Guest-worker program is needed

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

● Georgia should create a guest-worker program to establish that immigrants available for hire are here legally. A study of the feasibility of such an effort is part of legislation just passed by the General Assembly. Some businesses and farmers, fearful of the consequence of hiring laborers who turn out to be illegal, despite their good-faith verification efforts, opposed legislative efforts to crack down. The solution is for Georgia to certify a pool of eligibles, at least until the feds get serious about perfecting E-Verify.

● The charges hospitals levy and the pennies-on-the-dollar reimbursement they expect and get from government are wildly at odds. As Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter M.B. Pell reveals, markups at some Atlanta-area hospitals exceed 500 percent and on the low side are more than 200 percent. Grady’s is 265 percent. That’s a problem for the self-insured and others who choose not to buy private insurance. Their rate should be only slightly higher than Medicare’s. Stop the games.

● AJC headline: “Suburbs’ support for transit growing.” It’s not minds that are changing. It’s new people. As census data confirms, people from the urban core find the schools, jobs and lifestyle they want beyond the Perimeter. The dirt doesn’t move or die; the people who occupy it do.

● One of the misperceptions that has come out of the Legislature’s tax overhaul effort is that the experts who crunch numbers and advise elected officials have a stake beyond that of the ordinary Georgian in pushing their ideas of “good tax policy.” The information they gather to shape their thinking and what emerges or doesn’t is the full responsibility of elected officials. Likewise, whether it’s coherent tax policy or achieves any strategic purpose is, too. Every new governor and legislator attempting to change public policy should keep in mind this role-defining commentary from House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire: “We weren’t asking them for political advice or ideological advice,” he said. “We were asking them to model [tax revenue] scenarios and give us results.”

● The experts and those who provide public policy options to elected officials do, however, have a right to expect that clear guidance will come from elected movers and shakers on precisely what tax revision is expected to achieve. Anything more than tinkering requires the active involvement of a governor — and Georgia was between governors when this commission delivered. It is fair tax policy to shift whole-heartedly from income to consumption, and to design a system that does that, but that does require the majority’s and the governor’s courage of conviction. Cutting taxes for every Georgian is not an option. It’s mathematically impossible, one expert asserted.

● Commencement season is a reminder that President Barack Obama missed his calling. He could have gotten rich writing speeches for others.

● Gov. Nathan Deal signs, as he should, legislation to allow Georgia to join others in designing and implementing a health care compact run by states. The approach requires congressional approval, so it may be symbolic. Until this president is re-elected and there’s no chance of a veto override by a Republican House and Senate, Deal should stick with the handful of other governors who are declining federal money to kick off the exchanges. Conservatives have to be wary, seriously wary, of that segment of Republicans who would be, as Newt Gingrich once said, tax collectors for the welfare state. Once an exchange apparatus is on the books, they’ll grow it, yield to insurance-industry lobbyists and tinker with it to make it “better.” Fight first.

88 comments Add your comment

Dabir Dalton

April 21st, 2011
6:53 pm

No Jim Georgia doesn’t need a guest worker program that distorts the free market. What Georgia does need is a free market where farmers are required to pay wages that will attract American Citizens to work in their fields or simply go out of business

Glenn

April 21st, 2011
7:45 pm

Maybe we could do with both, to achieve legitimacy for otherwise legit workers in the short term, and the second to spur more fair employment practices long-run?

Regarding Jim’s last point on immigration, it seems apparent that the Feds do not need “to get serious about E-Verify” per se, as the heavy lifting on border security post 9/11 found several viable biometric standards and data-sharing platforms from which to choose in pursuit of reliable identification and real-time verification of a guest’s legitimate status. What the Feds need to get serious about, then, is the funding and enforcement of the program. Technology isn’t the stumbling block; political will is.

Eric

April 21st, 2011
8:16 pm

Guest worker program is a good idea. I have heard of it before. Why is it taking so long to implement? However, I’m not in favor of biometrics, because as Bob Barr has written, that too will soon be applied to regular citizens.

