Nap Time

Former Tennessee senator Howard Baker used to quip that one could trace the beginnings of explosive growth in the federal government back to the day they installed a decent air conditioning system in the Capitol. It seems that Washington used to be a sleepy little southern town that moved at a leisurely pace, performing the people's business with all the energy of a three toed sloth making its way to the ground for breakfast only to arrive around supper time.

One of the reasons for the lethargy was Washington's oppressive climate.  Anyone who has spent a summer in Washington can tell you that the city is uninhabitable without modern air conditioning. When George Washington was scoping out a location for the Capitol city, he must have been a little tipsy, because the area he chose along the Potomac River for the city that bears his name has the climate of the worst Amazonian swamp you can imagine with mosquitoes the size of butterflies and stinging flies that recall the worst of Dante's Inferno.

Diplomats used to receive hardship pay for being forced to serve in our nation's capital. And Congress, unable to bear the life draining heat and humidity, would remove themselves from the city for much of the summer. This meant that the taxpayer's hard earned coin was safe for a few blessed weeks. No Congress, no new schemes to separate the citizen from his property.

I was reminded of this little morality tale by Baker when it was revealed that the President's director of the Council of Economic Advisors Larry Summers took a little nap during a meeting between the president and credit card executives a few weeks ago. Rather than make Mr. Summers the butt of cruel jokes, it struck me that here was perhaps the greatest idea for deficit reduction in the history of the United States. Damn near foolproof, actually.

Have Congress mandate a one hour nap every day for every federal employee, member of Congress, staffer, custodian, and cook. In short, close up the city and roll up the sidewalks for one hour every day.

Considering that the government spends about $65 billion every 24 hours, a savings every day of $2.5 billion or so of that money for the hour when Congress, the President, his staff, his department heads, and everyone (except military personnel actually on duty) is fast asleep on their burlap mats would go a long way toward reducing the deficit.

Of course, the government would probably find some way to botch it. No doubt Congress would mandate a certain kind of mat that every department would have to purchase. No cheap Wal-Mart mats for government employees. They would probably import mats made of the finest jute from Bangladesh or India thus contributing to our horrible trade deficit.

And almost certainly, every department would want their own "nap rooms" with senior bureaucrats being given their own space in which to stretch out. There will be the argument made that a whole new headquarters building would be required complete with state of the art enhancements like special glass windows to block the sun's rays, custom made blinds in case the windows aren't good enough, and outdoor louvers because, well...just because. The first rule in government spending according to the fictional H.R. Haddon in the film Contact is "why build one when you can have two at twice the price?"

Duplicating the effort to keep a department's nap room dark enough is nothing more than bureaucrats exercising caution while guaranteeing increased budgets to make sure that the execrably constructed, useless, nonfunctional replication of building systems works the way it should -- which is badly or not at all.

And what would nap time be without milk and cookies when you wake up? Here is where all our dreams of deficit reduction would be dashed as there would have to be a Congressional investigation into which cookies would be the least fattening and healthiest.

Government labs around the country would get busy testing each ingredient in every commercially available cookie for cancer causing agents, sugar and fat content, and perhaps even the percentage of free radicals although just about anyone could inform our scientists that the closer one gets to the White House,  the more free radicals one is to find.

No doubt, the recommendations returned by this investigation would mandate a whole new cookie made largely of sunflower seeds and wild grasses found on non-protected government lands, baked by union cooks, and distributed in trucks driven by Teamsters: After approval by AFSCME, of course.

Then there would have to be allowances made for the lactose intolerant which would set off another round of investigations and studies to find the best (and most expensive) alternative. In the end, organic products gleaned from the milk of Llamas will probably end up on the post-nap menu.

It is said we always get the government we deserve.  But really now, I would only wish this kind of government on my worst enemy. Too bad they're the ones in charge already.

Rick Moran is Associate Editor of American Thinker, and Chicago Editor of Pajamas Media. His personal blog is Right Wing