‘Mandatory Lutefisk’

And other ideas on how to stop growth in its tracks.

'Mandatory Lutefisk'

Recent statistics show a disturbing trend. Northwest Environment Watch reports that the population of Cascadia—Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia—is booming. It’s not birth rate but migration from other states and provinces that is driving up the numbers. In the past 12 months, 227,000 folks have moved to the region. That’s a 1.5 percent population increase in a year, due almost entirely to what they call “domestic migration.” In other words, thanks, California.

Growing the most is Washington. The Seattle Times finds that Washington’s population has grown by more than 400,000 people from 2000 to 2005. We’re America’s 14th most populous state and the 12th-fastest growing. The Times reports that the state’s demographer, Theresa Lowe, predicts Washington will continue to draw more than 100,000 people per year for the rest of the decade as our population soars to 6.8 million.

Clearly, we are not doing enough to make ourselves unappealing to the rest of the country. Despite all the dire predictions that we would drive away people with the bad breath and acne-blooms of high taxes, overpriced real estate, and onerous laws and regulations, we have not done nearly enough to make ourselves repellent. I mean, when Boeing stormed out of Seattle and relocated its corporate headquarters in Chicago, you would have thought we were some kind of drooling plague monkey. Even the dot-com bust failed to be a deterrent to growth. Our state is adding tons of jobs, and our vaunted “livability” apparently has the appeal of a Paris Hilton sex video.

Mossback doesn’t like the ways things are going. Too much growth, too much change, too many outsiders trying to grow palm trees—or skyscrapers—in our backyards. I think the only way to turn this thing around is to adopt measures that will turn newcomers off, yet reinforce local values.

Hire consultants—from North Dakota. They are the only state in the union that is losing population. What can we learn from them? Seattle has always been a sucker for guys with briefcases from out of town, so let’s tap the wisdom of Bismarck. Maybe we need to develop a really annoying regional accent, like those folks in Fargo.

Mandatory lutefisk. Everyone loves to joke about this grotesque, gelatinous fish dish from Scandinavia, but few have ever eaten it. Fewer still have been forced to eat it on a regular basis. Mossback had to choke down a pile every Christmas Eve to get his presents. That’s Calvinism on a plate! Served properly, this steaming pile of lye-soaked, boiled cod takes on the consistency of sperm and exudes a fishy odor. The Legislature should pass a law: Once a week, everyone has to eat a plate—or maybe a barrel—of lutefisk. Lutefisk testing stations at the state border can pass out samples, giving immigrants a chance to turn around before it’s too late.

Recycling or death. Seattle has passed, and as of this week is enforcing, a mandatory recycling law. No one really wants garbage nazis picking through the trash, but it’s good public policy, and the National Security Agency already knows everything else about us, so don’t be paranoid. But, the law’s penalties aren’t stiff enough. I mean, a $50 fine? Put some real teeth in it. Make recycling statewide and make noncompliance a death-penalty offense. Not only will this make our state tidy and green, it will make newcomers think twice about whether they’re ready to live up to our standards. Such a law might be a good occasion to bring back hanging, by the way. Nonrecyclers could be strung up curbside (for convenient pickup) by burly sanitation engineers.

Outlaw designer pets. Republican legislator Pam Roach is proposing to recriminalize bestiality in the upcoming legislative session, but this will only make a slight dent in the number of Californians who move here. A tougher, less appealing pet law would be to ban pure- and specialty-breed dogs. Doesn’t anyone own a plain, old-fashioned, just-as-God-made-them mongrel pooch anymore? Outside my local Tully’s, it seems that every dog is some rare product of canine eugenics. I am convinced that if we ban such pets, their owners will breed them elsewhere. Another suggestion while we’re on the topic: In addition to protecting animals from human sex predators, what about protecting humans from animal sex predators? Sen. Roach, protect the rights of people who get their leg humped or an unwanted nose in the crotch—now!

Weather restoration act. That asshole George W. Bush is destroying our weather as part of a right-wing plot to turn our blue state into a red-hot, Sun Belt real- estate market. Last winter, we had a drought. This winter, an uncommonly dry November. When was the last time Seattle had a real snowstorm? Green Lake used to freeze over. Our climate’s gone screwy. “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle,” goes the song, and it’s true—but that used to be an annual event, not the freaking norm. We need new laws that will help put bumbershoots back in Bumbershoot. Without the endless rains that drove Ulysses S. Grant to drink and Lewis and Clark insane, we are defenseless.

I have many other ideas. Year-round hydroplane races; a law requiring the display of Elton Bennett silk-screen art in every home; a diabolical scheme involving Kenny G music. Perhaps you do, too. We need them. Our future is at stake.

kberger@seattleweekly.com


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