Kyle Wingfield of the AJC is fired up about Georgia politicians accepting free perks from Delta and he’s right to be disappointed. Can you imagine if Delta were the defendant in a trial and gave the judge free frequent flyer miles during pre-trial hearings? That would be absurd. So what is the difference? From the article:
The upgrades are properly understood as gifts — lobbying gifts — from a company seeking an extension of the partial exemption on sales tax for jet fuel it’s enjoyed since 2005. Delta got just that when HB 322 was passed this spring, saving the company tens of millions of dollars.
No wonder it passed: Besides Ralston, Delta contributed to Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal and House Transportation Chairman Jay Roberts, who sponsored HB 322. On the Senate side, it wasn’t only Cagle and Williams but Majority Leader Chip Rogers and Ronnie Chance, a floor leader for the Deal administration.
For some reason, this story got my goat more than the typical campaign-money revelation. Maybe it’s the obviously false pretext that these gifts were election-related.
More likely, it’s the reinforcement that our elected officials believe they deserve a cushier lifestyle than their constituents. Not because they can afford it, but just because they’ve been elected.
As Bob Irvin, former House minority leader and past chairman of Common Cause Georgia, told me, “This just ought to be stopped. It feeds the entitlement mentality of people in government. And while we’re fixing the entitlement problems for the country as a whole, we ought to be fixing it for government officials and staff, too.”
Every single day there are thousands of people in Georgia volunteering their time on behalf of their community. These people volunteer in soup kitchens, teach Sunday school classes, coach baseball or softball and donate time to the local PTA just to name a few. And not a single one of them expects to get free gifts worth thousands of dollars for their service to society. Yet for some reason many of our current political “public servants” seem to think their contribution is so singularly important that they should be entitled to special privileges.
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi dictated that the “little people” of the United States had to use low flow toilets and cfl light bulbs while she flew around on gigantic military aicraft stocked with enough booze to supply an entire Russian village for a year. Before Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested for raping a hotel maid, the head of the International Monetary Fund was staying in $3,000 a night hotel rooms while he redistributed wealth from the United States to people all over the world.
Membership in the ruling class does have its privileges.