Mountain Views News Saturday, October 23, 2010
10 OPINION Mountain Views News Saturday, October 23, 2010 First, I’d like to address readers who share Greg’s viewpoint, and who read his column last week: He’s right; you’re going to win. It’s going to be such a blow-out, in fact, that you needn’t bother voting - just stay home, kick back, and watch the returns come in. Thank you. Now, good-bye. Are they gone? Good. Ever since those too-smart consultants came up with the idea of stressing inevitability in order to discourage Democrats into staying home, I’ve wondered if the same strategy could work in reverse. The “other side” will have to come up with something, now that polling shows a nearly irreversible momentum - sure to accelerate through election day. In U.S. Senate battleground races, Democrats have widened their leads in Washington and West Virginia, while Colorado and Pennsylvania are now seen as “virtual ties”. Republican leads in key House races have been cut in half. Among independents, a 21% edge for Republicans in June has shrunk to a 13% margin. A lot of this is due to voters who, coming down to the wire, shift from broad questions of philosophy and policy to the more fundamental question: “Do I really want this ‘nut case’ (term used by Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan) representing me in Congress?” Greg warned of those who offer “the next personal scandal of some Republican or Tea Party candidate”. I agree we should discuss issues as well as personalities. But I can’t resist: U.S. Senate candidate John Raese of West Virginia advocates doing away with the minimum wage while boasting he made his wealth “ . . .the old fashioned way. - I inherited it.”; Alaska U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller’s private security detail handcuffing and detaining a journalist at a public event, following Miller’s speech extolling our Constitution; congressional candidate Rich Iott of Ohio getting his jollys dressing up in a Waffen SS uniform. Pushing this idea we should continue funneling our nation’s wealth to the richest few (“the most productive”, as Greg calls them, otherwise known as “our betters”) only makes sense if one assumes voters have short memories. September 2008 was not that long ago, and many remember from history class the events of October 1929. The 50,000-60,0000 new jobs a month we’re creating is clearly unsatisfactory, especially as analysts say 100,000-200,000 a month are needed for full recovery. Regardless, it probably won’t be until 2015 that we’ll see our economy back where it should be. Those 50,000-60,000 new jobs we’re gaining, though, is still a big improvement over the 500,000-plus jobs we were losing every month at the end of Bush’s term - losses that came as a result of policies Greg and others want to revive. It’s not just the “recession”. Early into his first term, George W. Bush pushed an agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy and de-regulation. After eight years, he could look back on a net gain of 1.1 million new jobs. Bill Clinton’s first budget (passed with no Republican support) included tax increases to address the deficits rang up during the Reagan years. He could look back after eight years on a net gain of 23 million jobs, along with a budget surplus left for his successor. We could go back to the previous Democratic administration. 10.3 million additional jobs were created under Jimmy Carter. In other words, our economy saw a net gain of almost ten times as many new jobs in the four years under Carter as it saw during the eight years under Bush. This was followed by eight years of Reaganomics, with the United States devolving from being the world’s biggest creditor nation to its biggest debtor. Greg writes, “When you tax the rich or the entrepreneur, ultimately you tax the blue collar worker”. No, you don’t. When you tax the rich, you’ll find more choosing to put their money into businesses and job creation, when the alternative is sending it to Uncle Sam. When you tax blue collar workers, or lower their taxes, well - nobody mentions it. Only 1 in 10 Americans are aware that a third of President Obama’s stimulus bill went to middle-class tax cuts. We saw Tea-Partiers protesting tax increases while unaware their own taxes were being cut because, according to their corporate manipulators, the only tax cuts that matter are those going to the wealthiest. Greg states that “ . . . the administration and Congress have proposed across-the-board tax increases”. What in fact is happening is that the Bush tax cuts are due to expire, and Republicans refuse to allow middle-class tax cuts to remain unless we agree to go $700 billion further into debt to maintain cuts for the wealthiest 2%. The tens of millions poured into this campaign is seen as a business investment. There are significant relocation, shipping and communication costs involved in moving factories and jobs overseas. It would be much cheaper to elect those who’d ensure businesses could enjoy a similar absence of worker protections and environmental regulations, along with a third-world starvation-wage workforce and compliant ruling oligarchy, right here at home. In our own district, we have a candidate who supported torture and warrantless spying on American citizens by their government. He remained the Bush Administration’s biggest cheerleader as military and civilian casualties mounted in Iraq. As Chairman of the House Rules Committee, he rammed through a partisan agenda while stifling debate. Beholden to corporate benefactors, he championed policies that led to the economic meltdown. Recently, he opposed measures to protect the jobs of thousands of teachers and the health of 9/11 ground- zero first-responders, in