More Jackson County Opinions...

JANAURY 21, 2004


Column

By: Sen. Ralph Hudgen
The Jackson Herald
January 21, 2004

Faith and HOPE at the forefront of this legislative session
It’s hard to believe we are back in Atlanta for the second session of the Georgia General Assembly. It seems like just yesterday that we declared the 2003 Session Sine Die – ending one of the longest sessions in history, and here we are again, working to make Georgia the best place in our great nation to live, work, and raise a family.
Our first week started out with some of the finest food in Georgia as we gathered Sunday at the Georgia Railroad Depot for some “wild hog” and fellowship. It was like a family reunion, and we greeted old friends and colleagues and met some new people. Early Tuesday morning, Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, Senate President Pro-Tempore Eric Johnson of Savannah, and House Speaker Coleman of Eastman laid out their plans for this year at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues Breakfast. As you can well imagine, the future of the HOPE Scholarship Program dominated the speeches by all four of our state leaders, as did the budget. By Wednesday night, we all gathered together in the Chamber of the House of Representatives to hear Governor Perdue talk about the proposed state budget and his legislative package. I am pleased that the Governor is focusing on children this year. Your children and my children are the future of this great state of ours, and it is incumbent upon us as teachers, waitresses, bankers, mechanics, lawyers, secretaries, doctors, shopkeepers, and of course lawmakers, to make sure our children are safe, educated, and cared for.
On Thursday, we passed our first piece of legislation with Senate Resolution 560, the faith-based initiative. Gov. Perdue is leading the charge in amending our State Constitution to allow faith-based programs to receive public funds to help the poor and needy. The U.S. Constitution already allows this practice, so this amendment, which will be voted on by you in November, will give Georgia the same ability to financially help groups that are set up to do so and provide those services that the state cannot. It’s a good piece of legislation, and I hope that when the time comes, you will vote for it so that we can care for Georgia’s neediest citizens.
We also passed legislation that will give some protection to property owners when utility companies want to confiscate their land for power lines. This bill will certainly not make everyone happy, but I believe everyone is going to have to give a little to get some of what they want. Many times, we have to compromise on an issue – I think this is one of those times.
Thursday President Bush was in Georgia. It is always an honor to have the president visit our state, and this event was no exception. Watching one of Georgia’s most popular elected officials, Zell Miller, introduce the leader of the free world was awe inspiring. It just goes to show that Republicans and Democrats can work together to do what’s best for all of us.
Friday, a beautiful celebration at the Capitol was held commemorating the works of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. On Monday, a holiday recognizing Dr. King’s accomplishments will remind us of the race relations struggle of those who came before us and compel us to do more to bring all Americans together for the good of our great nation. As we celebrate Dr. King’s work, let’s remember these words he spoke:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Next week, the Georgia General Assembly will be in recess to work on the 2005 budget which contains raises for teachers. When we return, we will focus on education, a child endangerment law, regulatory reform, and of course the budget.
I encourage you to call me or come for a visit. I work for you and your concerns are my concerns. Until next week . . .
Contact Sen. Ralph Hudgens at his office in Atlanta at 404.463.1361 or by e-mail at rhudgens@legis.state.ga.us

