Land And Water U.S.A.




Sunday, August 7, 2011

DEAD SKUNK STINKIN' TO HIGH HEAVEN

By Michael R. Shannon

Conservatives make a fundamental mistake regarding government employees. Frequently conservatives rail against lazy workers, using the enthusiasm–challenged as examples of all that’s wrong with government.

Yet drones making personal calls on their cell phone aren’t proponents of bigger, more intrusive government. Those disciples of inertia are, in a way, our friends.

It’s energetic and ambitious employees who want to expand government and these are the workers conservatives should be trying to eliminate.

Look at Virginia’s DMV, that long–time conservative whipping boy. Sluggish DMV employees aren’t agitating for more authority. They’re content with processing the license or registration paperwork at the standard glacial pace.

Sleepy employees aren't trying to expand DMV jurisdiction into selling government tires or oil changes. Their only goal is to discover once and for all what ratio of closed to open customer service windows produces the maximum number of disgruntled citizens with the least elected official outrage.

If you mistakenly inject a few highly motivated employees into the DMV the wait may go down to a comparatively speedy half–day, but with time on their hands the new hires may decide to go out into the parking lot and check the tint density on your SUV windows.

Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) is the real–world example of the damage and expense an eager–beaver employee can cause. VDOT scientist Bridget Donaldson has lately become concerned about that unfortunate byproduct of highway use – roadkill.

It’s not that she’s worried about the potential proliferation of small roadside memorials to squashed raccoons; Donaldson is preoccupied with the entire flattened fauna disposal process.

VDOT currently spends about $4.4 million annually disposing of animal carcasses, which only goes to show it takes a long time to clean any gene pool. In 77 percent of the cases crews haul vehicle victims to the nearest landfill and, according to Donaldson’s scare statistics, that can be a 40–mile round trip. The rest of the time practical VDOT employees simply bury the creature by the side of the road.

As a taxpayer, I’m satisfied, but then I’m not a ‘scientist.’

Instead of simply drinking coffee from her World Wildlife Federation mug, Donaldson wants to fix what ain’t broke and have VDOT embark on a new initiative that will cost more money and “help the environment.”

She claims that burying Rocket J. Squirrel by the side of the road could release harmful pollutants and bacteria, to say nothing of the damage adding his corpse to the critical mass of Happy Meal boxes and plastic bags in the landfill might produce.

If this was during former governor Tim Kaine’s administration, Donaldson could have simply recommended animal carcasses be stored in closed rest stops — instead she wants to compost the critters by mixing carcasses and wood chips, which sounds suspiciously like a Kashi bar to me.

But isn’t burial the original composting? And what could be more natural than decomposition, which doesn’t require the use of fossil fuels? If Donaldson is correct regarding the release of “harmful pollutants and bacteria” from burial, then every cemetery in the country is eligible to be declared a Superfund site.

Donaldson is simply not content to let roadside maggots do their work in peace. She wants to store vulture vittles in large gasoline–tanker sized drums that can cost up to $80,000 each. Presumably these cemetery cylinders will be cruising the Commonwealth looking for customers, which will surely burn more gas than the occasional landfill trip.

And how many road pizzas will it take to fill one of these behemoths? How much protective gear will the poor soul have to wear when he adds the last few fur frisbees to the marinating mix, if he hopes to survive the odor onslaught? And who wants to be stuck behind one of these critter containers during an August traffic jam on I–95?

Her alternate composting method requires building large concrete plazas for the putrefaction piles with the rotting runoff directed into a water–treatment plant that will have to be modified or built from scratch at additional taxpayer expense.

I’ll just bet every economic development authority in Virginia will be lobbying to get one of these “earth–friendly” odor–paloozas for their jurisdiction.

We should be thankful Donaldson doesn’t want a Wiccan to say a few words over the dearly departed.

A computer solitaire–playing VDOT scientist would’ve been content to let nature take its course, saving taxpayers the expense of studies and subsequent “solutions.” Which is why I’m now calling on conservatives to live and let live with the lethargic and embrace the ennui.

Smaller government depends upon it.

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