Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● This President and his acolytes: “We inherited a mess.” Next President: “We inherited a mess made worse.”
● Back when Republicans were nobodies in the Georgia House of Representatives, I listened to Rep. John Linder extemporaneously argue free trade. It was a coherent philosophical framework for the alternative party in a competitive two-party system — one of many he made. I discovered much to my surprise when Republicans claimed the majority in Georgia, that few had listened. Linder, who is leaving Congress this year, is a steady, principled conservative who helped define that movement in this state.
● The “humble little” homes averaging 1,500 square feet in the Northwoods subdivision in Doraville may get historic designation as Georgia’s first large-scale planned suburban community. Some of my favorite neighborhoods in all of metro Atlanta are those composed of little brick houses built by the returning vets of World War II and Korea and off-the-farm families working at Ford, GM, Lockheed, Mead, Delta and Eastern. Today they’re called “starter homes.” Then they were lifetime-achievement homes. Historic? Absolutely.
● Raising fees to cover the cost of providing a state service to individuals, which is in the works, reports the AJC’s James Salzer, is something that should be done, budget crisis or not. But keep in mind, a fee is a levy charged to sole beneficiaries of a public service. If it’s levied on one service to fund another, it’s a tax. Salzer points out that the state charges $10, unchanged since 1978, for an airport inspection that costs the Department of Transportation $400. Undercharges could amount to $100 million.
● There oughta be a law that no tax could be extended any earlier than three years before its expiration. The Georgia House just voted to extend Atlanta’s 7 percent hotel-motel tax ($44.6 million in fiscal 2008) by 30 years, from 2020 to 2050. It’s an effort to keep the Atlanta Falcons downtown. Levying taxes on those who aren’t present to voice objection is immoral and, at the least, should be constitutionally limited. All tax money collected, furthermore, should go to the general fund — Atlanta’s or the state’s — to address the most pressing problems (pensions, for example, in Atlanta).
● If the CRCT cheating suspected in 58 Atlanta system schools is found to be true, its superintendent and school board need to be canned. Cheating in anything approaching two-thirds of the system’s elementary and middle schools would constitute a culture of corruption.
● Chief Justice John Roberts told students at the University of Alabama that the State of the Union speech has “degenerated to a political pep rally” and questioned whether members of the U.S. Supreme Court should attend in the future. The January episode where the justices sat for camera shots while President Barack Obama formally criticized their corporate speech opinion was “very troubling,” he said. He’s right. The justices and the military chiefs should absent themselves. They’re props in a campaign event.
● The AJC news staff has amazing sources. Our first granddaughter was barely home from Northside Hospital when ajc.com ran the headline: “Could the most beautiful baby be in Georgia?” My guess is that nursery staff leaked the news.
● Toyota is about to discover the true cost of doing business in America. The gas pedal problem has sparked at least 89 class-action lawsuits. Daytime TV will find trial lawyers soliciting clients for a thousand more.
● Hiking the cigarette tax $1 per pack, as interest groups and state Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) propose, means that Republicans, like the Democrats before them, still legislate from lobbyists’ agendas.