The land of the uppity people

Published 9:55 am Thursday, February 26, 2009

It seems the seven dwarfs’ own Grumpy has relatives.

Or, maybe, these negative nabobs are saying things that are on the minds of people less emboldened to speak out.

Reporters can learn from them.

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To wit one observer’s recommended headlines about local events:

“Dow hits new low. CEOs get millions in bonuses.”

“Local man tortures and kills animals, given probation and sentenced to community service at Humane Society.”

“U.S. Postmaster gets big raise. Price of stamps to go up.”

“School board accused of bloc voting. Minority meets at member’s house to set up own bloc voting.”

“County commissioners sad because part of North Main Street burned down before they could buy it and tear down buildings.”

And the cruelest yet headline:

“Local newspaper accused of investigative reporting. Editor apologizes and says reporter has been fired.”

To the reader’s credit, that list, plus several more possible headlines, was hand-carried to me.

Another reader chose to e-mail me his/her thoughts on the Mower County Jail and Justice Center project: “It really is disturbing the way you pushed for this ridiculous and overblown courthouse. Let’s hope, from now on you’ll use your platform to tell the truth about its true costs and to present another side. We will see our property taxes double and triple in the next five years during our second great depression, and you can only blame yourself, your ego and your poor judgment. ‘Nuff said.”

Thank you for putting me in my place.

They don’t call this page “Insight” for no reason at all.

If you’re like me, the economic stimulus package is confusing.

Here from a guest contributor is as lucid an explanation as I can imagine.

The next time taxpayers receive economic stimulus help, here is his warning:

This is a very exciting program that I will explain using the Q and A format:

Q. What is an economic stimulus payment?

A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

Q. Where will the government get this money?

A. From taxpayers.

Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?

A. Only a smidgen.

Q. What is the purpose of this package?

A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

Q. But isn’t that stimulating the economy of China?

A. Shut up.

Below is some helpful advice on how to best help the U.S. economy by spending your stimulus check wisely:

If you spend it on gasoline, it will go to the Middle East.

If you purchase a computer it will go to India.

If you purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala (unless you buy organic).

If you buy a car it will go to Japan.

If you purchase useless crap it will go to Taiwan.

And none of it will help the American economy.

We need to keep that money here in America. You can keep the money in America by spending it at yard sales, going to a baseball game, or spend it on beer and wine (domestic only), or tattoos, since those are the only businesses still in the U.S.”

My personal (selfish) suggestion for spending any economic stimulus money: Subscribe to a newspaper. This one.

I haven’t had time to check this one out, but it is a suggestion for serious investigative reporting from a reader.

A new social worker recently employed by Human Services was sent to the far reaches of Mower County in Bennington Township to verify the status of recipients of public assistance. She was on the first tour of her new territory when she came upon the tiniest cabin she had ever seen in her life. Intrigued, she went up and knocked on the door.

“Anybody home?” she asked.

“Yep,” came a kid’s voice through the door.

“‘Is your father there?” asked the social worker.

“Pa? Nope, he left before Ma came in,” said the kid.

“Well, is your mother there?” persisted the social worker.

“Ma? Nope, she left just before I got here,” said the kid.

“But,” protested the social worker,”are you never together as a family?”

“Sure, but not here,” said the kid through the door.”This is the Outhouse!”

Finally … and I know you were growing impatient reading this … another reader claims he saw this happen last summer in northeast Austin.

Two blonde girls, temporary summer employees, were working for the city parks and recreation department. One would dig a hole and the other would follow behind her and fill the hole in. They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, then moved on to the next street, working furiously all day without rest, one girl digging a hole, the other girl filling it in again.

This resident — a retired school administrator — was amazed at their hard work, but couldn’t understand what they were doing.

So he asked the hole digger,”I’m impressed by the effort you two are putting into your work, but I don’t get it: Why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?”

The hole digger wiped her brow and sighed, “Well, I suppose it probably looks odd because we’re normally a three-person team.

But today the girl who plants the trees called in sick.”

That sounds a lot like the way Spruce Up Austin plants trees.