Georgia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Savannah Morning News on bringing the Nuclear Ship Savannah home:
The Nuclear Ship Savannah will soon make its final voyage.
The destination, just as it was on the ship’s maiden cruise 57 years ago, should be our city’s waterfront.
The 500-foot-long ship is to be decommissioned in the coming years, federal officials recently announced. From there, the N.S. Savannah’s fate is to become either an artificial reef or several million razor blades.
Unless, that is, some entrepreneur steps in with another idea. Such as repurposing the ship as an attraction in its namesake city.
City and state leaders considered bringing the N.S. Savannah home more than four decades ago. The ship left service in 1972 after demonstrating the viability of nuclear propulsion by logging more than 450,000 miles over an eight-year period. The N.S. Savannah covered enough water to circumnavigate the globe eight times.
Locals envisioned the ship as a floating museum, a hotel or a restaurant. The N.S. Savannah had captivated this community a decade earlier when it visited as part of its debut voyage. Thousands lined the riverfront and hundreds of pleasure craft hugged the shoreline to gawk at the gleaming white engineering marvel.
Yet the N.S. Savannah as a shoreside attraction was an idea ahead of its time. Georgia’s then governor, Jimmy Carter, withdrew the state’s financial commitment to the venture, deeming it a “white elephant.” That sunk the undertaking faster than a real elephant climbing into a dinghy.
The N.S. Savannah made a foray as a floating museum in Savannah’s rival city to the north, Charleston. The Savannah joined the U.S.S. Yorktown, a World War II era aircraft carrier, at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in 1981.
Interest proved fleeting, however, as the N.S. Savannah competed for attention — and shoreline space — with the retired warships on the Mount Pleasant waterfront. Maintenance needs required the ship to be drydocked in 1993, and Patriots Point officials suggested the N.S. Savannah find a new home.
The N.S. Savannah has remained largely out of the public eye since. The U.S. Maritime Administration initially added it to the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Virginia, a collection of ships that can be activated and put into service quickly in the event of a national emergency.
After a dozen years as part of this so-called “ghost fleet,” the N.S. Savannah was moved to a Baltimore marine terminal, where it remains today.
The time is right for the N.S. Savannah to find a new, higher-profile home port. The ship has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and the federal government has previously expressed interest in offering the ship for preservation.
Savannah is a logical locale. With Hutchinson Island and the eastern end of the Savannah waterfront poised for development, the N.S. Savannah would be an anchor showpiece, be it as a museum, restaurant, hotel, event venue or some combination thereof.
The N.S. Savannah was designed with 30 staterooms — with plenty of cargo space available to create more — and a dining room complete with a wine rack shaped like the periodic table. Given visitor interest in our city, the ship could become another invaluable tourism asset.
And not the kind you need scuba gear to explore.
The Augusta Chronicle on student loan debt:
The parents might have cheered louder than the students last Sunday at Atlanta’s Morehouse College.
The school’s commencement speaker, billionaire technology investor Robert F. Smith, shocked the audience by declaring he personally would pay off the student loan debt of the entire graduating class of nearly 400 young men.
It was as if someone rubbed a magic lamp and a genie emerged to grant a wish.
We salute Smith for his generosity. It’s not his first grand act of philanthropy. In 2016, he pledged $50 million through a foundation to his alma mater, Cornell University’s College of Engineering.
Anyone who gives such a substantial amount of money to improve an institution of higher learning is performing a wonderful service to society.
But the rest of recent college graduates and their parents won’t get Smith’s brand of financial-relief magic lavished on them. They might be breaking out in a sweat just reading all of this - dreading the student loan debt that’s looming over them.
Student loans are intended to make students’ lives easier. But they too often end up creating a financial burden - and even an unhealthy emotional burden - that lingers for years or even decades.
The federal government has been a big enabler. Before it got into the business of subsidizing education through student loan programs, starting in the 1960s, college tuition was more affordable. Today, the federal government offers and services 90 percent of all student loans. That’s a big reason why there is a very real student loan crisis in America and not, say, a car loan crisis.
Forgiving those loans makes matters worse. Heritage Foundation founder Edwin Feulner has pointed out the Congressional Budget Office estimates that “American taxpayers are set to lose $108 billion over the next decade due to loan forgiveness policies.” Loan forgiveness moves the burden of paying loans onto taxpayers and off of students. That obviously isn’t fair.
It’s perfectly possible to get a college education without relying on loans. You won’t be going to Harvard. But you won’t be drowning in debt, either. And at a smaller school, you might even get more focused instruction for a career that will earn yourself a handsome living. Just don’t take out huge loans you can’t afford to pay back.
That’s if you even choose college. A myth has emerged that if you don’t have a college degree, you won’t succeed. Certainly a degree can increase your chances for success. But it’s not necessary. Ask a tradesman who just performed several hundreds of dollars’ worth of repairs at your house: What Ivy League school did he attend?
A billionaire’s generosity Sunday shone a spotlight on one of this country’s lingering problems - the availability and affordability of higher education. And the Left’s proposal of making all college “free’ isn’t a wise answer. Ask taxpayers whether it would be free. If attempted now it would be ruinous.
Eliminating that loan forgiveness we talked about would be a step in the right direction. So would eliminating in-school interest subsidies - which costs taxpayers nearly $8 billion a year. How about consolidating more student loans? Or encouraging more private lending?
The answers are out there. To help solve the student loan crisis, our government needs to pursue the answers that work.
The Brunswick News on protecting Georgia’s coast:
We are in a precarious time for our coastal environment. Between combatting sea-level rise and the threat of offshore energy exploration, the future of our area’s greatest resources hangs in the balance. It’s important that our coast has a say in matters that affect it.
Our place on the coast plays a big factor in our economic engine. There are the obvious millions of dollars that tourism brings in each year, but we also have a deepwater port that brings in millions for our local economy every year.
But the economic advantages of preserving our pristine coast go beyond the obvious. Our quality of life is enhanced by our proximity to the coast. That quality of life is a tremendous chip to have when businesses are looking for somewhere to land.
Protecting our coast is a mission that has no end. Sea-level rise and climate change issues will continue to impede our area, one that is very vulnerable to the threat of rising seas. Our placement in the world is why it is important that our congressional representative Buddy Carter, R-1, is on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Climate Change.
Carter told the Golden Isles Republican Women recently that he takes the issue seriously. He has also shown a willingness to adapt to issues based on the will of the people. He reversed his stance on offshore drilling after the state legislature passed a non-binding resolution against it.
“Climate change is real. The climate has been changing since day one,” Carter told the group last week. “We’ve seen it through history, we know the climate is changing.”
Of course, the need to protect our coast is not something that will ever go away. That’s why it is important to foster environmental stewardship in the next generation.
Local environmental nonprofit One Hundred Miles will soon offer an outlet for students on the Georgia coast to engage in conservation. The nonprofit is looking for interested students to be part of its pilot program YELP — Youth Environmental Leadership Program.
The program, which is open to rising high school students, aims to involve teenagers in activities along the 100-mile Georgia coast and to help them become good stewards of the environment and active leaders in their communities. The program is taking applications through May and starts up in September.
We encourage every student to learn as much as they can about our unique environment. Through learning about our piece of the coast, they will see how vital it is to our area.
The coast will need people to protect it in the present and in the future. We are glad that our area’s voice will be part of the discussion now to find solutions, and that we are fostering young minds that will help protect it in the future.