â€¢ Rep. James M. Collins (Râ€"Tex.), isn't having much luck in finding a cosponsor for his bill to limit Congress to 120 days a year. "The more we meet, the more we spend. It makes us look busier and it justifies our salaries better if we are in session," Collins said. "It's easier to double-talk constituents from here [Washington] with a three-page letter than to face them back home." Sources say the bill doesn't stand a chance.
â€¢ Lovers of raw goat's milk have found a champion in Christine Solem, a Charlottesville, Virginia, goat farmer who isn't afraid to tell the state Agriculture Department to butt out of her business. But the bureaucrats aren't kidding around when they say they want Ms. Solem to stop selling raw goat's milk to consumers who want to buy it.
Virginia law prohibits raw milk sales to consumers, despite increasing evidence that it is healthier than the pasteurized kind. To get around the regulation, Ms. Solem sold milk labeled as NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION to a health food store. But the state put a stop to that. So, about two years ago, Ms. Solem got the idea to "rent" her flock of 17 goats to willing consumers at $3 a day. She milks the goats and the customers pick up their milk about once a week.
In July 1980, Albermarle Circuit Court Judge David F. Berry refused the state's request for an injunction barring her from distributing raw goats' milk. The judge said those who take the milk are "not the unsuspecting public, but specific individuals seeking unpasteurized milk. I am greatly troubled by this idea that a person needs to be protected from himself by regulations."
The state is appealing the ruling. Ms. Solem says she will be paying attorneys' fees for the appeal at $25 a month for the rest of her life, but the cause is worthwhile.
â€¢ The US Army has spent $19 million for some smashing new camouflage uniforms designed to promote greater dash and spirit in the troops. The only problem is that the flashy fatigues shrink so much after being washed that they are virtually unusable. Just like the American dollar. The troops now have their orders not to shoot until they see the whites of the clothing manufacturer's eyes.
â€¢ State-run television, otherwise known as the Public Broadcasting System, is finding out that its concern for the hearing-impaired may soon put the network out of business. PBS initiated the practice of closed-captioning, a system whereby selected programs are augmented with captions that can be seen only if a special decoder box is attached to the TV. The box costs $250. But two deaf Los Angeles women charged that this amounts to financial discrimination. A federal judge agreedâ€"and ordered public TV stations to broadcast all programming with captions or sign language. Unless PBS complies, it could be denied up to $30 million in aid from its daddy, the federal government. If it complies, the court-ordered plan could cost PBS $80 million.
In an example of ironic justice, the court-ordered freeze on current funding may soon claim its first casualty: PBS's late-night rebroadcasts of ABC's World News Tonightâ€"open-captioned for the hearing-impaired.
â€¢ Porn again?? Or, if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em: Members of the First Presbyterian Church of Concord, California, came up with a free-market solution to the problem of having an X-rated movie theater operating next door. They voted to buy it. The congregation approved spending $425,000 to buy the adjacent Showcast Theater, which shows pornographic films.
â€¢ Dummies and goof-offs who are on the federal dole need not worry about D-plus grade averages. The General Accounting Office found that most of the college students who get federal financial aid are able to keep it no matter how little it's helping them. Ten percent of those surveyed who receive Social Security aid had cumulative averages lower than D-plus. One student received $15,587 over five years but ended up with a grade-point average of 1.35 on a 4.0 scale. If the school had enforced its own standards, the student would have been dismissed after two years of trying to learn how to read, saving the taxpayers $9,136. Another impoverished youth used $2,003 in an Education Department grant to take such courses as snow skiing and yoga. OOOmmmmmmmmmm!!
â€¢ California state officials ordered a newly opened Echo Summit resort to make its restrooms accessible to wheel chairs. But since Sierra Ski Ranch is accessible only on skis, the resort's owners aren't expecting any crush of handicapped vacationers. It's all downhill from here.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".