An outsider to the inner-workings of Georgia politics might think that Georgia is vying to gain the reputation as the toughest, no nonsense, God fearing state in the country. They might be right. Certainly the new gun law demonstrates that it would be wise to curb your thoughts to strangers, watch how you drive, and otherwise be more cautious in your daily interaction with people. Someone packing might have had a bad day…. Time will determine the wisdom of this law, so no point in engaging in academic arguments for or against it.
Another law that Governor Nathan Deal just signed requires certain individuals applying for food stamps or welfare to be tested for drugs. There is also a move afoot at the capitol to include those who apply for unemployment. Unlike some other states that have testing programs, if the applicant in Georgia passes the drug test, s/he still has to pay for the cost of it. It’s not like these people’s backs aren’t up against the wall already, and requiring those who have a clean test to pay for it doesn’t seem right.
Some may argue, and fairly, that taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize someone’s illegal drug habit. But Deal didn’t address that point. What the governor said was, …”drug use is the thing that causes people to lose their jobs many times, it causes people not to be able to get a job because they can’t pass the initial screening. Unless we confront that and require them to confront that, we will continue to cycle people through the system---whether it be food stamps, whether it be unemployment benefits. You name it.”
What Deal did not address was the number of people who receive public benefits that are addicted to alcohol. That too prevents people from getting hired or to get fired, and it causes many of the same problems on the job that drug addicts cause. Why single out just drugs? Is the weekend marihuana user any more a siphon to the public treasury than a chronic alcoholic? Perhaps including alcohol in the testing requirement might hit too close to home for too many people who “serve” our interests at the state capitol. Considering that other states that do drug testing for public benefits have found only a very small number of violators, it would seem that if saving money is the issue there are better places to look. And that leads to my next point.
Some believe that our “liberal” centers of higher education are teaching their students that capitalism is bad, that it is evil. Certainly there are things that are bad about it, and that’s why a couple of hundred years of experience has demonstrated the need for some regulation to make the markets safer, more efficient and competitive. But what does it say about the so called defenders of free markets when they seek government handouts for themselves? We have two new stadiums being built in the Atlanta area, and both will be heavily subsidized by the taxpayer. If these were such good deals, where are all the investors who stand to make a lot of money? The cost of buying a ticket to a professional football game has become so high that most people can’t afford it, yet they are being forced to subsidize through taxes the very entity that has priced them out.
Then there is Gulfstream that just got a nice tax break that will cost the state and local governments $29 million to $40 million a year. The politicians that vote for these gimmees defend them by saying that companies like Gulfstream create jobs. Well, we all do when we spend money. If you can afford a private jet, then you should be able to pay your share of taxes that go with your good fortune.
This is another Three Card Monte game that our elected officials are playing with our money. Trash the people who are down and out, and catch a handful of fraudsters that you can publicly shame. When there is a shortage of money, though, for schools and other municipal services---police and fire for example--- perhaps we would be wiser to look elsewhere and focus our attention on the real thieves. But as long as campaign coffers are filled by the recipients of a different kind of welfare, those controlling the Three Card Monte game will always win.