Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Georgia appears to be doing to higher education what Congress did to housing: chasing downmarket candidates in an effort to flim-flam them — this time into college classrooms. AJC reporter Laura Diamond notes, for example, that a new bachelor’s degree in nursing is being offered at Albany’s Darton College, though it’s already available at Albany State, five miles away, and Georgia Southwestern, 30 miles away. Would you take a degree if we could offer a program in your living room? With government services, there’s something to be said for requiring individual preparation, initiative and effort. Only 48 percent of students at Georgia State University graduate in six years, compared to 80 percent at UGA and Georgia Tech. They’re camping, waiting for a better economy or for an answer to the question: Why am I here?
● Clayton County commissioners raised property taxes 34 percent — topping DeKalb’s 26 percent and Cobb’s 15.7 percent. Home values decreased; the millage goes up. This, incidentally, is how most Democrats earn their place in the Political Courage Hall of Fame. They express great angst at the unpleasant options before them, fret, whine and finally muster the courage to raise taxes. Fiscal conservatives earn their place in the hall by eliminating real spending. They are vastly outnumbered.
● Ho-hum. President Barack Obama addressed the nation again. Old policies, new phrases. He repeatedly repeated, again and again, the phrase “balanced approach” to plead for higher taxes along with a higher debt ceiling. The country is pretty much tuning him out. No surprise. He’s a Teleprompter repository of empty phrases market-tested by polls and focus groups.
● Federal regulators are proposing that mortgage lenders either hold 5 percent of the value of home loans they make or require borrowers to make a 20 percent down payment. It’s a response to the collapse of financial institutions caused by efforts among some in Congress and in previous administrations to lure unqualified borrowers into homes they couldn’t afford. Lenders carelessly made bad loans because they could package them up and sell them off. While the housing industry is reacting badly to the proposed regulations, the fact is that when policy makers incentivize no-consequence irresponsibility by brokers, borrowers and lenders, that’s the behaviors we get — or got. Every government program and policy should cultivate personal responsibility, even at the risk of — egad, no! — delaying gratification. The behaviors that enable individuals to be responsible homeowners are learned in saving for the down payment.
● The Georgia General Assembly should make it illegal for any public body to offer financial incentives for a company to move from one Georgia county to another.
● One of the pitfalls of the “green” theology is that government will impose the financial burden of uneconomical technology and tiny market demand on unsuspecting buyers. Business resists the higher costs, but not much if they can pass them along. Public Service Commissioner Lauren McDonald in June gave Georgia Power 30 days to come up with proposals for large-scale solar. It did. It will enter 20-year agreements to buy up to 50 megawatts of the more-costly solar. The relevant voice in this scenario is PSC Commission Chairman Stan Wise. “I am going to support this proposal,” he said, “but just as a notice, I’m going to continue the push-back on prices and subsidies.” When that push-back stops, rate-payer subsidies will blossom. (This is true of all of President Barack Obama’s impose-and-hide energy mandates.)