The Sweet Smell of Money

Florida is being baptized inthe dirty waters of our own making.

For decades, environmentalists have been sounding the alarm about the cesspool known as Lake Okeechobee. Again and again, they’ve warned that letting Big Sugar and Big Agriculture and Big Subdivision have their way with the state while rerouting the pool of their pollution east and west into the oceans, rather than letting it filter south through the Everglades, would have deadly impacts on minor things like the ecosystem and major things like the economy. Over the years, politicians would come and politicians would go; the only constant was broken promises to do something about the grease trap of a lake spreading its stink across the peninsula.

Now, thanks to their inaction, our state is in the grips of an environmental disaster of epidemic proportions. Every day newscasts are clogged with photos of dead fish, eels and sea turtles that litter shorelines to our south like cigarette butts on the set of Mad Men.

You know what I say? Embrace it. Sure, why not? It’s not like anyone who represents us is going to do something to stop it. So let’s just save ourselves a dump truck-load of stress and get on board with red tide and green algae. Heck, with colors that festive, the state could even rebrand. Christmas in August has a nice ring to it, for example. Instead of “Jingle Bells,” we could sing “River Smells.” Rather than “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” carolers could belt “It Came Upon the Midnight Tide”; in lieu of “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “O Die, All Ye Dolphins.” Instant classics.

If you’re worried about the $67 billion tourism industry, fear not. We’ll just replace tourists who come to lounge on our beaches with scientists and students come to take samples on our beaches.

I, for one, have no doubt that nerds of all ages will be happy to keep our economy flush with a steady supply of scholar dollars—another brilliant marketing slogan we could adopt. The commercials practically write themselves: “Get the most out of those scholar dollars by taking your next class trip to Florida. Here you can take your pick of carcasses to dissect. We’ve got it all, from sharks to crabs and everything in between. You’ll never buy from a lab again. Dead manatees have even been known to wash ashore during Army Corp of Engineers meetings about red tide. (True story!)”

Just remember, pack that dissection kit in your checked bag or you could be spending the rest of the semester as the guest of Immigration and Customs Enforcement … until the Democrats abolish it, of course.

It occurs to me that there might not be enough scientists and students to make up for the 10-bazillion tourists who visit our state each year. No big deal. These days everyone wants to get on the news for shouting and holding a sign, so we’ll just make up the rest of the lost tourists by marketing to protesters.

Think of it: all our deserted hotels and resorts could start offering all-inclusive packages for eco-warriors. Just imagine how many would flock to our state if, for the low, low price of $3,500/week plus tax, planet defenders got meals and accommodations plus HAZMAT hip boots and military-grade pollution masks perfect for long walks on the beach, their choice of bullhorn or megaphone, an unlimited supply of bottled water, five-gallon buckets, bleach, trash bags, rubber gloves, poster board and sharpies, a guarantee that the entire staff will sign their petition, PLUS guided tours of attractions like fish graveyards and the state capitol (one recent visitor notes: Both smell like death on a cracker).

Bazillions, that’s how many.

Now, everyone knows that lots of people come to Florida in the hopes of seeing a big star like Ariana Grande, The Rock, or Will Smith lounging poolside or in the VIP. Star-gazers won’t have to miss out just ‘cause all the beaches south of Orlando are closed, nosirree, not when the likes of Erin Brokovich, Al Gore, Jeffrey Corwin—even the Prince of Wales—will probably be coming to town. And one of our most famous part-time residents, Bill Gates, never left.

As to our world-renowned seafood, well, restaurants could buy imports to feed those hungry masses of scientists, fame whores and angry environmentalists. But that’s pretty pricey, so I suggest they adopt a post-apocalyptic or bomb shelter theme. What fun it is to dine on Jell-O, Fizzies, canned bread and MREs! (Also, unlike contaminated shellfish, these won’t kill you.)

Sure, instead we could demand real change and hold our representatives accountable. But what’s the fun in that?