More Jackson County Opinions...

OCTOBER 15, 2003


Column

By:Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
October 15, 2003

He flunked his own test
I was going to comment on Mrs. Walker’s “Day of Terror” letter in the September 24 issue of The Jackson Herald, but Jefferson Chief Police Darren Glenn, Frances Garrison, Carolyn Lance Whitlock and Dan Crumley stole my thunder in the October 1 edition.
There was one very reassuring sentence in Chief Glenn’s letter. “I assure you that they (the officers) will continue to pursue and do their job despite the possibility of criticism.”
Knowing that, we should all sleep well tonight, Thanks, Chief.
I would add just one thing to the Garrison, Whitlock and Crumley letters praising our policemen. “You could double their salaries tomorrow and they’d still be underpaid.”
And while we are advocating paying public servants what they are worth, let’s add firemen and school teachers to the list of the worthy.
* * *
As you know, I have been making fun over the fuss the Atlanta community is making over how to honor former mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson Jr.
It’s all part of the name game. For months now, Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Atlanta City Council, and an advisory committee appointed by the mayor have been haggling over a gigantic problem. (I jest.) Should they rename Hartsfield International Airport the Jackson International Airport, or should they just add Jackson’s name and make it the Hartsfield - Jackson International Airport?
The blue ribbon advisory committee, which the mayor appointed, suggested they leave the airport as is (Hartsfield) and come up with some other way to honor Jackson.
However, it appears that Madam Mayor is not paying any attention to her advisory committee. She wants it to be Hartsfield-Jackson. Mayor Jackson’s widow, Valerie, has backed off from her demand that the airport bear only her late husband’s name. One city councilmen says he has the votes to make it Hartsfield-Jackson. So be it.
Poor Ivan Allen Jr. He seems to be lost in the shuffle, but from his vantage point six feet under, I don’t think he cares a whole lot.
“The name game is getting nasty” was the headline over one of my columns about the fuss. An appropriate headline now would be “The name game is getting expensive.”
Think of the valuable time the mayor, city council and advisory committee members have spent playing the name game instead of doing their real jobs. And when the name is finally changed, the cost of changing all those signs ain’t gonna be chicken feed.
And for what? My opinion has not changed. We do these things, not to honor the dead, but to salve the egos for the living.
That, too, is enough to make a grown man cry.
* * *
Now, let’s get really serious.
We spend an awful lot of time keeping The Ten Commandments on our walls. What say we spend an equal amount of time keeping The Ten Commandments in our hearts? Wonder what would happen if we did that? I’m betting that individuals, families, communities, counties, states, the nation and the world would change overnight. And for the better. Not only is this issue taking up a lot of time, it is taking up a lot of space in the media. Just a couple of weeks ago, for example, there was a letter to the editor and an editorial in The Jackson Herald.
Bob Crampton of Braselton wrote the letter. I don’t know Bob Crampton, but I know a little bit about him. I have no idea how far he went in school, but he is well educated. He thinks deeply, and he knows how to put his thoughts into words. And his thoughts in words will provoke thoughts in you. That’s what a letter to the editor is supposed to do. Excellent, Mr. Crampton. Thank you.
“Trouble with 10 Commandments” was the headline over the editorial. It dealt with debates (fuss) being waged over in Barrow County.
The only trouble I have with the Ten Commandments is obeying them. Congratulations if you don’t have that problem.
The editorial ends with a question: “Isn’t there some more important problem in Barrow County that needs attention?”
In my humble editorial opinion, there is. However, I predict that the debates, rallies, demonstrations, marches, political speeches, sermons, lawsuits, etc., etc., etc. will continue.
But I don’t think everybody ought to be eligible to participate. I think they ought to pass a test first. Here’s the test:
Without looking it up, where in the Bible do you find The Ten Commandments?
Now, off the top of your head, repeat The Ten Commandments- in order.
Have you ever broken any of The Ten Commandments?
If your answer is yes, how many?
Have you broken any of The Ten Commandments this year? This month? This week? Today?
What does the ninth Commandment say about lying? Answer: Thou salt not.
What did you do Sunday? Was that keeping it holy?
Did you call or go see your Mama or Daddy this week?
Do you think about God as much as you think about money?
* * *
If you passed this test, you are eligible to show up at the next rally.
I won’t be there. I flunked my own test.
Virgil Adams is former editor and owner of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

Comments From The O-Zone

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Jackson Herald
October 15, 2003

Butget Cuts May Be Expensive
We’re about to start another round of fun down at the Capitol. With a nationwide increase of 2 million uninsured, a projected Medicaid budget shortfall of $1 billion for 2005 in Georgia, and a Department of Community Health proposal to cut at least $160 million more from Medicaid in the next two years, mostly by increasing the ranks of the uninsured, Sonny Perdue has vowed not to increase any taxes during this session.
However you feel about paying taxes, the governor should have thought a bit more before he went driving down “Read My Lips” Road. The reason: it’ll be more expensive later for us to kick people off the state’s insurance roles than it would be to pay a little more now to keep them on those roles.
Don’t believe me? Have you got health insurance? Is it more expensive now than it was five years ago? Is it more expensive than it was last year? Guess who covers the cost of losses incurred by people who come to the emergency room because they have no insurance? People who have insurance. Also, guess who covers the cost of health insurance for companies like Ford and GM? People who buy cars.
The average increased cost for health insurance across the United States in 2004 is going to be 12.6 percent, a decreased increase from 16 percent this year and 14 percent in 2002. Not counting the double-digit increases that occurred the two previous years, for every dollar we spent in 1999 on health insurance, we’re going to have to spend $1.48 next year to get the same coverage.
Of course I can’t blame all those cost increases on uninsured people. Because of shortages in nurses, radiological techs, lab techs, pharmacists and other worthy health care professionals, the costs of staffing for healthcare continue to be a key driver for overall healthcare costs.
Brand name prescription drug use has increased at breakneck speed also, 18.5 percent in 2002. Malpractice insurance is a product of our sue-happy culture: in Georgia from 1999 to 2002, the average cost of insuring a bed in a hospital with an attached nursing home went from $3,386 to $15,379, an increase of 354 percent.
All of these costs help explain the rising cost of health insurance, and I’m not saying that we need to raise taxes to help cover them, because there are other things that can be done for each issue. I am saying however, that by kicking people out of PeachCare and Medicaid to meet budget projections, as has been proposed, we are going to increase the cost of insurance for the rest of us. Here’s the Econ 101: fewer people insured means the cost increases for the people that remain insured; when that cost increases, more people are driven out of the insurance market, which increases the cost for those that remain, and so forth and so on.
So in one sense, the question isn’t “Is the government going to keep my hard-earned money, or is it going to let me keep it?” Instead, we should ask, “Is the government going to keep my money, or am I going to give it to an insurance company?”
Two obvious choices: right there next to our SAT scores, our state gas tax is the lowest in the nation; and tobacco users use much more healthcare than those who abstain.
I’m not convinced that we need to raise taxes. I just think it’s unwise to toss that option out the window before we’ve had a chance to see where we’re headed. Instead it looks like Sonny’s driving map-less into a $1 billion mess, insisting he knows where we are, and refusing to ask for directions.
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.


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