A Modest Proposal for Florida’s Toxic Waters

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scott-speakingGov. Rick Scott of Florida speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention (AP photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Apparently your historian was asleep all day Sunday, August 7, 2016, as he found this jewel written by Dr. Bob Palmer only today, Oct. 19, while cleaning out the office.  This article appeared in the Gainesville Sun on that day in August.

Some things are timeless.  This plays well in 2o16 or 1729, take your pick.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-

Bob Palmer

Bob Palmer: A modest proposal for Florida’s toxic waters

Posted Aug 3, 2016 at 2:00 AM

By Bob Palmer Special to The Sun

In 1729, Jonathan Swift penned an essay satirizing the attitudes of the wealthy of his day. In “A Modest Proposal” Swift suggested that impoverished Irish families might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This column, which spoofs the recent state decision to allow more dangerous chemicals in Florida’s waters, uses Swiftian prose to conjure up a different sort of “Modest Proposal” as it unfolds in contemporary Tallahassee.

Scene: Governor’s Office

Act NOW!*

Put the Right to Clean Water Amendment on the 2022 ballot


Players: Scott Rickey, The Governor (stage right, staring out the window)

Tertullian Pander, The Governor’s Chief of Staff

Direction: Pander enters stage left


PANDER (bowing): What ho, your baldness.

RICKEY: Yes, knave?

PANDER: I bring good news and bad news. Which first, my liege?

RICKEY: Prithee, let me down, then build me up, Buttercup.

PANDER: All right then. Here it is. Our kingdom has added no new jobs. Even the replacement jobs are paying squadoosh. All your promises are like foul gaseous emissions dispersed by an evil North wind.

RICKEY: Minion, you displease me greatly.

PANDER: But I also bring hope, your excellency. I have a plan.

RICKEY: Verily, lay it before me, faithful servant.

PANDER: Pay close heed. This involves science and nature and other matters that you loathe, but you will commend me in the end for this scheme. I bade the Don’t Expect Protection people to assemble a list of every noxious substance which abounds in our kingdom. The killers-of-jobs crowd frets about these matters incessantly. But I’ve found a way to make those officious intermeddlers pay dearly for besmirching our greater designs.

RICKEY: Go on, Pander. Your twitterings enthrall me.

PANDER: Yes, my lord, and here’s the stratagem. We shall claim that all these adulterants need a second look because they were unfairly treated during the administration of a fuzzy-headed thane of old. Then we shall pack the court, which will do our bidding and declare that it’s perfectly safe to lard our food and water and air with more and more of these poisons — I mean these benign balms. We’ll use some weird slight-of-hand and make these new edicts so befogged that only a few alchemists (who don’t honor you anyway) will understand them.

RICKEY: I like the cut of your jib, Pander, but I miss the object of your efforts.

PANDER: I secretly ran the numbers by the Ministry of Death and Destruction. They assure me that, with this simple change, we can expect thousands of cases of severe — indeed life-threatening — illness almost immediately.

RICKEY: Your purpose, Pander, continues to elude me.

PANDER: Sire, I am assured that this simple change will effectuate a boom in job creation.

RICKEY: Aha. How so, my loyal snivel?

PANDER: There will be an immediate burst of hiring in the medical and nursing and blood-letting trades, not to mention the funeral sector — enough to pump up those jobs numbers that currently stagnate, like your dog Farfel asleep there in the corner.

RICKEY: Pander, this is brilliant. I follow your trail like a hunter following warm spoor. But I fear we could never get away with this, however brilliantly devious it may be.

PANDER: But, your grace, did the rabble complain when we fired all those troublesome huggers-of-trees with their constant outbursts about how warm the kingdom had become? Does anyone care that we take our marching orders from our Sugar allies down south? I think not. Do the great unwashed really mind that we have no plan for cleansing the springs and rivers that look and smell like so many ill-roasted eggs? We have discussed these matters without end, your Awkwardness.

RICKEY: I read you well, Pander. Make it so. And when our criers cry out, vouchsafe that they avoid pronouncements like “elevated cancer rates” or “premature deaths.”

PANDER: I read you clearly, my lord. [exit]

— Bob Palmer lives in Gainesville.


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