order to protect taxpayer-funded incentives for companies to move factories and jobs overseas. Despite a record often at odds with editorial positions taken by this newspaper, David Dreier has received the paper’s endorsement. I haven’t seen explanations for the paper’s endorsements. Such an explanation would be especially warranted in this case. HOWARD Hays As I See It Mountain Views News Publisher/ Editor Susan Henderson City Editor Dean Lee Sales Patricia Colonello 626-355-2737 626-818-2698 Art Director Allison Kirkham Production Assistant Richard Garcia Photography Jacqueline Truong Lina Johnson Contributors Teresa Baxter Pat Birdsall Bob Eklund Howard Hays Paul Carpenter Stuart Tolchin Kim Clymer-Kelley Christopher Nyerges Peter Dills Hail Hamilton Rich Johnson Chris Bertrand Mary Carney La Quetta Shamblee Glenn Lambdin Greg Wellborn Ralph McKnight Trish Collins Pat Ostrye Editorial Cartoonist Ann Cleaves Webmaster John Aveny Mountain Views News has been adjudicated as a newspaper of General Circulation for the County of Los Angeles in Court Case number GS004724: for the City of Sierra Madre; in Court Case GS005940 and for the City of Monrovia in Court Case No. GS006989 and is published every Saturday at 55 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., No. 302, Sierra Madre, California, 91024. All contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the publisher. All rights reserved. All submissions to this newspaper become the property of the Mountain Views News and may be published in part or whole. Opinions and views expressed by the writers printed in this paper do not necessarily express the views and opinions of the publisher or staff of the Mountain Views News. Mountain Views News is wholly owned by Grace Lorraine Publications, Inc. and reserves the right to refuse publication of advertisements and other materials submitted for publication. Letters to the editor and correspondence should be sent to: Mountain Views News 80 W. Sierra Madre Bl. #327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Phone: 626-355-2737 Fax: 626-609-3285 email: email@example.com HAIL Hamilton STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE My Turn Marijuana Prohibition: THE LESSON OF MAGIC JOHNSON What might our government buy if it had an extra $42 billion spend every year? What might our government do if it suddenly had that much money dropped onto its lap each and every year? For one thing, it might pay for the entire $7 billion increase in the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act President Barack Obama signed, expanding the health care program to an additional 4 million children and pregnant women, including for the first time legal immigrants without a waiting period -- and there would still be $35 billion left over. Or perhaps hire 880,000 new schoolteachers at the average U.S. teacher salary of $47,602 per year. Or give every one of our current teachers a 30 percent raise (at a cost of $15 billion, according to the American Federation of Teachers) and use what's left to take a $27 billion whack out of the federal deficit. Or use all $42 billion for a massive tax cut that would put an extra $140 in the pockets of every person in the country -- $560 for a family of four. The mind reels at the ways such a massive sum of money could be put to use. Why $42 billion? Because that's what our current marijuana laws cost American taxpayers each year. According to a new study by researcher Jon Gettman, marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers $10.7 billion in law enforcement , and $31.1 billion in lost tax revenues. And that may be an underestimate, at least on the law enforcement side, since Gettman made his calculations before the FBI released its latest arrest statistics in late September. The new FBI stats show an all-time record 858,408 marijuana arrests in 2009, 10,545 more than in 2008; while the total arrests for trafficking and sale was 99,815. That's like arresting every man, woman and child in Long Beach, Pasadena, and Glendale on marijuana charges ... every year. Arrests for marijuana possession alone -- not sales or trafficking, just possession -- totaled 758,593. By comparison, there were 581,765 arrests last year for all violent crimes combined. Basing his calculations mainly on U.S. government statistics, Gettman concludes that marijuana in the U.S. is a $113 billion dollar business. That's a huge chunk of economic activity that is unregulated and untaxed because it's almost entirely off the books. Of course, the cost of our marijuana laws goes far beyond lost tax revenues and money spent on law enforcement. By consigning a very popular product -- one that's been used by about 100 million Americans, according to government surveys -- to the criminal underground, we've effectively cut legitimate businesspeople out of the market and handed a monopoly to criminals and gangs. Strangely, government officials love to warn us that some unsavory characters profit off of marijuana sales, while ignoring the obvious: Our prohibitionist laws handed them the marijuana business in the first place, effectively giving black market marijuana dealers a multi-billion dollar free ride. Prohibition doesn’t lessen marijuana use; it subsidizes the illegal cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana. All this might make some sense if marijuana were so terribly dangerous that it needed to be banned at all costs, but science long ago came to precisely the opposite conclusion. Compared to alcohol, for example, marijuana is astonishingly safe. For one thing, marijuana is much less addictive than alcohol, with just nine percent of users becoming dependent, as opposed to 15 percent for booze. And marijuana is much