Saturday, April 18, 2009

Teabagging Texans' Treasonous Talk


I’ve been looking for a valid excuse to use the term
“Teabagging Texans” ever since a trip to Dallas I took
with James Kelley in August of 1974 in that un-air
conditioned welding truck to pick up a piece of drill steel.

As Arkies, we weren’t treated very well. I should say,
“I” wasn’t treated very well. James had the worldliness
and maturity to keep his mouth shut when being insulted
by the Texicans, but, being a kid of 19, I had not acquired
that ability. All that stuff about marrying sisters and not owning shoes from those smug rednecks just rubbed me the wrong way. Of course I “owned” shoes. It was just too damn hot to wear them in that truck, in Texas, in August.

The capper, I suppose, was when we stopped at a gas station, to pay them good Arkansas money for filling up the truck, and that cow-loving three-toothed attendant growled “We don’t need your Arkansas trash here” as I carried the soft drink cans and potato chip bags from the floorboard to put in the receptacle, conveniently located there between the pumps – apparently missing the “Texans Only” sign.

When I walked briskly toward the duck-tailed greaser, screaming all the obscenities I had learned growing up in a rock quarry (a rich vocabulary that remains with me to this day), Ol’ Eli grabbed me by my flowing blonde locks, flung me back into the truck and kicked the door shut. I had no problem messing with the Texan, but I wasn’t going to tangle with Kelley.

As the years went by, I don’t recall a single good thing that ever happened to me in the Republic of Texas. The only time I was ever “bumped” from an airplane, after boarding and sitting on a tarmac for two hours, was in Dallas. The only time I ever sat for three hours in a traffic jam, in 103 degree heat? Dallas. The only time I ever stepped out of an airport at midnight with a country music fiddle player, to catch a smoke while waiting for a replacement flight crew that they had to call and wake up to come to work – and got locked out of the place? Well, you know where it was.

Jimmy Buffett was right. Pass it by.

So, on April 15, while watching clips of all the Fox News staged “tea parties”, on another network, I could swear I saw that Goober Pyle gas station dipstick in one of those crowds, still wearing the same uniform. He looked 35 years older, but I don’t believe he had washed that shirt yet. Same nametag. “Bud”. Somebody else must have spelled it for him.

Then, here comes Texas Governor, Rick Perry, echoing the now too-familiar veiled threat, as so brilliantly espoused by the well-known intellectual, Chuck Norris, that, if things didn’t start meeting with their approval, Texas might just pick up its marbles and secede from the Union. That right, Perry (and Norris) explained, is in their state constitution.

First of all, there seems to be some disagreement regarding whether the Lone Star State could legally secede from the United States. From some of the information I have read, they actually do have in that document the right to split into five separate states – which would have saved us all a lot of grief if they had done in the first place. Second, a US Supreme Court ruling, sometime around 1869, I believe, was that they did not have the right of secession.

In the middle of the 19th Century, there were seven southern states (including Texas) that declared they were bailing out because they didn’t like the way things were going politically, and they obviously thought they had the right to do that. When a bearded hippie liberal president took exception and called up troops to quash the revolt, they were joined by four more states – one of them being Arkansas, whose trash is not welcomed elsewhere.

That didn’t work out too well for the secessionists.

But I’m thinking “Can’t we all just get along?”

If the treasonous Texans want to leave, can’t we just wish them well, and warn them about Oklahoma hitting them on the rear-end on their way out the door? Can we box up Mike Huckabee and ship him down there to live with his buddy, President Chuck Norris?
And Secretary of the Interior, Bud. In fact, with all that room they have down there, and have always gloated about, couldn’t we just let all the whining crybaby losers of the last presidential election take up residence in the new country? They would all be so happy there. And, really, don’t we want everybody to be happy?

It will take a bunch of wire and even more labor to build a fence around that place to keep all them Texicans from sneaking into the United States to steal our jobs. The US will have to do it, because the Texicans will be busy working on their own fence down south. That, in itself, would probably be sufficient to stimulate our economy.

Just a thought. While ya’ll are thinking it over, I’ll be looking for a good passport photo camera. I’m seeing a potential opportunity for business expansion.

