Gas, Guns and Governmental Indulgences

March, 2013

Memo to The Californian’s circulation department: on a Saturday morning when a certain community columnist peruses the print edition for local outrage, why would you not make sure his paper was waiting on his lawn to fuel his ire? Said dispirited columnist had to go online for matters of local curiosity, injustice and just plain idiocy. It didn’t take long.

Gasoline use in the state is down. That’s good; do you think four bucks a gallon has anything to do with it? So what do altruistic government geniuses, who’ve been telling us for years to use less gas, do? Why, raise the tax 3½ cents a gallon, of course. That means, even if we stopped buying gas altogether, they’d raise the tax to ensure current revenue levels anyway. It’s never been about the gas, and certainly not the planet. It’s always about the money.

Here’s another one: Great White sharks, who regularly munch on surfers and hapless seafarers, are now being considered for protected species status. I know, who’s going to protect the humans? Anyway, this means there’s now, really, a “ban on incidental takes by net fishermen. Researchers and gillnet fishermen will have to apply to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for permits to tag or accidentally capture a shark.” What? It’s illegal to accidentally catch a shark? Isn’t that like making it illegal to accidentally run over a skunk or step on a rattlesnake? Since accidents cost billions in medical expenses, I suppose banning them altogether makes sense. Ok, from now on, accidents are illegal. There, the world is a safer place. Thank you, Eminent Lawgivers.

Making the world a safer place has me considering buying a gun to start my own Freedom Arsenal before the Second Amendment is shot down. I’ve never been much of a gun guy but between the outlaw government and the gangbangers (often undistinguishable in Salinas), it’s probably a good idea to strap up. My son-in-law took me skeet shooting once, but had to keep pushing my shotgun muzzle away from his face. It was easy enough to hit the little orange things but I couldn’t stop worrying about accidently blowing a relative’s head off. Accidents do happen, to be sure, but if I pay my Accident Indulgences up front (see fish story above), I can afford to take my chances.

You remember the sale of indulgences: that was the money-raising scheme the church used in the dark ages to be able to afford guys like Michelangelo and DaVinci to festoon their building projects. For a price, you could have forgiveness for your sins in advance. A rich Medici or one of his frat boy pals would pay on Friday then play all weekend with nary a thought of eternal damnation. Although profitable, the idea was troublesome enough to ignite the entire Protestant Reformation. Talk about unintended consequences.

Now the illuminati over at the Department of Fish and Wildlife want to try again. If successful, the program could be expanded to include not just accidents, but the entire legal code. Soon we’ll be able to pay for our illegal “accidents” in advance without fear of damnation, incarceration or sequestration. For gangbangers and politicians, it would be a windfall. The more money you pay up front, the more you can get away with. Politicians already enjoy a license to steal, so they’d know better than anyone how it works. The rest of us could get in at whatever level we can afford. It’s a great time to be alive.

How about it was an accident that I left the store without paying? Or, I accidently conked the other guy out and used his gas pump to fill my tank? Don’t worry, under the Affordable We Don’t Care Act, you’re covered!  You won’t want to miss a thing with this bunch in charge. Better make sure your subscription doesn’t lapse or you might not get your paper.