Thursday, January 11, 2007

Possibly the greatest legislative speech ever made.

Every time I despair of the mess in Albany (and right now I'm skeptical of Spitzer's ability to make good on his promised reforms, at least so long as Joe Bruno and Shelly Silver keep their leadership posts in the Senate and Assembly, respectively), I can cheer myself up a bit by thinking of Texas. Kevin, a Canadian expat in Tokyo, put a link in his blog, The Woodshed, here, to a story about a Texas legislator who wants to allow blind people to hunt game with rifles. Stories like this bring to my mind an aritcle Molly Ivins wrote for The Atlantic back in the 1970s, titled "Inside the Austin Fun House", which described some of the wackier goings-on in the Texas "Lege". Included in the piece was the text, in full, of a speech on the floor of the Texas Senate in support of a bill to increase the tax on liquor by ten cents a bottle. It went approximately as follows:

Gentlemens, I wants you to imagine yourselves goin' to the store to buy yourselves a bottle. And on your way to the store, this little child comes up to you, and he says, "Mister, can you buy me a lollipop?" And you says, "Naw, son, I cain't buy you no lollipop." And you goes into the store and buys your bottle, and you pays your extra ten cents tax. Ain't nobody yet ever paid what it's really worth. And you says to yourself, "If I can afford an extra ten cents for this bottle of liquor, I can afford to buy that little child a lollipop." So, gentlemens, I asks for your vote on this bill, for the sake of the children of Texas.

All in all, an elegant rejoinder to Amity Shlaes' screed against Pigovian taxes, don't you think?