Dead bodies everywhere, but not a useful cadaver in sight. Despite 70,000 deaths in the city each year, New York City medical schools must import hundreds of bodies annually for dissection. For most of this century, students met their cadaver needs with unclaimed bodies from city morgues. But in the 1960s, the city began paying funeral homes to bury unclaimed corpses. The payments can now reach up to $900 per body—leading to a whole new category of ambulance chasers.
Matthew Lesko is the author of numerous books on how to use government information for profit and something of a professional defender of bureaucracy. He thought he had a surefire winner last summer when he offered $5,000 for the best "verifiable story about how a government bureaucrat helped you." After all, he says, "we've got like 15 million bureaucrats." He plugged the contest on Pat Sajak's TV show, Larry King's radio show, C-Span, and numerous local talk shows. He has so far received one entry: A woman in the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance nominated her boss. Lesko just can't understand it. His assistant Toni Murray asks, "Is the government not helping anybody?"
As perestroika comes to Eastern Europe, perhaps our brothers to the North will give capitalism a try. In response to a falling demand for eggs, the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency announced that it was raising the price of eggs by two cents a dozen. "A free market with prices determined by supply and demand? It'll never work, eh."
Let's recap: House Speaker Jim Wright resigned from office last May under investigation for trying to evade limits on outside income. Financially, it may have been the smartest move Texas Jim ever made. These days he collects a hefty federal pension plus about $200,000 annually in taxpayer funds to maintain a Fort Worth office. And since the pension carries no limits on other income, Jim is raking in the bucks. He maintains a busy speaking schedule ($10,000 per appearance) and is negotiating a book deal. That's only fitting. After all, it was a book deal that led to Jim's financial windfall in the first place.
Meanwhile, convicted felon Ollie North recently had his military pension reinstated. When he isn't working off his sentence, Ollie also tours the lecture circuit, collecting $20,000 plus per speech. The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.
In Idaho, Moscow High School has been on the "accredited with merit" list for as long as anyone can remember. That's all changed. Seems that new "tougher" accreditation standards demand that a school have separate restrooms for teachers to earn the merit rating. Moscow teachers have to go to the same johns as students.
The Justice Department says there are 3.5 million addicts in the United States and that the "societal cost" of each is $200,000 annually. Now, I'm not accusing the drug warriors of exaggeration, but this adds up to $700 billion annually—about 15 percent of the gross national product. That's enough money to treat everyone in Bangladesh to dinner at Le Cirque, hire Mike Tyson to beat up the entire population of the Vatican, give everyone on earth a subscription to High Times magazine, buy everyone in Nicaragua a pair of designer eyeglasses, give each person in Botswana a Macintosh Plus personal computer, buy each homeless man, woman, and child in the United States a house in Orange County, California, fund a fleet of 570 Stealth bombers, and pay off Merv Griffin's debt on Resorts International. Maybe someone should look into the social costs of stupid government studies.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".