Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Candidates opposing U.S. Reps. John Barrow of Savannah, Jim Marshall of Macon and Sanford Bishop of Albany, all potentially vulnerable Democrats, might want to invite President Barack Obama to campaign for the incumbent. So far the president’s 0-4 in the big races. One of those rejected, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, always struck me as a pretty fair Democrat.
● One reason busy-body government grows and becomes less relevant is that politicians play to the cheap seats. Examples: The Columbus, Ohio, mayor bans city employees from official travel to Arizona. Seattle won’t do business with companies headquartered there. Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco have made similar cheap-seat gestures. Meanwhile, the president stands with a foreign head of state — the president of Mexico — on White House grounds to criticize legitimate domestic legislative actions of a sovereign state. This is the government that creeps intrusively into a state and local function — education — because talking about it polls well. Arizona acted because the U.S. government didn’t.
● That busy-body government is in Georgia finding out if big poultry producers such as Perdue and Tyson Foods are, as reported by the AJC’s Bob Keefe, “imposing arduous contracts and tough price constraints” on those who tend chickens. The eventual outcome will be that bureaucrats will decide what the previously free market should assign as the value of the chicken-tenders’ work — the appropriate “living wage.” Big companies initially will fight, then capitulate to politicians, content that they’ll be allowed to pass the higher costs on to consumers. First busy-body government is evil; then when big business is co-opted, the alliance becomes evil.
● AJC columnist Kyle Wingfield asks: Why can’t MARTA live within its means? He has lots of interesting insights and explanations. But here’s a quick answer: Because its supporters have always made excuses and held its mission, public transit, to be morally entitled to financial support from the state.
● Routinely, when stopped by panhandlers in downtown Atlanta who claimed to be Vietnam veterans, I’d ask them a question about their unit or service. Not more than one in 20 could answer correctly. Panhandlers, yes, but the attorney general of Connecticut and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Richard Blumenthal? When caught in the lie, he had the empty and sleazy response that has come to characterize Washington: “On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that and I take full responsibility. But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service [stateside, in the Marine Reserves] to our country.”
● The Harvard student, scheduled to graduate this spring, who made up credentials to gain acceptance, is a product of a culture that invites resume-padding. For decades, we’ve cultivated the now-myth that rampant discrimination and other illegitimate barriers keep people from getting the jobs and admissions opportunities they deserve. So any gaming necessary to get your foot in the door, and to prove that you can do the job or handle the classes, as Adam Wheeler did, is fair game. If you think the system’s dishonest, it’s OK to be dishonest, the thinking goes. Harvard has brought in the cops, charging that he stole $45,000 in financial aid.
● The spate of politicians who qualify for re-election and then abruptly change their mind — school Superintendent Kathy Cox, state Rep. Kevin Levitas (D-DeKalb County) and state Sen. Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville) are recent examples — don’t inspire confidence that politicians believe public service is any big deal.