Time For Something Different

This week’s Courier Herald Column:

My public writing began as somewhat of an accident.  Almost eight years ago I made a wisecrack on a political blog under an assumed name in the middle of the night.  Three and a half years ago I was named editor of that website, PeachPundit.com.  Shortly after I began writing a daily political column which lasted for three sessions of the General Assembly and a few campaigns before I curtailed that to a weekly format.

As a student of economics, I can never forget that time is a fixed commodity.  Opportunity cost is real.  My date of birth tells me I can no longer pretend I am not middle aged.  None of us knows what time we have left.

What began as a hobby and turned into an avocation now consumes the vast majority of my waking hours.  It’s often rewarding, sometimes frustrating, and frequently amusing.  Every day is different.  But every day is also more time.  And at the end of the day, passing on opinions without setting in motion a plan of action is a use of time.  Scarce, precious time.

This time is an investment that cannot be refunded.  As such, there needs to be a return on the investment. It’s time to strive for more than offering opinion. It’s time to get some results. 

In short, with the help of some trusted friends and acquaintances, I will now be the President and Executive Director of an advocacy group known as PolicyBEST.  My goal is to narrow my concentration to subjects where we need more focus and frankly, more governing.  In the areas of Business growth, Education, Science Medicine and Technology, and Transportation we have too often let the debate get distracted by either shrill dissent or complete misdirection.

All politics is local, and PolicyBEST will have a Georgia focus and flavor.  While I’ve been spending a bit more time than usual in Washington DC lately, the one thing I’ve found most interesting is that the political climate here locally affects decisions there as much if not more so than Washington’s decisions affect us.  As such, our focus will be not only on the decisions that are made here, but which topics are receiving an insufficient part of the political discussion there.

The education debate has become sidetracked by the issue of Common Core, of which so much misinformation has been disseminated that it will be difficult to get a productive conversation back on track.  Lost in that discussion is that too many of our students continue to graduate unprepared for the job market of the 21st century, and too many more still fail to graduate.  It’s time we took a deep breath and figure out what would get Georgia’s students best prepared for the future they want to have and for the workforce that we need.

Georgia has amazing assets in the scientific and medical communities that should be better utilized in our economic development assets.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coupled with the research being done in institutions such as Emory, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, and Georgia Regents University provide more research output than the “Research Triangle” of North Carolina.  Georgia needs an honest effort to harness these synergies, while adopting policies at a public level that promote, rather than hinder, this research community.

In addition, we have a crisis of healthcare delivery in rural Georgia.  Doctors will not relocate to an area where they will be compensated below cost on the vast majority of patients, and there is a thinning safety net of rural hospitals to shoulder the burden.

As for transportation, it is time to refocus.  Georgia is growing again after a brief break.  Traffic congestion in our metro areas is destined to get worse, not better.  While some regions of the state passed a T-SPLOST referendum two years ago, other more congested areas including the Atlanta region soundly rejected the proposal.  This does not mean voters did not believe that there isn’t a problem or that the problem is gone away.  It means there needs to be a direct conversation about how to move forward.  Tuesday, PolicyBEST will launch with this discussion as its first focus topic.

What we will also do Tuesday is demonstrate that PolicyBEST will not be yet another ideological ivory tower academic exercise or hyper-partisan campaign machine.  We will instead do something that might not always have been as obvious in my writing: We will start from a point of forming consensus.

At the end of the day, rigid opinions are fine. But to change things in government we must first have some sense of common ground.  That’s the difference in being “right” and getting results.

If results matter, it can’t be about personal opinions or healthy egos.  It’s about finding the right positions where enough people agree that an issue can be moved forward.  Hopefully, that’s where we’re headed.  I hope you engage, and hold me to it.


  1. Harry says:

    I’m glad you’re finding a way to get compensated, you need to get compensated, but please keep us informed on who is paying the bill.

  2. saltycracker says:

    A good elected friend once told me that my volunteer (amateur) work would tire over time as the siege usually goes to those that depend on the outcome for their livelihood or survival.
    Or as the coach said, who wants it the most ?

    Under the current political environment you have made a choice that stands the better chance of results.

  3. Robin Wheeler says:

    Little Charlie Harper is all grown up. (Come on, you didn’t think we’d be serious here, did you?)

    Anyway, congrats pal. Very proud of you.

