â€¢ The 1973 Endangered Species Act was sold by the District of Columbia swamis as the sure-fire antidote for dwindling wildlife populations. It comes as no big surprise, of course, to find that the provision has damn-near killed off the Bengal Tigers and a host of other US animal populations. The extermination has resulted from the bureaucratic disease introduced by the actâ€"a malady that spreads red tape in any animal's path before it may be shipped across state lines to mate with another animal of similar tastes and goals in life and of opposite gender. Permits for such activity take over a year to obtain, during which time the two interested parties could easily lose interest or find someone else less-suited for reproductive purposes. Interior Department officials are now seeking to upgrade the sex lives of the 639 endangered species by eliminating much of this red tapeâ€"that is, by repealing the last government cure.
â€¢ A southwest Detroit neighborhood that was attempting a local clean-up campaign had been having a helluva bad time with a dilapidated housing unit that was mucking up the environs. The residents decided to call the government in on the offending vacant homeâ€"and found that it was the government's property to begin with. Landlord HUD put the Sharon Street Block Club on hold for months before attempting to blame ownership of the slummy structure on a realty company. This ruse failing, HUD then accused a demolition firm of breaking an agreement to raze it and shrugged that this terrible wrecking company could no longer even be located. Persistent residents were able to find the wreckers, however; they got the firm's phone number from HUD. When the private citizens demanded that HUD produce a copy of the contract with the wreckers to ascertain just who had defaulted on whom, HUD's public servants told the vigilantes to mind their own business. The neighborhood desperadoes, taking the bureaucracy into their own hands, proceeded to communicate in terms the officials could understand: they filled a glass jar with legions of enthusiastic cockroaches from the palatial HUD estate and set the army on the desk of the area's HUD director. Days later, they were rid of the offending house.
â€¢ Pres. Jimmy Carter, following in the footsteps of popular 20th-century statesman Winston Churchill, has offered America one-third of the famous "blood, sweat, and tears" combination. As a result of his majesty's executive order for a 78-degree minimum on the summertime thermostats of all commercial and public buildings across the land, 1979 has been dubbed the year of the "long, hot, 5-day-pad summer." But a rare "bureaucratic foul-up" has allowed unscrupulous temperature setters to steal precious energy resources from the grasp of the Department of Energy problem-solvers in Washington by cooling some offices all the way down to a criminal 72 degrees. These culprits were able to get away with such chicanery between July 16 and September 1 and got off scot-free of the $5,000 fine (double that for "intentional" wrongdoing) because the fast and friendly government presses could not print up the nation-saving edicts quickly enough to keep up with the administration. A desperate Odom Fanning, official spokesperson for the diligent but unheralded Emergency Building Temperature Restrictions Program, invoked the oft-used "voluntary compliance" contradiction-in-terms to protect America from the menace of runaway air conditioning. Millions of private workers have since been heard telling many Washington spokespersons to go back to Fanning their Odoms.
â€¢ A new and improved study of the effects of Proposition 13 has surfaced in the Golden State. While a preelection analysis by the UCLA Graduate School of Management had predicted a cataclysmic loss of 451,000 jobs if aggregate demand were so rudely interrupted, a study one-year-post-apocalypse has been able to utilize somewhat better data. The USC Graduate School of Business Administration has located a magical net gain of 552.000 new jobs, despite the loss of 100.000 public-sector jobs. The ruling class in China, however, seems to be threatened by a foe considerably more potent than the beast of Keynesian mythologyâ€"the ubiquitous Gang of Four. Thousands of new apartment buildings boldly created by dedicated central planners are the most recent legacy of the omnipresent hooligans; the evildoers are charged with having deprived the new structures of such luxurious amenities as water, gas, and electricity. Moreover, city roads are so often torn up that residents comment "we should put zippers on our roads." Peking's People's Daily reports that construction is "sluggish, disorganized, chaotic, and wasteful" and "sabotaged by the Gang of Four." Perhaps our own President Carter, ever-watchful for unpopular public menaces, should investigate whether the Gang has had similar influence on the US Department of Energy.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".