As I have pointed out on other occasions, through the years I gather stuff and save it just to see what it might or might not reveal about the condition and future of our great republic.
The other day I was thumbing through my 2012 file, and this is what I found.
That year one of the consistent complaints from both Left and Right concerned the degree to which government--state and federal--was intruding into the lives of ordinary citizens.
However, it was seldom that both the Left and Right got mad about the same thing.
Count on Florida, specifically the Florida Health Department, to bring the two together.
In an effort to determine the reproductive service needed by young women around the state, Florida sent out a survey to 4,100 women between the ages of 18 and 24. It asked such pertinent questions as how many different men they had sex with over the previous year, was the sex protected, and how they felt, emotionally, after having unprotected sex.
I could not help but wonder if "none of your business" was one of the responses.
In the fiasco that followed, liberals and conservatives united to denounce the questionnaire as another example of government treading where it should not have trod. Those on the Right saw it as yet another example of creeping socialism while the Left feared the data collection was part of a plot to identify immoral Floridians and weed them out.
What really caused me to snort my milk up my nose was the revelation that as an incentive to get young women to tell about their personal lives the state of Florida offered a $10 CVS card to everyone who returned the survey.
Why CVS and not Walmart?
Did money pass under the table?
But if you get upset at this sort of poking into private lives, consider Iceland, where a 15-year-old girl sued to be able to use the name her mother gave her, the name with which she was baptized. The government says she can't because the name is not one of the 1,853 female names on the Icelandic Personal Names Register.
I wonder if Bubba is on the boys' list?
Meanwhile, in Russia, officials have declared that henceforth beer will be considered alcohol instead of food. That done, government, as it always does, stepped in with another rule. When beer was food there was no legal age to feed. Now that it is alcohol, there will be the legal age to drink.
See how one thing leads to another.
Back in the states, the Illinois legislature banned shark fins which, if broadly interpreted, could create a problem for Jimmy Buffet concert goers.
Returning to Florida, in an act filled with cultural significance, the legislature repealed a law that had threatened a longstanding tradition of highway courtesy. How many times have you flashed your lights to warn approaching motorists of an upcoming speed trap? Well, in Florida that helpful hint was illegal (I didn't know it either) until 2012 when the representatives of the people voted to repeal it.
And finally, at the end of the year news reached me via Facebook and my buddy Jim, that confirmed my theory, unsupported by evidence other than anecdotal, that it won't be long before Walmart takes over everything.
As I am sure you know, it is now possible for citizens of this great republic to drive to some Walmart stores and eat at the Walmart cafŽ, shop for groceries at the Walmart grocery, shop for clothes among the Walmart dry goods, get the car serviced at the Walmart auto center, get your eyes checked at the Walmart vision center, make a deposit or pay your bills at the Walmart bank, get your income tax done while you wait--all under one roof.
And now Walmart may be on the verge of adding one more service to the list of what it provides.
Banks County, Georgia is a rural enclave up I-85 from Atlanta. It does not have a hospital, but it does have a Walmart. And in that Walmart, the first Banks County baby of the New Year was born.
This was not the first time Walmart has been a delivery room. A few weeks earlier a baby was born in a Kansas City Superstore.
I think we have a niche market here.
Therefore, it would not surprise me if one day in the not too distant future, I wander into a Walmart and see, right next to the optometrist, the OBGYN office, "walk-ins welcomed."
So far it hasn't happened.
But it might.
Harvey H. ("Hardy") Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at email@example.com.