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Daniel Ruth

It's back to the 18th century in Tallahassee

It will probably come as no surprise if by the end of this year's Florida legislative session Gov. Rick Scott, R-Uncle Fester, manages to put the state on a monetary bead standard, replace first responders with bucket brigades, establish the McGuffey Reader as the primary K-12 textbook and provide every newborn with an NRA membership card in their hospital bassinet.

This might be considered progress — in Somalia. But for the Republicans in control of Tallahassee, this year's 60-day grip and grin of lawmaking represents an inexorable ministry of silly walks return to the 18th century.

It's entirely possible that about midway through the session, Scott, House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos will start showing up decked out in powdered wigs, tricorner hats, waistcoats and breeches, all the better to pander to the tea party grumps furious over out-of-control government spending for such needless extravagances as school crossing guards. Where does it end?

Protests, of course, will abound.

There are the unions, obviously, bastions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg communist subversion, ever plotting to turn the country over to Hugo Chavez. They've done enough damage already with wild, crazy, extremist demands for stuff like a living wage, 40-hour work weeks, vacation time and pensions. As well, it's been suggested these malcontents sometimes have been known to vote for Democrats. There, it had to be said.

But that's not the worst of it, as Florida legislators will be forced to grapple with those rabble-rousing dilettantes in the teacher unions, some of whom make as much as an outrageous princely figure of $40,000 a year.

It's time they were exposed for the freeloading layabouts that they are, and Messrs. Scott, Cannon and Haridopolos are just the patriots to bring these out-of-control leeches on the public exchequer to account.

Could there be an easier job to be found in the public sector, spending a few brief hours a day educating the state's wonderfully well-behaved, highly motivated, intellectually curious children filled with a yearning to learn?

And yet the teachers and their whining union only demand more, such as assurances their job performance will be judged fairly, as if teachers having their summers off to drive around in their Jaguars wasn't enough.

How fortunate in these dire economic times there is a man who stands astride his own personal parallel universe and the tea party's commitment to transforming Florida into its inner Dogpatch.

And that man is Rick Scott, the slayer of high-speed rail since Florida doesn't need thousands of jobs, a man whose idea of financial due diligence is comprised of consulting the Amazing Kreskin, a Magic 8-Ball and a Ouija board.

Scott wants to eliminate the corporate income tax rate, already one of the lowest in the nation, and slash property tax rates, perhaps turning to other more potentially lucrative revenue streams like magazine subscriptions, Nigerian credit card scams and opening a chain of barbecue Florida panther tiki bars.

The governor has no shortage of supporters in his mission. Aside from the tea party kvetchers — apoplectic over the notion that the state has any employees at all, not to mention that they might receive benefits — Scott has received the Grover Norquist Sweat Lodge Seal of Approval from the ultraconservative Koch brothers, Charles and David, two bajillionaire siblings who apparently could buy and sell Donald Trump with their tie pins.

The fun is only just beginning. Speaker Cannon is already proposing a constitutional amendment creating two separate Florida Supreme Courts — one for civil cases and the other for criminal matters. Or put another way, Cannon — in a state already infamous for having one of the highest rates of death row exonerations — wants to speed up the appeals process to start killing people.

They do this sort of thing in that bastion of enlightenment — Texas. So given Scott's obsessive-compulsive desire to best Texas Gov. Rick Perry, maybe the governor will also suggest public hangings.

And thus the 2011 legislative session is about to start. But lest you think Scott and Legislature don't care about the welfare of the state, the governor is promising to beef up border security — just as soon as the National Guard's new weapons system of blunderbusses arrives by wagon train.

It's back to the 18th century in Tallahassee 03/07/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 7, 2011 7:00pm]
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