‘Singing Outlaw’ Evens the Score

Topeka Capital-Journal
Nov. 10, 1997

The state of Kansas is wondering what to do next year with a cash surplus that….

FLASH – I interrupt this column to announce the birth of our 9th grandchild, a boy, born to Rory and son Kurt in Los Angeles. It was 8:05 a.m. Friday when the phone rang as I was typing the first sentence of this column. It was Kurt, saying the baby arrived two weeks early, and everyone is healthy and happy.

Outstanding reporter that I am, I still forgot to ask how much the baby weighed, or if the name has been chosen. I was in too big a hurry to call the newborn’s Grandma, who is at a family gathering in Holcomb. I’m sure the birth details will be on the national and international Associated Press wire, and on the evening new network news.

Now back to the column.

As I was saying, the state of Kansas is wondering what to do next year with a cash surplus of roughly $217 million and may be substantially more than that. Having that extra cash is great news, like the birth of a grandson, but the really scary part is that the Legislature will have a hand in deciding what to do with the money.

It could do some really weird things. The lawmakers aren’t likely to buy the Brooklyn Bridge, but they are totally capable of doing something even sillier, like establishing a fund that would invest great gobs of money in new business ventures and hiring a couple of guys from Lawrence to run it.

The fund, naturally, could be particularly generous to companies that have legislators on their payroll. That would make the deal sort of like family matters and give taxpayers assurance the money wasn’t being frittered away on frivolous pursuits.

FLASH – The new mother speaking from her room at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said the baby’s first name will probably be Cole, as in Cole Younger, the famous Outlaw; Cole Porter, the famous composer; and Cole Slaw, the famous salad. She said the middle name has not been decided and added, “his last name, of course, has to be Snider. We’re stuck with that.”

I have been holding out for Lancelot Quentin Snider, but as the ranking grandfather in this matter, I give my unqualified blessing to the name Cole. What’s wrong with having a grandson who may be a singing Outlaw, with a taste for cabbage?

To get back to the column, where was I? Okay, yes, I was saying the money store created by the legislators wouldn’t give seed money to standard businesses, such as manufacturers of buggy whips and construction companies specializing in bomb shelters. Those people can go to banks get money at the friendly commercial rate which usually is prime rate doubled, plus four, or plus two if you’re a blood relative.

The state fund on the other hand, would seek to help companies that are more daring, that are blazing new trails and searching for new horizons. High on its list of prospective clients would be a company renewing serious research on turning water into gasoline and planning ahead to the day when it may be more profitable, and more essential to human life, to turn gasoline into water.

There also is interest in a nationwide chain of upscale pet cemeteries, and finger implants that can turn anyone’s hand into a TV remote control double work on any set in the world. The problem to overcome is how to control a room full of remote fingers, or maybe finger remotes, all watching the same TV.

FLASH – Baby Cole what’s his name Snider weight in at 6 1/2 pounds when he entered the world. His arrival puts our grandchild count at three boys and six girls, which, as I have mentioned previously, evens the score back once again.

Back once again to the column, the one thing that is certain that our legislators will think of new ways to get rid of the $200 million-plus that has literally fallen from the sky. We can be assured the money will not be wasted on such perennial problems as education and transportation.

I have questions: why is there such a whopping surplus in the first place? Where have I been overcharged to help create this windfall? Who can I vote against in 1998 to see that this doesn’t happen again? Why can’t the state be more like a gambler who wants to run out of money and breath at the same time? What’s wrong with breaking even?

The state has no reason to put money away for a rainy day, because it never rains hard enough to keep taxpayers away from the tax collectors window government. Government will always have access to the eternal money tap.

FINAL FLASH – The last of Cole’s aunts and uncles on his daddy’s side now have been informed of his arrival. Hearing their responses, I say to myself, why can’t every new kid in the world be so lucky?

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