Biggest Losers


OPINION — Americans everywhere should be pleased about the great news from last week, when Jussie Smollett’s attacker was finally brought to justice. Unfortunately for Jussie, he can now honestly quote from the Pogo comic strip, ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’

Jussie wasted an awful lot of taxpayer money when he sent Chicago police on a wild noose chase to look for criminals that didn’t exist, but I’m not going to beat him up about it. He’s already done a pretty good job of that, himself. Besides, gubmints waste far more of your money for no reason. They seem to enjoy it. As Ronald Reagan once said, ‘Government is like a baby’s alimentary canal. A healthy appetite at one end, and no responsibility at the other.’

Take the gubmint of the state of Minnesota, for example. Most Minnesotans probably wish you would. Those poor folks have to exist in the frozen far north, without toilet paper or running water or sunlight for most of the year, as far as I know, and still their own elected officials treat them like Minnesotans, or something.

Gubmint spending is so wasteful up there the Center of the American Experiment gives the Golden Turkey Award annually, at Thanksgiving, to commemorate the most heinous example of waste in the state. All Minnesotans are allowed to vote on this award, provided they can thaw out their fingers long enough. The 2021 nominees were pretty impressive, although it’s possible more money was wasted in past years. I would know if I cared to do any research. I don’t.

In 2021 there was a grant to the University of Minnesota to teach eagles not to fly into wind turbines.

In 2021 there was a grant to the University of Minnesota to teach eagles not to fly into wind turbines.

In 2021 there was a grant to the University of Minnesota to teach eagles not to fly into wind turbines. That one actually sounds rather useful, if you’re an eagle, since wind turbines take out a lot of birds every year, and some of them happen to be bald and golden eagles. The state spent $261k on that, although I doubt it did any good. Eagles are notorious for not listening to advice. At least I’ve never been able to tell an eagle anything.

Minnesota also spent $6.2 million on a development study of a half-mile land bridge over the highway between Minneapolis and St. Paul. They needed that study to figure out how to avoid what they call ‘road racism.’ You’re probably wondering what road racism is, since it’s about as real as Jussie’s attackers. Well, let me clue you in.

Sixty years ago Minnesota built that highway, and it happened to bisect a black neighborhood, and state officials have decided that was because of racism. Actually the highway went through a lot of other neighborhoods, too, where white people live, but let’s not get bogged down in details. You gotta nip this kind of thing in the bud, whether there’s a bud or not.

My favorite wastage, though, was the bright idea Minneapolis had to hire a bunch of ‘Violence Interrupters’ to walk around the streets wearing brightly colored T-shirts, in areas where there aren’t many police officers. The thinking was that these folks could help cut down on crime, or else at least become victims themselves, sparing those citizens who weren’t getting paid. Or something. I don’t think that one worked out all that well, but maybe it’s the thought that counts.

it’s not just any bus stop. This bus stop cost $6.45 million. It’s the fanciest, most expensive bus stop in Newport.

 it’s not just any bus stop. This bus stop cost $6.45 million. It’s the fanciest, most expensive bus stop in Newport.

The grand winner was a bus stop called the Newport Transit Station. But it’s not just any bus stop. This bus stop cost $6.45 million. It’s the fanciest, most expensive bus stop in the city. And I have to admit, if I had to wait on a bus, and I had a choice between waiting at a regular old everyday bus stop, or waiting at the Newport Transit Station, I’d call a taxi. Because I don’t ride busses. But the amazing amount of money this bus stop cost was not the reason it won the Golden Turkey Award. It won because no busses stop there. None. Never have. Probably never will. There is currently a sign on the door that says, ‘Metro transit bus service suspended. Building closed until further notice.’

Federal gubmints are even better at wasting money than state gubmints, but if you’re looking for some serious, world-class graft, watch what happens when federals get together with their counterparts in other countries. And it’s not just money they waste. To paraphrase Val Kilmer when he played Doc Holiday in Tombstone, ‘It appears their hypocrisy knows no bounds.’

Astute readers may recall a column from the last month or so, when I waxed eloquent about the enormous amount of pollution created by our betters attending the COP26 climate change shindig in Glasgow. Well, the results are in. The conference didn’t actually do anything to help alleviate the normal, natural, cyclical climate change that’s been going on since Moses was a sprout, but they did manage to prove what total and comprehensive knotheads they are.

The attendees of COP26 produced around 102,500 metric tons of CO2 in the process of gathering to talk about how to reduce CO2 production. That’s only a little more than twice the 51,201 metric tons of CO2 produced by the last UN climate change summit, held in Madrid in 2019. Of course, they still plan to lecture the rest of us about our carbon footprints, so that’s nice. It’s enough to make you want to shout at them and throw bleach on their clothes.

But there’s no use in that. No one would believe it, anyway . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who is prohibited from using bleach, ever since that unfortunate episode washing his wife’s clothes in 1986. Write to him at [email protected]

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