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Small Town Election

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry

Many years ago, I called the city hall of a small town where we were living at the time. I wanted to know when their elections were to be held. The lady who answered the phone asked me a strange question.

"Why do you want to know?"

This got my BB up pretty high and after she told me, I called back and asked what the filing date to run for an elected office was in our fair town.

"Which one?" she asked.
"I'm sorry, what did you ask?"
"Which office are you interested in?"
"Is there a difference?" I asked.
"No, I'm just curious as to what you might want to do."

Well, long story short I ran for mayor and we had the biggest turnout ever in this little suburban city. I still lost, but not by much.

I have an aversion to bureaucrats who think they don't owe us any answers.

Or who question why we ask.

Last week, I was hot under the bonnet to write to my congressmen about the energy policy or should I say lack of energy policy in this country. I managed to get off a letter to the President and one Senator. My second Senator shuts their fax down after office hours and my representative had a busy fax line. I suppose it bothers both of them to come in the next morning and have those nasty old letters from the voters sitting there just waiting to spoil their day. If they could do away with their phones, then they would really save themselves some grief since we could only mail a letter to them. How many of us would actually take the time to do that?

"Things must be well with the common folks in the hinterland, we haven't had a piece of bad news in months." Marie Antoinette had the same philosophy.

The next morning I tried sending the faxes again, but they still wouldn't go through. Instead I got a recorded message from the Senator saying they weren't accepting any more faxes and one from the Representative saying that his fax machine was full and to try again later. Much later.

Most businesses that I know of have a fax machine capable of working at night and also be able to store a lot of information without being 'busy' or 'overloaded'. I suppose the prevailing thought from our astute congress members in the land of Nod is that "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" has now morphed into "Hear no bad news, there is no bad news". Let's bury our collective heads in the sand and guess what…we'll never see any problems. Wow, that leaves us time to investigate the trade possibilities of far off countries with our entourage and staff following on our footsteps.

We did get some relief concerning high energy costs. The powers that be announced that they thought it was time we got more miles per gallon out of our cars. I wonder how much they paid for this astounding bit of research. But I must not be so negative. Meanwhile the White House proudly announces today that the President is working on his 'Mojo'. I know you are pleased to hear this. I just wonder why he didn't work on giving the President of China as much attention. Probably some bad vibes with their Oriental mojos. Who knows?

Finally let me wrap up this epistle and tell you a story that happened last Friday. I'm driving to the office, the same as I do each morning. I am stopped next to a high school due to a large group of students crossing the street to go to a convenience store. It's exactly 8:58 AM.

I call the school and ask "What time does school start?"

A male tells me "9 o'clock, why?"

"If these kids in the street holding up traffic have to be in class at 9, how can they cross the street, buy something and get across the school grounds and into their rooms in the next minute or so without being late?"

"It isn't 9 yet, they aren't late."

Before I can answer, I look up and see a police office leaning against a tree watching the kids cross the street.

"What's the purpose of having a guard if he isn't there to prevent kids from leaving during school?"
"What guard?"
"Your guard, or at least I suppose he's yours…he's in a uniform and has a gun."
"He isn't paid to watch the kids."
"Then what is he paid to do?"
"I don't think it's any of your business, after all you aren't the one paying for him."
And then he hangs up.
Excuse me?
I'm not the one paying for him? If it isn't you and me, then who is it?

I called the school superintendent and e-mailed them a letter as well, but as usual (just like in Washington) no response as of yet. They probably don't take faxes either.

I'm sorry but it appears to me that we have a national bureaucratic society which is under the delusion that they are a profit generating agency. I suppose since their checks don't bounce and they always seem to have money, then they just convince themselves that they are smarter than you and me. Schools and governments don't run out of money, they just print more and then come to us to make it good in the form of more taxation.

Taxation without representation…seems like that was a pretty common gripe in this country some 230 years ago, wasn't it?

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America
- May 5, 2006 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to www.pearyperry.com

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