Wednesday, August 31, 2011


To hear our city and county commissioners these days you’d get the impression that every mill levied against us is baked with love and that every public service provided is absolutely essential to our well-being.
Now I don’t spend a lot of time in the belly of the beast. I’m just a front line foot soldier sitting here in my third line trench, and from where I sit these acts of municipal kindness feel like upright pianos with cast iron innards being heaved at me. I’ve tried my best to get them to see what they’re doing, but it’s not working too well. I’ve occasionally thought I’m invisible, but the cashiers at Wal-Mart or Reebles, my neighbors, and my friends all say “Hello” when they see me out and about. Maybe our leaders can’t see me because I don’t genuflect in their presence or fawn all over them. It’s probably time for another approach. Let me try this. “I love you commissioners.” “You’re the absolute best.” “You’re the cat’s pajamas.” How’s that?
I’ve gone as far as I can go. I’m going back to making my case. Commissioners, please. Stop it! You’re killing me with your kindness.
I’m really not against the concept of government. I like it, particularly the idea of self-government, which I’ve been led to understand is supposed to be the American ideal. What I’m decidedly against is government, whether it’s Federal, State, or Municipal, that all too often does things it has no business doing and fails to do many of the things it should.
Sometimes it amazes me. Our leaders seem to have enough money to subsidize a public golf course to the tune of six figures annually, but couldn’t find enough to subsidize reduced cab fares for the city’s elderly and handicapped a couple of budget cycles ago. The commissioners said they were simply eliminating a duplicate service. The net effect of the decision was one transport service for the elderly and disabled and two golf courses, one getting a public subsidy and another having to compete with the subsidized links.
How is it our leaders have enough time to consider having taxpayers foot the bill for overpriced property on Highway 50, but can’t seem to find the time to deal with slumlords who prey on renters and cost their neighbors in higher property taxes and then add insult to injury by failing to pay their fair share and depressing property values?
There must be some sort of chemical mix in the water down at city hall and the county courthouse that causes our leaders to take leave of their senses just about the time they have to make a decision. I think they must be using them in every government office in the country.
Last night I read about a bill the California senate just passed. It’s titled Senate Bill 432. In their superior wisdom, a small band of public spirited politicians have mandated that all hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, etc. in the state start using fitted sheets on their beds. According to the politicos, the reason for the mandate was worker safety. For any hotel, inn, or bed and breakfast that has the temerity to defy the legislators there will be criminal penalties. The California innkeepers say the decision will cost them close to $20 million and that the costs will be passed on to their guests. Will the mandate improve safety conditions for the state’s hotel workers? No, but that doesn’t matter.
The California House is going to consider the proposed legislation sometime this month. I’m sure the Senate will send the proposal, along with enough chemicals to ensure the bill’s passage.
A couple of months ago, the cities of San Francisco and Santa Monica considered legislation banning the practice of male circumcision. When religious groups, particularly Jews, objected, the lawyers stepped in and argued that “So long as a law has no discriminatory intent, states and the federal government may, therefore, regulate behavior in ways that contradict individuals' religious beliefs and practices.” In other words, Jews can object all they want. They can argue they’ve been circumcising their male children since Abraham instituted the practice 4,000 years ago, but it may not do them any good.
The measure is going to be on the cities’ respective ballots in November.
I see these things being played out in my home town, in California, and in Washington, D.C. and I feel like my head is spinning. The country is drowning in debt and deficits. So is California. So is Emporia. And what are our leaders doing? Drinking chemically laced water, mandating fitted sheets, banning circumcision, subsidizing golf, pandering to slumlords, and printing money. It makes me want to scream from my housetop, “Stop the insanity!” “Stop killing me with your kindness!”

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