Friday, February 23, 2007

COLUMN -- Adopt a state senator

Posted by Craig Westover | 7:30 AM |  

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Like most Minnesotans, I have lain awake nights tossing and turning over the plight of our state senators who suffer under the burden of an expense allowance of but $66 a day. How would you like to feed yourself on just $66 a day? And now, like Oliver Twist asking for a little more gruel, our senators humbly beg for a 45 percent increase to $96 a day, and some would deny it.

"What an ungrateful wretch I am," I think while staring at the ceiling. I shudder at the thought of what a mess I might make of my life were it not for those dedicated souls in the state Senate looking out for my welfare. And what, pray tell, have I done to thank them? Not a damn thing other than to have packed my lunch and provided my labor to help create the wealth necessary to support their good works. That is not enough.

Therefore, I am initiating an "Adopt a State Senator" campaign. What greater satisfaction could one have than sharing a little more of what you've earned with an overworked and underpaid public servant — someone like little Larry.

Little Larry lives in Minneapolis and drives all the way to the state Capitol in St. Paul every day the Legislature is in session. There is nothing worse for a legislator than to be sitting in his car on a congested freeway hungry and thirsty. Imagine pulling into a Starbucks and having to choose between a grande cafe mocha and a ham and Swiss bagel. On a meager $66 per diem there may not be enough money for both. Our state senators face tough choices like that every day.

But you can help our senators with your contribution of just $30 per day, or about $4,000 per legislative session. That's right! For just the cost of a 50-inch flat-panel plasma HDTV and premium HDTV service, you can ensure they never again have to choose between city tap water and Evian. You can ensure a senator never has to press his nose against the window of the pie display at Bakers Square or ponder the purchase of a chocolate chip cookie. No senator will ever again have to darken the door of a fast-food, trans-fat haven of health hazard temptations; senators can do lunch at the finest nonsmoking eating establishments in the cities.

And you'll sleep well at night, knowing that our senators are not only well fed, but fed well.

I know. You're thinking, "Craig, I have a family. Shouldn't I take care of them before I reach out to help needy senators?"

Of course you should, but just how much do you really need? Do you aspire to be one of those evil rich people who isn't paying his fair share in taxes? Do you want that indictment, the unbearable shame and guilt of accomplishment hanging over your head?

What would you do with an extra $4,000? Send your child to a school of your choice? Take a family vacation? Set up a bank account to cover the deductible on a

reasonably priced health insurance policy? Take care of an aging parent or send money to an adorable grandkid? Maybe even send $21 a month to Feed the Children so it can send 50 pounds of food to three cold and hungry American kids? Probably you'd just blow it on things you enjoy.

Do those individual pursuits of happiness justify denying our senators their cafe mochas AND their bagels? After all they've done to you?

Unlike state government, I can't coerce you with the threat of criminal penalties to send your hard-earned money to support our state senators. I can only ask you to consider what benefit these tireless souls bring to your life and then ask you to open your hearts and open your wallets that they might reap the rewards they justly deserve. Experience the joy that comes from adopting a state senator.

Thank you, and God bless.

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