Flushing Taxpayer Money Down the Drain

I always thought Republicans were trying to cut down on wasteful government spending, that’s why they oppose Medicaid, SSDI, and even SSI for the elderly. Apparently this is not true of Republicans in Florida who have decided they should waste taxpayer money silencing critics of government officials. I’m not going to discuss the violation of the First Amendment this bill proposes. Instead I want to discuss the costs, because this is going to get expensive fast.

The proposed bill requires bloggers to register with the state of Florida before they can write and publish blog posts about elected government officials in Florida. As of yet, the ambiguous term “blogger” is all that’s used without any criteria. So this could mean bloggers like me as well as professional journalism blogs like Fox News and CNN.

I don’t know how many blogs my readers follow, I follow about thirty and two of them are like mine, mostly about writing, but occasionally stuff about the world pops up. A few weeks ago one of them had a post on Putin’s rise to power in the Soviet Union/Russia that I enjoyed, but the following day the post was about homemade sugar cookies v. commercially produced ones. The point is, as it’s worded now, even my blog would be required to register with the state of Florida, because I might randomly decide to write a post about Florida elected officials taking on Disney.

Registering a blog is going to be like registering anything else; it’s going to generate lots of paperwork, and someone has to review/approve?/file all that paperwork. So now we need staff and lots of it, because there are hundreds of thousands of blogs, some like mine and some dedicated to politics and some just dedicated to news that will need to register with the State of Florida. Not to mention it is going to need to be the job of certain people to read all those thousands of daily blog posts, dedicated readers are now needed in the Office of Blogging Affairs. And because it’s an office and probable a division of state agency, it will need supervisors, managers, peons, and possibly in house legal counsel, because there are going to be a ton of legal issues that immediately spring up.

Also, the task of finding the blog posts can only be partially automated. Google Keyword monitoring is great, but for example if I don’t place tags on this blog post, it’s not going to get noticed by Google despite my using terms such as Florida Elected Officials. Meaning the office will need internet scrubbers who scour the internet looking for blog posts about Florida Elected Officials.

Now, we’ve found a blog post that mentions the Governor of Florida. Someone has to check the registry (this should be simple) to determine if the blog is registered with the state of Florida. If it is, what happens now? I mean several people have spent time scouring for this blog post about the Governor of Florida taking on Disney and it’s a known entity doing the writing, let’s say it’s unfavorable and the blogger clearly supports Disney’s right to autonomy (not unlike Vatican City in Italy)… Okay, what now? What was the point of all of this? Florida can’t fine a blogger for voicing their opinion that Disney has a right to autonomy regardless of how the Florida governor feels about it, so what was the point? The bill says “This will require all bloggers to expose their funding” … Yeah, right. The registered blogger says no one paid for the article and they do not directly earn income from their blog, not even from advertisements.

Florida decides said blogger must be lying. They can nicely ask for bank statements and tax returns, but there’s no way, I would turn over that information just because someone asked for it. The blogger is like me and refuses their request even though they asked nicely and offered to buy them a sundae with a cherry on top. This means the Office of Blogger Affairs has to work with the Florida Attorney General to get a subpoena for the blogger’s financial records and if said blogger lives in Florida that’s fairly easy and uncomplicated. But they don’t, they live in Seattle, Washington. Now, Florida has to submit paperwork to the state of Washington explaining their reasons for waiting said financial paperwork and then wait for Washington to decide whether to accept said paperwork and allow their own agencies to gather that information and give it to Florida.

Here’s the thing, Florida has no jurisdiction over citizens of Washington (or any other state), giving the State of Washington the discretion to serve or not serve said subpoena on one of their citizens; and given the entire basis of the subpoena violates the first amendment and that neither the crime or criminal is wanted for a violent offense, Washington may very well decide Florida has no basis for their subpoena and ignore it completely. Should that happen, the only recourse Florida has is to sue the state of Washington in federal court. However, given the autonomy of states in the US, even if Florida sues in federal court, they are likely to lose and still not gain access to those financial records, what they have done is waste a lot of time and money trying to prove that a 30 year old guy in the State of Washington is a paid subversive because he has an opinion that Florida’s governor is a tyrant.

Thousands, probably more like hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds have been spent trying to prove that Joe Blow in Seattle, Washington who dislikes the Florida governor is paid to dislike him and here’s the thing, he’s probably not. This bill makes me think Republicans only want to save tax dollars from beneficial programs to allow the money to be used to silence critics of the government, which is a constitutional right of every American.


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