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As always, I’m a day late and now short thousands of dollars by not participating in the self-serving world of Arkansas legislative politics.

If only as a lifelong journalist I would have created some seemingly relevant and wide-ranging title for a startup company—perhaps “Masterson’s Food, Science, Technology, Sanitation and Road Construction Inc.”—then have a legislator friend push through one of the state’s $40,000 General Improvement Fund grants, I could have paid cash for a loaded 2018 vehicle.

After kicking back a portion to my cohort politician, I would have plenty left to satisfy my own greed. There’s no question the friendly Economic Development District board responsible for signing off on our deal would have quickly applied a rubber stamp. Done deal.

Next thing you know I’d have been cruisin’ to ’60s tunes and inhaling that new-car smell.

But no. A growing number of the legislative good ol’ boys had to kill the Golden Goose GIFt (t my add) program which offered millions in our surplus taxes awarded to their favorite local GIFt projects. And did they ever collect those golden eggs, having approved more than 4,000 such grants to the tune of $50 million over the years.

I’m pretty sure the state’s GIFt program was intended as a way for honest public servants to divvy up surplus funds for legitimate community improvement projects back home.

But after the shell came off on this GIFt-giving kickback fiasco (beginning with former Northwest Arkansas legislators now facing trial along with the president of Ecclesia College and his promoter) the entire program fell under scrutiny, leading to more questions, most recently about the role of Arkansas Health and Economic Research Inc. (There’s one of those catch-all names) and its own hefty GIFt grant. Now other GIFt recipients statewide are part of the federal investigation.

And this newspaper has done an admirable job on its own investigation into the lucrative grant game with our tax dollars.

Investigators are examining details of how a well-intentioned program designed to return benefits to our communities across this rural state can be turned into an ATM for wise guys and cooperative legislators who could acquire the cash by asking for it.

I’ll just plop down here beside you and we will wait to see how deep and wide this muck puddle really is. And I’ll just have to accept that had I only been brilliant and devious enough to dream up a public-service-sounding name for a company like, say, what about “Masterson’s Dental Care and Brain Surgery for the Impoverished Inc.”? But it’s too late now.

About spirit and mind

With every mass shooting in our nation comes predictable and immediate cries from leftist citizens for gun control they must really believe will stop the violence that stems far more from the darkness in troubled minds and spirits than from an inanimate trigger.

Look no further than Chicago with its ineffective, ultra-restrictive gun-control laws to see how worthless these rules are in reality.

Any meaningful change must begin from within hearts and minds. Otherwise, those bent on killing will continue using whatever means are at their disposal to take lives. It ranges from fertilizer to box cutters, knives, vehicles, fire, water, rope, hammers, poison, ice picks, and bare hands to commit their horrible acts.

Any adult believe we should let the same inept, politicized government that has America $20 trillion in the hole, misadministers our health and welfare programs, has used agencies as weapons, and is bankrupting our Social Security system, choose to use guns to take those of its citizens, thus leaving only the government holding firearms? What could possibly go wrong with that scenario?

Our regrets

It’s true when all said and done in this lifetime we share, those things we didn’t choose to do when we had the opportunity will create the most regrets.

I certainly can reflect on decisions that should have been different than they were when it came to enriching fulfillments and enjoyments over the decades. How about you, valued readers? Sometimes the things we regret have altered our lives profoundly.

Here are some universal regrets, part of which I happened across on the Internet. So many of us undoubtedly can relate.

Not traveling when we had the opportunity.

Staying far too long in a bad or unrewarding relationship.

Caring too much about what others think.

Being fearful to say I love you.

Being fearful of saying something before the moment was forever lost.

Being fearful of most anything.

Leaving too soon, or without closure.

Acting too quickly out of impulsive emotion or anger.

Wasting nights in sleepless and fruitless worry over relatively insignificant matters.

Not spending enough time with kids or grandkids.

Not spending enough time with parents and grandparents.

Never taking a big risk with potentially big rewards.

Failing to recognize how beautiful and valuable you are.

Failing to leave a terrible and unfulfilling job.

Sacrificing personal time for more work.

Along these same lines, I encourage everyone reading, especially those with cell phones, to use them to record at least one interview with their parents, grandparents and children while you still can.

The older family members will be gone much too soon. With them, forever will go their expressions and the timbre of their voices.

Once gone, those qualities without a record of all they were become but fading memories.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

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