Eric

April 21st, 2011
8:19 pm

Mr. Wooten, do you think our increasing (and absurd) gas prices are really due to the Middle Eastern conflicts or Big Oil Company greed? I think it’s the latter, but no one is addressing it is seems.

Lawrence

April 21st, 2011
8:56 pm

Jim…

I agree with you regarding the large increases in hospital charges. As one that worked in this area, I saw first hand the increases in hospital charges, mainly because they wanted to gouge the insurance companies and make up for costs that Medicaid and Medicare did not pay. This is not something that just started, but has been going on for years.

Glenn

April 21st, 2011
9:13 pm

@Eric, you’re right about the fear of biometrics going general, as Mr. Barr and others foretell. His strange bedfellows include the ACLU. It’s a serious concern, certainly, but proponents believe it’s possible to build a statutory firewall separating the kinds of credentialling required of guests from the kinds expected of citizens. Bear in mind that the Georgia Department of Transportation already requires a biometric, fingerprints. That biometric is typically logged in the states, though most states do not use surrender the information for purposes of immigration enforcement. In the immediate wake of 9/11 Congress thought it possible to reach a nationwide accord on the uses of biometric data–already collected by the motor vehicle divisions–to aid border protection and immigration monitoring, but the Feds went too far by calling for a universal ID card rather than for partly biometric credentials specific to U.S. residents who are not citizens. If you recall anything about the conditions of South Africans who had only recently retired the passbook system there prior to 9/11, you’ll understand how fatally overreaching were some otherwise very shrewd and earnest U.S. senators in proposing to apply generally a credential that should have applied, all along, only to non-citizens.

Glenn

April 21st, 2011
9:19 pm

@Lawrence,

Are we talking about over-charges, as you report, or about tardy underpayment, as Mr. Wooten reports? Or is it both?

Aquagirl

April 21st, 2011
9:24 pm

Jim, are you still steamed your Republicans got busted trying to raise taxes?

It’s so terribly upsetting when the peasants gain a little knowledge. Then they get all uppity and insist on trusting this newfangled numbery-thing over our spotlessly honest Republican leaders. I mean, who would trust MATH over a legislator?

Glenn

April 21st, 2011
9:27 pm

Glenn

April 21st, 2011
9:38 pm

Aquagirl,

Yeah. I was, like, what’s with this exercise in so-called tax reform? It seems to me that if legislators seek to reform the tax structure they should announce their objective. You know, stuff like lowering taxes or increasing revenue or making taxation more fair–or explicit combinations of these. But I read the paper every day and never got the word on what they were after. So what are we to think except that it’s just another school of campaign-starved newly-electeds feeding frenzily at the source at the soonest possible moment? Is that how it appeared to you? ‘Cause that’s how it looked from here.

Medicare Pricing

April 21st, 2011
9:45 pm

One of the interesting aspects of Medicare law is that Medicare is guaranteed the lowest prices. So if you go to a doctor who accepts Medicare and offer to pay him or her in cash, say, for a discount, the doctor can’t take less than the Medicare reimbursement for the same services. I’m not sure what the penalty is, but I believe it eliminates the doctor from the Medicare program.

As one whose child has gone to a community hospital emergency room, I can assure you that hospitals are running rate through the roof. St Marys in Athens charged my daughter $860 to have her wait for three hours, putting her in an examining room for another hour, giving her an aspirin and discharging her. Never saw a doctor. When we complained about the absurdity of the bill, the chief administrator told us they had to charge like this to make up for Medicare and deadbeats. No wonder our system is inefficient and ineffective.

Aquagirl

April 21st, 2011
9:55 pm

No, Glenn, I think they had a finely crafted plan guaranteed to bring prosperity back to this Great State. Tragically they were unable to explain or implement this innovative plan. Mainly because they were busy squabbling with the Lt. Governor, dashing to erase their names from the birther bill, or sending fake e-mails from their drag queen persona.

Not Blind

April 21st, 2011
9:57 pm

The very first post contains the only real solution.

