Georgia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
Valdosta Daily Times on hurricane scammers:
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr issued a statewide warning for residents to be on the lookout for the scams.
We join the AG in urging our readers to be skeptical, read the fine print and don’t take everything at face value.
“Georgians were hit hard by Hurricane Michael, and we will not tolerate criminals who seek to exploit this natural disaster by taking advantage of storm victims or preying on the sympathies of those who want to help their neighbors,” Carr said. “Our Consumer Protection Division put together the following recommendations on how to avoid falling victim to scams, and we stand ready to take action against anyone engaging in unfair or deceptive practices.”
So, we share these tips and reminders from the Attorney General:
— Ask friends, neighbors and coworkers for referrals.
— Check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to see if there are any complaints against the business.
— Make sure that general contractors, electricians, plumbers and heating and air-conditioning contractors are licensed. You can verify this on the Secretary of State’s website: www.sos.georgia.gov. Note that certain specialty occupations such as roofers, painters, drywall contractors and repair handymen are not required to be licensed by the state.
— Get written bids from several contractors. Be skeptical if the bid is too low. Cheaper is not necessarily better. Ask for references and check them out.
Carr also warned that con artists sometimes pose as insurance agents, Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel or event law enforcement. Simply put, never give out personal or financial information to someone you don’t know. Services offered by FEMA are free.
Unfortunately, you also have to be aware of fake charities, people taking advantage of other people’s misfortune.
So, the Attorney General offers these tips to generous people who just sincerely want to help others:
— Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and avoid clicking on any links they contain. Only open attachments from senders you know and trust.
— Don’t give out money over the phone unless you have initiated the call and are confident that the charity is legitimate.
— You can research a charity by going to www.give.org or www.charitynavigator.org.
— Look up the actual website of the charity you want to donate to rather than trusting a link from an email or pop-up ad. (Note that legitimate charities’ websites typically end in .org, not .com).
— Be cautious of crowdfunding sites. Since some crowdfunding sites do little to vet people who post for assistance after a disaster, be extra diligent about donating this way. The Better Business Bureau warns that some individuals posting for donations may not have any official connection to a charitable organization or could be using names and photos of victims without their families’ permission.
Anyone who thinks they may be the victim of a scam, or who experienced an attempt by the con artists should contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at 1-800-869-1123.
The Savannah Morning News says Georgia is well positioned from a jobs and economic growth standpoint heading into the November election:
Election candidates tend to campaign on fixing things, with bullet point plans that look sexy on a flyer, website homepage or print ad and clever, concise calls to action that resonate with rally attendees.
The handyman approach is the wrong one for Georgia’s next governor on at least one issue: employment and economic development.
Both Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp seem to understand the goal is to avoid breaking the state’s momentum in terms of job and business growth. The state unemployment rate dipped to 3.8 percent in August, the most recent month for which data is available. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the month marked the first time since the Great Recession that Georgia’s rate dipped below the national average of 3.9 percent, also for August. The state added 61,300 jobs in the first eight months of the year.
Nearly 5 million Georgians are currently employed in the state. So few are looking for work - less than 200,000 - that the Department of Labor is struggling financially; the bureau’s budget is based on the number of unemployment claims.
That’s one problem the state’s labor commissioner, Mark Butler, is happy to have.
The strong jobs market reaches across all sectors and the demand stretches from professionals to skilled tradesmen to laborers. Trade schools, like Savannah Technical College, are encountering enrollment declines as would-be students find high-paying jobs that don’t require degrees and employers in need of those with specific skills hire that talent before they complete their programs.
Those businesses then help their new employees earn certifications and finish their educations.
The next governor’s focus should be on supporting and growing workforce development initiatives, such as Georgia Best, a labor department program that teaches soft skills to teenagers and young adults. The state should continue to seek out local partnerships and support groups such as the Tourism Leadership Council, a group comprised of Savannah’s hospitality workers and committed to education, advocacy and training.
Abrams has proposed a state-backed apprenticeship program.
Assuming both candidates are serious about maintaining the pro-business environment fostered by current Gov. Nathan Deal, a shortage of trained, educated and well-rounded workers is the most ominous threat to Georgia’s economic growth. A dearth could stifle expansion plans for big companies already based here and complicated efforts to attract those looking to relocate in the state.
Beyond leveraging the assets already in place, the candidates have their own ideas on how to make Georgia a better place to work. Both see opportunities to grow “Main Street” and small businesses: Abrams through programs that provide easier access to financing; Kemp by revamping or eliminating regulations.
Abrams’ platform includes several other potential focus areas, such as investments in the clean energy sector and state infrastructure. She’s also a proponent of Medicaid expansion, which could impact healthcare employment, particularly in rural areas.
Her most controversial proposal involves raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, even as labor market conditions are driving up wages.
Kemp’s approach is to keep the state government out of the private business sector. His plan includes capping state spending and building on the tax reform enacted by Deal and the Republican-led legislature.
Georgia is well positioned from a jobs and economic growth standpoint heading into the November election, and both candidates realize it. We encourage voters to further examine the issue and the candidates’ positions before heading to the polls.
Augusta Chronicle on helping others during the holiday season:
Thanksgiving and Christmas are on their way. If you’ve started thinking about either one or both, you may be thinking about what family members you want to invite to your home for the holiday meal. You may be thinking about what you’re going to cook to serve your company or, if you’re going to someone else’s house, you might be selecting what you’re going to bring.
It’s also a time when people in need have their greatest needs. It’s the time when people who live without so many of the things we take for granted want to share the kind of meal with their families that others enjoy. They want to provide the types of things for the kids at Christmas that their friends, neighbors and classmates receive.
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
This is a great opportunity to share your good fortune with others; and, it’s a wonderful way to introduce your child to the spirit of giving and help your child understand it’s OK to not have what others have. Everything we have is a blessing; because, somewhere there are those with less.
The best way to teach gratitude, grace and generosity to your children is to show them. Demonstrate these characteristics so your children will have an example and a path to follow.
This is the time when our neighbors may need an extra helping hand.
Find out what is needed by your local food pantry, your church or your favorite charity and provide that or at least help to provide what is needed. If you don’t have a particular charity you want to help, you don’t belong to a church and there aren’t food pantries close by, look for one or start with your family, friends and neighbors. Is someone sick, in the hospital or alone? Visit or invite them to join you for your holiday meal.
Some of the people we think are the most put together and have the most going on, turn out to be the loneliest.