This story in today's SH-T is about a proposed annual fee of $17 to to fish from the Sunshine State's saltwater beaches and piers. A license is already required to fish from a boat in the Gulf or fish in freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, retention ponds, parking lot catch basins and, if the drought continues much longer, muddy hoof prints.
Of course, a license is required to fish anywhere if you are a non-resident, but, this being Florida, that was pretty much of a given. We love our visitors. We love them so much we just want to give them all a great big hug and squeeeeeze every last red cent out of their wallets.
Now also in today's paper was a story about the Sarasota County School Board cutting 335 jobs, 215 teachers and 120 support personnel.
A quick check of the comment forums on these two stories restored my faith in my fellow Sarasotans and Bradentonians. The teacher purge garnered all of three rather bland comments, while the fishing fee story elicited almost FORTY responses, mostly by those opposing the fee on 'constitutional' grounds, as in "Ain't it in the Bill of Rights somewheres that I can go fishin' fer free if'n I live here?"
Now, if my calculations are correct (I shoulda gone to third grade arithmetic instead of going fishing) that yearly $17 fee would work out to be $63.75 a month. No, wait, that can't be right. OK, it's really about $1.42 a month.
So, who exactly doesn't like the idea?
- the 'creeping socialism' camp who don't want to pay because it will fund yet another gov't program,
- the 'Big Brother' faction who don't want to pay because they know that this is just another way for big gov't to keep tabs on you,
- the 'cracker' contingency who don't want to pay because that means $17 less they have to spend on beer,
- the 'traditionalist' group who don't want to pay because, well, because we ain't never done it before,
- the 'conspiracy theorists' who don't want to pay because they just know that "first they tax it, then they license it, then they take it away" and, of course,
- the "illegal aliens are the ruination of America" asylum who don't want to pay because "I don't know how many of you go out to the skyway, but we do it frequently.. What we see are MOSTLY latin folks out there, stripping the water of ANY moving fish. Even the inedible ones... They take the clams, they take the bait, they take the snails, bonefish, small mackerel, pinfish, sea snakes, ladyfish... THEY TAKE EVERYTHING.. It has been completely stripped.. Why? Because they can eat for FREE... I say, let them pay for a fishing license just like everyone else- help to fund the fisheries that they are depleting faster than they can be stocked... I have witnessed them take undersized fish and fillet them on the spot and toss the carcass..."
See you all at the Tea Party. Bring guns. And fishing rods.
"Want my fishing rod? From my cold, dead 9-year old hands, you sonsabitches....."