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
January 21, 2004

Who (what) is in charge here?
I don’t hate cell phones all that much. If you’d just use ‘em in the privacy of your own home. I guess the back yard is OK. The front yard is all right, too — if you aren’t expecting company.
The police should work as hard to keep cell phones out of public places, off the streets and out of cars as they do drugs and alcohol.
If you use yours in public, don’t ever let me hear you say anything about privacy rights. Used to, we didn’t want anybody listening in on our conversations. Now we are disappointed — even offended — if the neighbor in the next booth or the fan in the next seat doesn’t hang onto every word.
Cell phone addicts know no boundaries. If you go to church, or have attended any weddings or funerals lately, you know that is true.
It would help if they turned the ring down a few decibels. Is it necessary that everybody within a half of a mile hear the thing go off?
Some of ‘em don’t ring; they beep, whistle, squeak, squawk and play loud music. It is embarrassing when “Dixie” interrupts the minister’s closing prayer, or some filthy-lyrics rap song (song?) comes on just as the preacher tells the groom he may now kiss the bride.
Why the proliferation of phones in public places? I have a theory. Some cell owners are socially impaired. They lack pride and self-confidence. In the worst way, they want to look and feel important. They need to kick-start their ego. So they break out their security blanket, snuggle it up to their cheek, and start talking to it.
I’ve got news for them. It doesn’t work. Some of us don’t think your cell phone makes you look important. We think it makes you look rude, crude, gross and socially unacceptable.
I’m sure The Herald readers would like to know what you think of me. Why don’t you write a letter to the editor? But remember, this is a family newspaper. No need to tell ‘em I’m an old man who wishes the world would slow down so I can get off and go back to the way it was in the good ol’ days. Everybody already knows that.
Nevertheless, I am getting along very well without a cell phone. You say you can’t get along without yours? You wonder what you ever did without it?
Question: Were you dead before you got your cell phone? You were alive, right? and somehow, some way, you survived. It was a struggle. You went through many trials and tribulations. Poor baby! But you got along.
Here’s some more news. Whether it’s good or bad depends on how you perceive it. Someday you will get along without your cell phone. It will come when the next high tech invention makes your cell obsolete — and you or your family afford the upgrade. Then you’ll swear that you can’t get along without your new gadget, and you’ll wonder what you ever did without it.
Change, change — the constancy of change. But progress, progress — the constancy of progress? I don’t think so.
If we keep inventing timesaving and laborsaving devices (and we will), we are going to run ourselves ragged trying to pack more time into our lives. And, finally, we will work ourselves to death.
Looking back, I believe my rather negative view of modern communications equipment began when I first saw a telephone that was not attached to a wire. It not only was cordless; it was portable.
It was about five years ago. Shirley and I were having an early lunch at the Red Lobster in Athens. We were enjoying our meal until this dude walked in waving this contraption like it was a pair of 50-yard-line tickets to the Super Bowl.
He had on what looked like an expensive new suit, but he was not well dressed. The clothes did not fit the man, and the man did not fit the clothes. He was redneck out of his element.
In tow, three or four steps behind him, was a shapely, over made-up, overly perfumed blonde about half his age. I decided immediately that she was not his wife or daughter. One does not try to impress his wife or daughter at the Red Lobster. I told Shirley she was his Sweetie Pie.
Sweetie Pie, nervous and embarrassed, fumbled with her menu. He ignored his and the server waiting to take their orders. Instead, he started pushing buttons on that thing with no wires and began yelling at it. Everybody in the restaurant, including the chefs in the kitchen, could hear him.
Apparently, he wanted Sweetie Pie and everybody within shouting distance to think he was a rich and powerful owner of a construction company talking to the supervisor of a huge and important project somewhere. He talked about lumber and steel and concrete blocks, and the status of the project, and how much money he was spending, and how much money he was making, and how he expected everybody to get on the ball — right now. “And I don’t mean maybe!”
You would think he was rebuilding the World Trade Center.
I don’t think he was building anything. I don’t think he was talking to anybody. I think he was whistling in the wind. I think he was talking to himself and Sweetie Pie, trying to impress her, trying to make him look and feel important.
Ever know anybody like that?
May I close this rather ridiculous epistle by quoting a serious young man from Memphis? Benjamin C. Jones is a junior at Morehouse College. On January 6 he wrote a column, “Machines in the driver’s seat,” for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here is a portion of what he said:
“The question of whether we operate the machines or the machines operate us has yet to be answered.
“We call our machines timesaving devices of convenience. They are our multimedia cell phones, Palm hand-held computers, pocket PCs, MP3 players, two-way radios, police scanners and digital image-makers.
“They are our peripheral eyes and ears to the world, so what could we do without them? We would never be able to receive calls when we’re not at home; we would never be able to carry our electronic schedules in our pockets; we would never be able to check our e-mail while walking to class; we would never be able to download and listen to thousands of songs. What type of life is that?”
The young man from Morehouse ends his column with another question. He wonders, “Will we be overpowered by the machines we have created? Our machines give us an illusion of control, but will we ever be able to unplug ourselves from our machines or will our machines continue to have dominion over us?”
Good question, Ben.
(Note from Shirley: I’m keeping my cell phone with me at all times and in all places — in case my old man needs me.)
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.


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