When the going gets tough, the politicians look for the exits.
They're not trying to run for the door. They're looking for an exit strategy from status quo.
That's why, with gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, Washington politicians are starting to get serious about allowing drilling for oil anywhere we can stick a rig.
It won't solve our energy problems, but the politicians hope it will help them duck some of the blame they rightly deserve for not tackling the issue until it got this bad. Again.
Remember: This isn't the first time we've had such trouble. OPEC put us over an oil-barrel in the 1970s, but as soon as prices went down we quit clamoring for solutions, and the politicians quit working on them. So here we are again.
In this spirit, it's actually somewhat admirable that Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson tried last year to reform the state's property tax system.
While Richardson's idea was awful and would have allowed the state to seize control over local funding, at least he wasn't just hunting for a way out of a crisis. Richardson started working on tax reform while the state's economy was in great shape.
Fortunately, his plan to replace school property taxes with the sales tax isn't in effect now that the state's economy no longer is in such good shape. Sales tax collections are down nearly 9 percent this year in Georgia, and under Richardson's plan school budgets would now be in crisis.
Still, Richardson's failure has prompted another House Republican, state Rep. David Ralston of Blue Ridge, to opportunistically announce last week that he plans to run against Richardson for speaker.
Ralston isn't given much chance of succeeding, but I suppose he deserves credit for his willingness to risk political suicide.
Speaking of suicide, we are allowing a small part of our cultural heritage to die. We're melting it down - literally.
A friend and I took a trip the other day to a salvage yard to scavenge some metal scrap for an art project. When I decide to make something, it destroys the creative process if I have to actually buy material for it.
This doesn't mean that I'm a cheapskate (though I am); it's just that I prefer the serendipity of hunting and gathering.
Buying scrap for pennies a pound is pretty close to free, and hunting through a scrap yard feeds my scavenging instincts.
On this particular day we were just looking for random lengths of rebar, and found plenty of it. But what I also found almost made me want to cry.
Dumped carelessly among the metal refuse, awaiting its turn to be crunched into bales and stuffed onto rail cars, were piles of old farm implements.
And I do mean old. I rescued and hauled home a huge horse-drawn plow, for example.
While I have absolutely no need for the implement, I could not bear the thought of this rural relic being shipped to China where it would be melted down and eventually sent back to us as part of a Toyota or Ford.
Police reports show us the impact of the rising price of metal. Barely a day goes by that we don't read about someone's air conditioning unit being stripped of its copper, and builders continue to fight thieves stealing wire and pipes.
Still, such new material can be replaced. But no one is making new metal wagon wheels, and I left two of those at the junkyard.
The day will come when these pieces exist only in museums, and our children - many of whom don't know that food comes from farms, not from Kroger - will learn about our formerly agrarian way of life only through old photos.
I suppose I'll at least be able to show my grandkids an old plow one day.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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