Ask a Hill Staffer: Outsourced Edition

Our Anonymous Hill Staffer, direct from Bangalore: "So I got a lot of questions that couldn't be answered by a Hill staffer without a little help... luckily, every government agency (and most NGOs) have departments dedicated to answering the asinine questions of Hill staffers... so I forwarded the questions along, and paraphrased their answers back."


We gotta say, your questions are getting weirder. Death, taxes, and garbage disposals, after the jump.

WHY CAN'T YOU RUN HOT WATER WHEN USING THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL?!?! (emphasis original)

For this question, I contacted the Federal Trade Commission. The simple answer is that the hot water overheats the motor turning the garbage disposal, which can either ruin your disposal or be a potential fire hazard. However, the off-the-record inside-baseball answer is that hot water works just fine. This is a rumor that has been propagated by the in-sink garbage disposal industry for over half a decade. Apparently, they caught the head of the National Water Heater Manufacturers Association in bed with a 12 year old boy some years back... from what I understand, there are pictures buried in the basement of the Garbage Disposal Manufacturers of America headquarters over on L street. A little background first -- running hot water for things like garbage disposals is bad for your hot water heater, and makes it break down more quickly. The water heater guys want this so they can sell you more water heaters. When the garbage disposal guys got wind of the water heater guy's "indiscretions," they set him up and snapped some photos. There were demands of money -- money that the water heater industry wouldn't meet, or couldn't meet. Details here are sketchy, but the garbage disposal industry threatened to release the pictures and embarrass the water heater association, which was trying to keep a low profile due to advances in water heating (mainly solar) that threatened to put water heater manufacturers out of business at the time. The full sum of money wasn't paid to the garbage disposal folks, so they started instructing their customers to only run cold water over in-sink garbage disposals. Supposedly, when the rest of the money came, this warning would disappear -- but the money never came, so the warning never went. The hot water heater industry tried to get this changed with the FTC, which was in the pocket of the sink disposal industry at the time (the head of the FTC and the sink disposal industry were both Lt. Colonels to Ike during WWII). Not wanting any more heat, the water heater people dropped the whole thing, and the warning against hot water on disposals remains to this day. So go ahead, friend, and run hot water over the thing. It's not like the do-not-remove-under-penalty-of-law tag on a new mattress, which can get you 5 years.

Say two opposing armies were to form on either side of the National Mall, one of Republican Staffers (Senate plus House) and one of Democratic Staffers (Senate plus House). Then say they were given full access to whatever medieval and feudal Japanese weaponry they desired, perhaps even a few catapults. Finally, let's say they were both forced to fight until the complete extermination of one group by another. Which group would be victorious? And, also, which Smithsonian building would be most devastated in the ensuing melee?

The National Geographic society got the call on this one; they've got a great exhibit on the crusades that has an awesome diorama (complete with catapults) so I figured they would know. What this has to do with geography, I don't know. They also aren't a government agency, but I digress. Basically, they said that whoever has more people in this situation is going to win, all other things being equal. Republican staffers outnumber Democratic staffers by far, obviously -- more Members, more Senators, and all the Committee staffs. The Democrats are pretty fucked on this one. As far as which Smithsonian building would take the biggest beating, it would depend on its location. Are we talking about a mall-wide battle? And who lines up on which side? I'd imagine that the Republicans would take the south side of the Mall and the Democrats the north. So, if I were the Republicans, I'd shack up in the Smithsonian castle, which would probably take the onslaught of the Democratic attack. However, this would be relative to the other Smithsonians. The Democrats are totally disorganized and are totally pussies, so after the Republicans had taken them all out (by pouring hot oil on them and shooting them with flaming arrows) there wouldn't be much rebuilding necessary. The Republicans would just take the whole Mall over after that. Democrats, you dumb asses, you should have just stayed in the art museums where you belong!

Can you compare the various tax proposals to the current system, (including the payroll tax, the Capital Gains tax, etc.) and various other ways of collecting the same amount of taxes? e.g: a) Same as the current program - deductions b) Same as the current program (+ or - Deductions) with ALL income, Wages, Capital Gains and potential capital gains, etc. c) Taxing only Consumption (With and Without "Necessity" deductions) d) Taxing only Wealth (Both as a function of Income and Wealth). Also can you estimate the state and local taxes and the relationship of Income, Wage Income, and Wealth?

The IRS was very quick and friendly in getting back to me on this question. Unfortunately for you, I have no goddamn clue what the fuck their answer means. To be honest, I have no idea what the fuck the question means either. Holy shit man, were you high when you wrote this? Maybe the problem is that I'm not high right now. Luckily I'm not at work. Hang on.

OK. Yes I see the problem here. It's not that you were high, or that I wasn't high, it's that this question could only be approached by someone with technical know-how of our tax collection system. I need to read a CRS report on this. But now that I've figured that out, I'm too high to answer the question or do any more research. Hang on, I need a nap.

Now that I've taken my nap and have started watching the History Channel, I have no interest in this question anymore. I don't even know why I tried to answer it, but I've looked at the IRS response and have a few thoughts. If I understand this whole thing correctly, the U.S. taxes you according to your means under our current system. On top of this, you can get deductions for things like babies. If it goes to a consumption tax, which is the same thing as a national sales tax, you don't get any credit for the babies any more. So rich people will stop bringing unloved and unwanted children into the world for tax purposes as will crack whores, right? Population growth is slowed, the labor market constricts, and unemployment goes down. Screw the hippie liberals, I think the flat tax is an excellent idea now that I've thought about it!

My question is three-fold. 1) Do they administer STD tests in the House nurse's office? I've got this burning, you know, down there... 2) Can you suggest a good restaurant to tell my lover about said "burning''? 3) Are you doing anything Saturday night?

Health and Human Services is the go-to agency for all your burning STD questions. And for your burning crotch. Here's what they said: 1) For your sake, I hope they give out STD tests! I've never had to go for that... one of the only advantages of not getting laid a lot is not getting a lot of STD's. According to HHS, syphilis can make you blind! Herpes has no cure! And there's something out there called Chlamydia! I think it is kind of like crabs, but with clams instead... I wasn't really paying attention at that point because I was grossed out by syphilis. And of course, there's HIV.... Trust me, Congress isn't kicking any money into that one. It's kind of like herpes in that there's no cure, except it's worse because it kills you. They said there wasn't really a "burning" sensation involved with that one, so you should be OK. 2) I prefer the Diner up in Adams Morgan. Do you know it? It's very crowded, and they are open all night. I'd get him really drunk and use their family-friendly crayons and coloring paper to draw an explanation of what is going on down there. If it's really good, they'll put it on the wall! 3) Ah, shit. I knew you were a dirty, sweaty whore. At least I finally got laid.

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