Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current,  events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

Oh! California!

“Progressive” continues to gain new, boundary-breaking meaning in the state Legislature. Take Assembly Bill 5.

This bill, introduced by the ultra-compassionate Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, is titled “Homeless Persons Bill of Rights and Fairness Act.” While we have no quarrel either with rights or fairness, we must wonder whence such rights derive.

Without reference to the Declaration of Independence’s “Creator,” AB-5 declares that “everybody in the state” has a right to “access to income sufficient for survival, regardless of employment status or criminal justice background …”

You assume correctly that the latter background does not refer to persons who have passed muster under California Police Officer Standards and Training.

The proposed law would make it legal for bums (that heartless term!) to “rest” on public sidewalks, benches and the like. Just so there’s no confusion, “rest” is defined. It is “the state of not moving (including) but not limited to, sitting, standing, leaning, kneeling, squatting, sleeping or lying.” Somehow, Ammiano has neglected to include “hanging by the knees” and that ultimate state of not moving: dead.

Begging would be protected under the bill, too, although the practice should be called the less-judgmental “soliciting donations.” And AB-5 would make it illegal for cops, public or private security personnel to harass, arrest or “subject to criminal or civil sanctions” folks who are praying, meditating or generally “practicing religion” in “public spaces.” Clearly, Ammiano has fumbled here, for his bill omits the words “except Bible-believing and anti-abortion Christians.” But that can be amended later.

The act is meant to protect people who are homeless due to their low incomes. However, it is not explained why the bill says “low income” means having an income “at or lower than twice the federal poverty level.” This means a single citizen could knock down nearly $23,000 a year and still be impoverished under the bill. For a family of four, the figure would be slightly more than $47,000. You explain it.

AB-5 is long and ponderous. Its verbiage accords the homeless some “rights” you didn’t know you had, like the right to conceal your immigration status.

Nevertheless, Ammiano has shown his willingness to compromise by abridging his list of rights “to engage in life-sustaining activities” that “must be carried out in public spaces because of homelessness.” He has eliminated the right to urinate at will.

Not to be outdone by a San Francisco lawmaker, a state Senate Democrat, Bill Monning of Carmel, is advancing his party’s dogma that California (indeed, the entire country) can gain rights by giving up rights.

His Senate Bill 622 would impose a penny tax on every fluid ounce of sweetened beverage purveyed in the Golden State. The reason: We’re too fat.

Monning, who could himself stand to lose a few pounds, maintains the “obesity rate” in California is approaching 25 percent. (This certainly must be true in the Assembly, where Speaker John A. Perez accounts for that proportion all by himself.)

Monning’s bill would deposit the new tax revenues – minus administrative costs, of course – in a new “Children’s Health Promotion Fund.”

The reasoning is the same as in every “because-it’s-good-for-you” measure the state has adopted since 1992’s trend-setting motorcycle helmet law. It goes thus: You get fat; you get sick. You get sick; you drain public resources. So, we’re going to force you to be healthy. (The state will define “healthy.”)

Monning avers that “in 2006, overweight and obesity-related costs in California were estimated at almost $21 billion” and that “there is overwhelming evidence of the link between obesity and the consumption of sweetened beverages,” not to mention anything else containing calories.

California business is as unhappy with Monning as it is with Ammiano. Typically anti-progressive.

Of course, not all business is so reactionary. We find an article in the Baltimore Business Journal explaining that developers and real-estate agents nationwide are dropping the term “master suite” from home descriptions.

They say it’s too “male,” for one thing, and for some it conjures an image of a southern plantation slave holder. Now it’s to be “owner’s suite.” An “owner,” you see, could be a woman. On the other hand, owners also could be masters. Therefore, it remains residually objectionable. At least, some organization will make an effort to find it so.


Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.