In a surprise press conference, the D.C. City Council announced that, in order to resolve its long-standing statehood and fiscal woes, the city will merge with the state of Idaho.
The plan was originally proposed by the House Appropriations D.C. subcommittee after the governors of both Maryland and Virginia rejected proposals to merge D.C. with those states. Idaho was chosen apparently because of its status of being the only state to have no urban areas as defined by the Bureau of the Census, and that its Governor, Phil Batt, happened to be on vacation when the scheme was concocted and was unable to object until the plan had been approved.
Liberals are fond of the plan, which will likely result in DC voters being allocated at least one voting member within the House of Representatives, and probably a D.C.-based Senator as well. Conservatives also expressed delight at the plan, because D.C.'s very strong liberal core will be diluted by Idaho's heavily conservative population in the electoral college, increasing the likelihood of Republican victory in Presidential contests.
Washington natives are pleased that they will have the financial backing of Idaho, which has run budget surpluses in seven of its past eight fiscal years. Idahoans expect that their influence in the halls of Congress (which is currently negligible) will increase markedly as Congressmen suddenly find themselves surrounded by 600,000 Idahoans at close range. Per-capita potato consumption in the District is also expected to increase substantially.
It is anticipated that the capital of the combined state will continue to be in Boise, as members of the state legislature are quite fond of the phrase "those bureaucrats in Washington" when discussing Federal programs, and would undoubtedly be uncomfortable at themselves becoming bureaucrats in Washington.
Ilkovitch was apparently responding to the Committee for the Abolotion of Most Places with Plants and Animals In Nature (CAMP-PAIN), a lobbying group opposed to the National Park Service as a government entity, and opposed to the outdoors as a concept.
Oberin Underbudget, a Ilkovitch colleague, stated that they expect sale of those properties to major corporations will net approximately $1.4 billion in deficit-reducing income, although he would not speculate on the annual leasing costs the govenment will have to pay to use those buildings. "Those payments will come out of different agencies' current budgets--the National Park Service, for instance will be spending its budget on leasing the Washington Monument, rather than all those frivolous things they're doing with it now."
If all goes well with the plan, Underbudget said, they hope to proceed to lease other federal land and equipment. "Perhaps if we sold Yellowstone on a concession basis, we could more quickly balance the budget. And those B-2 bombers that senators keep putting into the budget even though the Pentagon doesn't want them could be sold to private interests, and then leased by the Government. It's right-sizing at its best, and will reduce the excessive influence of the Federal Government by letting the private sector own and manage many government facilities such as national parks and defense bases. Everyone knows that smaller government is better."
"Besides, I think American citizens want lower taxes, even if it means GM cars on display in the rotunda of the Capitol or a Microsoft stock certificate in the National Archives on display next to the Declaration of Independence. The new owners will only be able to add their corporate influence, such as McDonald's proposal to paint Arches National Park bright yellow; the contracts will specifically prevent activities such as shortening the Washington Monument to better fit a corporate logo."
Buried on page 1,454 of the recently-approved 2,338-page 1996 Fiscal Year Congressional Budget Plan is Subsection 3.10.39(a).iii.9(w), "Surplus Capital Sale and Lease Plan." This plan outlines $172 billion in supplies, equipment, and holdings that will be sold at auction by the federal government during the fiscal year in order to help reduce the budget deficit. Item 558 of the things to be sold under the plan is "Miscellaneous real estate located in the capital city, and the structures located thereon, as specified on page 44 of plat 229 of the District of Columbia Property Records Archive, valued at approximately $1.4 billion."
SPRIL researchers spent 14 hours sifting through land ownership records before determining that the specified page details the real estate owned by the federal government in and around the White House, Washington Monument, and Capitol. (The rest of the National Mall is "unimproved," however, and is not included in the property for auction.)
Dear Dr. Staff: I finally decided to buy a personal computer, but I noticed that a new, faster model was about to be introduced, so I decided to wait until the market stabilized so I could buy a machine that would be state-of-the-art for a while. I've been waiting since 1982, and now I feel obsolete because I still don't have a computer. How is that the darn things keep getting smaller and faster (but never seem to get any cheaper)? --Confounded Computer Consumer
Dear Confounded: To answer this question, I'll have to explain some principles of economics. Prices are often set not by how much it costs to make something, but by how much customers will pay to get it. For example, the phone company doesn't have to pay anything for you to use touch-tones on your phone; in fact, if you use an antique rotary phone, they convert the noises it makes into tones. Yet most phone companies still charge their customers for touch-tone lines. It doesn't cost airlines more to fly a plane on a weekday, but they charge their customers more.
So it is with computers. It's a little-known fact that there's been virtually no development of hardware technology in the past decade. The only difference between, for instance, a 286 and a 486 is that the 486 is painted with the "486" logo and has an internal switch set for "486." If you've ever wondered how a Pentium can run all the same software that a 386 can, it's because they're actually the same thing.
Since it costs Intel the same to manufacture a Pentium as it did a 286 (because they're really the same thing), the price of each of each, as it becomes the latest technology, always stays the same. That's why a new computer always costs about $2000.
Why would they deliberately slow down a computer? It takes a lot of money to develop new hardware technology--years and years of work from hundreds, if not thousands, of highly-paid engineers are required. In order to sell a product for the years it takes the engineers to develop a new product to replace the former, they've got to make it look like the computers are slowly getting better. The software that runs on a computer develops differently--it gets bigger and slower with each new version that comes out. The main reason people buy new computers is because their old one is too slow--so if Intel had released the Pentium in 1985, everybody would have bought one then, and nobody would have bought any Intel products since then, so they wouldn't have any money to develop their next line of computers.
It's also easy to see why computers keep getting smaller, too. When a new computer line (such as the 8086, which came before the 286) comes out, the chip is turned down extremely slow, so perhaps 1% of its energy is devoted to working for users. Where does the rest of the energy go? It generates heat, and to keep the computer from overheating so much, it needs to be in a big box so the computer is well-ventilated. As more and more of a computer is actually used to process what a user wants (instead of just to slow it down), less heat is generated, and so the computer's box can be smaller. --Thermal Wizard
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