Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● One of the General Assembly’s silliest flaps has to be the argument by the interest group AARP that the state is committing grievous financial harm to, they say, about a million Georgians by eliminating gifts from the public purse. About 242,900 of the gifted, given an average of $44.67, have no income tax liability or withholding whatsoever. Another 506,000 have zero tax liability. While they tend to be low-income, they’re not necessarily. This expenditure always made more political than economic sense. Gov. Sonny Perdue should sign the repeal.
● Elena Kagan is Barack Obama’s David Souter. Mystery candidate; thin paper trail. The fear is that, unlike George H.W. Bush, Obama knows. And when liberal commentators tell me not to worry that she’s “conservative” or centrist, at least on some issues, I worry. No liberal rushes to defend an appointee thought to be otherwise.
● Georgia’s finally on the right track in upgrading the quality of its high school graduates. Yes, 22 percent of 11th-graders flunked a new social studies test on first try, up from 13 percent last year and 14 percent the year before. But it’s a harder test, notes state school Superintendent Kathy Cox. That’s the route to success. Standardize the curriculum and then impose stiffer and stiffer requirements on what students should know. The last thing Georgia needs is a new school superintendent and a “new direction.” Set a course, hire competent people and then leave them alone.
● A new report from the Brookings Institution finds — voila! — that “suburbs” are diverse. No surprise to those of us who live there. The stereotype that places such as Cobb, Henry, Gwinnett and the granddaddy of them all, Sandy Springs, are all upscale and plain vanilla is one of the great misreadings of our era. Just as politicians routinely legislate to solve the problems of their youth, commentators have trouble getting past yesterday, especially when it comes to race and places.
● Alpharetta and Johns Creek, both short one councilman because they resigned to run for higher office, can pay extra for a special election. Or they can leave the slots vacant until November’s general election. Easy call. Leave them vacant. If the unrepresented object, they should take it up with Liz Hausmann, who resigned from Johns Creek, and David Belle Isle, who resigned from Alpharetta.
● You want to jump for joy — and parents should — when the law trumps the huff-and-puff of powerful establishment interests opposed to school reform. That was the case with a quick and decisive ruling by Fulton Superior Court Judge Wendy L. Shoob upholding the constitutionality of the Georgia Charter School Commission. It was created at the state level to give parents an option when local school boards dig in their heels to block alternatives to the traditional public schools.
● It’s amazing that a law that makes it a crime to be in Arizona illegally and that allows police to question immigration status when they have a legitimate reason provokes such angst. The response gives you no confidence that the national political establishment ever intends to enforce immigration law. That belief is reinforced by the flap over the Kennesaw State University illegal who was spared deportation after students, and the university president, rallied to her side. You wonder why people don’t believe the reassurances they get on ObamaCare? Immigration. Official words are meaningless.
● Car rentals are down at the Atlanta airport. The solution? Raise the daily “customer facility charge” from $4.50 to $5. And why not? The class of people who are affected has not yet formed — and therefore cannot object. Government loves to tax the unborn and the classes unformed.