Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● On marriage: After seven marriages, a pending or possible divorce is not news anymore. And, two, what happens in Massachusetts stays in Massachusetts. Texas and Georgia, states that don’t recognize a “marriage” there, can’t grant a divorce, an issue Texas is litigating.
● Yes, lobbyists shouldn’t serve on state boards and commissions affecting a client’s interests. But the ban should extend to individuals representing groups or organizations with a financial or regulatory interest in board decisions. No advocate for growing government, for using its regulatory powers to stifle competition, or for affecting any group’s agenda, should be on any oversight board. State boards are filled with such people.
● Atlantans — in fact, all Georgians — should be chilled by the specter of Atlanta firefighters’ union picketing the Fulton County Taxpayer Association because of its court challenge to a pension fund change that allows them to retire with as much as 80 percent of salary after as little as 27 years. The mayor says that pension change threatens to bankrupt the city; its unfunded liability is $1.5 billion. If you’re dozing, oblivious to the future of public sector unions and their threat to taxpayers, look to California. Hidden financial obligations will drive businesses and property owners out of Atlanta.
● You’ve got to read “The Beholden State — How public-sector unions broke California” by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Steven Malanga. Sample: “The story starts half a century ago, when California public workers won bargaining rights and quickly learned how to elect their own bosses — that is, sympathetic politicians who would grant them outsize pay and benefits in exchange for their support.”
● Reformers have quit preaching and gone to meddlin’ and I’m agin’ em. “In time of cuts, state still pays for roadside beauty,” tsk-tsks the headline. Somebody’s stressed out that the Georgia Department of Transportation spends $3 million per year on roadside flowers and landscaping and, furthermore, “has $1.3 million in wildflower-planting reserves that it won’t spend on anything else.” Highway advertising and $45 specialty license plates and some federal money fund the plantings. Memo to Republicans who run Georgia: Cut a coneflower and I’m grabbing a microphone and pitching tent with Vincent Fort and all the microphone-grabbing Gimmee Democrats.
● Only 78 percent of Americans in Pew Research polling say Washington can’t be trusted. Wonder why it’s not more.
● Think government can’t be more deserving of distrust? Wait until Congress imposes a value-added tax. Thursday’s AJC headline, “Obama appears open to value-added tax option” could just as easily have said “Panhandlers appear to be open to folding money.” A national sales tax, in lieu of the income tax, has merit. A hidden value-added tax as an add-on to the existing tax system is a politician’s dream.
● I haven’t seen the definitive article anywhere, but I’m dying to read the explanation of why 78 percent of Jewish voters supported Barack Obama. Israel this week celebrated its 62nd birthday with the near certainty that Iran will get nuclear weapons and a dear nation-friend has a president in the White House who can’t be trusted to defend Israel’s vital security interests.
● Republicans under the Gold Dome may be mad at state Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome) for very vocally and publicly standing by his pledge not to raise taxes, in violation of the Senate Republican caucus position, but out here in the sticks he’s one of the refreshing voices to come out of this session. He’s the kind of conservative who should be in one of the key statewide positions running Georgia. His refusal to go along cost him the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.