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Emmerich: Our Stubbornness Will Cost the State Many Good Jobs

Wyatt Emmerich, photo from www.northsidesun.com
Wyatt Emmerich, photo from www.northsidesun.com

Our new Republican leaders are so desperate for new jobs, they’ll fork over billions in taxpayers’ money to bribe big foreign companies to come to Mississippi.

Yet their stubborn determination not to be out-right-winged has led to back-to-back public relations blunders which could cost Mississippi untold thousands of jobs. First it was the flag. Now it’s the religious freedom law.

Changing the flag costs nothing. Yet it would vastly improve our state’s image and make industrial recruiting far easier.

As for the religious freedom law, it was unnecessary. Mississippi does not have an anti-discrimination law like Colorado and 22 others states. It’s as though we have repealed a law that doesn’t exist. Our state constitution already protects religious freedom.

This whole brouhaha stems from a Colorado baker who got sued under state law because he wouldn’t bake a cake for a gay wedding.

Colorado has a law that forbids sexual preference discrimination. Mississippi has no such law. Our Republican leaders have accomplished nothing in real terms while leveling yet another huge PR blow to our state. That’s not leadership. That’s political pandering.

How likely do you think Apple, the biggest company in the world, would locate a big facility in Mississippi with this new law? By the way, the Apple CEO is gay. Mississippi will now be blacklisted by innumerable progressive companies that are offended by our flag and now offended by a law they perceive as gay bashing.

We spend millions in advertising trying to improve Mississippi’s image . . . and then take a big shotgun and collectively shoot ourselves in the foot.

Flipside, the hyperbole of the left-wing media and the LGBT community is just making matters worse. This spurs Mississippi conservatives to dig in their heels even more. Bad situation all around.

Now to the meat of the matter. First the flag:

I have a dozen Confederate soldiers as ancestors, all from Mississippi. My children are sixth-generation Mississippians 29 times over. I don’t lose any sleep because my ancestors fought to defend slavery. The war is ancient history.

One great thing about Americans – we move on. We don’t live in the past. Why would we want to imitate the centuries-long grudges of our Scottish ancestors? They still hate the English. It is one thing to appreciate history and tradition. It is another thing to get mired in it.

The war was a terrible national tragedy fought to defend one of the most noxious institutions in the history of man – slavery. Nobody can deny this. Why are we clinging to a symbol of this tragic disaster? Even worse, the Confederate battle flag has been co-opted as a universal symbol of hate. It’s now toxic. Yet we cling to it.

Gen. Robert E. Lee warned, “I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

When asked by a widow what to do about her husband’s old Confederate battle flag, Lee wrote, “Fold it up and put it away.”

We should take the general’s advice.

On to gay marriage: There is someone else’s advice we should consider. Jesus Christ.

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s. Our state Legislature is forgetting this advice. Like it or not, the U.S. Supreme Court has given same sex unions full legal equivalence to traditional marriage.

That doesn’t mean your church has to host gay marriages, but it means gay marriages will be equal under the secular laws that rule our nation.

The most basic tenet of Christianity is saving grace. No man overcomes sin. That’s like trying to put a camel through the eye of a needle. Heterosexuals and homosexuals equally fall short. We need to get people going to church, not running them away because we appear so judgmental.

Jesus didn’t come to earth with a list of 2,432 rules. He talked in parables so we could get the big picture. He disdained the rule-making Pharisees. “He who is without sin throw the first stone.”

Greed, lust, gluttony, idolatry, sloth, anger, pride. There is plenty of sin to go around. Nobody is immune. We need to ask ourselves as Christians why we are focusing on the slivers in the eyes of others when we have huge planks in our own eyes.

Why would someone choose to be gay when the rest of the world is straight? Simple observation tells us homosexuality is not a choice. I am straight by birth. I could not be married to a man no matter how hard I tried.

Gays who are trying to commit to a monogamous relationship are doing the best they can given the cards they have been dealt. Who are we to judge?

Jesus made it simple for us. He summed up all of Christianity in two basic commands: Love God. Love your neighbor. He had ample time on Earth to expound on the evils of homosexuality. The Bible has no record of such.

We have dozens of denominations so the message of grace can reach the maximum number of people. There is room for reasonable Christan discussion on this issue. The government needs to stay out of it.

The religious freedom bill is a good example of how our Republican Legislature is focused on form over substance.

Guns in churches is the best we can do? Really? What happened to turning the other cheek?

Meanwhile, our state turns down a billion dollars in federal money – money that would provide healthcare to struggling families – because many Republicans think the Medicaid expansion is Obamacare.

Mississippi’s rejection of our national health care laws is costing lives and jobs. Our rural hospitals are closing. This is money the feds will simply give to Mississippi if we would just take it. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth!

It took our Legislature two hours to give a German tire company $600 million in subsidies. But it takes an entire year to study the itemization of campaign contributions. Our bidding laws are in shambles. Our meagar ethics laws go unenforced.

Our state roads deteriorate because the gas tax hasn’t been adjusted for inflation in more than 20 years. Poor maintenance ends up multiplying the ultimate cost.

We give tax breaks and subsidies to huge foreign companies while Mississippi’s homegrown small businesses have to pay an annual franchise tax – a tax almost every other state doesn’t impose.

That can is being kicked down the road this session.

Our unemployment rate is the worst in the nation. Twenty years ago it was one of the best. Company-specific mega subsidies don’t work long range.

Competition is good, monopoly bad. A competitive two-party system may be better than the one-party way we do things in Mississippi. It was true when the Democrats ran the state. And it’s proving to be true now that the Republicans are firmly in charge.

Reprinted with permission from Wyatt Emmerich, publisher of the Northside Sun.

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