Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● I defy incoming Commissioner Gary Black, or any other Republican, to operate the Georgia Department of Agriculture, on the budgets of Tommy Irvin, who’s retiring after more than 40 years. He’s among the last of the Depression-influenced penny-pinchers setting or managing a budget in state government. Irvin’s in the news because on the way out the door he’s given 41 employees raises that will cost the state’s taxpayers $130,000 per year — or just slightly more than the cost of one average federal employee. (Check back in four years on how much this department’s budget grows.)
● Nothing quite captures “greed and excess” like shoes. Among Bernie Madoff’s seized possessions up for government auction was a pair of gold-thread BLM-monogrammed black velveteen slippers, which were among a clothing lot that sold for $6,000. Presumably those who see you in your slippers know who you are — even the burglars. Imelda Marcos, when ousted from the Philippines’ Presidential place in 1986, was reported to own 3,000 pairs. “I did not have 3,000 pairs of shoes,” she said later. “I had 1,060.”
● The most distressing aspect of Republican ascendancy in Georgia has been its failure to distance itself from the good ol’ boy system. Under no circumstances should an elected official and his employees or agents discuss or plead personal business, or expected future business, in the presence of an employee of state or local government who is in a position to grant favors. The AJC reported last year that then-Congressman Nathan Deal intervened with state officials “to protect an obscure state program that earned his company nearly $300,000 a year.” The AJC’s Dan Chapman reported Sunday that Gov. Sonny Perdue “and two men who run the governor’s trucking company met at the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah with a half-dozen state employees. The purpose: Grow Perdue’s private business.” A Perdue spokesman said the meeting was simply to gather information available to any other Georgian and involved no preferential treatment. Ethics and open government should have been a foundational issue for Republicans while they were still new to governing.
● The Right keeps its book-burners on the distant fringes. The Left has its in high places. Said U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.: “There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to Fox and to MSNBC: ‘Out. Off. End. Goodbye’ It would be a big favor to public discourse, to our ability to do our work here in Congress, and to the American people, to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and, more importantly, in their future.” With unchecked power, the Left would be a serious threat to our liberties.
● This may be naïve, but the Republican alternative to earmarked spending is not to work the Obama administration through Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed or other Georgia Democrats for favors such as Georgia Ports Authority-sought projects, but to create a system nationally that spends on merit and not political influence. Georgia, through its Department of Community Affairs, does quite a good job of channeling money to the most-deserving local projects. There’s a little left over for legislators to hand out, and they do, but merit matters.
● You have to read closely, but the lie that ObamaCare will reduce medical costs creeps into your family budget. Had employers not “modified” health insurance benefits in the new year, the cost would have gone up 10 percent. Instead, it’ll be 6.3 percent, with at least 1-2 percentage points of that due to ObamaCare mandates. There’s no “free” coverage. Somebody’s paying for every new program and mandate. Mark time until 2013. Then repeal.