When Paul Broun strode through the Columbia County Library doors just after noon Tuesday, lugging a copy of the House's recently passed health care bill, I worried that the good doctor might give himself a hernia.
The copy of the bill - not including a couple of hefty amendments - filled three large notebooks. Jessica Morris, Broun's press secretary, said the local legislative office ran out of paper while printing out copies of the bill and the staff had to hustle over to Kinko's to get it printed and hole-punched to fit in the binders.
"I guess we can use it as a step-stool," joked County Librarian Mary Lin Maner, when asked what they'd do with the hefty copy Broun donated.
What we really ought to do is cast it in bronze and make a statue out of it as a monument to the dismal failure of government.
Any citizens who take the time to go to the library's Heritage Room and read the entire health care bill will have done more than Broun. He readily admits he didn't have time to read it all before the middle-of-the-night vote last weekend. In fact, he's confident just about none of the lawmakers voting on it have read the entire bill as it was approved.
That's a perfect example of what's wrong with Washington. So polluted has it become with lobbyists and lawyers and bureaucrats that the process itself dominates the substance.
No one expects us to have the same scale of government we had when our Founding Fathers conceived it. We no longer have farmers or merchants riding into Washington for a few weeks of debate before heading back to their homes and real jobs.
But now we have professional politicians supported by a cast of thousands whose job security depends on making the legislative house of cards taller and more complicated. That way, the regular Joes are discouraged from even attempting to run for office, and the permanent bureaucratic class runs the show while elected officials dance to their tune.
And we all pay for it.
Broun has the best idea for what to do with that massive health-care bill: Throw the whole thing in the trash and start over. That's a dang good prescription for what we ought to do with Congress, too.
Free lunch tomorrow
We might have a stampede if more people hear that they're having a free lunch at the Garlic Clove on Monday.
So get the word out: Free lunch at the Garlic Clove on Monday.
Ah, but there's a catch. This free lunch, the Italian Thanksgiving Feast, is a fundraiser for Columbia County Cares and the Golden Harvest Food Bank. So while they'll feed you for free, you'll be encouraged to make a donation.
Every penny of that money goes to charity. That means Chef Jeff Freehoff is buying lunch for hundreds of people Monday in return for those people donating to charities that will feed thousands.
So go on Monday and get a free lunch. Show your appreciation by making a donation to pay for lunch for a lot more people. And then help out Chef Jeff by coming back to the Garlic Clove on another day when you can order off the menu and pay for your own lunch.
Again this year, along with a lot of fine folks, I'll be taking a shift as one of the servers. Come by between 1 and 2 p.m. and say hello. And be generous, please.
And then, beatings
And finally, speaking of generosity, Columbia County's courts should be generous in amount of fines solicited if the imbecilic "artist" who tagged the brand-new playground equipment behind the library is caught.
The indecipherable squiggle was spray-painted on the side of a tube-slide at the park sometime last weekend, and soon scrubbed off by county maintenance workers.
If they catch the person who did it, I'm thinking community service that involves scrubbing the floors in Animal Control. With a toothbrush. For starters.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com.)
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