Jeff

April 21st, 2011
10:36 pm

The government makes more on a gallon of gas than big oil. So who’s the real one being “greedy”?

WHY? RNC is Y

April 21st, 2011
10:37 pm

” The dirt doesn’t move or die; the people who occupy it do”.

Charming.

Toxic

April 21st, 2011
10:42 pm

Dabir Dalton,
You will only get a true free market when the US government stops paying people to sit around and do nothing. It is easier for them to do nothing and collect food stamps and tax credits from the US government than it is to go work on a farm. Illegal immigrants can not get government payments so they work.

WHY? RNC is Y

April 21st, 2011
10:42 pm

“Once an exchange apparatus is on the books, they’ll grow it, yield to insurance-industry lobbyists and tinker with it to make it “better.” Fight first.”

God that makes no sense. The whole paragraph is so difficult to read that I know I could glean more germane insight into this issue by reading skidmarks off three-day-old BVDs. Sorry but Wooten has gone to seed or something and dammit, I’m frightened.

I want my mommy.

WHY? RNC is Y

April 21st, 2011
10:48 pm

We can’t pay US citizens to work for decent wages on farms because then our food bills would be like our healthcare costs: exorbitant. It’s bad enough that you rocket scientists let big oil fleece us. Now we’re supposed to let Archer Daniels Midland screw us too? Well screw you.

ISAIDSCREWYOU!!!! I aint payin ten bucks for milk or eggs. I aint payin fifty bucks for a damn tuff steak. I wont do it and nobody can make me. Illegal aliens are good. The Wooten gang of conservative trolls are bad. If it were up to Wooten and his ne’er do well neanderthals, we’d be in three more simultaneous wars, we’d be shooting illegals on sight, and inflation would be 20 percent per year. We’d live in an unlivable hell.

See the diff?

bwa

Glenn

April 21st, 2011
11:35 pm

So, Aquagirl, what’s the “No, Glenn” part of your response? Which part do you repudiate? Or do you simply insist upon being our perennial smart ass?

Glenn

April 21st, 2011
11:38 pm

…until you change to some other catbird sniping….

Clanmack

April 22nd, 2011
7:34 am

Re: Hospital up charges-Because Medicare and Medicaid pay only a percentage of the “costs”, because uninsured people can’t pay the huge costs of hospital treatment, the hospitals and doctors who work in them (ER docs, anesthesiologists, etc.) guess what the hospitals do-they have to charge more and more. This shows up in the negotiations with big insurance companies in higher charges to them which results in higher premiums which companies pass on to their employees resulting in complaints from everybody about the rapidly increasing costs of health care. Add in the exorbitant, corrupt costs added in by big Pharma (gag me with a spoon) who got a huge payday from the Republicans from Part D of Medicare. Add in the increasingly expensive costs of medical technology. Small wonder people are financially ruined if they get sick, even with insurance. The answer is to spread the costs to everybody-cover everyone. If Georgia is going to allow other States to sell insurance in Georgia without having to follow Georgia health insurance coverage laws, then Federal Health Care Reform is clearly Constitutional. If our legislature and government is going to fight the Federal Health Care, They sure aren’t using what smarts they are supposed to have. The legislative session every year is a 40 day anxiety attack for the populace of Georgia.

Buzz G

April 22nd, 2011
7:49 am

My neighbor told me “If we chase the illegal aliens out of the state, we will never have another home built and you will never again be able to buy a chicken sandwich.” What nonsense. Before the illegal aliens arrived we lived in houses and ate chicken sandwiches. And if supporting the rule of law and a secure southern border means paying a little more for my chicken sandwich, so be it.
At least it will provide employment for some of the 19% of Georgians who are out of work.

www.tinyurl.com/justintomczak

April 22nd, 2011
8:06 am

Justin Tomczak for GAGOP 1st Vice Chair!!!

WHY? RNC is Y

April 22nd, 2011
8:19 am

That wasn’t Chicken. (The chinese were the illegals back then, moron).

That was Cat. (but it tasted like chicken)

Boowah!

