Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Some pirates are better at plundering than others

Republican state representative Juan Zapata of Florida wants to empty museums and sell off the state's Spanish treasure in order to raise cash and balance the state budget. "We have some interesting goodies in the closet," he explained. "Why not have an interesting garage sale, put them out there and see what we can get for them?" Zapata went so far as to write up his plan, specifying some of the most famous treasure ever recovered in Florida--artifacts from the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha--as the objects to go on the auction block, and attached the plan to another bill as an amendment.

However, Zapata's plan had to be withdrawn because Florida doesn't own the Atocha artifacts and the real owner isn't planning on donating them to the state. The Secretary of State's office is not enthusiastic about selling the artifacts that they do own. "These are tough times, but we don't sell treasure as a Florida family," said Ryan Wheeler, the state's chief of archaeological research. "We don't sell the family Bible," he added, "or grandmother's china." The Secretary of State's office made no effort to supply Zapata with information about which artifacts they do own.

With bold ideas like that one, Zapata should apply for a job in the Iraqi reconstruction. He could organize a raid on the national museum in Baghdad and sell the loot to private collectors. Oh wait, Donald Rumsfeld already did that.

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