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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Florida: A waste of a state

    Evan Lisull columnist
    Evan Lisull
    columnist

    Florida, that putrefactive strand of phlegm that dangles from the southern border of the country, is probably, without question, the most useless state. Its presence, from the beginning, has been a boondoggle of epic proportions.

    Juan Ponce de Leon “”discovered”” the infernal peninsula in the early 16th century while searching for the “”Fountain of Youth.”” This is one of the greatest ironies in world history, considering that Florida is America’s Valley of Louts – where old pensioners go to die. The land was so bountiful, so full of fertile land, that the Spanish invaders offered the land for free to any Spaniards who would live there.

    So, what has the Sunshine State contributed to American civilization? Florida’s “”natural wonder”” is the Everglades region, the most glorified swamp in human history. The Everglades serve no other purpose than to provide alligators with a breeding ground and the mafiosi with a dumping ground for their bodies. This, however, has not prevented gullible tourists from snapping pictures and spending $35 on canoe rides through a West Nile infested wasteland. Nor has it prevented gullible governments from pouring millions of dollars into its preservation. It’s akin to spending National Endowment fo the Arts money to further the production of Limp Bizkit, Florida’s contribution to the world of music.

    What have all of these wonderful gifts cost us? Well, let’s start from the beginning. The acquisition of Florida cost $5 million in claims in 1821 ($63.5 million in today’s terms). Sixteen years later, the U.S. Army was engaged in the Seminole War, which by its end in 1842 had cost as much as $40 million ($708 million today). The state also sent 15,000 troops to fight for the Confederacy, and was one of the Confederacy’s chief supply centers, indubitably contributing to the obscene expense of that war.

    Yet historical damages are only the tip of the iceberg. The state is still the most susceptible to hurricane damage, and billions of federal dollars have been sent time and time again to bail out the imbeciles who build their shanties in full defiance of the laws of nature.

    Then there’s the man-made disasters. NASA, while a minor one, is a prime example. While the state touts its role in the space industry, it doesn’t like to discuss the fact that NASA hasn’t had a relevant manned mission since the end of the Apollo program in 1972. Currently, over $16 billion goes toward an organization best known nowadays for a love triangle and an adult diaper. Let’s also not forget that NASA’s recent projects, the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles, were single-handedly responsible for the death of 14 of the world’s finest.

    Yet this manmade disaster pales in comparison to what may end up being the greatest disaster this country has seen, period – the “”Silver Tsunami,”” more conventionally known as the Social Security crisis. The sinkhole for this rushing outflow of federal monies is, naturally, in the swamp. Florida, the fourth-largest state in the union, also has the highest percentage of residents 65 years or older (16.8 percent), and the vast majority of them collect Social Security checks.

    It would be naive, however, to ignore the intangible costs that Florida has wrought. While the Elian Gonzalez fiasco is worth its own column, the real Florida was made most apparent by the 2000 election scandal.

    While the story’s national importance hinged on which direction the country was going in, the underlying story was the idiocy of Florida voters. Many of those voting were not fluent in English, and those that were did not understand the mystic language of Common Sense. The “”butterfly ballot,”” blamed for its confusion, was about as confusing as using a brown paper bag. The only thing more asinine than the voters was the state government that attempted to sort out the whole mess.

    So what is to be done about this damned swamp? The government could try selling the state back to its original Spanish masters at cut-rate prices. I doubt, however, that Spain would take the land at any price, seeing how heavily the subprime loan crisis is weighing on the state. Besides, Spain’s socialist government has sentenced its country to irrelevancy, and probably couldn’t afford to buy the state, anyway.

    Instead, I propose an alternative: the establishment of a federal reservation, intended for retirees living off of Social Security. Named “”Senilia,”” or perhaps “”Pension Paradise,”” the state would essentially be transformed into one giant senior housing project – a process that would not take a whole lot of effort.

    In return for their pension payments, seniors would be required to move to Senilia. This provides isolation for the seniors, saving both them from us and us from them. Auto accidents involving the elderly would not result in the tragic death of the young. Hurricane disasters would probably end up leaving the federal government in the black. The reservation could even be run by NASA employees in their spare time. It’ll give them something to do when they aren’t forgetting to secure the foam before the shuttle launch.

    Evan Lisull is a sophomore majoring in economics and political science. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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