nation is so polarized? It starts with redistricting. Only two of Georgia’s congressmen — Marshall and Barrow — can be defeated by the other party’s nominee. No fix is possible, since some districts are protected from the start by Voting Rights Act interpretations.
● Spencer Banzhaf, an associate professor of economics at Georgia State University, nails the Forbes study, and virtually every other that purports to rank cities and states as best this, worst that, most endangered or most liveable/affordable. Forbes found metro Atlanta to be the nation’s “most toxic” city. Said Banzhaf: “Not unlike U.S. News’ ranking of colleges, Forbes ranking of polluted cities is more entertainment than science.”
● The Left is in a feeding frenzy. The AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department demands that the Obama administration “fix” the airline industry. Unions ask; the administration complies. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood holds a forum, closed to the public and closed to the media, to discuss the state of the industry and a business model that critics allege will “undermine safety.” The solution, of course, is the auto industry model. Seize the airlines and hand ownership over to their unions. What the industry needs is a healthy and growing free-market economy.
● MARTA may have pocketed a “profit” of $119 million for “selling” track and trains to help rich investors avoid paying federal income taxes, but if there was ever an example of what is wrong with the nation’s tax and financial system, this was it. Nothing built with public money should later be “sold” or used as collateral for borrowing by any state or local government or agency unless title and possession pass to a third party. The only beneficiaries here are those who get rich by getting government in debt and bureaucrats trying to avoid financial reality.
● Toll roads are welcomed — so long as the tolls are on new construction, are eliminated when the debt is paid and are not being levied to finance unrelated transportation projects that can’t be justified by honest, cost-benefit analysis. The state Department of Transportation is considering toll projects on I-285, I-20, Ga. 400, northern I-75 and I-575 and Sugarloaf Parkway in Gwinnett County.
● Have no dog in the fight in the Atlanta mayoral runoff, but it is quite telling that the state Democratic Party intervened in the race. And now former Gov. Roy Barnes takes sides. This party’s big tent could be pitched at Piedmont Park. Sorry, wrong ward. That’s Mary Norwood’s district. Make that Woodruff Park.