Saving a dime, discarding a dollar

Granting that this is the Reno News & Review, I understand that some readers do visit California. Many enjoy the envy-of-the-nation parks system, and some of those may be unaware that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed closing 48 of the state’s gems.

Ordinarily, I welcome news like this because it highlights the shortsightedness of the knee-jerk anti-tax crowd. Theirs is a simple ideology: Taxes, bad. No taxes, good. And because they couch their arguments in terms many people accept uncritically—free enterprise, deregulation—they are insidious enemies of society.

Chaining the gates Schwarzenegger has designated would reportedly save a puny $9 million. That’s pocket change even to the Governator, who earned more than $20 million a picture during his movie career. (Equally irrelevant but equally annoying: Depending on whose figures you accept, $9 million would fund four hours of war in Iraq).

California is home to 37.5 million people, so $9 million comes to 24 cents per person per year, just two cents per month. Friends of the parks have launched a drive to point that out. They’re asking supporters to tape two pennies to a piece of paper, write an appropriate message ("Please don’t close the parks” would do), stick it into an envelope and send it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, Calif. 95814.

But you’re not a Californian, so why should your input matter?

Because closing the parks is a classically dumb move, the kind of thing conservatives do because it’s easier than thinking. And because if the state gets a million pennies, nobody’s going to check return addresses.

If that troubles you, you could point out that you visit California often, you buy gas and food and occasionally a motel room there, and if the parks close, the money will stay home.

In other news: A recent survey on purports to list the 10 sexiest jobs in the United States. It’s light on specifics, but interesting in the way a lot of internet junk is interesting: It has no connection with reality, but somehow seems important. Counting down:

10. TV News Anchor/Personality: Because they “talk with authority, seem to know everything and make you feel like you’re best friends.” If you can fake that sincerity, everything else is easy?

9. Construction worker: No reason. Well, there is a reason, but it makes no sense.

8. Military professional: Not that whole protecting-the-nation thing, but because “they’ve got the ultimate uniform.”

7. Artist: “They’re doing what makes them happy, not what makes them money.” But they can’t pay for dinner.

6. Nurse: “They bring you morphine when you’re hurting.”

5. Cowboy: “Few archetypes are as ingrained in our culture.” But if a cowboy wants to take you out, he has to borrow money from an artist.

4. Firefighter: Can’t argue with this. My wife won’t let me.

3. Athlete: Depends on your standards. Be warned, though, that they’re the second most self-absorbed people on this list.

2. Cocktail waitress: Sure, they look great. But their feet hurt, they’re tired, and they want to go home. Plus there’s nothing you can say that they haven’t heard.

1. Model/entertainer: Oh, please. In another life, my job included interviewing models for magazine covers. I rejoiced at the assignment (I was single then), and it was terrific … for about five minutes. To the last scrawny, whining bulimic, they were crazier than loons, more self-centered than jocks and routinely put $20 worth of surf ‘n’ turf in the plumbing before we left the restaurant. I’d rather take up with a TV news anchor.