Pontificators pontificate at Independence Day on just how much freedom we have left in the Land of the Free. Inevitably, some old men will grump that weve allowed ourselves to be boiled like frogs - slowly, so we dont try to jump out of the pot until its too late. Weve failed to notice the loss of our hard-won freedoms until were cooked.
Even with federal efforts to spy on us under the guise of homeland security, Im not much worried that the federal government is pushing toward totalitarianism. Instead, Im puzzled at our personal hypocrisy - that we clamor for government to do more for us, yet claim we want politicians to leave us alone. That confusion takes a toll on freedom.
For example, its fashionable in Columbia County to complain about developers, and to call for more laws controlling new construction. But if an individual citizen or business owner runs afoul of one of those tougher ordinances, the same folks start complaining about regulatory Nazis.
There is a blurred line between doing the publics wishes and looking out for the public good. Politicians pander when they do what a significant segment of their constituency wants, if its not also best for everyone.
A good example: Special tax favors for seniors put a greater tax burden on everyone else, but not everyone else votes as reliably as those seniors - so the politicians pander without penalty.
Wandering back and forth across this line threatens our freedom first through government-sanctioned social engineering - laws that favor one class of taxpayer over another - and then when our acquiescence lets politicians know the practice is OK, as long as its incremental.
Like boiling a frog.
Hunting a good book
This time of year, I usually try to fit in a little more recreational reading. (Im jealous of kids in the county librarys summer reading program; they get ice cream and baseball tickets.)
Because there arent any new Steven King or Ann Rice books out, I settled for wading through boring political books.
Then I heard James Kilgo had died of prostate cancer, just before his final book was released. Kilgo was my favorite literature professor at the University of Georgia.
In Colors of Africa, the avid hunter chronicles his trip to accompany a friend on a three-week safari. I had no idea there was so much literature devoted to hunting, but Kilgo explores it with as much eagerness as Dr. David Livingstone - one of his frequent references - once trekked through the continent.
Im saddened to know the professor lost his battle with cancer, which hunted him from inside as he stalked leopard and kudu. But at least his literary skills live on through Colors of Africa - and his other books, which Ill now begin hunting, too.
Coffee with Kilgo?
Speaking of books, its good news to see Columbia Countys Community and Leisure Services committee reaching out to the private sector in designing part of the countys new library.
Restaurant owners (and prospective owners) will be able to meet with planners today to offer ideas on integrating food and books.
From the beginning, the new library included a performing arts component (which I still believe is too small) and plans for a small caf adjacent to the auditorium, like those in bookstores.
Rather than getting the county into the food business, however, the county hopes to lease the space to a restaurant. Its a great opportunity for a business to capture a protected market, and its good for patrons who will have a convenient place to enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a new book.
May I suggest something by James Kilgo?
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to bpaschal@ newstimesonline.com.)
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