Up In Smoke

June 5, 2012

Ballot-box day across the US, including a primary right here in California and a nasty knock-down-drag-out fight in Wisconsin — 100-percent 24-hour political cycle.
Four other states — Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota — are also holding primaries, but it’s all for show as President Obama and Mitt Romney have already cleared their hurdles and are now slinging bullshit for November.

Here in California, we’ve got our own nasty slap-down with an added $1 tax on cigarettes via Proposition 29, a hardcore contest between us sad-sack smokers and the tobacco industry, which has reportedly spent near $50 million to defeat the measure vs some $12 million for Lance Armstrong and company.

(Illustration found here).

According to Lance: “We all know that Big Tobacco has poured tens of millions in this campaign saying, ‘Don’t tax us any more,'” said Armstrong, who beat testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs more than a decade ago. “But the fact of the matter is the product they sell leads to about $9 billion a year in health care costs for California. I think if this passes, other states will follow.”
Support in California, though, is waning — just two months ago about 67 percent of those polled by Public Policy Institute of California supported the measure, but that had dropped to 53 percent by last week.

In data from the California Secretary of State, Prop 29 will add a nickel-per-cigarette, or $1 a pack, to the 87 cents tax already there, increasing tax revenues to about $855 million annually and about $45 million annually to existing health, natural resources, and research programs funded by existing tobacco taxes.
The measure will also increase state and local sales taxes of about $32 million annually.
And that $.87 tax we got right now is still  one of the lowest in the country — the national average being about $1.46 a pack.

Out here on the Left Coast, we’re a health-nut, latte-sipping bunch and tax will probably pass, but just barely.
The thing, however, is the reality of the whole pile of bullshit.
One local commentary struck at the heart of the matter:

Those who think the money will go to caring for people whose health may have been impaired by tobacco, or to fund cancer research, should think again.
Teresa Casazza, president of the California Taxpayers Association, points out that, while everyone agrees that cancer research is important, “Prop. 29 creates a huge, new bureaucracy with no strict controls to make sure our money is spent wisely.”
In other words, the revenue is not targeted for research, but simply flows into the general revenue fund for political dispersal by — yep, you know who.
And another huge new government bureaucracy is not exactly what the doctor ordered or the state budget needs.
Do we tax obesity?

Indeed — and the sad-sack smokers who buy cheap glass pipes and visit my liquor store are way-crestfallen.
Marlboros are already $6.47 a pack out-the-door; American Spirits at $7.47 will now blow over the $8.50-a-pack ledge, and if people complain they will have to quit the habit, but won’t — they’ll do just like I did and switch to a generic.

In Wisconsin, voters will decide whether one of the biggest assholes in US politics, Scott Walker, will remain as governor — Walker has become the darling of the bat-shit crazy GOP and everybody and his brother has seemingly contributed to his campaign.
Via CBS:

Walker is dominating his Democratic rival, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, in the money race thanks in large part to donors from outside the state.
As of campaign filings released on May 29, Walker had raised $30.5 million, with about two-thirds of that total coming from donors outside Wisconsin.
Barrett had raised $4 million, with about one-fourth coming from outside the state.
Part of the disparity can be explained by the fact that Walker, as a sitting governor facing recall, is not subject to the state’s legal limits on campaign contributions under Wisconsin law.
Barrett, by contrast, was legally barred from accepting contributions in excess of $10,000 per person.

Voter turnout will apparently be the big factor.
In all things good and decent, it would be way-shitty if Walker wins.

I think it’s time to burn a bowl, then light up a cigarette — ah, the wonders of California.

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