Solving the Budget Crisis

During a brief break from my almost-constant working, I was sitting at Starbucks having coffee with the locals and we figured out how to solve California’s budget crisis.   Actually our idea solves some other problems as well.  So here it is . . .

How about if California really (not in the just-for-those-really-sick-people-who-need-it way) legalized marijuana.  Taxing the sales of marijuana would be a good direct revenue source, but the plan does even more than that.  Legalizing marijuana would be a tremendous stimulus package for California. 

Agricultural interests would, clearly, be served by having a new cash crop.  Grapes can only take California so far when people cannot afford to buy expensive wine.   Bars and clubs would need to remodel to create smoking spaces, giving the construction industry a boost.  Marijuana shops could open in some of the boarded-up shops that are procreating all over the state.  Liquor stores would see a boost in sales as they diversified.   Marketing campaigns would be needed, along with packaging, branding and website development.  Accountants would find a new market.  Shippers could put some of their idle trucks to use. 

And, let’s not forget the affects on crime.  Drug dealing on the streets would be reduced, along with the crime attendant on that activity.  Police would be freed to deal with other serious crimes – like Hollywood stops at neighborhood intersections. 

Among other benefits, stress could be reduced statewide if happy hour included a hit or two of marijuana, old hippies could come out of the closet and California would likely see a boost in tourism.

If legalizing marijuana does not provide sufficient stimulus and revenue, California should take a hint from Nevada and legalize prostitution, as well.  We all know it’s happening, but nobody can calculate the gross revenue going untaxed. 

Like legalizing marijuana, legalizing prostitution would create a growth industry.  The construction industry could get busy rehabbing old hotel properties, the health industry could get busy figuring out how to monitor the health of registered or licensed prostitutes and the police would be freed to focus on crimes that actually hurt people. 

I know the pimp lobby will fight prostitution legalization efforts, just as the gang leaders will fight the legalization of marijuana, but I think we can all agree that special interests should not be controlling California during these times of budget crisis.  Can’t we?


How Sarah Palin did Good

Yes, I know, you did not think Sarah Palin had a good side, but even she has accomplished good things.  Okay, it was very indirect and she did not mean to, but let me explain.

I do not care for Sarah Palin.  The day she was announced as a Vice Presidential nominee, I started doing research about her.  The more I found out, the less I cared for her.  And that was before the media exploded with news about her.  I like her even less now.

But, she really seems to be planning to run for the Presidency in 2012.  She truly believes she is presidential material.  I’m scared, because I do not trust the voters in the country to not elect her.   Seriously, we elected George W – TWICE!  The first time I could forgive as ignorance, but the second was just unforgivable. 

Anyway, I am trying to keep current about Sarah Palin, so that I am ready for the fight if she runs in 2012.  One of the best sources of information I have found is the Mudflats blog – an Alaska political blog.   I’ve checked out many of the things I read there and my credibility rating for Mudflats is pretty  high.

 So here is where Sarah Palin has done good.  While I am checking out the Mudflats regularly to keep current about Sarah Palin, I am learning quite a bit about Alaska in general – not just about Sarah Palin.  It never occurred to me before, but we get very little news about Alaska down here in the lower 48.   There is a lot about Alaska that I do not know.

Sadly, though, the news right now is dismal.  There are families in rural Alaska that have lost their Fisheries and, thus, their jobs, and are having to choose between purchasing heating oil to avoid freezing to death (I did know it’s cold up there) and food for their kids. 

I’ve had to give up things to feed my daughter on occasion, but never heat in a freezing winter.  I’ve only had to give up three dollar Starbucks mochas and nine dollar glasses of wine.  Somehow, that does not hurt much.   And, I can walk to the grocery store for my daughter’s food and my heat just sort of arrives at my house without my thinking about it much. 

Those people in rural Alaska have to fly in their food and their heating oil.  Sounds expensive and difficult.   It sounds like a good idea to stock up at the beginning of the long, cold winter, doesn’t it?   But, how do you stock up when you have lost your job?   They can’t.  And, they are hurting.  If you want the details, read about it at or other sources.

So, I’m feeling blessed in my own life right now.   And, I’m feeling compelled to share the abundance I have with those people in Alaska.  So, Sarah Palin did good.  Sort of.  I’m sure she did not mean to.  I think, though, just maybe, that I feel extra sorry for those rural Alaskans because they are stuck with her as their governor (doing nothing to help them) and they, too, are scared about 2012 (in the few moments they are not scared about freezing or starving to death). 

Here’s the info for helping one particularly hardhit area:

To help, please call:

City of Emmonak, (907) 949-1227/1249 (They will take donations by credit card.  Please specify the donation is for heating oil!)

Emmonak Tribal Council, (907) 949-1720

or send a check to:

Emmonak Tribal Council
P.O. Box 126
Emmonak, AK 99581
Attn: Christine Alexie

Californians Voted: For animals – more kindness; for humans – ??

It warmed my heart to see that emotion trumped economics and Californians overwhelmingly (a 63.2% majority as of the time of this writing) voted last Tuesday to be just a little more kind to animals.  Yes, it will probably increase the cost of eating in this state, but our egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and calves raised for veal are destined for a more humane existence.   We have liberated them to a degree, loosening the constraints on them and enlarging their cages.

But, as if kindness and humanity were finite resources, we sought to balance that kindness by becoming just a little bit more cruel to humans.  Instead of liberating humans, we have tightened the constraints on gay and lesbian couples who wish to make a lifelong commitment to each other and call it “marriage.”  Those gay and lesbian couples are now destined for a slightly less humane existence.  Their cages are a little smaller.  Thank goodness that vote was not so overwhelming (only a 52.5% majority as of the time of this writing) and there is still hope of change in the future. 

Almost a million voters in California voted to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, while at the same time voting to allow breeding pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves larger cages.  (See, for up-to-date vote counts)  The irony is certainly not lost on me.

The irony of how these issues are presented to school children is also not lost on me. 

Vegetarians have not, to my knowledge, campaigned with scare tactics about the horrors of our school children being taught that breeding pigs exist or that calves are raised for veal.  Certainly, some vegetarians might wish that our children not be taught that eating meat is okay. regardless of how the animals have been treated.  And, vegans may even want the idea of hens laying eggs for food banned from schools.  But they have not attempted to turn their personal values into a mandate for the schools.

Nor, to my knowledge, have the meat eaters.  Meat eaters have not been protesting that the schools are permitted to teach our children about vegetarian and vegan practices.  One might think that exposure to the idea that eating animals is wrong would threaten their way of life.  Being both the majority and more “traditional,” should they not be able to protect their way of life by mandating what schools can teach our children? 

I think both vegetarians and meat eaters understand that the mere exposure to an idea at school is not going to trump the lifestyle and values taught at home.  Or, maybe, most people are simply willing to allow their children to make up their own minds about their eating preferences. 

Preferences are, ultimately, personal.  And, freedom is, ultimately, about making those choices based on a fully-informed awareness of the options.  An uninformed choice is not a free choice.   

And one person’s informed choice should never diminish another’s.