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When balloons are outlawed …

Submitted by on Thursday, 24 July 2008 No Comment
"The guys aren't much into political news yet, but a recent item would have led to much rejoicing had they seen it: The California Senate has abandoned its effort to ban mylar balloons.

As far as I'm concerned, the ban should have been implemented in June, before I bought Little Guy a musical Thomas balloon for his birthday. Sure, it looked cute in the store, but try listening to a train whistle ""Happy Birthday"" a few million times. No, I wasn't the one who popped it, but I won't pretend to mourn the loss.

I'm sure now that the weighty matter balloon is solved, legislators can move on to trivial things. Such as a budget that's more than a month overdue and has led Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to threaten slash state workers' pay to the federal minimum wage.

Even more astounding: It's the second time this session the balloon ban has had to die. An Assembly committee killed the bill in June, according to sacbee.com, only to have its Senate sponsor take another run at it.

I now completely understand why the rest of the country thinks Californians are nuts.

The problem with balloons, sacbee.com reports: Mylar is an excellent conductor, and the balloons can cause power outages when they land in power lines. ""If it were merely latex, we wouldn't have a problem,"" Sen. Jack Scott said.

Maybe he wouldn't, but the roughly 5 percent of the U.S. population with latex allergies would. And the problem hits harder in health-care professions, where up to 17 percent of the providers are allergic, according to emedicine.com. Been to a hospital lately? They don't sell latex in gift shops. Many won't let latex bouquets past security.

Latex balloons also are dangerous to wildlife, sticking in the guts of marine animals who swallow them and causing slow starvation. I guess fish can't afford the high-priced lobbyists the utilities can hire.

So if latex is bad and mylar is banned, there's no viable balloon alternative. Maybe that's a good thing.

There's a restaurant chain in town that bribes kids with free latex balloons. It works, too, until we head for the car. Inevitably, one guy or the other will lose his grip on the ribbon just as that slight breeze wafts up. I've spent much time in the parking lot as a kid cried piteously and watched his balloon sail skyward.

No balloons? No problem!

If by chance both balloons make it home, one will quickly pop due to accident or malice. Which triggers another bout of piteous crying.

No balloons? No problem!

Then there's the cost: $10 for Little Guy's much-adored Thomas balloon. I'm stupid that way.

No balloons? No problem!

So I guess I'm coming around to Scott's way of thinking. A balloon ban is a grand idea that will save money and tears.

I only hope he can revive the bill again this session. The budget can always wait.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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