Dumbfounded, I read the morning newspaper over and over, hoping I had skipped a line or read too fast. But alas, what I had read was no mistake.
Matt Bevin, Kentucky's “Fearless Leader” who had just been elected Governor in last year's hotly debated and quite a bit rigged election, had just cut 4.5% of the state's funding for universities.
Now this news came on April first, hence where I initially thought there had been perhaps a prank in the paper, or a mistake on my behalf. I had also hoped this would be a joke not just for the fact that it was April Fools' Day, but also because the paper also had a story about how Kentucky had some of the worst test scores in the nation.
“Surely...” I thought to myself. “If Kentucky has the worst test scores in the nation, or at least among the worst, then wouldn't it behoove them to do the opposite of cutting the education budget? Shouldn't this be the time that Kentucky, rich in it's own histories, would instead kick-start the education budget and raise it by 4.5% instead of the opposite?”
Of course, I was thinking too highly of the red state, which also boasts one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the country, one of the top 20 homeless rates in children under the age of fifteen, and has been dubbed the meth and rum capitol of America, the latter proving most amusing when you factor in that Laurel County didn't lift it's alcohol prohibition until just two months before this news broke.
Curious, I wanted to know where the 4.5% of my tax dollars once used for education was going. If I'm spending 6% on Kentucky's internet tax on top of an additional 6% every time I go to the grocery store, plus a generous handout I'm giving Uncle Sam out of every pay check and the handsome 10% that just came out of my 401K plan on cash out with the additional and variable 10-to-20% I'm looking at next year with that one loan I took out from it, then I'd like to know where that money is going.
How about we play a little guessing game?
Did the 4.5% of my taxes I worked ever so hard for go to:
c.) Food Stamps
d.) A giant, float-less boat in the middle of nowhere
If you answered a, b or c, *BUZZ* Oh I'm so, so very sorry. You must have been a caring, compassionate person, and therefore incapable of spending Kentucky's budget correctly. Or as they say “round these parts” a bleeding heart liberal.
If you answered “d” *DING DING DING* Winner winner, Kentucky Fried in Lard Chicken dinner with a side order of diabetes tea! You chose a float-less boat in the middle of nowhere! Now that's the spirit! Who needs to waste money on science and history books, when you can have a giant boat incapable of surviving a light rain, let alone a ferry ride across a small pond!
Yes folks, the 4.5% of my taxes that used to be allotted for universities and school programs has now been squandered on a life-sized replica of Noah's Ark, currently grounded in Williamstown, and is set to open as a for-profit theme park this July.
While Bevin is taking credit for the idea, he was not alone in making this float-less boat a reality.
The $92 million dollar park was actually supposed to open in 2014 with help from our states Creation Museum, which teaches people that science is “garbage” and “fake” and that their misunderstanding of the repeatedly man-edited, King James edition of the Bible is the only “true” book of history, denouncing even other translations of the Bible as “fakes” as they demand (and this is not a joke) $30 per adult to tour the museum and have a total stranger preach to you. Kids ages five and up can get in for $16 a head, while baptized babies are free.
What halted progress for these last two years was that pesky old United States Constitution, which prohibits the state from granting funds to a religious production on this scale, that meandering “Separation of Church and State” that soulless-ginger Thomas Jefferson wanted enacted, and that silly old Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits an institution such as this from denying non-Christians work. Denying a man work based off of religion unconstitutional?? How dare that government step in, why that's as American as the Jewish Middle Eastern man hanging crucified and dead on my China-made Jesus pendant I got at the Walmart!
Well thankfully, US. District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove doesn't believe in all that liberty junk, as he upheld the decision to cut our childrens' education funds and use state tax dollars to make this float-less Ark possible.
Aside from the $92 million already sunk into Noah's Amusement Ark, a mouth-drying $18 million is coming from the state extra, plus $11 million dollars has been eked out to rip up the local flora and fauna, creating an additional highway road on Interstate I-75 to provide faster access to the float-less boat.
Mike Zovath and Kevin Ham of the “Answers in Genesis” team, responsible for the Creation Museum and Noah's Money pit Ark, are pleased to inform we, the taxpayers, that in keeping with the spirit of Bevin's donation, they will only hire Christians to run the museum, discriminating against non-Christians in the ways of obtaining employment through them, but if you plan to drop $30 a ticket on a float-less boat, you can visit the Ark even if you are a non-Christian.
No word yet on a special concession for Jesus Christ, who is actually the King of the Jews, making him the single most Jewish potential patron of the Christian-run Ark.
Now for those playing the home game, here are some fun facts!
Jesus was actually baptized by Jewish preacher: John the Baptist in Matthew 3:13-17 for those keeping score at home.
Noah's Ark by the way sailed for 40 days circa 2348 BC.
Jesus was born between 6 BC and 4 BC.
Christianity didn't even exist until sometime after 31 AD.
Noah and Jesus were both Jewish.
So my tax dollars just went to a state-funded float-less boat, that wouldn't actually hire the two people it's in honor of, because by the Bible's own standards, they are non-Christians.
But we'll be glad to accept Jesus and Noah's $30 a ticket at the door, plus 6% sales tax.
And don't worry. The 6% from Jesus and Noah's ticket sales aren't going to fund anything generous like education or food, though Jesus might actually like the idea of helping the poor, silly as that sounds.
It's going to the gift shop, where for $10 an up plus another 6% sales tax, you can buy Jesus a t-shirt that reads “I was on Noah's Ark and all I got was this lame t-shirt” and a matching key-chain, with the image of a penguin next to a lion on a boat in the Middle Eastern dessert. (The Ark is said to have landed between Syria and Turkey.)
No word yet on how Matt Bevin wants to explain how a lion and a penguin got on a boat in Syria and why the boat is being re-created in Kentucky.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!