If I were to run for Governor of Mississippi — and let’s be clear here, no one has suggested this — there are several things I’d do.
First, I’d take COVID-19 seriously. That means I wouldn’t extoll the importance of vaccination in one breath and call it optional in the next.
My message would be clear: Get the damn vaccine, already.
Seven out of 10 Mississippians who are eligible for the vaccine still haven’t been vaccinated, which is contrary to everything we know about human nature. The vaccine is free, after all, and generally, when you advertise anything as free, there’s a line around the block to get it. The COVID-19 vaccine is one of those rare exceptions.
On the outside chance that my powers of personal persuasion proved ineffective, I would offer people something they like even more than free stuff.
On Tuesday, the Mississippi Lottery Commission made its final transfer of revenue for the fiscal year, bringing the total amount of revenue from the state’s first year of the lottery to $138 million. That’s $46 for every man, woman and child in the state.
So, by the powers vested in me by the state of Mississippi, I would announce a weekly “Don’t Be An Idiot” Lottery, funded by part of the $2 billion in American Recovery Act money provided to the state.
Each week, a $1 million winner would be chosen from the list of those who have been vaccinated. Right now, the odds of winning would be roughly 1-in-a-million. Typically, the chance of winning the Powerball is in the 1-in-250-million range.
In fact, you are far more likely to die of COVID-19 (1 in 2,500) than winning the lottery.
Every week a vaccinated Mississippian would have a shot at winning the lottery. You wouldn’t have to spend a dime or fill out an entry form. It couldn’t be any easier. The lottery would be held every week until the state reached 80-percent vaccination, a number comfortably behind the 70 percent rate health experts say is needed for herd immunity and the end of this awful pandemic.
How long do you figure we would need to have that lottery?
Wave a million bucks in front of somebody’s nose and watch how fast he forgets about “personal liberties” or microchips or becoming magnetic.
When you can’t appeal to reason or conscience, appeal to greed. It works every time.
Unfortunately, I am not the Governor so we have to struggle on with the Governor we actually have.
In Hattiesburg, two health care providers are putting up $20,000 to give out $2,500 cash prizes each week between now and Aug. 8, when the school year starts. Forrest County, where Hattiesburg is located, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state at 27 percent, so these health providers are hoping the giveaways will boost vaccinations. I suspect it will move the needle.
Vaccination rates in the Golden Triangle range from 32 percent (Lowndes County) to 38 percent (Oktibbeha County).
It’s too bad I’m not the Governor. I figure I’d have this whole COVID business wrapped up by the time the weather changes, maybe even by the time the school year starts, which would be a great relief to teachers, administrators, parents and the non-crazy population as a whole.
With COVID put to bed, it would allow me to turn my attention to other important matters like, say, taking away your guns, which seems like it would be great fun.
While I was working out the gun confiscation plans, I’d act quickly to get a medical marijuana program up and running. After the Supreme Court torpedoed the voter-approved constitutional amendment that would have started a medical marijuana program next month, all the state legislators — who suddenly become big medical marijuana fans after years of ignoring it altogether — are now in favor of a program.
One of the pitiful excuses the legislators used to explain why they hadn’t supported the people’s demand for a medical marijuana program was that there were no zoning requirements for dispensaries. Rep. Dana McLean (R, Columbus) trotted out that nonsense during her appearance at the Columbus Rotary Club luncheon Tuesday,.
Easy fix. Use the same zoning requirements that apply to pharmacies, which every day of the week dispense drugs far more powerful and addictive than marijuana.
That seems fair enough, right?
Nobody has ever blown a gasket about a Walgreens’ proximity to a school as far as I know.
You know, this governor gig is pretty simple if you have an ounce of common sense.
I may run next time if I’m not doing anything else.
Now, about those guns.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]