An immodest proposal
by Mad Dog
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. When
confronted with how to keep your pants up, how to fasten two pieces of paper together, and
how to maintain your sanity and your radios safety when Dr. Lauras show comes
on, weve developed such simple solutions as the button, the paper clip, and the
Contrast this with our government, which when confronted with
problems like "How do we raise money?", "How do we best spend that
money?", and "How can we, your duly elected representatives, profit most from
all this?" comes up with answers like the I.R.S., the B-2 Stealth Bomber, and
deferring term limits in Congress. Is it any wonder the public has more confidence in
lawyers, used car salesmen, and Mafia hit men than it does in politicians?
Lately one of the major problems confronting lawmakers is
where to put prisoners, and we're not just talking about their former colleagues. The
latest projections are that the prison population in the United will grow by more than
600,000 over the next 10 years. To put this in perspective, that's nearly the same number
of new Starbucks stores expected to open during the same time period.
The question is, where will we put them all? Not the
StarbucksLord knows there are more than enough malls being built to accommodate
thembut rather where are we going to house the new prisoners?
So far the answers have been rather short on elegance. Some
prisoners are being forced to take on additional roommates. Others are being shipped out
of state. And still others are being executed. None of these are viable long-term
New prison beds cost money, money that has to come from
somewhere. As any taxpayer knows, even though money can be both created and destroyed, it
will always come out of your pocket. We're being told that it could cost upwards of $37
billion to keep up with prison needs over the next ten years. That's a lot of money.
Almost as much as Microsoft will make during your lunch hour That's why governors
everywhere have been fighting so hard to cut costs. Not to help Microsoft make money, but
rather to give up-and-coming criminals a dry bed and a warm meal.
Thus the constant battle over cutting government money for
education, housing and the arts. This, as expected, causes a very loud outcry. Educators
say they wont be able to buy enough books, housing authorities claim people will be
sleeping on the street, and museum officials swear they will have to cut back their hours.
While I can't vouch for the lack of books or the increase of street people, I did get a
firsthand view of the effect budget cuts can have on museums.
The last time I was in New York City I wanted to
counterbalance my shopping, eating, drinking, and panhandler dodging with a visit to a
museum. Due to budget cuts the Museum of Modern Art wasn't opening until 1:00. For the
same reason the Guggenheim didn't even open on Thursdays. Luckily the Metropolitan Museum
of Art was open, though they close galleries on a rotating schedule to save money.
So how do we reconcile our need to house the ever increasing
number of prisoners without further sacrificing the arts? The answer is simple: move the
prisoners into the museums.
Face it, museums are underutilized. Since most of their art is
hanging on the walls, they have lots of unused floor space. Why not fill it with
prisoners? Any museum worth a line item in a state budget already has a full compliment of
guards, surveillance cameras in every corner, and a security system even the Impossible
Mission Force would find daunting. And since they're already closing galleries on a
rotating schedule, they could keep the prisoners in the closed-off sections during the
day, eliminating the chance that anyone will confuse a mass murderer for a Duane Hanson
But that's not all. This plan would also allow:
- Increased convenience for prisoners' families, since museums are open longer hours than