” Commencement season is a reminder that President Barack Obama missed his calling. He could have gotten rich writing speeches for others.” Yes, Obama missed his calling and became the Prez. What a total failure. Okay, after reading that sentence from the Rootin’ Tootin’ Jim Wooten, I’m convinced: Obama must surely have been born in Africa. He is a black man, you know. And an arab. And his name needs only two letter changes and it spells, “Osama bin Laden” (or Mussolini, whatever)..

Trump 2012: Don’t fire me until you see the white house in my eyes.

jconservative

April 22nd, 2011
8:37 am

Jim, Georgia has had a guest worker program for years. It is a simple plan. Anybody who shows up and is willing to work gets a job. This plan has worked for decades with no one complaining except the city folks.

I say leave well enough alone.

jconservative

April 22nd, 2011
8:43 am

“Commencement season is a reminder that President Barack Obama missed his calling. He could have gotten rich writing speeches for others.”

Actually he did pretty well just writing books.

Maybe he should try a novel next time.

Churchill's MOM Rand Paul for President

April 22nd, 2011
8:47 am

As of late Thursday afternoon, Gov. Nathan Deal hadn’t signed House Bill 234.

That’s good, because he shouldn’t sign it at all.

The bill began as a routine proposal to extend an existing tax break on aircraft parts to entice aircraft owners to use three Georgia companies – Pratt & Whitney in Columbus, Standard Aero in Augusta and Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah. But, in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, the Senate amended the bill to include provisions allowing a significant tax break for loosely defined “tourism attractions” with operational or developmental costs of more than $1 million.

Under terms of the bill, which would apply both to proposed attractions and existing attractions that get a quarter of their business from out-of-state tourists, any such attraction would qualify for a refund of their entire incremental sales tax liability (the difference between sales taxes collected on the property before its development as a tourist attraction and the sales taxes collected at the new attraction), or enough of a refund to cover 25 percent of a wide range of developmental or operational costs, whichever is less. Qualifying attractions could claim the refund for 10 years.

In plainer terms, what the bill means is that, in the case of a new tourism attraction costing $100 million, $25 million in sales tax revenue that would normally flow into the state’s coffers will be “refunded” to the attraction. Refunds to popular established attractions, although based strictly on sales tax collections, could be similarly significant. On its face, then, House Bill 234 seems to provide an outsized tax break to an arbitrarily chosen, though not unimportant, segment of Georgia’s economy.

There is, though, some reason to question exactly how arbitrary the granting of tax breaks to existing or proposed tourist attractions is with regard to the bill. Earlier this week, Tom Crawford – editor of The Georgia Report, an online news service covering Georgia government and politics – reported that Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, is part of a group now “raising $1 billion to develop a sports complex in Bartow County.” The group’s potential share of a sales tax “refund” from this initiative could be as much as $250 million. To his (limited) credit, Ehrhart did not cast a vote in the final House decision on the bill.

For the record, the Athens delegation to the General Assembly was split on the proposal. Republican Sen. Bill Cowsert voted against it, while Republican Sen. Frank Ginn voted in favor of the measure. In the House, Keith Heard, the lone Democrat in the delegation, voted against the bill, with Reps. Doug McKillip and Hank Huckaby casting votes in favor of the measure.

There are problems in the bill that go far beyond Ehrhart’s apparently immediate interest in it. Under terms of the legislation, the governor is given the sole power to decide whether a given attraction will qualify for the sales tax refund. The law sets up broad parameters for that determination, requiring only that a qualified attraction have developmental or operational costs of more than $1 million and be open for at least 100 days a year, have a positive economic impact on the state, attract a quarter of its visitors from outside Georgia after its third year and – a wide-ranging catch-all – “(m)eet such other criteria as deemed appropriate by the Governor.”

The opportunities for political chicanery in giving the governor the sole power to decide who does or does not qualify for such a tax bonus should be obvious. House Bill 234 is, though, a prime example of the kind of ill-advised cronyism and political shenanigans that can be rushed through the legislature in its closing hours.

