*NEWS*WINSCONSIN:A BAN FOR INK CTGS …?
*NEWS*WINSCONSIN:A BAN FOR INK CTGS …?
2006-04-07 at 1:52:00 pm #15293
Lawmakers engaging in trivial pursuits
in Florida, state legislators are debating which should be named the official state pie, key lime or pecan.
Here in Wisconsin, an Assemblyman has proposed banning the sale of partially filled toner cartridges.
And even closer to home, the Baraboo city attorney has been instructed to draft an ordinance that could shut down a guinea pig rescue operation.
These developments speak volumes about the progress our society has made: If our elected representatives have time and energy to devote to such frivolous matters, this must mean they’ve already solved all the important problems, right?
Now that they’ve eliminated inequities between inner-city schools and their suburban counterparts … and taken steps to revive our stalled economy … and extended affordable health care to every citizen, they’re run out of important work to do. Which is why, in Connecticut, lawmakers are taking up matters such as whether the oatmeal chocolate drop cookie with a dash of nutmeg deserves the title of official state cookie.
I would worry about lawmakers wasting the people’s time on such trivia, if not for the fact that they’ve already remedied their budget deficits and have created new funding mechanisms for public education that don’t require schools to sell naming rights ï¿½ Welcome to Hooters Elementary! – so they can afford chalk.
It’s because they’ve taken care of the major issues that they’ve decided to sweat the small stuff ï¿½ such as which pattern of Scottish plaid should be installed as Wisconsin’s official state tartan. Never mind that only 1 percent of our population is Scottish, or that Wisconsin needs an official tartan about as much as Scotland needs an official polka.
It seems state legislators aren’t the only ones with idle time. Baraboo city officials are crafting an ordinance that would outlaw animal rescue havens in residential areas. This effort is aimed at a guinea pig rescue operation that has harbored as many as 100 of the furry rodents. Never mind that none of the neighbors has complained. If we allow a guinea pig rescue in town, what’s next? A bison herd grazing on the courthouse square? These are the thoughts that consume the mind of the modern lawmaker. Because there are no real problems to solve, they must invent some.
This might explain why two Wisconsin lawmakers want to institute a $1,000 fine for selling elastic yo-yos. And why Rep. Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, proposed a bill that would make it illegal to sell a printer with a “starter” toner cartridge. This followed his purchase of a printer that came with a partially filled ink cartridge … without so much as a warning on the box! Forget campaign finance reform for a minute, here’s an issue that must be addressed!
All right, enough sarcasm. I know why legislators spend time proposing an official state grass rather than dealing with serious issues: Because it’s easy, fun, popular and whole lot less work. I know this because it’s the same reason we journalists would rather write cute features about cats getting rescued from trees than delve into a five-part series about the national debt.
So where does this leave us? You can’t afford your heart medication and the local schools are cutting foreign languages and the band program, but at least you don’t have to worry about your neighborhood being overrun by rodents. Or your printer coming with a partially filled toner cartridge. (I prefer to think of my toner cartridges as half-full, not half-empty.)
In the end, it’s the voters’ fault if we continue to reward with re-election those lawmakers who focus on photo-op legislation instead of rolling up their sleeves and doing the dirty work. And I don’t mean refilling the toner in the printers they just bought.