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 OPINION PAGE - JANUARY. 26, 2000 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

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Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
January 26, 2000

Frankly Speaking
Stop the unneeded bureaucracy
Governor Roy Barnes is taking Georgia in the same mistaken direction as the federal government. He is creating another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. First, he decided to bypass the highway commissioner with a new organization to direct transportation policy in Greater Atlanta. Now he wants to steal power from the state Education department with a new education oversight commission.
Both are nothing more than a power play by the governor. These new commissions, especially the one on education, will duplicate the work of existing constitutional offices, but without the direct influence of the voters. They will be expensive. They will, as all government bureaucracies do, find ways to grow, expand their power, and create more problems than they solve.
We do not need more government, we need less. We do not need new bureaucracies, we need to consolidate and eliminate most of the ones we already have. That is true at the state and national level. We were intended to be a nation of the people, not of bureaucracies. In order to recapture that principle, power must be transferred from the federal to state level, then from the state to the local level, and then back to the people.
State government should involve itself only with those problems that cannot be solved locally. That means a vastly expanded home rule, allowing city and county governments to act on behalf of the people without having to submit each plan to the state for some bureaucrat's approval. Less state government would mean less state spending and less need for state taxes. Georgia could easily eliminate the state income tax if its bureaucracy were cut to a reasonable size.
The federal government should only have the powers originally granted to it by the states. If that were enforced, the federal budget would drop dramatically. If the federal government were limited to the powers listed in the U.S. Constitution, we could eliminate the federal income taxes as well. And we would have the freedoms we were promised by our founders.
Thomas Jefferson said it best: "he who governs best governs least." We already have more government, national state and local, than we will ever need. Rather than build more bureaucracies, Governor Barnes should be actively reducing the size of state government to that needed to solve problems too large for local governments. Georgia would then become the model for other bureaucracy choked states, and the vastly overgrown federal government.
Oh, I forgot. Barnes is a Democrat. All they know how to do is tax and spend. I guess I am just dreaming.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.




Letter
The Madison County Journal
January 26, 2000

Offers solution for elderly pharmaceutical costs
Dear editor:
Everyone agrees that pharmaceutical cost for the elderly is a problem that requires an affordable solution, and I have a proposal. I am a primary care physician who sees mainly geriatric patients who battle the cost of multiorgan illnesses without any insured benefit for drug costs. In contract, I see managed care patients who only pay a nominal amount for any brand name pharmaceutical. In addition, drug costs are substantially less for premium quality pharmaceuticals in both Canada and Mexico.
In effect, our present system charges our retirees retail, which appears to subsidize discounted drug sales to managed care and export. In this scenario we are seeing record profits and mergers in the pharmaceutical industry.
All the presidential candidates are giving lip service to the need for Medicare Pharmaceutical Benefit, but no one has an affordable method to foot the bill in a balanced federal budget. Here is my proposal:
1. Prescription drug charges to Medicare beneficiaries can not exceed the lowest charge to any current managed care contract. Pre-existing pharmaceutical Medicare supplementary coverage, rare as it is, will not be affected.
2. Export pharmaceutical charges can not be less than sales to domestic accounts.
This method would incur no medical cost to the government and would substantially lower each retiree's prescription cost. Administration of such policy should be folded into the HCFA responsibility and overseen by AARP.
The only loser in this proposal is the pharmaceutical companies, who certainly have enjoyed exceptional profit margins in the past, which will most likely continue if this idea is fully implemented.
The weak link in this concept is the amount of political influence the pharmaceutical companies hold over our elected officials. I implore you to make the ethical choice for your retired constituents. I appreciate your attention to this urgent matter and anticipate your written response to this proposal.
Sincerely,
J. Michael Cobb, M.D.
Hull

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
January 26, 2000

Margie Richards
Ready for springtime
I don't like this time of year. These cold, gray days just aren't for me. I have tried to think of a few of the things I do like about winter and I did come up with a few: the smell of wood smoke (although it gives me a headache), bundling up under the covers for a long night's sleep, sitting at the window and watching the birds at the feeders in our yard and snuggling up with a book and a cup of coffee in front of a fire.
That's about it.
But I must admit I did enjoy Saturday afternoon, when the snow and sleet started. I was walking my little dog Crickett to the mailbox when it began.
I had been looking up at the cold gray sky when I saw the first white flake go drifting by. Although I was expecting it, I still wondered if I was seeing things. So I stopped and held out my hand. Sure enough, one of the ice crystals drifted down and landed delicately in my palm. Despite my "bah humbug" attitude about all things winter, I couldn't help but feel a little thrill of excitement.
I hurried back toward the house to tell everybody. Crickett was too busy watching the squirrels and birds to care about the snow. But I stopped to watch my son Zack's yellow lab puppy Buddy. He was sitting in the back yard looking puzzled, head cocked to one side and trying to catch the flakes as they went by. I think he thought they were bugs.
I yelled "it's snowing!" just like a kid when I came in the house covered in the white stuff and then we all gathered around the windows to watch it come down.
Then I did what every self respecting Southerner does when they see snow.
I headed for the grocery store.
My husband Charles rode along with me and once there, we found we were certainly not alone. After several circles around the parking lot, we finally found a parking space and joined the throng of folks going inside for bread and milk. There were no shopping carts or baskets, so while I got started, Charles went outside to look for one. He came back pushing a cart, grinning sheepishly.
Seems he had helped a bag boy unload a lady's groceries and then brought the cart back in the store with him. He hadn't reckoned on the line of women waiting on an available buggy just inside the door.
Once facing them, he had to sprint by, holding the buggy tightly and refusing to meet their gazes. He swore one angry lady was still staring at him when he looked back as he turned the corner.
Although we had mainly come for bird seed, we left with $30 worth of groceries, and I couldn't resist the impulse to buy some bread.
Zack, who couldn't wait to get outside, was lying in the hammock when we got back, letting the flakes fall on him. He was clearly in seventh heaven. It brought back memories of those rare snow days of my own childhood, especially when school let out early because of the weather. I can remember standing out in front of the middle school on one of those days waiting for my mother to pick me up. I hadn't even worn a thick coat that day, it had been so warm and flowers were blooming, but the excitement of the big fluffy flakes hitting my face was almost more than I could contain. I couldn't wait to get home and get out in it.
But this past weekend it didn't take long for the snow to turn to mostly ice and then to the dreaded freezing rain. I kept expecting the power to go off. Luckily, it didn't, and the sight of the icy covered woods the next morning I have to admit was beautiful.
But not as lovely as those same trees budding and flowers pushing up through the ground.
Come on spring time.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager of the Madison County Journal.




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