"What this country needs is a good 5 cent cigar."
Lord, if it were only that simple!
I'm sure you have heard the above statement, but I bet you don't know who said it? And it wasn't Calvin Coolidge. Like Andy Griffith once said to Floyd the barber, "Calvin Coolidge didn't say everything!"
It wasn't Herbert Hoover, either - or Mark Twain or Will Rogers or Bill Clinton. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
It was Thomas Riley Marshall.
All together now. "Who?"
Thomas Riley Marshall, who was vice-president under Woodrow Wilson. There used to be an old adage that a woman once had two sons. One ran off to sea and the other became vice-president of the United States and neither was ever heard from again.
That hasn't been the case as of late, of course. Al Gore has remained in the limelight because of his efforts to save the world from global warming. It's working, too. The last two years have been among the coldest in a century. And every time we began to forget that Dick Cheney was around he would shoot one of his friends in the backside or something. And with Joe "Loose Lips" Biden in office, nobody will be able to ignore his existence.
But we weren't talking about any of those guys. We were talking about Mr. Marshall. Actually, we weren't talking about Mr. Marshall so much as we were talking about his assessment of the country's needs. If he thought a nickel cigar worth wasting a match on would have solved the nation's ills back in the pre-World War I days, I wonder what he would say about the mess the country is in today.
Shoot fire! Forget the country. Those problems will be solved by next Tuesday. If God could create the world in six days, I am sure that Barack Obama can fix one little old country in seven. He already has arranged for all those poor mistreated prisoners to be released from their totally unfair captivity in Guantanamo Bay and Fidel Castro has given him the thumbs up as a U.S. president he can support. But we have some problems here in the Peach State that the president may not get around to addressing for a while.
The unemployment rate, for example, continues to rise. The latest figures show that we are up around 8 percent now, which means that there are approximately 400,000 Georgians who want a job but do not have one. Coincidently, there are also said to be about 400,000 illegal immigrants in Georgia who are working with falsified papers - or with no papers at all.
I'm not sure how a good 5 cent cigar could help that situation - unless we built a new cigar factory that only hired legal workers - but something needs to be done about it.
The state budget needs a little attention, too. Our coffers aren't exactly empty, but a silver dollar would make a lot more noise rolling around in them than it would a few years ago. Revenue is down - way down. The governor already announced that school teachers would not get a raise this year and local school systems will have to find creative ways to follow all those state mandates for education that have been handed down from the ivory tower in Atlanta without benefit of millions of dollars in state funding. Class sizes are certain to increase and public schools will be asked to do more with less. So what else is new?
A good 5 cent cigar wouldn't help improve education, either, but perhaps the governor could hand them out to the teachers who have less purchasing power now than when he took office six years ago. It might make them feel a little better about the situation.
Of course one solution proposed for dealing with the state budget doldrums is to sell packaged alcohol on Sundays. Proponents of that bill say that it will help the economy. Well there you go. Everybody knows that a good cigar goes well with an afternoon toddy, so being able to buy a good one for a nickel might come in handy if the supporters of Sunday sales get their way.
Of course, we don't have money for education and the governor wants to raise taxes in general and do away with the homestead exemption on property taxes but we are still going to spend millions of dollars to promote bass fishing in Georgia.
I don't know if bass fishermen smoke cigars or not.
And meanwhile, while the Georgia General Assembly is debating budget cuts and a floundering public school system and joblessness and a general downward spiral in the economy, Rep. Al Williams of Midway thinks the "timing is finally right" for the state of Georgia to finally apologize for slavery and will introduce such a resolution during this year's legislative session.
I don't know what to do about those other issues, but I can solve this one. I agree with Williams and I think the governor should issue an executive order instructing anyone who has ever owned a slave to apologize to anyone who has ever been a slave and let's be done with it.
And I feel so good after solving that pressing problem that I want to sit back and enjoy a good cigar. Anybody know where I can get one for a nickel?
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.