Several months ago a caller to Hello, Butts County left a message saying that it sounded like I don’t like the way things are in Georgia, and that everyone should chip in and buy me a one way ticket to Europe. I’m still waiting for that ticket.
As for how I feel about the way things are done in Georgia, the caller was absolutely correct. While I obviously like the state of Georgia (I do live here and make a living here) I don’t like a lot of what I see here. I see a state with a lot of problems in critical areas. In the “Smartest State “ nationwide rankings, Georgia comes in at a shameful 41st, joining several other southern states in the bottom ten. In the Forbes Magazine’s rankings of healthiest states, Georgia does even worse, coming in at number 43. So in health and education, it ain’t a pretty picture, folks. Can you begin to understand why I don’t like what I see in Georgia?
Did you know that Medicaid, a federal program regulated by the states, is only available in Georgia to people who make less than $14,000 annually? In Vermont, you can make as much as $42,000 and still qualify for Medicaid. This disparity is mostly because of the people you elect. The ones you keep electing in a rotation, year after year. They do the very best they can to represent themselves while the ship of state, with all its passengers, goes floundering around, lost at sea. They just do not care about your basic well-being. Another reason I don’t like the way things are done in Georgia.
As for education and all that follows: It’s a form of child abuse to shove kids through the school system, (a school system that should be one of the best based on the amount of money pumped into it by the state lottery) and then turn them loose with nothing to offer them. They emerge, blinking in the sunlight, with a sub-par education and are left to fend for themselves. The percentage of college bound high school graduates is low and the percentage of those who do go to college and don’t finish is abysmal, about 40 percent, or close to half. With an unemployment rate of ten percent, they end up doing menial tasks or take up a life of crime. I’m not sure that there is any relevance but a quick note here: a friend of mine moved to the Atlanta area. He has been here a few years now and recently told me that he can’t believe how senseless and violent the crime here is compared to where he is from. He is from the BRONX! Home of violent crime! Is this something that Georgians can be proud of??
Speaking of “pride” there is another issue I take umbrage with: the Confederate flags that I see a lot of people flying or stuck to the bumpers of their trucks. Never mind the racist insinuation of that flag in general but there is another aspect that is also disturbing. I hear a lot of Georgians calling themselves true “Americans “ while waving their Confederate flags around. Don’t they know that people who fought under that flag were traitors to the United States of America? They wanted out so bad that they made their own country. It is actually a form of treason to be flying that old rag. You can be southern and proud of it without that old relic. No real American wants to see it.
What I do want to see is the south that I heard about as a kid---hospitable and friendly, caring about each other, all sweet tea and gravy. I know it’s a fantasy but does it have to be such an impossible one?