less toxic. Heavy drinking is well- documented to damage the brain and liver, and to increase the risk of many types of cancer. Marijuana, on the other hand, has never caused a medically documented overdose death. Scientists are still debating whether even heavy marijuana use causes any permanent harm at all. Marijuana has also been found to have numerous medicinal uses for such diseases as cancer, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s. And then there's violence. Again, the scientific findings are overwhelming: Booze incites aggression and violence; marijuana doesn’t. Legalization of the marijuana in California is a step in the right direction. Let’s be the first state to reject this annual $42 billion boondoggle. MY OPINION: VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 19! America’s $42 Billion Annual Boondoggle I have no unique knowledge regarding Magic Johnson but like many Laker fans I have followed his career pretty closely. As I recall he left Michigan State after his sophomore year and came to the Lakers ready to take over the world. Immediately, upon his arrival he was on the radio, even performing on one program as a Disc Jockey. He was very brash, cocky, and seemed, like so many others, headed for a fall. Sports reporters predicted he would fail because at 6’9” he was plainly too tall to be an effective point guard. The ball would bounce too high and speedy professional defenders would take advantage and steal the ball. He couldn’t play off the ball (the term shooting guard had not yet been invented) plainly because he couldn’t shoot. He never did learn how to shoot a jump shot but instead sort of pushed the ball. He wouldn’t be able to play in the front court and rebound because he couldn’t jump, wasn’t quick and as a front court player was undersized and lacked the necessary brawn to fight for position. Right! An injury to Kareem during the play-offs demonstrated that Magic could play and dominate anywhere. He adapted to every position using hiswn unique skills. As a shooting guard he really didn’t have to jump much because he was generally half a foot taller than his opposing defender. As a front court player he developed a deadly accurate eye and actually led the league in free-throw shooting accuracy. And when forced to play in the middle he created a repertoire of finesse baby-hook and up and under moves that seemed to baffle the larger, slower, centers. One day, in l992, during the prime of his career a bulletin announced that Magic had a disease and would play no more.. His admission helped the world to become aware of the need for condoms even in hetero-sexual relations. His admission helped other people to seek medical treatment and for sports to develop protective procedures. Furthermore, Magic fought the disease. He maintained a program of physical conditioning and diet. The next year, although ineligible to play during the season, he played and starred in the All- Star Game. Unable to play in the NBA he created a touring team that played all over the world and popularized the game. He even coached the Lakers for a short time, quitting when he realized that he could not adapt to players who did not focus on the game and did not maximize their own abilities. So Magic became a businessman. He opened theatres in ghettoes across the nation and invested in low-income areas that others feared. He maintained contacts with powerful people and obtained a small ownership percentage of the Lakers. He bought a hundred Starbucks and continues to appear as a highly paid and visible basketball analyst and who knows what else. Today it was announced that he is selling his Lakers interest and his Starbucks and is harvesting cash to make some surprising business move. Remember, this is almost twenty years after being diagnosed with what was then thought to be a fatal disease. My description of Magic Johnson described an individual with great abilities and resources who faced problems by utilizing his unique resources to adapt to his present situation. He made many changes but stayed alert to the present situation and thrived. The United States too has unique resources and abilities. Instead of using our resources to meet the changing needs of the present day a great many of us numb ourselves to the situation through our chronic use of drugs. We do not face our awareness of vulnerability and insecurity. Similarly I believe, and I know many of you do not, that our irrational embrace of guns and opposition to gun control demonstrate an absolute refusal to see reality. We do not want to notice global warming, or polluted air, or dwindling supplies of drinking water or any of the real present day problems. We will hold onto our guns and all the other problems will go away. Magic Johnson no longer wears short pants and does not spend most of his time holding on to a basketball. We too must do the same. Get rid of our drugs and diversions, drop our guns, and open our eyes to the real problems of the world and try to do something about them. Really, we don’t have to be 6’9’’ tall to see high enough to know that we need to take better control of the ball that is our lives. Let’s keep our eye on the basket and understand that it is now necessary to play a little differently if we want to stay in the game for a little while longer. Maybe, we’re already approaching overtime. Mountain Views News Mission Statement The traditions of the community newspaper and the concerns of our readers are this newspaper’s top priorities. We support a prosperous community of well- informed citizens. We hold in high regard the values of the exceptional quality of life in our community, including the magnificence of our natural resources. Integrity will be our guide.