2009-10-07 / Opinion

Up The Creek Without A Paddle

We must protect our freedoms constantly
by Terry Toole

I really don't believe too much in luck. I guess that is why I don't play the lottery. I know, if I played, my losing would help educate some of the children. I think that I give toward education every time a new tax comes up. Don't get me wrong. I believe in education and paying for it, but I do see lots of waste that our children and educators do not get to use.

I guess at this calloused age, I don't have a lot of confidence in what our governments give us back as they "manage" our tax dollars.

Let me tell you right now, my faith in government starts at the highest with local and goes downhill as it goes up to the federal level. Seems like the closer government gets to the people, we the people get something that we want from it. Even on a local level, this is changing.

Being in the newspaper business, I may get to see how different bodies of elected and appointed boards tend to hide what they are doing from the public.

Being a has-been politician, I can understand how this could happen. When I first went into office, there were seven county commissioners, including "ye scribe." That was before I got in the newspaper business. Three of those seven board members, all men, were against anything that raised taxes. That's not all that bad, since I only voted when there was a tie. That is what the chairman did on all boards, and still do, in most governments.

Even before the Georgia Sunshine Laws, our meetings were open to the public, and we published every meeting, so folks would know what we were doing.

I will admit, there were times that we all would have rather the public didn't know what we were doing. If it was controversial, it could get us beat the next time we ran.

I was 26 years old when I ran, and defeated my opposition for Ordinary (now Probate Judge). Back then, the Ordinary was also chairman of the county commissioners.

I did have an advantage over most politicians. I didn't run to stay in office. If I won, unless I was shot, I was there for four years. I really never planned to run again. Like most local political jobs back then, it didn't pay enough to live on.

In other words, I could do what I thought was best for the people of the county without having to worry about getting put out of office. Term limits do the same thing.

The county was about as broke as it could be, but over four years we finally got a lot of graft, stealing and poor business practices checked and did pretty good. We had a public work camp that was nearly selfsufficient. We had a pretty good road system and paved a number of county roads.

To tell the truth, I didn't have enough experience to know we couldn't do some things, so we did a lot on faith.

I found that if we could get out of debt without breaking the taxpayers and show them that what we did was beneficial to the whole, that was enough. We didn't try to run everything or everyone. Our job was roads and revenue, and that was enough. I found out early to cover your posterior and tax just enough to get by, but not too little. That saying, "Catchup is hell," can be doubled in government.

As I said, I never intended to run for a second term. The heads of the Democratic Party stopped me one day and said they were going to show me how they could beat me out of my job. I got mad and ran as the first Independent candidate for ordinary and won a second term. My folks, Ma and first wife, almost quit me. I promised I wouldn't run again, and I didn't get a vote the next election. Two terms was enough. One term was really enough.

I thought politics was tough until I got into the newspaper business. I was threatened on several occasions to be killed while ordinary and chairman of the commissioners. After I got into the newspaper business, some of the threats got me bruises and a building shot up.

There are always people who want to rule your life, and what you have. It has become my mission to help people keep the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I do not believe our government has the right to buy us with our own tax dollars. This has happened and will continue to happen as long as some people work and some do not. Our governments cannot give one person, or group, something unless it is taken away from someone else.

Freedom isn't free. If we don't constantly fight for it, we will lose it. It is worth fighting for.

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