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Monday, September 24, 2007

Letter from Joe Camel

The mailman brought a lot of junk mail today, but mixed in with the ads that went straight to the shredder bin came a personal letter from a fellow educator:

Wow, what a guy, to take time out from all his work as a teacher to write me a personal letter about an important issue. Hey, if a teacher doesn't give a darn about something that will raise money for health care for kids, I probably shouldn't, either. Plus, they're trying to amend our constitution -- that's dangerous, isn't it?

Hey, where's this guy's school? I want to send him a thank you note. Let's look at the return address on the envelope:

I've never been to that school, but it must be in quite a building. It also houses the Healthy Forests Alliance, someone named Mark Nelson, Public Affairs Counsel, Inc., the Oregon Public Retirees Litigation Fund, the Oregon Committee for Recycling, Oregonians Against the Blank Check, and something called Public Direct Ltd. I hope the children have enough room to play.

Comments (20)

That's not from a teacher. It says right on it that it's from a desk.

One of the local TV news units covered this last week(?). As much as I hate that "gotcha!" hype they do on TV news, it was pretty cool to see it pulled on the tobacco lobbyist that sent this crap out.

adding a line into the constitution for taxes somehow scares me. I think with the addition of the line we might see even more taxes for other reasons. am i wrong?

Take a look at the Oregon Constitution. There's a lot in that's way scarier than a tobacco tax.

I received this in today's mail as well--shared it with my wife who taught grades 1-3 for 12 yrs. All she could do was shake her head and smile. No matter what one thinks of adding a tax on tobacco to the constitution, the "No on 50" crowd aren't doing themselves any favors sending this stuff out.

This is a typical Mark Nelson the super-lobbyist letter. He is the hired gun for NO campaigns, and does this aw-shucks letter EVERY the time. It goes to all registered voters or likely voters to plant a seed of doubt early that can be cultivated by mass media later. He did it for Big Gov't Unions against measures last year and does it for Big Tobacco or anyone else if they pay him enough.

Lobbyists like Mark Nelson make it hard to get to know them by operating in the shadows. But they decide who gets to be candidates, and what legislation will pass.

Last year, lobbyists said it was a good thing we got rid of term limits in the Legislature. That would have given lobbyists more power. It started with a letter just like this one and Oregonians bought it. Hah!

Jack, do you really think it's a good idea to make a specific tax part of our states constitution? How about a constitutional tax on blogs, would you support that as well if it's for the children?

Jack sez: Take a look at the Oregon Constitution. There's a lot in that's way scarier than a tobacco tax.

So...Is that any reason to add more scary BS?

I would think that it should fall upon ALL the citizens of the state to do something about inadequate health care for kids, not just a dwindling bunch of addicts.

This approach to taxation sucks. It provides an ongoing rationale for the state to continue relying upon dubious sources of revenue for state programs. It gives a prime motivation for the state to not act with due diligence to provide revenues to actually help tobacco addicts to kick their habits. (The same goes for alcohol and gambling.) The state is now addicted to "sin taxes"....not a wise approach, in my perspective.

Smokers will also benefit because while they are smoking their way to an earlier death, they'll be helping to provide health for ALL children. Hey...Why not go the whole distance and provide universal single-payer health insurance, so EVERYBODY is covered?

Also, please note who will be the biggest winner of the additional tax benefits (other than the administrators of the tax)? Only the largest provider of indigent health care in the state: Oregon Health & Science University (yes, that's OHSU). Just what they need, more money to pay their attorneys to protect their docs when their docs butcher some hopeful and trusting patient (And, to help pay off the exceedingly costly tram *rimshot*.)

I'm all for an additional tax to support health care for indigent children, but it should be on something like salt, that everybody uses.

As sleazy as the tobacco companies are, I'm not any more impressed with the sleazy tactics of the proponents. "Let's pick a mostly despised minority and tax the ship out of them."



A tax on bloggers for the benefit of children, where do I sign up?

Ace, you're next. A constitutional amendment to tax each word you post to this blog will be taken from your checking account when you hit the post button.

Hey smokers, get this through your heads: a targeted tax on tobacco products and prohibitions on smoking in workplaces are the price you pay for using a drug that ought to be illegal. It's highly addictive and it kills people. Our representatives in Congress don't have the guts to stand up to the tobacco industry, so we get these half measures from the states instead.

Hey, Gil...

The same for alcohol, gambling and gasoline.

Tax those SOBs more, too.

The whole business of whether it goes in the constitution or not is a total red herring to me. In Oregon, constitutional amendments come and they go, blowing with the winds of the latest ballot measures. If the tobacco tax is passed and it becomes unpopular, it can be amended out of the constitution as easily as it went in.

The Oregon Constitution is no longer anything resembling a succinct founding document. Adding an amendment to the Constitution over this makes me uncomfortable.

However, it also makes me uncomfortable to leave low-income childrens' health care without a stable source of funding.

Tobacco use has a direct impact on childrens' health. (You would not believe the number of asthmatic kids whose parents still smoke. Seriously.) Taxation is one of very few ways available to States to affect smoking rates, and higher cigarette taxation is proven to be effective in lowering smoking rates. So this particular combination is pretty much a public health win-win: it funds childrens' health care, and should lower smoking rates, thereby improving childrens' health. It raises money and ultimately will lower costs.

If this were not a Constitutional amendment I'd vote for it without hesitation. Since it is an amendment I'll hesitate... and then vote for it anyway.

Anti smoking was a Hitler technique.

Burning fuel and oil in the cars leave what in the air?? could asthma be cause by breathing the vehicle polluted air?

when no one smokes, how could it be a win for the children? Some of the things said here don't make sense. Have you thought it through?

What will be taxed next? Coffee / popcorn?

"Anti smoking was a Hitler technique."

Wow! You're really ahead of the curve on that one. I figured we had a bit before Godwin's Law would strike. Huh.

Anyway, to answer your question about asthma, as far as I know no one's really sure what causes it. But we do know that secondhand tobacco smoke aggravates asthma, and that it is present in smokers' homes in a much higher concentration than auto exhaust. The more asthma is aggravated, the more likely an asthma patient is to need prescription drugs to control it. In the case of kids on the Oregon Health Plan, you are paying for that medication.

Clearer now?

Yeah, smith...you should have called it what it was:

A discriminatorily fascist tax law.

It sure is swell how the gloriously misinformed and misguided can feel so all-knowingly righteous about sticking it to someone whom they feel morally superior to, isn't it?

And, Alan...It's time to go back to Econ 101. Sin taxes, like taxes on gambling and liquor, are effective raisers of revenue precisely because they are placed upon products and services with relatively inelastic demand....that is, when the price goes up, demand does not necessarily go down, or, if it does, it is not reduced at anywhere near equivalent. If they really did work as you suggest, they'd be a piss-poor source of revenue for anything.

Next...Dedicated tax revenue for specific beneficiaries is a bad, bad way to go. If the revenues DO go down significantly, the program supported by it goes down in flames. If revenues are strong and produce more funding than can realistically be utilized by the said program, the revenue is tied up. I thought we'd all learned about this when we had the Imperial Oregon Department of Transportation with its dedicated gas taxes.

All in all it's a poor idea, poorly implemented, to suck the money from a despised minority to supply to the medical elites who don't need it in the first place.

All in all it's a poor idea, poorly implemented, to suck the money from a
despised minority to supply to the medical elites who don't need it in the
first place.

I can't wait to vote for it.

Next, a wine tax dedicated to creating homeless shelters. $4.00 a bottle.

Jack has decided to vote for more money for the tram!

[cymbal crash]

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