I know it was a big surprise to you that near the top of the agenda for state legislators was raising their own pay. You might be struggling, but that's no reason why they should have to. They have to keep up appearances — I'm not exactly sure who for — and if you get stuck with the bill for that, well, that's just how democracy works. Good for them, tough titty for you, as Billy Wayne used to say.

What they're doing at the legislature and what they ought to be doing are seldom the same thing. They shouldn't be trough-slopping so conspicuously in these hard times, and they should be looking for new ways to law-make frugally and responsibly. Regarding this latter, as you might've suspected, I've got a few ideas.

• First off, they should move to scrap public-school abstinence-only sex education programs, and probably all the other sex-ed foolishness as well. The boys and girls are so far ahead of all this stuff that it's just a joke, and a waste of everybody's time, and a waste of money that could be used for more useful and more effective practical studies — driver's ed, maybe. Or shop. In my day, typing — now, I suppose, texting, or whatever they call all that fancy thumbwork.

School is not the place to lobby youngsters not to have sex. There might not be a right place for that, but anyway the schoolhouse is not it. The research on this is clear. It shows that young people schooled in abstinence and pledged to abstinence wind up doing the Doo Wop Diddy about as often as everybody else, only more incautiously. There's no doubting their sincerity, but when push comes to shove, the hormonal torrents make short work of the turgid lessons and seductive logic of abstinence-ed. You might as well be preaching to stovewood.

Look at the Palin girl. Your abstinence-only dollars at work. And old people as well as young. Look at Bill Clinton. A certified brainiac, but the all-time undisputed Little Moron of sexcapade. Would a semester of abstinence-ed have done him any good? Would it have done any of the contemporary perv triumvirate (televangelists, congressmen, and priests) any good? Rhetorical questions. You don't have to answer. Everybody knows the answer.

• Then they should approve legislation allowing hunters who aren't having any luck taking deer, elk, woolly mammoths, any of the larger game animals, to harvest an expendable farm animal or two instead. It's true there's not much sport in shooting a goat, say, or a mule, and dragging the sumbitch home for Momma to field-dress it. But it beats slinking home empty-handed and having to repeat the worn-out lie that deer camp is just as rewarding when you don't kill something as when you do. With the haunch of an old plowhorse that you've put out of its misery, or a Billy goat that was attacking your ATV, you can, on the other hand, return home as the good provider, having done your manly duty of putting meat on the table, even if it's meat with a little unusual whang to it, as if the ersatz “deer” might have been an alcoholic or taking chemotherapy.

• And how about a state law to make bloviating illegal. Maybe just a good stiff tax on it, with the amount of the tax determined by volume,  measured in BTUs. You could bloviate in your own home, as long as it's of insufficient decibelage to de-silk my lawn jockey next door. Dittoheads won't like this law, nor cell phone yellers, but they'll get over it. I think it should apply to TV preachers too, but they'd find at least two dozen Bible passages that exempted them.

• And I'd like to see us criminalize plain old inconsiderate behavior. Like the whoremonger in the pickup with a long trailer who parked his rig longways at the drive-in hamburger restaurant today, bogarting every single parking space on that side. No reason. He just wanted to cheese off those of us who prefer to park on that side so we can watch the passing traffic and comment on it while we wait for our order to come up. He dawdled too. Got out of the truck after eating to stretch and then jiggle around on the trailer mesh, pretty much daring anybody to say anything about the two inches of butt-crack that peered out as he elbowed down on the take-out window to tell the gum-chewing girl with the pencil behind her ear his drink and fry specs. I had some warm thoughts about the rehabilitating effect that a good tasering might bring to the tableaux. Or Bernard Fife with a misdemeanor citation.

• I've also worked up a proposal by which Arkansas would reclaim the Missouri bootheel to stimulate our state economy a smidgen. The bootheel rightly belongs to us, I contend, as does a chunk of Texas and all of Oklahoma this side of the skillet handle, and it's high time we took back some of this unpicturesque stolen property, even as it approaches market worthlessness. We'd have to muscle up some before taking on the Texicans and Okies, but the first show of bellicosity should scatter the abject Show Me wussies. I'll have more on this later, if you're interested. 



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