As a native South Floridian, I love a Florida that no longer exists. Nothing new there. Lots of people yearn for the simpler days when the state only had a couple million people, versus the 18 million plus now crammed within its borders. It’s not just that Florida used to be so pretty. Clear blue water, endless empty beaches, no highrises cluttering up the view, except in Miami–it was laid back and beautiful. No it’s the truly uncomprehending people that are such a disincentive to living here. I’m no rocket scientist (but my brother is), but people living in the region sure seemed a lot smarter a generation or two ago. South Florida, from Cape Canaveral to the Broward County line, was a hub of high tech brain power. NASA, IBM, Pratt and Whitney, the whole space program thing… I was raised in a milieu of really smart people. They seem to have moved on. Mostly to Colorado as near as I can tell. Hardly any of the crowds now living here were actually born here, but they’ll tell you in a New York minute (literally–that’s where many of ’em are from) that people in Florida are dumb. Which grinds on us natives.
Now, Floriduh is just a source of kook feature stories and gruesome crime feeds–and a hub of truly heinous golfing outfits. (Adjective compliments of PB Post article about Mark Foley which thusly characterized his attire, i.e. heinous plaid jacket.) Those chartreuse, pink, lime green and yellow pants on grown men are inexplicable–and, IMO, symptomatic.
In darker moments it sometimes seems that the only way to characterize much of the population here is that they must be either dumb as dirt, or masochists. How else to explain the election of Governor Rick Scott–the former CEO of a health care firm that was fined $1.7 billion, the largest ever for Medicare fraud–with overwhelming support from seniors? Masochism or senescence; I report, you decide. Who did those voters think his victims were anyway?
Palm Beach County is widely known as “Corruption County” and seems to revel in its notoriety. If just one more county commissioner gets sent to the slammer, they’ll have a quorum. Who votes for these crooks? Everyone. One elected official from that area who went to jail petitioned the court for early release because of a serious medical condition. Restless leg syndrome. No, I am not kidding.
A congressman from the state’s Southwest region got caught using his businesses to funnel large sums in campaign donations from employees, who were then reimbursed for the many $5,000 checks, back when there were limits on donations. Is he going to court? Going to jail? Nope, but he may be headed for the U.S. Senate race. His elderly constituents love him. Did he vote to kill Medicare? Of course. The seniors love him–especially the tea partiers–and many are proponents of eliminating all government programs. They love their Medicare, too. Is it just me, or do a couple of these things seem, well, mutually exclusive. Am I getting this straight?
A young County Commissioner in another county had a break-up with his spouse, so he was staying with his mentor, an elderly republican party satrap. The young man came home one night and beat the crap out of his benefactor, broke his ribs, did some real damage. Drugs and alcohol were said to be involved. Police responded to calls for help. Was an arrest made? Nope. Any pending charges? Uh uh. My guess is the ungrateful and violent young man, if he runs again, will be re-elected with overwhelming support from seniors. Uh, didn’t he beat up an elderly man? Yep. Floriduh
There’s a cute little county park I know of. There are huge gators–at least one twelve footer–living in a canal on one side of a one lane road, and a nice inviting pond on the other side, just a few gator steps from the canal. What’s right next to the pond? You guessed it. The park’s tot lot and swings. And a sign that warns that the pond is gator habitat. Which, apparently, none of the parents of the toddlers who play there have ever read. Floriduh.
There’s a very small subdivision near that. I was riding a bike there recently and a little kid, maybe five or six, rode his bike right through the intersection near the clubhouse and pool without looking to see if any cars were coming. I mentioned it to his dad, who seemed annoyed. At me. His response was that he’d never seen a car drive through that intersection. I guess he never speculated on how the number and models of cars in the clubhouse parking lot change constantly. The only access to the clubhouse is that intersection. Who doesn’t teach a child to look before crossing an intersection? A Floriduh man. Never seen a car cross that intersection. Case closed. Uh huh.
Perhaps you noticed an item from Daytona, Florida on the news, about a baby sitter riding in the back of a pickup truck with a baby stroller which contained an eight month old child. Aghast motorists called the cops who stopped the truck and charged the woman with child neglect. She responded that she had a firm grip on the stroller. During her court appearance she pointed out that it’s not like you get a handbook that tells you what’s neglect. Indeed. Unsecured baby stroller, infant inside, in back of pickup truck. What could go wrong? Jeez, people, lighten up, she had a firm grip. Just not on reality.
The handyman who installed a hot water heater backward so that it’s impossible to reach the thermostat to change the temperature, rails constantly about the inferior quality of work by Florida tradesmen. Of course they’re not from Florida and neither is he. When asked about how the temperature was supposed to be changed, he gave a quizzical look, walked to the sink, turned on the hot water and opined that it seemed hot to him. Yeah, who’d want to change the temperature on a hot water heater? Why? Seemed hot to him.
There was a snowbird ranting in the post office last winter. In her home city someone had complained about Christmas decorations and made the city take them down because of separation of church and state issues. (Party pooper.) There had been a vicious backlash against the man who’d had to move away as a result. The snowbird crowed that we need more of that sort of activism to put a stop to people interfering between Christianity and government. It was tempting to say, “So, you don’t believe in the Constitution?” But, kept my mouth shut–there were too many senior citizens between me and the door. I’d never have made it out alive.
Drove through an incredible lightning storm yesterday, the strikes were coming at the same time as the flashes. There were people fishing from the top of a bridge. Holding graphite poles. Noise can’t hurt ya, right? Oh Floriduh, my Floriduh.
And back to Gov. Scott, and throw in the Floriduh legislature as well. Keep in mind that much, if not most, of South Florida, except for the coastal areas, used to be under water. The only thing that keeps it land instead of water is constant attention to managing all the water through an incredibly complicated system of canals, locks, pumping stations and the Lake Okeechobee dike. The water management districts, and the Army Corps of Engineers to a lesser extent, are responsible for keeping the land more or less dry. So who was let go at the South Florida Water Management District to save $9 million after the budget was slashed? The scientists and engineers, of course. Anyone who’s read up on the history of South Florida’s ecosystems knows that, without constant attention, either too much or too little water can have disastrous consequences. And the canals silt up unbelievably quickly. And all the buildings now existing in areas which would be inundated without this water management system are worth gazillions of dollars. So, of course the most senior and experienced scientists and engineers were let go. And the Palm Beach Post published some articles about this. The comments from readers breathed ignorance like an old dog huffing after climbing some stairs. Water management is such a waste of money, good riddance to the fired employees. Get rid of ’em all. Yeah, who needs their land dry anyway? Floriduh.
As has oft been noted, ya just can’t fix stupid. South Florida might be better off as a wetland (and a reef for you apostates who believe in global warming and rising sea levels). We may find out soon enough.