Limited Taxation
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Barbara's Column
May 2001 #3

Spring-fevered thoughts

by Barbara Anderson

The Salem Evening News
Tuesday, May 22, 2001

You know it's spring when your favorite television shows go on vacation, sometimes for almost a year. Let's just hope that "The Sopranos" returns, despite the protests of those who want to pretend that the New Jersey mob isn't Italian.

If the show had been sited in Boston, the mobsters would be Irish and no one would care, especially the FBI.

Italians who appreciate excellence in broadcasting enjoy "The Sopranos," just as Irishmen with a sense of humor enjoy "The Fighting Fitzgeralds." Brian Dennehy leads the cast of a very funny, politically-incorrect sit-com.

You know it's spring when the perennial bad ideas push their heads up out of the ground. Last week I told my two cats that they couldn't go out because it was "Keep your Cat Indoors Day" to protest bird-stalking. A few minutes later, they were marching around with little signs that read "Free the Innocent Kitties."

It's true, they've only killed three birds in their entire eight years of life: one baby something that fell from its nest, one rare, endangered pigeon that they ate and threw up all over the house, and one aggressive mockingbird that they were lucky didn't kill them first. Why should all cats be punished because some of them are serial killers? Talk about stereotypes!

Chip's and my yard has several cats (including the neighbors'), a few squirrels, a murder of crows that come when he calls them for table scraps, and four busy bird-feeders. Now and then a dog, duck, raccoon, skunk or rabbit passes through. Only mice and moles are regularly found dead.

I feel bad for them, as I did for the mockingbird; but Mother Nature is cruel. Consider that hard fact along with this opinion: the prettiest towns this time of year are the ones with lilacs, azaleas, tulips and political lawn signs instead of "natural" open space.

Of course, if you want to drive around and sightsee, you'll be using pretty expensive gasoline. When you're told by certain politicians to protest oil-company rip-offs, keep in mind that 39.9 cents per gallon is state and federal taxes. And watch out for those badly-maintained roads and bridges we keep hearing about when the government wants even more of our money. You know it's spring when some students would rather be outside protesting than inside working. I get that way myself, when it's time to hold a sign saying "Vote No on the Overrides."

Protests or no, spring in Massachusetts means MCAS. The Massachusetts Teachers Association is still fighting it with advertising and polling - while at the same time running a TV ad about a kid named Tommy who roams the corridors of a school like the Phantom roams the Opera. For some reason Tommy isn't able to enter a classroom, though it's unclear why. The ad says it's because we don't spend enough on education.

The last time I looked, our spending was the 7th highest per student. And if we added the money that the MTA is spending on self-interest advertising, we could put Tommy and a lot of other kids through graduate school.

The downside of spring for some people: allergies. Mine don't arrive until fall, but then I rely on the same drugs that are advertised on television this month. I used to take Seldane until it was banned because it's dangerous when mixed with some other medications. My solution was to not take it with those other medications, but that was no fun for government regulators.

So now I use Allegra, which works great, and insurance pays for most of it. I agree that it should be available across the counter, but not because getting a prescription is difficult. I just look forward to seeing what it really costs when the third-party isn't paying. If it's a whole lot less, we'll have a better understanding of why health care in general is so expensive.

You know it's spring when a few hundred people rally for gun control on Boston Common and their news release announces the Million Mom March. I was nearby at the even smaller "right to bear arms" rally with Carla Howell, the Second Amendment Sisters, and the Pink Pistols, who encourage self-defense for women and gays. "Ho, ho, hey hey, we support the Second A."

Spring is in the air, along with television finales, birds and leaping cats, protest, MCAS and pollen. Let's celebrate!

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem Evening News and the Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in other newspapers.

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