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I came to this town in 2001 and was introduced firsthand to the crosstown rivalries, the politics, and the hatred that existed between people, all on account of high school sports.
Being in high school myself at the time, it didn’t bother me and in all honesty, I quasi-enjoyed it. I mean, who wouldn’t want their hobby of choice to be the obsession of grown men and women?
Now I write this, five years out of high school, having had time to process my experience as a Hall County athlete and student. I must say before I start, my thoughts are not warm and fuzzy and are certainly not pats on the back.
I could begin with the students and players themselves, that would seem fair, right? After all, they are the ones void of loyalty, transferring to the highest bidder, while slandering other player’s and coach’s names, right?
With more thought, I realize just how counterproductive focusing on the youth would be. The truth is that Hall County has somehow become a breeding ground for overinvolved, extremely insecure, out-of-touch parents. It is indeed the parents propagating this malicious and selfish behavior from the bleachers. It is the parents’ willingness to pick up their family and move so little Johnny can play sports at another high school; a better high school; a high school that will give their kid the attention they "deserve." It is the parents instilling disloyalty and irresponsibility into the youth of Hall County.
My first response to this realization was anger. Then, slowly that anger turned to sadness. It is sad to see that a community capable of unity, progress and love would become selfish enough to sacrifice friendships, loyalty and, most importantly, its integrity. This all done, for the sake of "the glory" that is high school sports.
Nearly 1 billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day. Every seven seconds, somewhere in the world a child under the age of 5 dies of hunger. Now please, read no further until you have stopped to process that information: One billion people, less than a dollar a day, every seven seconds a child dies of hunger.
And here we are, pouring our hearts, energy, and resources into making sure our kids receive the spotlight they apparently deserve. The question we must ask ourselves is this, "Could our priorities be more off?" And sadly I think the answer is no.
Bailouts leave lots of questions unanswered
Except for the bailoutees and members of Congress, I don’t believe you could find 10 Americans who were in favor of bailouts.
I am no economics expert, nor yet a math genius. I don’t understand the bailouts that nationalized and socialized America.
To help me and I suspect a few others understand why the American experiment in self-government and capitalism failed, there are a few questions and follow-ups:
1. General Motors got a zillion dollars because they could not sell its cars. It now has the money it would have received if it had sold the cars, and it still has the cars, too.
2. One of the automakers that President Bush nationalized was not an American company. Chrysler is owned by Daimler Benz AG, a German company. Do we now own Chrysler?
Germany got the bailout money. Does Germany still own the cars that Chrysler couldn’t sell? Why didn’t Chrysler go to Germany for a bailout? Will Toyota be next?
3. Mortgage lenders got billions because a few percent of their borrowers defaulted. Now that they have zillions just as if everybody paid off, why don’t they forgive my mortgage?
4. Citicorp posted a loss of $8.4 billion and received a bailout of $50 billion. Hmm. Let’s see now. After making good their loss of $8.4 billion, they will have a profit of $41.6 billion on their losses. Duh? Where did I go wrong?
5. Where do I go to get in line for a bailout?
I sent these questions to all of my elected representatives, but I don’t expect to hear from any of them. I suspect that they are part of the grand theft conspiracy. Little dog Madoff move over and let the big dogs move in.
Maybe there is a Joe the Plumber out there somewhere who can explain these finer points of socialization of America.
County’s SPLOST fits conservative principles
As a conservative, I can support SPLOST in principle: The additional tax revenue is designated for useful projects that are legitimate public expenditures, these being the things we cannot do as individuals, but must do together as citizens: roads and highways, public safety, education and the like.
Further, SPLOST follows the principle that each level of government has its own particular kinds of services and projects it should pay for. If a community wants more public tennis courts, for example, then local people should use their own tax money to pay for them. There is no national interest to justify using federal money for such spending.
Unfortunately, the proper boundaries for spending tend to be ignored.
SPLOST, on the other hand, is local revenue going for local projects. The projects that go into a package are aired in public hearing, there is time for a larger public debate, including in the pages of this newspaper. People can campaign for or against a SPLOST package, like the one we will vote on in March.
The reason I say I approve SPLOST in principle — and I’ve voted for SPLOST in the past — is that a tax can be good in principle, but abused in practice. Officials can spend too much for any given project; they can inflate the total money in a SPLOST package to avoid taking a harder look at the budget. There is always the opportunity for elected officials to manipulate the financial and other details of projects to benefit themselves or their friends. This is notably so with sewer and road improvements that raise the value of adjoining property.
So SPLOST should never get a free pass. It needs to be parsed like all public taxing and spending.
Again, though, my main point is that SPLOST is a tax a conservative can approve, in principle. It is local revenue for local projects, the public process offers citizens the chance to make their voices heard on which projects are included, and then they can vote yes or no on election day.
Big bear packs plenty of meat for the freezer
I grew up in North Georgia. I was taught that when you kill it, you grill it! ("Go hunting for meat, not just sport," Saturday's Community Forum).
As far as the rest of the bear, it is on my wall and my bed. The paws, they are on my desk. Nothing goes to waste. They make very good conversation starters.
Go back to Mississippi if you want to kill a bear with a baseball bat. As for us here in Georgia, we have to kill a bear with .22-caliber rifle; that’s the law.