Letters for July 23, 2009
Letter of the week
The money’s down the drain
Re “Where our money goes” by Kevin Wehr and students (SN&R Essay, June 25):
The “war on drugs” is certainly where a lot of our money goes.
After 10 years of sobriety, I returned to active drug use and am completely unable to see where our “war on drugs” has made any difference in a decade. I have seen slight differences—like how the number of individuals [who] will commit a crime to support their habit seems to have risen. I wonder how many billions of dollars have been spent to achieve this milestone, while our children’s schools are crumbling around them and millions of citizens have no health insurance, people are losing jobs and soda pop is killing more people from diabetes then illicit drugs are killing addicts.
We spend billions to destroy the supply which raises the price so that the traffickers (who usually reside in a foreign country) make more money, while the users (in our country) go broke, thus leading to such crimes as assault, murder, home invasions, kidnapping, robbery, theft, child endangerment, starvation, domestic violence, prostitution, fraud, terrorism … and I could go on and on.
Instead, we could be spending our tax dollars right here in the good old United States by attacking the demand and helping addicts. That would create jobs, severely cut crime and end the never-ending corruption in drug-producing countries like Afghanistan, Colombia and so on.
At least 500 economists (including Nobel laureates Milton Friedman, George Akerlof and Vernon L. Smith) have noted that reducing the supply of marijuana without reducing the demand causes the price, and hence the profits of marijuana sellers, to go up, according to the laws of supply and demand. The increased profits encourage the production of more drugs despite the risks, providing a theoretical explanation for why attacks on drug supply have failed to have any lasting effect.
A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron has estimated that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy—$44.1 billion from law-enforcement savings and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenue ($6.7 billion from marijuana, $22.5 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs). Recent surveys help to confirm the consensus among economists to reform drug policy in the direction of decriminalization and legalization.
Why do the taxpayers in this country allow our government to beat a dead horse? The citizens can effect any change they wish—and not just by voting—but by knowing and communicating with their elected officials.
Genius in a kilt
Re “Think. Talk. Repeat.” by James Raia (SN&R Feature, July 16):
When Terri Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air retires, I can’t think of a better replacement than Jeffrey Callison. I’d put him in the same stellar pantheon as Gross, Jon Stewart and Charlie Rose. As an interviewer, the guy’s a freakin’ genius in a kilt.
Pampered communist elite
Re: “Dr. Obama’s secret,” by Matt Perry (SN&R Feature, July 9):
So will [President Barack] Obama and the Democrat Congress be required to be covered by the national health-care plan they are forcing the American people to be covered by, or will they be like the rest of the pampered Communist elite and have their own platinum health-care plan that has the best doctors and hospitals that taxpayers’ money can buy?
Jesus would pack two of everything
Re “What would Jesus pack?” by Terri Kent-Enborg (SN&R Sacreligious!, July 9):
“Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’ ‘Nothing,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: “And he was numbered with the transgressors”; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.’ The disciples said, ‘See, Lord, here are two swords.’ ‘That is enough,’ he replied (Luke 22:35-38, NIV).
I’m sure I’m not the only person to have sent this to you by now. Curiously, the illustration with Terri Kent-Enborg’s column would appear to be accurate: Jesus would not have had just one pistol, He would’ve had two.
Jesus could tell the future
Re “What would Jesus pack?” by Terri Kent-Enborg (SN&R Sacreligious!, July 9):
Terri Kent-Enborg points up a huge area of cognitive dissonance in Christianity—that the actions of gun lovers simply don’t jibe with their belief system. Terri falls into a classic logical trap in her final sentence, however, writing: “Then again, [Jesus] couldn’t have known how unsafe the world would be today.”
Unfortunately, he absolutely would have known, if he was who he said he was. As the story goes, Jesus is an eternal member of the Trinity—one and the same with God, since they are essentially the same being—and therefore omniscient. That means Jesus would have been well aware of the future, via his godly powers: guns, bombs, gay marriage, abortion, not to mention slavery. If he cared a whit about nipping any of that in the bud, he would have made unequivocal statements about them while he was right here on Earth.
