America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)



No New Taxes!

When I lived on Long Island in New York I would take my pilgrimage to the Hamptons on the east end of the island. The season ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I lived in the western section of the island and invested in a home in Westhampton Beach about 60 miles east. I have since sold that summer get away for quite a profit but the motivation for leaving Long Island altogether  it was just too expensive for my income.  I have already dwindled down the cash in the bank from that real estate sale but I have acquired a treasure in my memory bank that I will never withdraw. I could not think of a better place to raise my children and fell in love with the ocean that beckons to me when the weather turns to spring no matter where I reside. Spending vacation time was very relaxing but shuttling back and forth on week end journeys could be stressful unless you plotted the drive time for the trip carefully. The Hamptons was not my own private getaway but the summer destination of the multitude of city dwellers that would swell the population of these quaint little coastal towns to many times the winter residency. I needed to head east very early in the morning and back home very late on Sunday. The roadways heading east and west have been called the world’s longest parking lot. The beach house was a great investment once it was sold but while I was using it

I would tend to compare the cost of ownership to the quality hours I could spend by the pool, in the waves or fishing. The drive time was “hurry up and relax’ time and could stress me out. It was the getting there time that could make or break half of my week end. I needed to be on a road with the least amount of competition to reach the pleasure of those activities. I also needed to zone out on my drive so my mind would arrive there long before my vehicle did. I would find myself in a state of travel that was completely effortless. Driving instinct possessed me and it seemed like the car drove itself and I just sat back as the scenery passed by the windshield. Without the traffic the road seemed to take my vehicle for the ride. I am convinced that the highway was named “Sunrise Highway” not because it ran due east into the sunrise but more for the hour you needed to travel it to arrive in the Hamptons and avoid bumper to bumper traffic.  I remember the drive very well especially the first few weekends of summer when the road work took place.

I say road work but I never actually saw any work happening. Every single season started out with one lane of this highway closed off by miles and miles of bright orange rubber cones. Absolutely no repair work was taking place for the ten mile stretch of roadway that was blocked off by those cones. The highway narrowed but without traffic the drive was still effortless and my mind had the luxury to wander. I thought about the possibility that someone in the county maintenance department has a friend or relative in the orange rubber cone business.  There were thousands of these cones serving no purpose whatsoever and I bought them all with my tax dollars. Shortly before the stream of orange ended I could see a small orange tent off to the side of the highway with a group of workers congregating by the front and a collection of shovels and picks on the ground nearby. I say workers but that would imply they actually performed some sort of work and that simply was not the case. I swear to you there was no work completed at all. Not one hole in the ground or patch on the highway was evident, week after week at the same stretch of roadway on my morning drive miles before my destination.  There were the cones and still no evidence of any progress of any repair that I assume was the intention.

My tax dollars were being used to pay someone to place all those cones along the highway in the morning and pick them up by noon after the group of non-workers were finished completing their morning task of doing absolutely nothing. There was another person that my money supported and it was an attractive young female that stood in line with the cones at a distance towards the end of the cones but approximately one hundred yards before the shameless non worker tent. She was the only person that actually appeared to be working. She was a flagman or flag person to be politically correct and it was her job to stand in the cone line and wave a red flag on a stick slowly from her waist to her shoulder.  It was this young ladies job to warn the motorists that they were approaching a work zone and needed to slow down and proceed with caution. To me she was indicating “Look at me I am the only one doing anything in this work zone”.  That was the case for several weeks in the beginning of each summer for the years I owned that house, that was every year except the last year and then something amazing happened that sent my mind wondering.

My first morning drive out to the Hamptons that spring I came upon the long line of orange cones but as I approached the flag person I noticed it wasn’t a person at all. The pretty young lady that used to stand out there hour after hour slowly waving her flag on a stick was replaced by a mechanical dummy. A manikin dressed in an orange jump suit and a white hard hat that slumped over the face so I could not tell if it was to represent a male or a female. The fact however was this flag dummy was equipped with a robotic arm that was hinged at the elbow. It would rhythmically raise and lower that flag like it was keeping beat to the song on my radio. Thoughts quickly popped into my mind. First was that poor girl lost her summer job to a mechanical dummy, then I thought this manikin or girlikin was still the only one doing any work in this work zone and then was completely overwhelmed by the genius of it all.

My tax dollars were used to purchase a worker that can be used continuously except for perhaps a lunch break charging. I thought the maintenance on this creature would be lower than the girl it replaced. Then it hit me like a rubber cone, why stop there? Why not replace the entire non work crew with dummies. Put those shovels in the hands of dummies whose arms are hinged at the elbows and at least the shovels would go up and down to look like something was happening. We can have a supervisor dummy holding a clipboard, pencil in the other hand with a hinge at the wrist so he could make notes of progress for the other dummies.

I was facing giving up my little vacation home because I simply could no longer afford the expense of that luxury but my tax dollars in that community were finally being spent efficiently. I am presently living in another state and the economy for the country and personally have not improved. It is however an election year and I remember my thoughts on that early morning drive on Sunrise Highway on Long Island. I would like to replace some of my politicians here that are not very careful with my tax money. I believe we can just prop up a dummy that would require no hinge at all in a chair behind the desk.