Getting Intimate With The Issues

TO WIT

October 23, 1994|By DAVE BARRY

Pay attention, voters, because we are approaching Electio Day, the day when you, in a glorious affirmation of the democratic process, will exercise your precious constitutional right to elect some goober to Congress.

But before you vote, you should familiarize yourself with the issues. This year there are four of them:

1. Health Care

This issue got started when the Clinton administration stayed up for 168 straight nights and produced a massive and extremely detailed National Health Care Plan. This was a very ambitious program that would have provided large quantities of medical care to all Americans, whether they wanted it or not. Federal Health Police would have roamed the streets, apprehending unhealthy-looking Americans and, if necessary, removing their gallbladders by force.

This plan did fine until people actually read it, at which point it ran into big trouble, especially with the Republicans, who strongly oppose government intrusion into private citizens' lives unless they thought of it first. So after many months of debate and modification, Congress has whittled the National Health Care Plan down to a one-paragraph nonbinding resolution urging everybody to floss. Bob Dole is still against it.

2. Crime

I am pleased to report that crime is no longer an issue. This is because Congress, after much huffing, finally passed a Crime Bill, which goes directly to the root cause of the crime problem, which turns out to be the same as the root cause of every other problem that the federal government decides to tackle, namely: The federal government was not spending enough money on it.

The Crime Bill will rectify this problem by requiring the government to spend $30 billion, to be supplied by concerned law-abiding taxpayers such as yourself. I don't know exactly how the government plans to spend this money, but I do have a proposal. As I see it, the basic crime problem is that violent criminals are running around whacking us innocent people over the head. Why are they doing this? Because they want our money.

So let's say there are 3 million violent criminals running loose. Thanks to the Crime Bill, the federal government is now in a position to give every one of them $10,000 of our money, thereby eliminating the need for them to whack our heads.

The problem with my idea, of course, is that people who were not violent criminals would start claiming they were, to qualify for federal benefits. But we could solve that via an aptitude test wherein applicants would have to demonstrate their criminality by whacking the heads of crash-test dummies or volunteer scientists from the Tobacco Institute. This may seem like a cumbersome program, but it would definitely work better than whatever Congress comes up with.

3. Foreign Policy

For a description of our foreign policy for today, please call 1-800-WAVER.

4. The Baseball Strike

As you surely know, the baseball season was canceled, a development that, to judge from the many anguished newspaper columns written about it, was the worst tragedy to occur in this nation since the Civil War. This has indeed been a bitter October, with no World Series Fall Classic to keep the entire nation enthralled until midway through the fourth inning, which is when the Fall Classic audience generally falls asleep.

I say it's time for the federal government to step in and resolve this thing. Here's the situation: There are 700 players and 28 owners, and they are all, at heart, deeply concerned about the future of the national pastime, by which I mean money. So all Congress has to do is -- you are going to wonder why you didn't think of this first -- pass another crime bill. This would provide another $30 billion, which would be enough to give every single player and owner approximately $41 million, plus of course the $10,000 bonus for those players or owners who are also violent criminals.

I know what you're thinking: You're thinking, "But Dave, these are just grown men playing a kids' game! Forty-one million per person might not be enough!" Of course not. That would just be our opening offer. Ultimately we also might have to give everybody involved a national park. The important thing is to do something, because that's why we have a government, and that's why you, the voter, must exercise your semiprecious right, this Election Day, to cast a ballot.

And while you're at it, cast one for me.

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