Southern Politics

Is there such thing as “too much government?” Many will say a solid and loud “Yes!”

We’re not so much upset over the federal government. Though it may be too much in our lives, making changes from the ground up to the Fed level is a big job.

However, when it comes to local and state government, we feel like the average person can make some good impact on what we sometimes see as “government too big for its britches.”

Many people will tell you that when the Legislature is in session, “Nothing’s safe.” While we send senators and representatives to the Capitol, we often feel that, to put it one way, they do too much for us. Why can’t they just leave well enough alone?

But no, they get to the Capitol, and take either of two directions: (1) They change laws that don’t need lots of changes; or (2) They fail to act on our behalf. You can think of your own examples, I suspect.

The most irresponsive act of the Georgia Legislature in the last few years has been its inability to even consider raising the Georgia tax on gasoline. Georgia charges 20.8 cents per gallon of gas, the 37th lowest in the nation. Nearby Florida charges 34.4 cents. The highest is in California, 47.7 cents, while Alaska has the lowest gas tax, eight cents per gallon.

The current legislative response to traffic problems is to have 13 regional sales tax votes later this year. This is because the Legislature didn’t have the good sense or the backbone to simply raise the gasoline tax. So what we could get could end up a hopscotch approach with one region voting for this lame-brain proposal, another region rejecting it, and chaos resulting in moving people around Georgia.

We only use the regional transportation question as one example of Georgia’s Legislature not being strong and resourceful. There are many more.

About too much government: someone could be elected governor of Georgia, we feel, if this person had as their main plank in their platform the abolition of Georgia’s General Assembly meeting every year. Instead, if the gubernatorial candidate had an absolute requirement that the Legislature could meet only every other year, we think that would resonate with many Georgians who are tired of the shenanigans that come from the General Assembly.

We can hear that candidate now: “You want less government? I’ll give it to you by requiring that the Legislature only meet for one session of 40 days every two years.” Of course, the candidate would hedge his bet a little, adding “Unless, of course, there is an emergency, at which time the governor would be empowered to call them back into extraordinary session for a set number of days.” He might add and get agreement: “Of course, I wouldn’t want to call them back unless there was an egregious situation.” (Candidates like to show off by using unusual words.)

People would buy that. Georgians wouldn’t be so wary about the General Assembly going back into session.

We would have less government, and who’s to say, perhaps even better government!

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Photo by Parvinder Singh via Flickr photostream, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.