Bait-and-switch taxes bite back

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

● Poor Haiti. An earthquake. Cholera. And now the plague of Baby Doc.

● The GOP majority in the Legislature should learn from the mistakes of the Democrats who ran Georgia. One lesson is never create dedicated taxes or fees and enshrine them in the state constitution. The other is not to levy “fees,” aka taxes, and promise, or appear to promise, the proceeds to a specific use. The result is that special interests consider them “mine” and demand “their” money, no matter the fiscal condition of the state. At issue now are taxes collected as fees on waste disposal of new tires that eventually will get into the waste-disposal stream. As former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ben Harbin, R-Evans, told the AJC all revenues that come into the general fund are spent for higher priorities — “education and health care and things like that.” The option for legislators is to shuffle available money — or …

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No free rides in tax reform effort

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

● Tax code revision needs a father — an advocate with passion explaining what we’re trying to achieve — beyond, of course, the buzz words. Gov. Nathan Deal, the only elected official who qualifies, may or may not want to make this his issue. But if Republicans intend to create and give philosophical grounding to the vision Deal expressed in his State of the State — “We are now entering an era of smaller government and personal responsibility” — the tax code is a primary instrument.

● Deal should pick and choose from, but not on a dare take intact, the suggestions of the 11-member Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness. No change should be called “reform” until it’s done. Then taxpayers can judge whether the changes proposed best serve those who pay — or those who spend. The spenders will find the proposals most attractive.

● An expansion of the sales tax to services, one of its …

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Three cheers for reducing costs

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

● Atlanta City Council starts the new year right, declining (for now at least) to rename two downtown streets — Cone and Harris — for architect John Portman and broadcaster Xernona Clayton. Legislators are as guilty as any other politicians in tacking new names on old roadways, but state law should require government to compensate those who incur expense because road names are changed, businesses especially. An established address is a business asset.

● I can never be a true Georgian until I get more caught up in where high school football players intend to perform in college. But as a starter, I note that the state’s highest-ranked recruit, Carver-Columbus High running back Isaiah Crowell, has an attitude that all of us should embrace when pursuing sports, a new job, a family, a profession or most anything else worthwhile in life. He’s not sure where he’ll play, but “I feel like I’ll be a …

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Better decisions in America’s future

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

● Sometime in America’s future, wiser heads will return to the concept of universal military service. Lifting “don’t ask, don’t tell” is an example of the public policy that comes when decision-makers have little or no understanding of the stresses of those on the front. In non-combat units, it’s manageable social engineering. While any love or sexual relationship is a distraction in non-combat units, it has the potential to change behaviors in ways that get people killed in front-line units. It’s no surprise that almost 60 percent of Marines objected to lifting the ban. Recruiting and retention are bound to suffer.

● Sometime in America’s future, too, we’ll come to realize that children aren’t play-pretties for adults who have run out of toys to buy, for celebrities who are making social or political statements or for young unmarried women who can’t come up with any other answer to the question, …

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‘Real Deal’ is cutting state’s costs

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

● If you get a chance, go back and read Sunday’s front-page story on the Atlanta Public School’s cheating scandal. Read it from this perspective: When the perpetrators, the overseers and the opinion leaders — i.e., the business community — all have a vested interest in glorifying the achievements of the school system, who protects the interests of parents and children? Two lessons here. One is that the state should never again delegate the job of policing its responsibility — the integrity of its accountability testing system — to locals. The other is that the free press does have to remain, as Hosea Williams would have said, unbossed and unbought — meaning that local media doesn’t get so wrapped up in a desired-outcome narrative.

● The most remarkable political story of this decade in Georgia is the implosion of the party that controlled it all 10 years ago. This week, State Rep. Mike Cheokas of …

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Health care supporters in retreat

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

● The government falls far, far short of exercising the control over children’s lives that’s necessary to keep them from becoming, uh, full-figured. It can take over breakfast, lunch and early dinner and patrol school halls and grounds for unsanctioned calories, but until it takes full custody of the children it’s just tossing money and growing the nanny state.

● All year and not a federal budget. Reflecting back, do you realize how little the issues important to the leaders of this Congress arose in conversations you had or overheard in public places this year? No wonder the disapproval rating of Congress is 83 percent.

● Sad and disappointing to read the quote from the student body president at the University of Georgia, concerning efforts to trim the goodies and, thereby, save the HOPE grants. Said he, sounding for the entire world like the gimme-elders whose resistance to reform brought Social Security to …

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Democrats still feeling election’s toll

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

● Here’s an idea for saving HOPE, a concern of Gov.-elect Nathan Deal. Make it a scholarship. A real one with standards sufficiently high to cover the money available. Don’t promise what we don’t have.

● Bless ’em, yet another group of Delta Air Lines workers has rejected the invitation to unionize. I love the diversity of the private sector, where companies like Chick-fil-A can buck the retail crowd and maintain the founder’s values — never open on Sunday — and where employees of a company like Delta in a heavily unionized industry say to unions “thanks, but that’s not our culture.”

● Oooh! The angry hard-core lefties who seethe that individual earners are keeping
too much of what they believe to be the government’s money are in full temper-tantrum. It’s because President Barack Obama has agreed with Republicans to trade off a two-year extension of all of President George W. Bush’s tax …

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Reservists deserve our thanks

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

● Like Marion Jones, the Olympic champion who surrendered her gold medals after admitting to taking performance-enhancing drugs before the 2000 summer games, Atlanta School Supt. Beverly Hall should return the National Superintendent of the Year award for 2009. There’s “clear-cut, direct, eyewitness evidence that student tests” were doped-up during the 2009 CRCT exams, said Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. Her watch, her responsibility.

● Yes, do scrap the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — if we have no intention of committing it to the stress of combat. If we do, the nation should listen to Sen. John McCain, Marine Commandant Gen. James F. Amos and his predecessor, Gen. James T. Conway. Amos pointed out that “there’s nothing more intimate than combat” where young men are “laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers.” If …

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Marriage is never ‘obsolete’

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

  • A story based on a Pew Research Center survey asks the question: Is marriage becoming obsolete? Only 52 percent of adults 18 and over are married, an all-time low. In the survey, 39 percent find the institution “obsolete,” compared to 28 percent in 1978. We might as well ask if honesty or personal responsibility is obsolete. Middle-class self-indulgence in lifestyle choices creates missing-parent voids in the lives of their children and tragedy when mimicked by the poor and uneducated. Marriage is never “obsolete” for children.
  • I’m thankful this Thanksgiving for honest people like Jan Laskey, owner of Macon’s Ingleside Bridals & Formals, who spotted a wallet containing credit cards and several hundred dollars in the parking lot of a Macon restaurant, tracked down the owner, by then 20 miles down I-16, and waited until I returned. She declined any reward. She lost a pocketbook once and it was returned; she’s …

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GOP clings to good ol’ boy system

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 …

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