We can all rest easy now that the Washington State legislature has deregulated the size of a loaf of bread. Previously, bread for commercial sale had to be baked in pans of specific sizes—a law that precluded baking of small or odd-shaped loaves. The half-baked opponents of deregulation included—you guessed it—the state's commercial bakers, who complained that the bill would force them to retool to meet competition. Rep. Helen Sommers, the prime sponsor of the new law, wasn't surprised by the bakers' reaction. She commented, "This bill is a symbol of what is often said: 'Get government off my back, but don't deregulate my industry, don't take away my protection.'"
Henry Christmann's 6-by-10-foot tomato garden in Long Island, New York, has cultivated a big rhubarb with the US Department of Agriculture. Christmann likes to putter around his tomato patch in the summer "just to keep myself in bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches." Ha! And he expects the USDA to believe that. Agricultural officials sent him an official census questionnaire, a 20-page document asking how many acres he plants, what kind of crop rotation he uses, and how many horses he owns. Since Christmann grows about 10 tomato plants a year, he threw the form away. Now it gets nasty. Agricultural bureaucrats insist that for Christmann to get on their list, he must have sold some of those plants. They sent Christmann a follow-up letter, and if he throws this one away, he's violating Section 221 of the marketing law and the case will be turned over to the Justice Department. Christmann may well end up pouring cement over the "farm" and buying his tomatoes in the supermarket. We have a good idea what Mr. Christmann could do with some rotten ones, too.
Down in Kentucky, they had a good old-fashioned burning of books and records. Among the items tossed onto the bonfire were records and tapes by rock groups like Kiss, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Beatles. One Mills Brothers album also was destroyed. The Mills Brothers! Perhaps the 250 parishioners of the Community Pentecostal Church of God felt that old classic "Up the Lazy River" encouraged sloth. By the way, the church is located in Independence, Kentucky.
Heterosexual male school teachers in West Virginia had better not ever admit to eating quiche or enjoying the ballet. They could be fired for having a reputation as homosexuals, even if there's no proof, according to state Attorney General Clark Woodroe. Although homosexuality isn't illegal, it's considered immoral in most of West Virginia. Teachers may legally be fired for immorality, and a teacher's reputation may be considered in determining morality, Woodroe says. His opinion states, "If the person under consideration has not been observed in an overt homosexual or lesbian act, but by his other behavior has acquired a reputation as a homosexual or lesbian, there is precedent under West Virginia and federal laws for admitting such reputation as evidence." Woodroe adds that discreet homosexuals might fare better than those who are open about it. The closet in West Virginia may be getting mighty crowded.
Two years ago, Michael Giat, 12 years old then, got a part-time job cleaning the sidewalk in front of the Columbia Savings and Loan Association branch in Queens, New York. He earned all of two dollars a day. The night before Christmas 1980, snow fell. The next day, a fellow named Carlos Grados fell—on patches of snow in front of the bank. He said he fractured his wrist, and he sued the bank for $750,000. Some genius in the bank's legal department decided that young Michael entered into a contract for snow removal and therefore was responsible. Michael pointed out that he's a minor and that the bank was closed on Christmas Day, so he couldn't use the bank's shovel anyway. Embarrassed bank officials dropped their action against the youth but wouldn't comment further. There is poetic justice, however. Burglars looted the bank's safety deposit boxes shortly after the incident became known. Officials wouldn't comment about that, either.
Yes, Virginia, there is fat in the defense budget. The Navy spent $11,225 to decorate a captain's office. The commanding officer at Camp Lejeune Naval Regional Medical Center in Jacksonville, North Carolina, sits on a $1,882 chair—a throne that cost $500 more than the one President Reagan sits on during cabinet meetings. Two Oriental-motif rugs that cost taxpayers almost $2,000 soften footsteps in the captain's office, and visitors make themselves comfortable in $1,000 guest chairs. Join the Navy—and put up your feet!
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".