The Tribune reports that the jury in the Dan De Vaul case (Sunny Acres and state fire codes and various county violations) returned a mixed verdict: guilty on three misdemeanor counts, acquittal on two others and deadlocked on five others. The DA is considering whether or not he’d refile on the undecided five charges and start this whole thing over again.
So, here’s the same question that needs to be asked of both the County and Dan De Vaul: Do you want to do something to help homeless people turn their lives around or do you want to be right?
Yes, Tax Them Froot Loops!
Here’s a two-fer one proposal: slap a tax on sugar and high fructose corn syrup, remove all federal subsidies and import protections for “foreign” sugar and for homegrown regular sugar (and, while you’re at it, slap mitigation fines on the huge agri-business, conglomerate Florida cane growers for the environmental damage done to the Everglades by their agricultural practices), then slap an extra tax on sugary soft drinks.
I understand there’s a new public interest ad out, similar to the ones being run against tobacco, that visually illustrates the problem by equating drinking sodas with drinking Big Gulps full of liquid, oozing yellowish liquid fat (Eeeuuuuuuu) in hopes that teens (and others) will think twice about the amount of nutritionally zero soft drinks they daily pour down their gullets. That’s a delicious idea and a good start.
Part of the tax collected could go to financing more such public info ads and other informational, educational formats, much like the tobacco tax goes for education efforts to prevent smoking. And the rest of the tax money collected could help offset the cost of medical care brought about by all the fat too many of us are carrying around as a direct result of swilling down too many soft drinks (not to mention inadvertently consuming all the hidden sugar and high fruit corn syrup that’s been put into nearly everything on the supermarket shelf.)
Oh, I know, Grover Norquist And His Cult Of No Tax Republicans, all of whom have signed a blood oath to him, will have cow. But they simply need to view the “tax” as just another cost of doing business. Some products cost more than others because some ingredients cost more than others. No big deal. If sugar is more costly, then that’s simply a part of doing business and the customer has a clear choice; to buy or not to buy. And isn’t CHOICE, (except for a woman’s control over her reproductive rights) something conservatives love to preach about? Well, nobody, not even a “nanny government” is forcing you to drink a soda. You have a choice and you're free to make that choice based on health issues or simply price issues. Just like you do all other products. Let’s see, do I have a Coca-Cola for $2.50 or do I have a bottle of water for $1.65. Hmmmm. . . let me think.
Go Ahead, Carbon It! I Dare You!
It’s finally time to get serious about a carbon tax. Cap and trade just moves the problem around. A nice, flat, across the board carbon tax would be a good start. Then remove all subsidies from all carbon based fuels, you know, nice tax breaks and depreciation allowances and such like for oil producers. Might even start billing a pro-rata share of the military budget needed to protect that oil while it gets from places like Iraq and keep it safe on the high seas via our wonderful Navy. The military can send the oil producers a bill for their services. Don’t frown, it’s simply the cost of doing business.
Then take that nice carbon tax money and use it to fund R&D and subsidize non-carbon based energy systems. (Hey, don’t squawk about Nanny Government. We’ve subsidized carbon fuels for years, not to mention farm products – all that nice government cheese—as well as any number of “protected” businesses and products. That’s nothing new. And if the government can subsidize cheese, which, to my knowledge does not threaten the future of the world, surely it can subsidize efforts to save the world for future generations, who can then be around to eat all that saved cheese.)
Then let’s get busy setting up a nationwide Rent-A-Roof program. Utilities, whether public or private, could contract with willing homeowners to install solar panels on their roofs. The utility would maintain the unit, supply the house with X amount of power, and capture the keep the rest and send it back to the grid. Win-win. Homeowner gets a lower (or even zero) energy bill, utility gets more power to sell, can delay building more expensive power plants, and already “disturbed,” non-environmentally sensitive urban habitat would become huge solar arrays one roof at a time, thereby delaying the need for screwing up wilderness areas with huge single arrays.
Yoo-Hoo, PG&E. Gotta roof right here. Be happy if y’all’d come put a few solar panels on it. We’ll do a fair deal on the energy produced so we both benefit. Whatya say? Call me. We gotta talk.
Why in hell is Congress pulling their hair out over re-inventing the wheel in the form of a “public option” for health care reform. It’s already been invented and is sitting there ready to be turn-keyed. It’s called Medicare. Simply make Medicare available to anyone under 65 who wants to opt in on a pro rated basis. And make sure the law as it’s being written allows anyone to buy in if they want to, even people who have health care at their place of employment. There, done.
If Medicare can offer what they offer at the price they offer it, surely private insurance companies can do the same, can’t they? And if they can’t, then they can’t compete and they go out of business. Isn’t that what capitalism and competition and choice is all about?
But to make a public option work, people need to be free to buy into the public option any time they want. The way the quasi-completed proposed bill has it, employees will simply be captives to whatever health care policy their employer foists off on them at whatever price the insurance company wishes to charge. That’s not choice. That’s not competition. That’s government mandated captivity.
Weirdly, all Republicans and some Democrats have been violently opposed to any kind of “public option.” Which means they are in favor of no choice and no competition and want to make all Americans captive to private insurance companies?
Well, that makes sense since Congress is a fully owned subsidiary of Big Pharma and Big Insurance. I guess they’re simply following the old dictum: Ya gotta dance with them what brung ya. And clearly, the American people didn’t brung the Congresspeople they thought they were voting into office to dance with them.
Ah, Well, Dear Sweet Voter. . .wrong on that one . . . sucker!