Given current efforts to promote fiscal responsibility in government, its ironic that a fundamentally irresponsible public-private partnership bill (HB218) is being promoted in Georgia's General Assembly.
This ill-considered measure would allow arrangements made by local governments and development authorities with would-be private investors to be hidden from the public until after sweet-deal contracts are signed. For many years, government giveaways to corporate players that pit one community against another have been known to be the worst kind of welfare capitalism, hurting the public instead of helping us.
Doubly ironic, if not downright hypocritical, is that many of the same politicians who condemn social programs targeting the low income are among the first in line to fork over public resources and tax breaks worth millions to private ventures in the name of economic progress, with no guarantee of results and little on record to bolster confidence.
In the late 1990s, Time magazine, hardly a radical left-wing journal, ran a revealing series of articles (What Corporate Welfare Costs You) providing overwhelming evidence that such giveaways rarely benefit the communities that offer them. Numerous other investigations and studies have found much the same thing.
Making it lawful to keep such negotiations secret until after they become legally binding deprives the public of constitutional control over the use of public resources -- monetary and otherwise. Such covert operations are likely to turn tax dollars and natural resources into excessive corporate profits that benefit only a privileged few at the expense of the vast majority.
Corporate welfare and the backroom bargains that enable it are promoted by those who benefit greatest the most opportunistic segment of the business sector, including many people in high places who own a piece of the action and well-meaning but intellectually challenged public officials who simply don't understand when they are making a fools bargain.
As Midway Representative Al Williams said, the need to attract new jobs shouldnt trump the publics right to know what is being done with tax money. Moreover, I would remind our politicians that not all jobs are worth creating, and not all employers will be responsible members of our communities unless they are held publicly accountable.
Center for a Sustainable Coast
Lame Beaver, an Arapaho warrior, said Only rocks live forever. Clausewitz stated that a person must stand like a rock on which the waves break in vain. George Patton always taught that a military officer must be a rock to withstand the storms and tests of time.
I have selected three rocks to provide strength, serve as a beacon, and be a bulwark against the temptations and ordeals of life:
The first comes from military history. Most historians differ on the great leaders of the past. My selections are Hannibal, Belisarius, George Washington, Robert E. Lee and Patton. In attempting to find a common thread, I selected an excerpt from Freemans last volume on Lee, concerning the great mans final days: It occurred in Northern Virginia on his last visit there. A young mother brought her baby to him to be blessed. He took the infant in his arms and looked long at it and then at her and slowly said: Teach him he must deny himself. That is all. There is no mystery in the coffin at Lexington there in front of the windows that look to the sunrise.
The second rock concerns Sam Damon, key character in Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer. The book is a historic novel about two professional soldiers, Courtney Massengale and Damon. The former is an arrogant, self-absorbed officer and political opportunist. The latter is a real soldier of great character and integrity. It is a simple comparison of extremes. Damon is the ideal; among his traits, selflessness is key and foremost.
The third rock comes from the late great Coach Paul Bear Bryant and his guiding principles for his players on the field and for life. Ask any former Alabama, Texas A&M, Kentucky or Maryland athlete who played under this magnificent leader, and they all relate the same message: Always show your class. There is also no secret under the hickory tree in Birmingham.
There they are: self-discipline, selflessness, always show your class. These three rocks have great utility and value for all walks of life, far beyond my ability to relate them. I hope that they will serve you forever.
Col. Robert Powell
U.S. Army (Retired)