Remember blue laws? They are laws that often, when compared to the nuances of modern day society, make people shake their heads and wonder what group of lawmakers ever thought that we needed such regulations. Many of the blue laws clearly intertwined the church and the state, such as laws forbidding businesses to open on Sunday.
Y'all remember Sunday, don't you? It used to be the day a majority of Americans rested and worshiped. Now it is hard to distinguish Sunday from any other day of the week unless you are hankering for a Chick-fil-A sandwich and an order of waffle fries. I'm not sure but I think it was youth soccer programs that began to make inroads against Sunday. Or maybe it was Walmart. I'm not sure. All I know is that anything goes and, from a purely legal sense, I suppose anything should.
But there are a lot of other old blue laws still on the books in various parts of this state and beyond. Did you know, for instance, that in Georgia members of the General Assembly cannot be ticketed for speeding when the legislature is in session? In Columbus, it is against the law to cuss over the phone or wear a hat in a movie theater and in Atlanta you can't tie a giraffe to a street light.
I ain't making this up y'all. I read it on the Internet, so I know it's true. In Columbus it is also against the law to have a picnic in a cemetery, but to even things out it is also illegal to bury a person under a sidewalk. In Gainesville, the Poultry Capital of the World, there is a city ordinance against eating fried chicken with a knife and fork, as well there should be -- but would you think we'd have to pass a law against it?
I'll tell you something else you wouldn't think we'd need to pass a law against, but apparently we do. You wouldn't think we'd need to pass laws in this country prohibiting welfare money to be spent on tattoos and strippers and cigarettes and such. According to published reports -- which are almost as dependable a source as "they say" -- more and more of the taxpayers' money is being spent on the types of items listed above -- and much worse.
By the grace of God I have never been put in a situation in which I had to rely on the public dole for a living. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, however. If me or mine found ourselves in a situation in which one of us needed a bit of public assistance to get over a rough patch, financially, I would be mighty glad that public assistance existed and would not be too proud, I don't believe, to accept food stamps or use an EBT card or whatever it is that folks do who need a little help. But I would hope that I would use the benefits I received to feed myself and my family.
As a taxpayer, I have always assumed the government had safeguards in place to make sure that welfare recipients used their benefits for the necessities of life. Everyone knows what happens when you assume something and, once again, the old adage apparently holds true. Many states, so it seems, are having to take steps to keep welfare money from being spent on prostitutes, casino gambling and alcohol -- and a lot of it is apparently wasted, also.
How does this happen, you ask? Surely you can't step up to the stage and hand a stripper an EBT card or walk into a liquor store and buy a fifth of Jack Daniels or a bottle of Red Hurricane wine and pay for it with the modern day equivalent of food stamps?
No, you can't -- at least not in most states. But many states do allow welfare recipients to receive cash from ATM machines and once a person gets cash in his or her hand they can pretty much buy anything they want from anybody willing to sell it.
Many states are now making it against the law for welfare recipients to spend cash on the aforementioned goods and services. Yeah, right. Try enforcing those laws. Others are requiring owners of ATMs located in strip joints and tattoo parlors and liquor stores to fix the machines so that they won't accept EBT cards. That makes as much sense as telling someone they can't tie their giraffe to a street light.
As you might expect, a lot of folks are up in arms that the government would attempt to tell people how to spend "their" money. Actually, they aren't. They are trying to tell them how they can spend my money and yours. A simple solution would be to simply discontinue the practice of withdrawing cash with EBT cards.
Way too simple. It'll never fly.
Meanwhile, don't keep your donkey in the bathtub. That's against the law in Georgia.Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/darrellhuckaby.