Madison County Opinion...

 September 27, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
September 27, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Absurd federal bureaucracy strikes again
Another example of our absurd federal bureaucracy
The big headline this week is: "Georgia to lose millions in federal funds."
Why is our state being penalized by the federal government? We didn't spend the money fast enough! Here is an example of just how absurd our federal and state bureaucracies are.
Several years ago, Congress voted another of their great giveaway programs. The program promised to provide health insurance for millions of children. To do this, they approved $4.2 billion of our money to be distributed among the 50 states. Each state had three years to spend their allotment.
Georgia is one of 40 states that failed to spend all the money by the deadline. The unspent funds will be reclaimed by the Feds and given to the 10 states that found a way to spend all their allotment.
Along with the money, each state received a list of bureaucratic requirements that were nearly impossible to fulfill. Georgia proceeded to establish a new state bureaucracy to administer the program. They called it PeachCare. By the time they managed to get the state offices established and figured out how to fill out all the federal forms, time had run out.
Figures show that 139,000 Georgians under the age of 18 have no private insurance. PeachCare managed to enroll 92,000 of them by the deadline, leaving 47,000 without coverage. Now, the federal bureaucrats say that Georgia must give up the remaining $69 million, which will leave those children without coverage.
This program is typical of federal welfare programs. First in importance is the expansion of federal and state bureaucracies. Second is the requirement that all the money be spent. States who are careful with the taxpayers money are punished, and those who rush to spend every penny are rewarded. Finally, this is another incident of the federal government dictating policy to the states in total disregard of the 10th Amendment.
I hold the traditional Southern opinion that the right to govern belongs to the states. Our U.S. Constitution gives no rights for the federal government to direct actions by the states in domestic issues. Police protection, public welfare, education and other programs to directly assist individuals is a state responsibility. All these programs should be removed totally from the federal government.
The vast federal bureaucracy is a major drag on our nation's economy. It greatly increases the cost of providing assistance to individual citizens.
It claims responsibilities that are best met by local civic and religious organizations. To finance the bureaucracy, they assess massive taxes that make it difficult for such groups to find the funding they need to do the job right.
This is another example of why we need to get government out of the welfare business and let people take care of people.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.

 


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Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
September 27, 2000

A Moment With Margie

Worthy of remembrance
There've been a lot of birthday parties to go to recently.
There was my great-nephew Brody's first birthday party and his dad, who is approaching that portal to middle age (sorry, Tony) who celebrated his birthday the day before that.
On Sunday afternoon we celebrated both my kids' birthdays (one has a birthday in late August, one in late September) with a party with friends and family. For the first time, I had a birthday cake for them together - and wonder of wonders - a photo of the two of them together scanned onto the top of it (we could even eat it). I hugged them both harder than ever. And when I found myself annoyed at them, I had only to remember another birthday party I attended earlier that week.
Last Thursday afternoon, the last bittersweet day of summer. It was a celebration of a life, you might say. That life might be over, but the memories, the joys and the heartaches are still there.
We met at the cemetery at 6:30 in the afternoon. The sky was overcast, threatening rain. To those gathered around, it was a surreal experience - a beautifully unique headstone, ablaze with candles under a white canopy.
We were there, at the invitation of his mom, to remember the birthday of Jamie Adams, who died of a heart condition just shortly before he would have graduated from high school last spring.
His mother, Julie, had baked his favorite cookies and his dad passed out white balloons. Everyone held a white candle, also courtesy of Jamie's mom. He and sister Summer drove Jamie's beloved red hummer to the cemetery.
With candles lit, everyone sang happy birthday, held hands and prayed.
Those who knew him best shared their memories. Each time, his mother said "thank you" drinking in the memory of what he was to that person, weaving it like a tapestry around her heart.
His Boy Scout group stepped forward and quietly saluted his marker. Jamie had recently attained the high rank of Eagle Scout.
His scoutmaster presented his family with a plaque for his distinguished service as a Boy Scout.
On cue, the balloons were released. Catching the breeze, they drifted in a group toward the cloud-covered sky. I found myself watching them as long as I could, until they pierced the clouds as one and were gone.
In that moment I felt as if everything were OK. Everything. I don't know why, exactly, but I was overcome by a feeling of peace - for Jamie's family, for Jamie, for all of us.
He was not perfect, his mother said, he was a regular guy. Well, thank God for regular guys. Sometimes, she said, he was even "a splinter in her backside."
From those at the ceremony we learned he could cook, what cookies were his favorite (chocolate chip mint), that he loved sweet potatoes, the family dog and of course, riding his bike. It seems he always had an encouraging word, was a loyal friend to many and made good choices for his life.
I think we could all wish to do as well. Maybe he never made it to his 19th birthday, or walked down the aisle at his high school graduation, but it seems from what he left behind that he made some fine accomplishments.
His mother asked one thing of those who were gathered - that as our lives go on, that we take a moment, sometimes, to remember something about her son.
After all, she said, he is certainly worthy of remembering.
Indeed.
And perhaps we should all spend more time thinking about what each of us will leave behind - and what will be said of us when we are gone.
Margie Richards is office manager and a reporter for the Madison County Journal.

 


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