The “infinite monkey theorem” holds that, given an infinite amount of time, a chimpanzee hitting random keys at a keyboard will almost surely produce a literary text. Think Shakespeare’s sonnets or “King Lear,” for example. While the Georgia Legislature doesn’t have an infinite timeline, it only has a constitutionally prescribed 40 days to work its magic. And it has adeptly juggled some rather random legislation.
They’ve debated and passed legislation making it a crime to film a nonconsenting person’s private parts; taxed internet sales, ride sharing (such as Uber and Lyft), and fantasy sports websites; and raised taxes on used car sales.
At least what’s between the taxpayers’ pockets is safe even while the government picks them.
And then there’s the Senate bill that makes it easier for those with prior mental health or substance abuse problems to buy a gun. Another bill would allow this person, properly permitted, of course, to carry that concealed weapon on public college campuses.
That these campuses are comprised of hundreds if not thousands of students obviously addresses the security concerns. You know, “safety in numbers” and all that jazz.
That’s not to imply that the General Assembly hasn’t had any literary moments thus far. Indeed it has.
Legislators are seriously debating a flat tax rate on income taxes, cracking down on “sanctuary campuses”, and ending “surprise billing’ at hospitals, to name a few. These and other important pending measurers will benefit all Georgians and represent good, solid thinking and hard work.
An idea emanating from the House to address the persistent and chronic emaciation of Georgia’s non-metro counties, a Georgia Rural Development Council, holds particular promise.
And the need is as immediate as it is dire.
The flawed “Two Georgia’s” thinking has marginalized these counties as non-essential parts of the state’s economic engine although agriculture, accounting for $72 billion annually of the state’s economy, is Georgia’s number one industry.
You don’t see such many cotton, peanut, or blueberry plants in Chastain or Piedmont Parks. You see these commodities, however, in rural South Georgia where 1.7 million Georgians also live.
Charles Hayslett calls 56 of these counties (non-coastal South Georgia) “God’s Country” and recently identified some characteristics that need a little love from the GRDC.
Gwinnett County, for example, not only pays more in federal taxes than all these counties combined, but consumes “substantially less in social services”. And although essentially tied with the same number of college graduates as residents in 1990, Gwinnett now has 65,000 more graduates than these counties.
Moreover, “South Georgia sent more than twice as many people to prison than Gwinnett” and the number for probationers was similar, Gwinnett had half as many as South Georgia, according to Hayslett.
Not a pretty picture.
Rep. Jason Shaw (R-176) hit the nail on the head: South Georgia needs jobs. Incentivizing industrial investors and developers to locate there is essential since a working population tends to be more educated, pays more in taxes, consumes less in social services, and stays out of jail.
The Senate is contemplating a similar panel. And this is good. But pitting a House panel against a Senate panel to achieve similar goals is not. Consolidate: a unified effort will cost the taxpayers less and yield more substantive and credible answers.
After all, the “Two Georgias” turf war created the problem. It’s hard to imagine a similar approach solving it.
Gary Wisenbaker (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a corporate communications and political consultant at Blackstone, LLC.