Thinking Right’s weekend free for all. Pick a topic:
● The state House minority leader, Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, accuses Republicans under the Gold Dome of trying to reduce her party’s 23 white incumbents to 10 by merging them into districts with blacks. No such conspiracy is necessary. It’s doubtful that Georgia has more than 10 to 12 state House districts (of 180 total) where white liberals are the majority. The solution to redistricting politics is often presented as surrendering line-drawing authority to a nonpartisan commission. That’s a no-go. Democrats would start out with virtually all seats off the table — minority incumbents protected by the Voting Rights Act — leaving the commission to work its nonpartisan magic on GOP districts.
● The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s fact-checkers decree as “false” a claim made by the Georgia Department of Transportation that work on a highway project in Cobb and Cherokee “is expected to create over 9,700 jobs statewide.” If we leave this economic downturn with nothing else, can’t we all agree that “jobs-created” is a bogus standard for projects that involve public money? Same for “lives saved.” And “spending now will save (some humongous sum) later.”
● If there’s a worse idea floating around than the suggestion by the Obama administration that it might turn thousands of government-owned foreclosures into rentals, please out it.
● One of those often-unnoticed changes in society’s attitudes that surfaced first in news accounts of the closing of Borders book stores, and later accounts of selective closings of Starbucks coffee shops, is how little people think it’s necessary to actually buy something. At Borders, they browsed — and if they found a book they liked, bought it online or elsewhere. At Starbucks, investment in one cup of coffee is presumed to pay the rent for hours of lounging. In some respects, we take the services of chain retailers the same as we take those of government, as freebies that come with no obligation to help pay the freight. Government services are “free.” Just get ’em and go. For a nation, that’s not sustainable.
● Mark my word: The availability of a simple blood test that reveals the gender of a baby at seven weeks, when it’s no larger than a bean, will be widely used to gender-select children. It’s 95 percent accurate, researchers say. It should be regarded as unethical, if not illegal, for physicians to provide that information without compelling medical reason. Such tests should not be available otherwise.
● It’s amusing that President Barack Obama declares — and the public takes seriously — that federal agencies should review and “remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.” Meanwhile, proposed new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal-power plants will raise electricity rates from a minimum of 11 percent up to 23 percent and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group. With this administration there’s a serious disconnect between words and deeds. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso points out that during the month of July, the administration has proposed 229 regulations and finalized 379 others, adding $9.5 billion in new regulatory costs. And this week the administration announced new emissions regulations for trucks, to take effect in the 2014-2018 model years, which will add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the per-vehicle costs.
● There’s a ray of hope that a majority of Americans is concerned enough about the size and reach of government that we can save ourselves from financial disaster. In Wisconsin, public employee unions failed in recall elections to oust a sufficient number of state senators to give their preferred politicians the majority. We’re goners when public employees are able, straight-up, to elect their bosses.