Bill Shipp column for Feb. 11, 2009
BETTER THAN THE LOTTERY
Gov. Sonny Perdue may turn out to be the luckiest governor in Georgia history.
His state is about to be handed billions of dollars in federal money to provide jobs for Georgia and cash for Georgians to spend.
The Barack Obama Administration is passing this largesse along to Georgia, even though the state voted solidly against Obama for president and our senators vowed to oppose Obama's stimulus package before they even knew the details.
In other words, they were sort of like Sen. John Kerry. They were against stimulus packages, after they were for them.
In the sunset days of the Bush Administration, Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss favored President Bush's multibillion-dollar bailout for banks. No strings were attached, so several of the distressed banks bought other even more distressed banks, handed out executive bonuses, threw huge parties and generally acted like hogs. One bank bought a brand-new executive jet plane and then returned the aircraft to the seller when public reaction showed signs of turning violent. The bank bailout was designed to help Wall Street help Main Street. After what happened to the bailout bucks, Teddy Roosevelt would have rolled over in his grave.
Back to my point about Perdue's luck: Despite staunch opposition to Obama's election as well as his legislation, Georgia is about to be handed a medium-sized slice of the Obama stimulus package.
If you were Perdue, how would you spend the federal windfall to generate jobs and make life better?
Try this list, though you may have a better one:
· Stop outsourcing state jobs to foreign countries. Hire Georgians to work in Georgia. If you can't find Georgians for certain jobs (teachers of math, chemistry and physics), then hire other Americans. The cost may be slightly higher, but the benefits to our people are vast.
· Help cities and counties employ additional police officers and firefighters. Our population is growing, and so is our crime and violence rate.
· Build a modern, state-of-the-art flood-control system to relieve future floods and droughts. This time do not use "flood money" to build bass-boat ramps.
· Extend and improve Georgia's park properties. And on a related note: Pledge not to use insider information to acquire personal real estate. While you're governor, do not take on any more moonlighting positions in real estate. Also: No more special tax dodges, OK? Don't forget who you are. You are our governor. Government service was meant to be public service, not private opportunity.
· Fix roads and bridges, and do whatever you can for rapid transit.
· Hire additional teachers so you can reduce - instead of enlarge - class sizes.
· Let Georgians keep former Gov. Roy Barnes' property tax cuts.
· Study the feasibility of building casinos in the boondocks to give our economy a real shot in the arm. Never mind the Bible-thumping against gaming, Governor; we already have reckoned the high-water mark of your ethics.
· Expand the Medical College of Georgia. Build an annex in Athens. Train more nurses. Enhance more emergency rooms. Allow all hospitals and doctors to use computers to keep track of patients. In other words. Do something - anything - to help our health-care system ... anything, that is, except raise taxes on hospitals.
· Move the Corrections Department's headquarters to the abandoned but beautiful Bessie Tift College in Forsyth.
· Let the state take charge of Grady Hospital, and order grumpy bank auditors to inspect the hospital's books. Build more prison space. You'll probably need it when the auditors finish.
· Underwrite an advertising campaign extolling the virtues of Georgia-made peanut butter. Be sure to say that salmonella is a rare side effect.
According to my calculator, we're about out of money from Georgia's share of the stimulus. Don't worry. Another bailout will be rolling our way soon. Tell our senators to try treating Obama next time just like they did Bush, and Georgia might roll right out of this recession.
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Web address: billshipponline.com.