I was pleasantly surprised when Ms Owl showed up today. She is not a frequent visitor ( she tends to make Ms Rabbit more than a bit nervous), but her keen intelligence,wit , and charm always make her a welcome guest.
I noticed she seemed a bit agitated , so I put out a few drops of Merlot in a saucer for her ( plus a few drops of Zifandel for myself ), and, after a few sips,she began to unburden herself.
"Did you see the newspaper today ? New Jersey is going to have to refinance the bonds for a billion dollar stadium they are building in the Meadowlands ...and the refinancing alone is going to cost the taxpayers thirty million dollars ! "
She took another sip. " And that's not all ! The Giants and the Jets will own the stadium when it's finished,and they'll lease the land it's on from the State for $ 5 million a year...BUT, the State will have to pay for tearing down the old stadium in 2010-at a projected cost of at least seventy-seven million dollars !
"Wow ! That's ...over one hundred million dollars to subsidize two football teams !"
" That's not the worst of it !", Ms Owl said morosely. " Are you at all familiar with the Developmentally Disabled programs ? "
"Ah, let me see... Oh,yeah. That's where the State and privately funded groups provide homes for people who don't quite have the mental capacity to function in regular society,or have lost their parents, or have become a crushing burden on their families..."
"That's right", confirmed my visitor. " They also work with these unfortunates,try to teach them useful job skills, and place them in sympathetic environments , so that a few of them - at least - are able to become productive members of society."
"That certainly sounds worthwhile !", I said. " More Merlot ?"
" Just a splash. Ah ! Where was I ? "
"We were talking about the Developmentally Disabled programs..."
" Right ! The funding for these programs is being cut back : forcing the State to institutionalize these poor souls , instead of helping them gain some measure of independence. The State is actually willing to spend twice as much money to hide these people from sight as it is willing to spend on doing something useful for them."
Ms Owl finished her wine and glanced at the darkening sky. " It's getting late, and I'm going to have to hunt up dinner pretty soon,so I'm going to get going."
She fluttered her wings . " Thanks for the wine, and please think about this : What kind of state government do we have when we're prepared to shell out over a billion dollars for a football stadium, but "can't find the money" to help those who really need it ? "
I watched her fly off . I wished I could tell her our state was really noble and compassionate...but I knew it would be a lie.