Gov. Deal could turn back a bit of that unfortunate tide by vetoing the bill.

carlosgvv

April 22nd, 2011
8:50 am

It’s hard to believe anyone would want to take the criminals here and make them “guest workers”. With an unemployment rate of 10%, guest workers are the last thing we need. Why not just deport all of these “guest workers” and force employeers here to pay a decent wage for this work. That just might solve a lot of our unemployment problems.

Rickster

April 22nd, 2011
9:00 am

Normally I agree with Jim, but I have to disagree this time. President Obama missed his calling not as writing speeches for others, but as someone who could read a speech someone else had written.

Evelyn

April 22nd, 2011
10:04 am

Is it fair tax policy to shift whole-heartedly from income to consumption, and to design a system that does that? The answer is obviously no when you consider the needs of Georgia’s young families. But does the majority party care? Seems not, since all it wants to do is “flatten” and “broaden” the tax base (fair or not) at any cost.

“Cutting taxes for every Georgian is not an option. It’s mathematically impossible, one expert asserted.”. This is a ludicrous statement, of course they can with all options on the table. The question is: Should they?

Cobb Woman of Color

April 22nd, 2011
11:15 am

A guest worker program should be created.

Rules:
1. The guest workers would not be allowed to bring family members to the U.S.
2. The guest workers would be required to sign paperwork stating they are using birth control. During their work assignment, if a male worker impregnates a woman or if a female worker is impregnated, it instantly voids their work agreement. They are sent back to their country of origin.
3. Instant deportation with any criminal act
4. Required to have medical insurance
5. Required to learn English and use English in their work environment

Also, to lessen the need for foreign workers, prisoners should be put to work on farms. American citizens pay for their room and board in prison with our tax dollars so they should have to work.

Cobb Woman of Color

April 22nd, 2011
11:19 am

Let me clarify…a guest worker program should only be put in place if American workers are not available after aggressive recruiting by the employers.

carlosgvv

April 22nd, 2011
12:24 pm

Cobb Woman of Color

We all know that is a very good idea. We also know it will never happen. Employers would have to pay a decent wage to get American workers and they will never do that as long as “guest workers” are avaliable. Suitable bribes to the politicans will ensure a steady supply of these workers.

Angela

April 22nd, 2011
1:42 pm

Jiminy

April 22nd, 2011
1:43 pm

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
2:54 pm

@Churchill’s MOM:

Your piece on HB 234 is well done and convincing. Kudos.

Jim:

I dig the part where you defend neutral fiscal analysts from the public perception that the experts somehow prostitute their findings to serve lawmakers. Your commentary is sort of “inside baseball”, but I thanks for trying to explain to spectators that professional analysts are just that. Legislators would only shoot themselves in the foot by depriving the lawmaking process of unbiased technical information.

It’s intriguing that Leader O’Neal and his colleagues seek ways to scenarios, explore, test contemplated change options. That’s what they should want. We all want a better informed democracy, across the board.

I for one would like to see Georgia’s policy formation apparatus formalized to the state of that art. The money and know-how already are here. This state could readily assemble its own capability to test proposed policy through advanced simulation modeling and war gaming. We then could discover the likely outcomes, the hidden costs and unintended consequences of policy changes in advance of implementing those changes. That way we could understand better, could better anticipate, the monetary and human costs of contemplated laws.

Think of how such precautions might have spared Georgians such incalculably costly social experiments, in education policy alone, as the “New Math” or phonics instruction, before entire cohorts of Georgia schoolchildren were inadvertently rendered semi-numerate and semiliterate! The alternative to politicians’ working partnership with honest analysts is to seize big chunks of Georgia’s residents as, in effect, the captive human subjects of dangerous political enacted–and enforced until the cigar smoke clears, years later–for just the damnedest reasons.

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
2:57 pm

Erratum: I’d meant, “dangerous political experiments”

Intown

April 22nd, 2011
3:35 pm

So what are Georgia farmers supposed to do until this guest-worker program is studied and implemented? Sounds like the industry either takes a huge hit in the near term or there is massive noncompliance with HB 87 until the guest work program arrives.