  4. NoTeabagging says:

    I have always enjoyed your thoughtful, well written columns posted here. I hope these will continue. Keep up the good work. Wherever you are.

  5. Lea Thrace says:

    Congrats on the new venture. I look forward to hearing more about it.

    But please make sure it doesnt take time away from you yelling at the kids to get off your lawn. That is my favorite part of PP. 😀

  6. Sherena Arrington says:

    Well, here’s hoping you enjoy this new opportunity and that you will take time to sit down with Eric Erickson about Common Core. At least he understands the issue whereas your sources that you constantly listen to have only shown you a small part of the big picture. This is just one more piece of a 30-year march to take over the constitutional state responsibililty for education. How do you like the federal results so far from the last 15 years: Goals 2000, School to Work, Workforce Development Act, School to Careers, No Child Left Behind, America Competes Act, and on it goes. Common Core and its framework is just more of the same, but worse. At least the others started out in a lawful way by passing Congress. Race to the Top was created wholecloth from the federal Executive Branch using Bail Out funds to entice State Executive Branch officials to take the money without counting the cost. The scoring system ensured that “winners” of the grant would be tied to common standards that were essentially the same from state to state, known currently as the Common Core. This is antithetical to federalism, that one bulwark against an all encompassing centralized power. It is a time-tested principle of political philosophy that any type of central power will continue to seek more power in order to herd people into a place where they are under control. Common Core planners know their work is antithetical to local control and have basically stated they think that is a good thing. The next shoe to drop, watch Fordham Institute, among others, start the trial balloon to eviscerate what is left of the power of local school boards. Our founders knew the principle of subsidiarity. Today, people have no clue that once we finish the sell out to federal funds and all the strings attached that individual liberty will yield to that drumbeat as well. Reread the Federalist Papers. Consider the wisdom that founded this nation in the first place. Consider whether you want education in the 21st century to merely train young people for jobs or whether our young people deserve the kind of education that allowed the founders to have the wisdom to build a nation.

  7. Jane says:

    Common Core and other federal efforts will succeed or fail based on the faith voters have in the Federal Government.

    For a major educational reform to succeed it must be well marketed with major local input.

  8. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    All the very best to you, this sounds like a needed an worth while endeavor.

    Keep us posted on how we engage on these issues.

  9. Scott65 says:

    Congrats Charlie…just remember…
    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but everyone is not entitled to their own facts. Always let facts guide you through the maze of opinion…
    but you know that, and I am sure you will navigate them wonderfully.

  10. Lo Mein says:

    Oh good, just what we need, another liberal (oops, I mean “moderate” or “middle of the road”) advocacy group, to tell us stupid conservatives and libertarians how we need to “grow up” and “learn how politics really works” and “learn that governing is all about compromising” — the message we’ve been hearing from you for almost eight years. (Well, especially for the last three and a half years.)

    It IS time for something different. Please tell me this means you’re leaving your “leadership” position at PP. Erick stunk, but at least he could write cogently about the issues and understood concepts like “principles”. I liked Icarus and his snark; since Icarus left and Charlie arrived, PP has nosedived downhill. Give it back to Erick, and maybe he can pick someone with right-leaning gonads this time.

    Bless your heart.

    • Rick Day says:

      It appears from this and previous posts that Mr. Chinese Dish has a boner for C.H.

      And from one right leaning independent to a shill troll: grow up. A Nazi trolling (GODWIN) a right wing blog is just too obvious to not point out and mock. Does Dr. Broun know one of his grandkids is acting all W.O.W. in the political halls?

      brb, off playing Chopsticks.

      • Lo Mein says:

        Wow, combining racism AND triggering Godwin’s law in one post. You’re doing well, Rick. As always.

        • Rick Day says:

          I’ve learned from the best, young noodle. Lee Atwater. As always….

          However, terminal conditions lead to change of hearts. This is what Lee said his legacy left:

          The ’80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.

          Tumor of the soul. I like that better than my J’accuse “losing touch with your human side.”

          Racism? Hey I’m not the one hiding behind a limp noodle here.
          不要成为一个傻瓜 (Bùyào chéngwéi yīgè shǎguā)

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      You took the words right out of my fingertips. Put this group in the pile with the rest of the squishy Bush-era republicans trying to nudge their way back into relevance.

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