If your sense of humor parallels mine in the slightest, you won’t be able to get through watching the video below without laughing. It is funny. What is more, it is funny without any sexual innuendos, blasphemy or objectionable language (though Jon Stewart presenting the video had comments bleeped out). However, it is also troubling.
A fourth grade class contacted their NY State Senator, Michael Ranzenhofer, requesting that he sponsor legislation naming yogurt as New York’s state snack. Bills as inane as this one pass all the time and even presidential proclamations recognize such important times as National Dairy Goat Awareness Week. Certainly, designating yogurt as the state snack of New York is less objectionable than raising taxes, social engineering or passing regulations that make running a business more difficult.
Still—what if the legislator had responded differently? What if, instead of promoting the bill, he had written the children something along these lines?
Dear Fourth Graders,
I am delighted to receive your request asking me to designate yogurt as the official NY State snack. It is wonderful that you are learning how bills are passed and that you want to be involved citizens.
For this very reason, I cannot proceed with your suggestion. As future voters and responsible members of our society, it is important that you understand what the functions of government should be and what they should not be. My fellow senators and I are paid by taxpayer money. That places a tremendous responsibility on us. There are times that your mothers and fathers can’t be at your recital or game because they are working. Other times they struggle to make ends meet, to feed, clothe and provide for you. One of the reasons they need to work so hard is because the tax burden they carry is tremendous. You can see that for those of us in Congress to spend our time and taxpayer money on frivolities is unconscionable.
Secondly, we in government are supposed to represent all our constituents. We are constantly being lobbied (your teacher can explain this term to you) to favor one group of citizens over another. While it may seem no big deal to make yogurt the state snack, should we do so we would be showing a preference for one constituency over another, for no thoughtful reason. This type of action weakens our integrity.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we in the legislature are servants of the people. Sometimes we forget that and instead believe that we are privileged and highly important people. Our only purpose should be to deliberate the issues that are too large for individuals, families and communities to handle on their own. If you want to support the yogurt industry, I urge you to do so. Encourage your friends to eat yogurt, place “Eat yogurt now” signs on your lawns and make “We love yogurt” T-shirts. These are only three suggestions. I’m sure with your creativity and industriousness you can find many more ways to promote yogurt. However, for me to do so as part of my official role as your representative, would send the wrong message to you as well as to me. Our republic is too important for that.
As a token of my personal positive feelings towards yogurt, I have taken the liberty of purchasing coupons to (insert name of local frozen yogurt store) for everyone in your class. Naturally, I bought these with my own money, not with taxpayer funds.
Please let me know how your pro-yogurt efforts go,
Senator Michael Ranzenhofer
Am I just a humorless curmudgeon or do you too feel that something is wrong with the senate considering this bill?
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