The Social Security Administration is going bonkers as well as broke. It notified its district and branch offices to be on the lookout for people presenting phony hospital birth papers to obtain a Social Security card, which is a key to welfare benefits. Why the all-points bulletin? The bureaucrats are afraid that a Cabbage Patch doll may grow up and qualify for assistance. The doll craze spurred more than 100 hospitals to issue birth certificates to go with the dolls. Of course, the hospital papers say "Baby Doll Birth Certificates" and are signed with such names as "Dr. I.M. Happy and Dr. N. Good Hands." But SSA isn't taking any chances. Is this what Reagan meant when he said he's going to ferret out fraud in entitlement programs?
Clever church officials in Evanston, Illinois, had to find a way around the zoning board to extend a helping hand. An overnight shelter for the homeless in the basement of the First Baptist Church would violate zoning ordinances. So church officials now do a "prayer vigil." Needy people are invited to come in and pray—all night if they like.
Ah, glorious Sweden, where all of a citizen's needs are capably handled by the state from cradle to grave. Social welfare authorities want to take three-year-old Mikael Johansson away from his natural mother and put him in a foster home. Does the mother beat or neglect the child? Well, not exactly—it's just that she is too overweight to care for him properly, say the slim folks at the social-welfare agency. They contend that Inger Johansson's appearance would have an adverse effect on the child. In the brave new world of the welfare state, only the thin and beautiful will be allowed to have children.
The fur is flying in Allen Park, Michigan, because Tiffany Lumia won $400 worth of booze in a raffle sponsored by the city. Tiffany is a minor. Tiffany is also a two-year-old collie. Ronald Kozicki, a prelaw student who didn't win the raffle, says it's unfair. His bone of contention is that when city officials discovered that Tiffany's owner put the pooch's name in the raffle, they should have drawn another ticket so that a human could win it. It all seems pretty silly, but the whole dogfight is ending up in court. Kozicki may be the underdog in this case, but he's barking up the wrong tree. We're rooting for Tiffany.
The Air Force displayed some flabby thinking when it told a muscular sergeant to lose 26 pounds or get out of the service. Staff Sgt. Paul Poulin, a 23-year-old body builder stationed at Elmendorf AFB in Alaska, is considered "clinically obese" even though the 203 pounds packed onto his 5-foot-6-inch frame is mostly muscle. Poulin's immediate commander is trying to get the brass to trim down its bureaucratic attitude. "Poulin is in no way overweight and is one of the hardest working, most knowledgeable and physically fit people I've seen in 16 years in the Air Force," his captain said. Hmm, sounds like Poulin hasn't got a chance.
Chicago has somehow managed to survive for over 150 years without a "chief of protocol," but now, Mayor Harold Washington finds that his city must absolutely hire one—at $36,000 a year. The protocol chief is needed to plan dinners, flower arrangements, and entertainment when important folks drop by for a visit. The mayor's opponents say the city needs a chief of protocol like it needs a third head, but the mayor is undaunted. What Chicago really needs is a chief of the departed to greet warmly all the corpses who find their way onto the election rolls every November.
From the Damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't Department: Inmate Timothy Langley jumped at the chance to sue two Nashville court officers for $70,000. The pair had the audacity to leave a sixth-story window open, giving Langley the opportunity to try to kill himself after a murder conviction. Langley survived the leap when his plunge was deflected by a tree. His suit contends the officers were negligent in leaving the window open. Wonder if he'll sue the guy who planted the tree?
Oh, the crime foisted on taxpayers in the glorious name of research! The British Health and Safety Executive has found that the noise of pigs squealing can reach 108 decibels at feeding time. Earmuffs are recommended for pig farmers. Not to be outdone by the erstwhile imperialists, Indian researchers have come up with an important project of their own. They're working to create a "gas-less" bean. A possible advertising slogan is "Gone Is the Wind."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".