First there was the news that the Veterans Administration would not cover the cost of service dogs trained to help our service men and women overcome the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.
Despite many testimonials to the fact that a dog can help vets cope with combat-related disabilities, the VA says the plan “lacked research substantiating the efficiency of mental health service dogs.”
Dang it, these guys and gals have served under conditions most of us can hardly imagine and all they are asking for is a doggie to help them deal with the effects of what they did so we wouldn’t have to. Give them one.
OK, the dogs have to be trained. So train them. Is this too much to ask? If Congress ignores this, we need a new Congress.
And while we are on dogs, did you know that thanks to the lobbying of a few vets of the veterinarian variety, the low-cost spay and neuter clinics around the state could be closed. Legislators let the bill that would keep the clinics open die in committee and then denied they did it. The loss of these facilities will end up costing Alabamians money and causing animals unnecessary suffering. If you are interested, go to www.alabamavotesforanimals.org.
Now, I am not knocking veterinarians. Among them are some of the most caring folks I know. I took my old dog to one just the other day. She is in double digits, age-wise, losing weight, but she still eats, drinks and gets frisky between naps. It is hard to watch an old friend fade away, but I had to check one more time to see if anything could be done. No. Kidney failure. But, the vet told me, if she is eating, drinking and not in distress, let her go on as long as she can.
I told my sweet bride that when I reach my end, treat me the same way.
Then came the news that the American Civil Liberties Union was suing the state of Georgia because it won’t let the Ku Klux Klan take part in a highway cleanup program. It is not that the ACLU particularly likes the KKK, but the ACLU (a group many love to hate) really cares about that little thing in the U.S. Constitution called “equal protection under the law.” If a group as despicable as the KKK can’t be free to clean up a stretch of Georgia road, then who will be the next denied that right? Once the ball starts rolling, where will it stop?
Then I learned that that same state of Georgia was closing its state archives to the public because it can’t afford to keep it open — well, it can, but the person in charge would rather cut access to this important educational facility instead of cutting somewhere else or, dare I say it, raising taxes.
Thus, Georgia became the only state in this union of ours without an archives open to the public.
This really upset me. I virtually wrote my first book in the Georgia archives. Historians, genealogists (many from Alabama), reporters and legislators who need information use the archives’ resources. Like any archives, Alabama’s included, Georgia’s is one of that state’s principal educational institutions.
The outcry was so great that Georgia Gov. Nathan “let’s-make-a” Deal has assured residents that it won’t happen, though not many are inclined to believe him — least of all the ones whose jobs are being cut.
Georgia’s archives is a great facility. I was there a few weeks before the ax dropped and the place was buzzing with activity. Surely there is some way to get the money to keep it open.
Which brings me around to a point my old buddy Jim, a professor at the University of Georgia and a blogger (www.cobbloviate.com), pointed out.
If Georgia would quit subsidizing lung cancer and bring its cigarette tax up to the national average, then there would be more than enough money to keep the archives open with a lot left over for other educational activities.
Which brings me around to Alabama, which has a state Legislature that refuses to raise the cigarette tax and use the money to help fund Medicaid. Come to think of it, raising the cigarette tax would also discourage smoking and reduce the health problems created by tobacco, problems that usually land in Medicaid’s lap.
Cobb, Lord love him, suggested that by refusing to raise the cigarette tax, “truth in advertising requires that at the very least [the Georgia legislature] should issue special license plates proclaiming the state ‘Historically Ignorant, But a Great Place to Smoke.’”
Alabama, by doing the same thing, could issue special plates of its own. Alabama, “Where you can smoke but you better not get sick.”
Or, maybe one with a more positive message: “At least our archives is open — for now.”
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University and an editorial writer and columnist for The Star. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.