Georgia's lesson in avarice

"Georgia keying on Civil War anniversary to boost tourism"
How many more of these headlines have to come out of Georgia before the backlash begins?

How many more stories do we have to read about the state officials who cannot wait to count the coins that fall from our pockets during the Sesquicentennial?

I have a tip for heritage tourism officials: stop generating stories about how you are going to fleece every fool who crosses your border with an ACW guidebook in hand. Start planting stories on how tourists are going to be pampered and spoiled, the wonderful experiences they will have, the improvements your staff is making for their comfort and what you are doing for the cause of local history.

How about a message that blends the specialness of the locality with insights of historical importance? If all else fails, talk about the freebies you are going to heap upon visitors who stop at your state visitor centers [sound of raucous laughter in the wings].

Some readers understand that these suggestions, made above, are absurd. Making them gives me an odd satisfaction anyway.

I know that when some state tourism hack gets a little access to newspaper ink, he is going to trumpet how economically useful his position is to the state, how much dollar value the state gets or will get from his office, his staff, and his budget. He is going to use a reporter's visit to talk indirectly to his bosses and the local taxpayers and the voters, not waste it on generating tourism.

I understand that all these economically-themed Georgia stories are local and the audiences are local too and that we see them thanks to the accident of Internet publishing. They were not meant for our eyes. Nevertheless, even a locally-focused story must have some element of why people will come and what Georgia will be doing to attract them - unless that element is not there. And it isn't there.

The closest we get is the news that in some way, somewhere down the road, Resaca may be developed if funds are made available. Still working on the plans though.

Very compelling.

Also, Georgia's solons are wrestling with grand historiography instead of local history: "We have the opportunity now to really take a step back and look at it from a variety of perspectives and tell a complete story that really helps define where we have been and where we are as a people."

Who thinks they need to travel to Georgia to wallow in locally crafted, politicized, feel-good pop history? Not a magnet, folks. Sorry.

These news stories show no inkling that the state, on a tourism basis, will be competing with major Civil War destinations. There is no sense, even given the repulsive and avaricious value system of heritage tourism, that Georgia will be in a popularity contest with other heritage tourism organizations.

Apparently Georgia thinks its job will be, at the appointed time, to physically exist and have enough T-shirts and hotel rooms to go around. In this state's view, a developed Resaca will be a bonus for visitors, if it happens. Some kind of approved spiel will be recited by the state history robotniks and lapped up by the rubes. Knick-knacks will fly off the shelves, restaurants will overflow, cash registers will ring, and infrastructure will suffer little wear and tear in return for all that out-of-state revenue.

Something tells me, it's probably not just Georgia but Georgia leads the pack in these kinds of reports.

Meanwhile, some unplesant reading for Georgia's economists: