Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Tax revenues and marujuana

Robert Downes - May 18th, 2009
Tax revenues & marijuana
Robert Downes 5/18/09
Legalizing marijuana to raise state tax revenues is one of those “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass“ sort of measures brought on by desperate times.
In California, they‘re thinking of breaking the glass on that taboo, and it makes you wonder: should Michigan break it too?
And should we get there first, before California captures a market worth billions?
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it‘s time to debate legalizing the evil weed in California, which has a $42 billion gap in its budget. A California lawmaker has also introduced a bill that would legalize and tax marijuana.
Why? Because pot is California’s biggest cash crop. Growers raise an estimated $14 billion of it each year, none of which is taxed. It’s estimated that California could raise $1.3 billion per year in tax revenues by simply legalizing its biggest crop.
But the mind reels in comparison to what marijuana could do for tourism in California. Who knows how many billions will flood into the first state to legalize pot?
Currently, 56 percent of Californians favor legalizing marijuana. (By comparison, only 12 percent of Americans favored legalization in 1969.) Some feel that legalization could defuse the drug war in Mexico once heavily-armed gangsters see their market evaporate.
Marijuana is, in fact, the biggest cash crop in America. In 2006, ABC News reported that the U.S. marijuana crop is valued at $35.8 billion per year, ahead of corn ($23.3 billion) and wheat ($7.5 billion).
Meanwhile, we’re being taxed to support a wild goose chase to maintain the official fantasy that government and law enforcement can stop people from smoking weed.
So who’s really high here? Who’s suffering from hallucinations and fantasies?
Fortunately, Michigan is in better shape than California. Our expected budget shortfall for the coming year is ‘only‘ $2 billion.
But there‘s an urgency to changing Michigan‘s direction. According to economist David Littmann of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, unemployment in Michigan may hit 17-20 percent by the end of the year, and tax revenues from the auto industry will drop from supporting 26-30 percent of the state‘s budget to 10-12 percent.
Something has to replace Michigan‘s lost tax revenues, and fast.
If it‘s true that attitudes are changing in regard to marijuana, then common sense would indicate that Michigan should strive to legalize the crop and gain the benefits of tourism, farming and tax revenues before some other state jumps the gun.
Speaking of taboos, consider the example of gay marriage which is rapidly becoming accepted in America. Last week, Maine became the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriage.
But it‘s Vermont that is reaping the benefits because unlike other states which have made same-sex unions legal, you don’t have to live in the Green Mountain State to get married there.
It’s estimated that more than 8,000 gay and lesbian couples will flock to Vermont this year to get married, bringing $30 million and 700 new jobs to the state over the next three years related to hotel stays, wedding receptions, meals and airfares. This bonanza will be compounded by all of the relatives and friends who will tag along to see Joe & Jim finally tie the knot.
Like gay marriage, marijuana is another cat that‘s out of the bag and heading for mainstream America. Former pot smokers include the likes of presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and former vice president Al Gore.
Legalizing marijuana would give tourism and agriculture a stellar boost in Michigan. It would also help put organized crime out of business by licensing and regulating a product that is already widely used.
You get the picture. Michigan doesn’t have to be the whipping boy of America, playing sad sack on the national airwaves every night with Jay Leno passing around the cryin’ towel. Simple marketing, foresight, and a shot of courage in Lansing could turn our state around on issues whose time has come.
And spare the moralizing. Consider that gambling was considered immoral, dangerous and illegal everywhere in America but Las Vegas until the mid-1970s.
Yet today, gamblers and casinos are pillars of the community, and the lottery supports Michigan schools. Even America’s moralist-in-chief, William Bennett, is a sucker for the gaming tables.
What’s immoral is missing lost opportunities and letting our state go to hell. What’s immoral is firing state troopers, teachers, and downsizing Medicaid, the arts, education and our environment because we don’t have the political will to recognize that the world is changing and it’s time for Michigan to change too. In the crisis we‘re facing, no topic should be “off limits.“
At the very least, there should be a study conducted as to the value of a potential marijuana crop in Michigan and how much tax revenue and tourism it would generate.

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