Editorial: A non-existent problem — ‘Merry Christmas’ bill is fine, but what about Alabama’s real issues?
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Nov 19, 2013 | 1951 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this photo taken April, 24, 2013, Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, studies the proposed education budget during a committee meeting at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala. Allen says he aims to shut down a little-known education foundation that may have brought in less money than the state's school system spent running it.  Photo: Dave Martin/The Associated Press
In this photo taken April, 24, 2013, Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, studies the proposed education budget during a committee meeting at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala. Allen says he aims to shut down a little-known education foundation that may have brought in less money than the state's school system spent running it. Photo: Dave Martin/The Associated Press
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Allow us to interpret why one-fifth of Alabama state senators have endorsed a “Merry Christmas” bill.

The short answer is it’s a way to score cheap political points.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa. If passed in the 2014 session of the Legislature, the law would allow teachers to wish students “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Holidays.”

We know of no case in Alabama where teachers have not been able to offer holiday greetings.

Also, no word yet on if the same lawmakers who gave us Alabama’s disgraceful anti-immigrant law will also permit teachers to say, “Feliz Navidad.”

Before the 2014 session is over, it’s likely even more lawmakers will support the “Merry Christmas” law. Who could oppose it? Not the ACLU of Alabama. Susan Watson, director of the ACLU of Alabama, told The Star, “The ACLU is all for people celebrating the holidays any way they want to.”

So, it looks like the Legislature offering a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

Allow us to remind lawmakers of a pair of very real problems facing Alabama.

Reliable estimates report that as many as one-fourth of Alabamians are functionally illiterate. That makes filling out a job application or helping with a kid’s homework extremely difficult. It also makes it more difficult for economic developers to sell the state’s workforce locating to make Alabama home.

An estimated 300,000 Alabama residents lack health insurance because Gov. Robert Bentley refused to expand Medicaid even though the feds would have picked up the bulk of the costs. A Merry Christmas for these working Alabamians would include quality health care.

In his classic “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens wrote that “no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused!”

Our legislators would be wise to take heed of Mr. Dickens’ words.
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