But who knows? Maybe the omniscience thingamajig was on the blink. And Jesus can’t be expected to predict when the power of foresight is going to crap out on him like that, right?
But wait … yes he can! If you are all-seeing, then you know in advance about every little thing. Certainly you know about every big thing. And you would make sure it made it into all printed editions, forever, because you’re also all-powerful.
Whichever way you slice this, it’s tough to let Jesus off the hook. The whole question of “What did he know and when did he know it?” (answer: “Everything” and “always”) pretty much damns him—and the god he rode in on.
City of Trees, city of tree waste
Re “Letting go of the claw” by Ted Cox (SN&R Green Days, July 9):
I was amused by your article about the city wanting to eliminate the garden-waste service because it failed to acknowledge the problem until the penultimate sentence: Mature trees generate way too many leaves to fit in the containers. Then the last sentence of the article deals with that problem simply by observing that other cities manage to survive without a garden waste service like ours.
Sure they do, by having fewer trees. There’s a reason, after all, why Sacramento is known as the City of Trees. Do we really want to get rid of them?
I’m a homeowner with two mature trees, and I have tried over the years to put as many of the leaves as possible into the trash. I know how few of them the cans can hold, even after I compress them as much as possible with cinder blocks.
So elimination of the garden-waste service will be the equivalent of a tax on trees. The result won’t be obvious immediately, but over time it will discourage residents from planting trees and encourage their removal. Then, one day, people will wonder what happened to all of Sacramento’s trees.
This is happening at a time when people are supposed to be planting more trees to reduce greenhouse gases and cooling costs. Elimination of garden-waste service will also result in more street flooding from leaves clogging the storm drains.
Isn’t there a reasonable compromise that would save both money and trees? Limit the garden-waste program to six months a year—the months that generate the most leaves and garden waste. Require people to fit garden waste into containers during the six “lightest” gardening months of the year.
‘Childlike’ can be good
Re “Ghostly intruder reappears” by Joey Garcia (SN&R Ask Joey, July 9):
I am commenting on Joey Garcia’s Meditation of the Week. Her call to “grow up,” using the childlike Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson as examples of people who were “not grown up” saddened me.
Joey, I respectfully ask that you consider that both icons were successful in their work, both were blessed with extraordinary gifts and both were reportedly highly professional with regard to their work habits. I think that both icons fit the bill for being “grown up” when they needed to be. I believe it would be awesome if we could take the focus off of “growing up” and, while giving grateful acknowledgment and respect to the ethic of being a hard and diligent worker, we could also remember to remain in touch with our childlike selves, our innocence and our wonder. Farrah and M.J. showed us the importance of being in touch with our child selves, which is, perhaps, why those two icons are being mourned so intensely. We all need the trusting love and gentle faith of a child.
Laurie Beth Freedenberg-Ferns
What a mix-up! Pot, God and government
Re “Canna Care” (SN&R advertisement, July 2):
This full-page ad mixed the Declaration of Independence with the Ten Commandments, claiming the commandments were the root of our Constitution.
What? There is no mention whatsoever of any god in the Constitution. Furthermore, the Founding Fathers expressly stated in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof.” This is a clear dictate from the start, preceding even freedom of speech, to keep religion out of our government, in effect a wall of separation between church and state.
Many of the Founding Fathers came to the new world to escape religious persecution; the domination of the Church of England; and the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness without the state telling them what to believe or not to believe. They most certainly did not want any the merger of church and state, with the obvious consequences that not being a member of the dominant sect would doom you to second-class citizenship. Want an example of a government merged with religion? Go to any Islamic theocracy. Or read about the Dark Ages where Christianity dominated society, and heresy was a crime against the state, with guilt extracted by torture and punishable by death.
What is more funny is the ad was paid for by Canna Care, apparently raising funds by selling marijuana, then using the pot funds to buy ads to spread their religious and erroneous interpretation of U.S. history. Strange bedfellows.
Furthermore, I would suggest they state their Ten Commandments correctly. The first commandment actually ends with “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Check it out, Exodus 20:5. This actual god, not the whitewashed version more palatable to contemporary civilization, is certainly not the kind of god you would want founding your country.