Illinois officials figure if they can't stamp out illegal drugs, they might as well try to make a buck off them. A new law requires drug pushers to buy tax stamps: $5 for a gram of marijuana, $250 a gram for other drugs, and $2,000 for each batch of drugs not sold by weight. No dealers purchased the stamps, but several stamp collectors did. The law says dealers needn't fear incriminating themselves by buying the stamps. No one will even ask for their names. Dealers who are caught and don't have the stamps will be subject to four times the amount of the tax, a $10,000 fine, and three years in prison.
Marina Pristavka, who worked in a Moscow optical-mechanical plant, was a model employee—so she's been sent to a psychiatric clinic. "She must be sick," said her boss. "She is not afraid to tell the truth, even to the authorities." Marina criticized lazy coworkers and seemed overly eager. Her boss told her to go to the clinic to cure her antisocial behavior. A physician there ordered her confined to a mental institution. Marina wrote a letter of complaint to a Soviet newspaper, which said the doctors had grossly violated regulations. Maybe Marina will learn her lesson and goof off.
Mail carrier Gary Craycroft thought he was just doing what any red-blooded American would do. He jumped into a driverless car and stopped it before it hit an elderly woman and a couple of gas pumps. Was the injured Floridian honored for his heroism? Not a chance. Jim Danahy, branch manager of his post office, issued a letter of reprimand, charging Craycroft with "an unsafe act resulting in personal injury" while on duty.
Peter Baghdasarian of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, thought he had a right to install a faucet in his home. The amateur plumber defied a state law saying plumbing must be done only by licensed plumbers. Then he invited a police officer, the president of a plumbers' group, and a plumbing inspector to watch him turn on the spigot. The head of the Health Board promised to file a complaint.
"I pledge allegiance to the malt, hops, and water of which it stands, one brewery under the Fatherland…" Nonsense? Well, yes. But brewers in West Germany drafted a pledge to show their support for a 500-year-old law that says beer must be made only from malt, hops, and water. The action comes in response to the audacious opinion by Common Market officials that the 1487 decree, issued by Munich's Duke Albrecht IV, is a restraint of trade. Although beer containing other ingredients doesn't sell very well in Germany, the Munich Brewery Association explains that brewers want to demonstrate their loyalty to the law. Malt and hops, über alles?
New York City school custodians really know how to clean up. And we don't mean school buildings, we mean financially. According to a report issued by the president of the city council, custodians are paid on average more than $50,000 a year. Elementary school principals, by comparison, earn about $55,000. Some janitors augment their salaries by "caring" for a second school temporarily. That doesn't mean they do any extra work—it means they pick up a second paycheck while the school looks for another janitor. Custodians aren't required to clean a rest room more than once a day, even if a child has an accident. And they don't have to move desks, repair doors, or clean graffiti unless they're paid extra. Nice work if you can get it.
An Honesty in Government award should go to Sen. Wyche Fowler Jr. (D–Ga.). During a recent hearing, the senator looked at the clock and said, "Mr. Chairman, the hour is late, and so I won't end with the usual rhetoric." Committee chairman David Boren of Oklahoma was shocked. "If that sort of thing becomes a habit in the Senate," he said, "there's no telling where it might lead."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".