He was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, having written part of it, and he had good relations with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield.
Yes, I did say he was a Republican. Times have changed.
As with all legislators, he liked to orate. And he was good at it. I remember loving to listen to him speak, paying little attention to the words and more to the manner, his rich baritone issuing sound waves that were a joy to intercept. Not everyone was so charmed, and opponents labeled him “The Wizard of Ooze.”
He was a fiscal conservative and opposed unrestricted expenditures, although in early days he was more moderate and supported much of the New Deal. I remember well one comment I heard, and a recent event reminded me of it. I checked to see if I accurately recalled the quote, and to my amazement I had. Here it is.
“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.”
What he was referring to, of course, was all the different demands on the public coffers. Any one wasn’t so bad (only a billion dollars!) but do enough of them and things get out of control.
To most of us a billion is an unimaginable amount of money. But what about $200 here, $300 there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money? That might hit closer to home.
Unfortunately, we get to experience such a reality on occasion, often by purveyors of services.
Cable companies operate this way. Want TV? Sure, we’ve got a package and it’s only $85 a month. Oh, want all the NFL games? A bargain at only $15 more. You will need a cable box, of course, for each of your three TVs. They are a mere $7.50 apiece. Now the internet will cost you another $60 but for a measly $10 more you can get higher speed that will let you stream at lightening rates. Taxes and other charges are another $25.
When you hear the numbers, nothing sounds outrageous. But add them up and you get $217.50 every month, or $2610 each and every year, before the inevitable price increases. Real money!
An even better example is funeral homes. We’re all suckers there, distraught and not thinking about money, only wanting to do what’s right for good old Harry.
The cost of basic services isn’t too bad, a lot less than feared. Do you want embalming? An extra charge, of course. Doing hair? Just a little more. Fingernails? The same. The casket’s a big item, but you expect to pay for it. And even that isn’t as bad as imagined. Of course, the law requires a liner and there is this one. Unfortunately, it lets water in while, for only a little more, you can get one that’s waterproof. The programs and sign in book are a bargain at $350 and flowers for the top of the casket a reasonable $400.
A few dollars here, a few there. The sum total of all the “reasonable” charges is huge.
Everett Dirksen was onto something.