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
4:20 pm

You’re right. They’ll have to phase it in. You rechon this strategy could mesh in the administrative law phase, the promulgation of enforcement procedures? Already we correspondents here envision two, possibly three, transitions from the status quo to better protocols, so a smooth transitioning seems very front-and-center now.

Hurst

April 22nd, 2011
5:21 pm

It’s nice when one finds his calling early on in life. You Jim, were fortunate to find yours early, to become a bitter old man. You’ve been perfecting the craft for 50+ years, along with taking dictation from the GOP.

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
5:58 pm

Just lat week Jim pointed out that he’d begun his career as a gullible liberal like you.

Hurst

April 22nd, 2011
6:09 pm

Right, Glenn, and then he found his calling. Duh.

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
7:34 pm

He mustagot mugged somewhere’s ‘long the line, eh, Hurst? (Per the old reasoning). Still, isn’t allowable for human beings to change their minds? I mean, that’s a pretty basic liberal predicate.

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
7:57 pm

Admittedly it’s funny and memorable, Hurst, your jibe about a young man finding his calling in superannuated embitterment. Not really fair to Wooten though, as you well know, because it’s such a quiet step, from first wanting people helped by government as best as possible, to then wanting them hurt as little as possible by government. I still think that most of us straddle this pretty sophisticated divide, that Americans’ perception of the divide do demonstrate some success of our bloating about wanting discerning operators of our contorted democracy, blah, and that all of this is grist for journalists and humorists and idealists forever. Admit it: You too see the fun of it, and not merely the starkness. (I mean, I know you do so, but kindly admit it!). Some of my favorite people are political swingers. You can’t string up a person on her past. Mugged libs gone conservative, born squares gone lefto-lesbian, it’s all part of the mix and anybody who mixes today either knows it or is oblivious. Your wit is just what’s needed–as sharp and funny as you will–until it supersedes and becomes bitter and censorious. Because then everything shuts down. Our best Hope for Change! Our very chopefulness.

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
8:09 pm

It’s hard enough to get stuff out and I can’t even think about scrolling back to edit. Graves’, see. It ’s delicious to think of the days when we just used to call in stories over the nearest phone and leave it to copyeditors to sort the syntax, spelling and punctuation, and the headline writers to fit a tag with the requisite verb. Done. Now. All of it. Over.

hsn

April 22nd, 2011
8:13 pm

For the first time, you are right for once on the immigration issue. Unfortunately, as soon as such a measure is even being considered in the state capitol, YOUR CON friends will begin to shout,”AMNESTY, AMNESTY, AMNESTY…” and then kill it… as they have alwys done. They act before they think.

But you and I know, there is no such thing as a “State Immigration” law constitutionally. So, either that or the even more useless bill they recently passed will go anywhere.
This issue has to be resolved by the CONGRESS of the UNITED STATES. The longer it waits, the worse it gets.

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
8:45 pm

but hen,

There are all kinds of things that’s states can do, are doing, are proposing to do to mess with immigration and workers. We all know this, before it comes to a showdown between the states and DC, what do you think should happen? Or do you instead wish for such a showdown? (And I don’t refer to the present court challenges; that’s just the ROTC preceding Antietam)

Glenn

April 22nd, 2011
8:47 pm

Pardon me, “hsn”.

Muffin

April 23rd, 2011
9:45 am

Glenn-
Do youhave any more news on Dr. Stan? Wonder if he fell in the ‘black hole’ he spoke about?
Please respond. I for one am concerened about his passing. He will be missed .

J.B. Stoner-(the white one)

April 23rd, 2011
10:36 am

AND WHAT EVER BECAME OF THE THUG NAMED LIPERLEFTY?

HE’S PROBABLY IN JAIL………..

OR HE DROVE THE HOOPTY THROUGH FORSYTH COUNTY LATE ONE NIGHT……………

HOPE NOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!