You would think designing a license tag would be relatively simple, wouldn't you? Not in Georgia.
Our state is sucking wind financially. Public schools are a mess. House Speaker David Ralston thinks paying one's taxes is for plebeians. We can't find anybody to pick our cucumbers, if the drought hasn‘t already killed them, because those who would have picked them are mad at us.
Now if all of that wasn't bad enough, we have gotten God in the middle of an automobile license plate screw-up. Good grief.
We are going to have a do-over on selecting the design for our new state license tag because there is confusion as to whether "In God We Trust" would be on every tag or just on the tags of those who trust God.
First, a little background: For reasons I can't explain, Georgia has decided to change our license plates in 2012. Nobody ever listens to me, of course, but this is what happens when you try to fix something that isn't broken. It wasn't all that many years ago that we had a tag inscribed with "Georgia On My Mind." That is only the greatest song ever written, sung by the greatest singer who ever lived, the late Ray Charles.
The rest of the United States had to be eating their hearts out. Every time some loud-talking, know-it-all Yankee made fun of us, we just smiled and pointed at our car tags and asked them if Ray Charles had ever sung about their state (already knowing the answer.) It was a great period in Georgia history.
Not being able to leave well-enough alone, somebody in state government with too much time on their hands decided to change the tag and asked the public for their ideas. More than 500 people submitted a design. I did not. You dis Ray Charles and you need not expect my cooperation.
A group of college art professors who I assume teach a course in Automobile Tag Design narrowed the list down to the top eight and then the public was asked to vote again to narrow the list down to three. Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and State Revenue Commissioner Doug MacGinnitie were set to announce the winner.
Remember, we aren't talking about something that will hang in the Louvre. We are talking about a license plate.
Now it turns out that we've got to vote all over again. At a news conference where the new tag was supposed to be unveiled, MacGinnitie said some people thought "In God We Trust" was going to be on every tag. A lot of people liked that idea and some didn't.
I'm not sure where God stands on the issue, but I've got a feeling He was offended that we will have to pay an extra dollar to affirm our trust in Him.
Because no one seems to know which end is up, Mr. MacGinnitie announced that online voting would start over.
"We want people to understand exactly what they will see on the license plate," the commissioner said, "or else we wouldn't be reopening the vote for three weeks."
The man is a master of understatement.
So what we are voting on, I think, is not whether to put "In God We Trust" on our tags rather than our county designation but which tag design we like best.
Atheists aren't going to be happy no matter what the final design and when the ACLU gets through helping Mexico sue us, they will be mad, too. (This has nothing to do with the car tag issue, but I wonder if there is a Mexican Civil Liberties Union and, if so, why aren't they suing us instead of the ACLU?)
When the atheists and the ACLU get riled, that gets the Baptists stirred up. Baptists like atheists and the ACLU even less than they like women preachers. So, everybody will be mad at everybody — and all over a stupid license tag. While I am no theologian, I suspect God is going to be put out with all of us. That is not good.
Looking at this from an objective point of view — and if I am anything, I am objective — I have no problem with "In God We Trust." My problem is that if they can screw up something as simple as a car tag design, it is our state government I have a hard time trusting.
Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. You can reach him at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.