Now, where’d I put those shoes?

© 2009, Rick Baber

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Second Hand Tater Tots

Not that it will do any good, but let’s try to go over this
cigarette tax thing again, shall we?

Now that the latest round of taxes has taken effect, folks
who purchase coffin nails in Arkansas will be paying a
total of $2.16 per pack, in taxes, to satisfy their cravings.
That’s $1.15 for the state and $1.01 for the feds. In taxes
alone, that’s about $1.81 per pack more than the first
cigarettes I remember purchasing from a machine, and I am
under 90 years old. (Of course I am. Smokers don’t live
that long.) After the taxes, if anybody wants to make
any money off manufacturing & distributing them, you have to tack on some more
charges. When all is said and done, here in Arkansas, the average price of a pack of premium smokes is now about a hundred bucks per pack. OK. That’s not accurate. Truth is, I lost count.

The point is that both the state & federal governments just keep piling on with the taxes on smokes.

I’m not here to argue the merits of smoking. Frankly, I don’t think there are any. I’m not even here to argue on behalf of the “poor” people who are, studies show, the ones most likely to smoke, and therefore most likely to be victimized by the burdensome taxes. I just don’t understand how it is constitutional for a government to pick an item, any item, and disproportionately tax that item.

Seems like they tried that with tea once, a long time ago.

Sure, the anti-smoking zealots will scream that the poison smokers exhale invades their personal space. I don’t disagree with that. I think, for that reason alone, smoking should be illegal in public places. I think it is OK for owners of businesses to ban smoking in their facilities, if they choose to do so. OK to say you can’t smoke with a kid in your car. OK to say you can’t smoke in the workplace. But all of those things have been done, and still, they keep heaping it on the smokers. How? Why? Every time some yuppie drives by in an SUV, I can feel myself choking on the carbon monoxide fumes, but I don’t see them piling taxes like that on V8 engines. Don’t see them raking it in on those dangerous, noise-polluting crotch rockets.

Some will say that the government is being a good big brother by making it so expensive for people to smoke that they’ll just up & quit – and that would be the best thing for them to do. That will happen. It is happening, among those who feel a genuine financial pinch from the new cost of cigarettes. But, even though the numbers are proportionally lower,

there are still people who can afford to smoke. So they do. What shall we do to stop them from puffing away in the privacy of their own Escalades?

Once the lower incomers have quit, there goes a huge chunk of all that beneficial tax money. After budgets have been set based on that money, where do they go to make up the difference? Maybe, if the state would levy another $100 per pack tax, they could keep the coffers filled up just off the rich smokers. Probably not. But what’s to stop them from trying?

So they try it. And the specially funded projects go broke because, ultimately, everybody quits smoking cigarettes. Big Brother has forced the populace away from an unhealthy habit, without ever even making it illegal! They’re going to have to find some other vice to tax now. What shall it be?

Fat, I think. That seems to be the next big bogey man on the horizon. When cheeseburgers cost twenty bucks because there’s $17 in taxes, how long will it take for the industries associated with that nasty habit to go belly-up? But we can’t let those special hospitals go down the tubes, so we seek out another victim.

I’m going with tater tots. Those things are just disasters looking for a place to happen. I mean, not only are they catastrophic to the well-being of the person who consumes them, they have a tendency to generate violent gaseous expulsions that invade the breathing space of innocent bystanders – causing babies to be born naked and old ladies to faint onto their bingo cards. Let’s say five bucks a tot, for starters.

And on it goes, until, eventually we get back to taxing tea, and eating salad. Nothing but salad. And we’ll all live healthily ever after.

Please. Spare me. The government doesn’t give a flying flip whether or not their taxes contribute to the physical well-being of the soon-to-be ex-smokers. They’re piling on the taxes on tobacco products because they need the extra money and they have found a villain, and they can get away with it. Smoke = bad. If smokers don’t like it, all they have to do is quit. Who’s going to raise much of a stink about that?

Once the monster has been let into the room, who is going to be the one to put it out?

Here’s the question. Sorry about all that leading up to it. “If smoking is such a terrible thing, why don’t they just outlaw cigarettes?”

Re-read for the answer.

© 2009, Rick Baber