No harm done on tax deal’s end

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● President Barack Obama’s speech on deficit reduction calls to mind an expression routinely employed by troops in Vietnam to quickly dismiss the unimportant: “It don’t mean nuthin’.” Indeed, it doesn’t. The Observer in Chief stacks words that have no particular relevance to yesterday or tomorrow. In serious times, he’s an unserious man.

● Time’s run out on tax revision for this legislative session. No harm’s done. Republicans, in fact, should be cheered that House Speaker David Ralston pulled the effort to rush through something consequential that, as with the Obamacare debacle, legislators and the public hadn’t absorbed.

● During the tax code rewrite State House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire, the driving force behind tax revision, touched on something that conservatives will encounter time and again as they rock the status quo. O’Neal told the AJC that doubt existed as to whether the numbers data legislators were getting from Georgia State University Fiscal Research Center economists were influenced by their philosophical objections to the plan — something their director denied. While I’ve no way of knowing in this instance, it’s no secret that bureaucrats and the policy wonks who control information can and do shape legislation. How? By the way they define problems and options and frame information. Legislators always need experts who understand philosophically what they’re trying to do and who help them achieve those goals.

● This power proposed for Gov. Nathan Deal to remove school boards — Atlanta’s in particular — should be used once in a generation. Clayton County’s may have qualified because the whole county was in turmoil, fueled by a confrontational union and a rapidly transitioning population. Atlanta’s doesn’t. Courts and higher governments should overturn the will of the people with great reluctance, with compelling cause and then only to avoid immediate and uncorrectable harm.

● Good show. Legislators approve a bill to require local school systems to use performance, rather than seniority, as the primary factor when layoffs are necessary. Competence is not necessarily the reason workers survive for years in the public or private sector. Sometimes the worst employees burrow in because they can’t find a better job elsewhere.

● This tell-all first sentence from an Ernie Suggs story in the AJC heralds the onset of the 2012 presidential campaign. Writes Suggs: “Two officials from the White House were in Atlanta on Wednesday night for a rousing town hall meeting that at times resembled a campaign rally for President Barack Obama.” Do tell. Coincidences can sometimes amaze.

● Demonizing a business or an industry — energy producers, for example – is the prelude to a shakedown. BP got thoroughly fleeced by con artists and gougers, including local governments, in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill (to say nothing of the federal government, which coerced BP to set up a $20 billion payoff fund.) Ripoff details were provided to The Washington Post, and carried in the AJC, by ProPublica.

● The new Republican majority moves and shakes. Sunday liquor sales, blocked for decades of Democratic rule, await only the governor’s signature and local approval. A favor, please, from those who voted yes. Declare, honestly, that you favored Sunday sales, not that you favored “local control.” While that’s a traditional dodge for politicians, it’s unbecoming and at least slightly dishonest to think the locals need control over Sunday liquor sales, but not the authority to, for example, decide whether to allow the sale of firecrackers or marijuana. The difference is, of course, that there’s no business lobby pushing the latter.

66 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

April 16th, 2011
12:52 pm

If the best that can be said for this legislative session is “no harm done” then it simply shows what a poor State Legislature we have. Of course, this comes as no suprise to anyone. If you are willing to wait until we have a quality Legislature, please plan on living for a very very long time.

Glenn

April 16th, 2011
7:21 pm

I think it’s OK, carlosgvv. You know how in politics the veterans tend to teach the newbies how expensive spending and cheap shots ensure an elected official’s influence and longevity? Well, all that’s being turned on its head, but it takes awhile. It seems that on the whole the Gov. & Gen. Asm. Picked some serious priorities in about the right order. There’s still a lot of vote-buying and circus mentality, but this Session does mark a turn. However, today’s photo on AJC’s front page, of two men sweeping the discarded legislation and analyses off the Chamber floors, pretty much says it all. This is an interlude and not a wholly new thing. Let’s give ‘em a couple years and then see who’s learned what from whom.

Muffin

April 16th, 2011
7:43 pm

Anyone here have any input to the untimly death of Dr. Stan? Would like to know more details.

Glenn

April 16th, 2011
9:45 pm

Enter your comments hereWhich one? Betwixt the living annihilations of the ‘jackers one never could say…

Muffin

April 17th, 2011
8:57 am

Attn. Glenn =
Do you know anything about the death of Dr. Stan?

Glenn

April 18th, 2011
5:40 pm

As I’d tried to post, Muffin, no, nothing. I’d like to say, as the Jewish elders still do, “May hia memory ever be a blessing,” but I don’t even know which of the contenders was the real Dr. Stan. Whichever was the actual one, I pray he now finds his right hand held by Him to the right of the Throne.

Glenn

April 18th, 2011
8:07 pm

If anyone has biographical information about our late correspondent then please post it so that those of us who found him elusive could get a fix on his memory. Thanks.

Ryan Callahan

April 19th, 2011
12:49 am

Engaging and well written article! This tops anything I have read lately on the subject at hand. I wonder if this’ll be posted on Twenty-First Tycoon. Although the site has awesome political, business, technology and real estate news, they could use more stuff like this. http://www.21Tycoon.com

Glenn

April 19th, 2011
3:52 pm

A really provocative website, Ryan. Thanks. (I like too how it explains why some leading philanthropists don’t know which way is up when it comes to public education reform. Some of us have groaned for years at the naive waste of their well-intentioned money. Also, they invariably hire pompous, agreeable fools.)

Glenn

April 19th, 2011
9:36 pm

While I respect Mr. Wooten’s qualifications and caveats regarding the Governor’s takeover of the Atlanta school board, still he temporizes. There’s no lipstick for this sow. It’s a flat-out state takeover and a violation of local control. The Governor might as well declare Atlanta itself dysfunctional, as school operations are, under Georgia’s Constitution, the cornerstone of local governance.

If one conceives of a state-level balance of powers then this takeover also is a usurpation of the Judiciary. Last month, if an Atlanta school board member stepped out of line or committed nonfeasance or was incapacitated, the Bench was positioned to step in. But today, the Governor wears judicial robes topped by a medieval mortarboard. That is just plain wrong, and unconstitutional as hell. I look forward to the legal challenges.

There are structurally proper ways to handle such problems as those of Atlanta’s schools, yet evidently those ways elude the Mandarins beneath the golden think cap. For one thing, the Atlanta school system is a jurisdictional creature and subdivision of the State, and the State can break it up and reapportion it to neighboring jurisdictions almost at will. For another thing, if the State finds the school system so caught up in incompetence and corruption, the State may appoint a provisional authority to steward the district through a period of receivership and recovery.

Neither of these options obviates the basic structure of Georgia’s governance, nor violates Georgia’s renewed embrace of local control. Beware the Capitol’s illegitimate solution. Your school district may be next. I’m frankly surprised that Nathan Deal would so transgress just when he’s otherwise off to a good start.

Glenn

April 19th, 2011
9:38 pm

The takeover smells racist to me.

Glenn

April 20th, 2011
2:37 am

(the ‘jackers come out not to roost)

No Win No Fee UK

April 20th, 2011
5:45 am

I like this only one article.
—————-
shane

No Win No Fee UK

April 20th, 2011
5:49 am

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No Win No Fee UK

Glenn

April 20th, 2011
11:41 pm

Terrible hypocrisy and cowardice, antithetical to journalism.

Glenn

April 20th, 2011
11:57 pm

Chickensit journalism is no journalism at all. Anyone who’s paid her dues knows what relief it is to return to this country where freedom of expression is respected by all save the shadow censors of the AJC.