Whereas, this is wasteful

Cursing the overpriced flowers on your latest credit-card bill? Not to worry: Our representatives in Harrisburg, for whom no problem is too big or too small, may be ridding us of Valentine's Day by fiat.

Under a resolution sponsored by State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery), Feb. 14 would henceforth be known as "National Socks for the Homeless Day." Let's see Hallmark try to monetize that!

Maybe the homeless' lack of socks is not as distressing as their lack of, well, homes. And maybe Leach's new holiday won't take on the "national" scope he apparently expects. But his resolution is just one of hundreds of equally momentous tributes produced by the legislature each year.

The General Assembly considered 1,551 such resolutions during the 2009-10 session, The Inquirer reported last week, and it passed 1,092. The New Jersey Legislature, U.S. Congress, and others are also prolific in the genre.

Many of these measures crowd an imaginary calendar with made-up holidays. In a single day last month, the state House unanimously recognized "National Mentoring Month," "Financial Aid Awareness Month," "Nurse Anesthetists Week," "Wear Red Day," "National Girls and Women in Sports Day," and "Pittsburgh Steelers Day."

Others bring some small recognition to obscure people and organizations in lawmakers' districts. Still others are based on the premise that no event or person, no matter how great, has been properly feted until the full weight and dignity of Harrisburg have been brought to bear.

Rep. Harry Readshaw, for instance, has produced three resolutions commemorating Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps you've heard of him? But Readshaw (D., Allegheny) had the guts to insist that "the public needs to be reminded" of old unsung Abe. And the lawmaker has no plans to stop emancipating the taxpayers' paper in pursuit of that goal.

Readshaw's effort has done us one service, though: It's a powerful reminder that no person or cause, grand or modest, has much to gain from being bloviated about by a state legislator.

Of course, we could assess the worth of such resolutions more precisely if we knew what they cost - which is probably why legislative officials claim they have no idea. What we do know is that each is reviewed by government lawyers; many are subject to ceremonial reproductions costing as much as $10 each; and thousands upon thousands are being churned out by one of the largest, most expensive state legislatures in America.

RESOLVED, then, that we've been had once again.

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