Crafting legislation for me

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

I had a little fun Monday at the expense of a youthful aid to Rep. Randy Forbes.

Abigail Shilling, Forbes’ new deputy press secretary, stopped by the office for a visit. She’s a sweet young girl from Minnesota and looked to be all of about twenty-nothing.

After some small talk she asked what the Congressman or his office could do for us. Then I laid it on her:


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I told her I would like for the Congressman to introduce legislation making the courts collection agents for newspapers. Under my proposed bill, people who owed money for advertising and who refused to pay for it would be forced to appear before a judge and the courts would put them on payment plans if they claimed to not have the money.

She didn’t say a word, looking down at her notebook the entire time as she was jotting this down. I could tell she was a little uncomfortable.

Of course I was being facetious. I merely wanted to express my disgust for Forbes’ support of last year’s bankruptcy bill which did exactly the same thing for the credit card companies.

Collections are tough when you are in a business that extends credit, like newspapers do. It’s particularly hard for newspapers to collect what’s owed in some cases because we can’t turn off someone’s lights or disconnect their phones. But that risk is a cost of doing business. We make every effort to ascertain whether someone is spongeworthy, so to speak. Sometimes we are wrong and are forced to write off substantial sums when the person walks away from the bill. But that’s business.

It’s the same for credit card companies. Now, thanks to Rep. Forbes and others like him, they don’t have to worry about it. They are free to extend as much credit as they want to anybody, regardless of their ability to pay and you and I will pay our hard-earned tax dollars so our already over-crowded courts system can collect their money for them. I just wanted equal treatment.

But I couldn’t keep it up. I finally confessed that I was being a smart-aleck and that she could stop taking notes, though I hope she tells the congressman about my concerns.

The bankruptcy bill, along with the prescription drug bill and myriad others like it represent everything that is wrong with the way our government works. All of these bills are merely massive, multi-billion taxpayer giveaways to special interests that fund the re-election efforts of politicians like Mr. Forbes and, hopefully, many of them will go down in flames this fall.

Mr. Forbes won’t lose of course, mainly because he is unopposed and something like 107 percent of incumbents get re-elected.

I really believe him to be a decent man and an able representative. He’s just a victim of the system, though it will take decent people like him to say, “To heck with my re-election, I’m doing what’s right,” if the system is to ever change and that will never happen.