Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

Taxing Marijuana-cure for the US budget?

Monday, June 29th, 2009

News Story:

There are many people pointing to marijuana as a potential source of an enormous amount of tax revenue for the US government.  Legalizing, and taxing marijuana sales could bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue, potentially.  In Sacramento, CA, where medical marijuana is legal, $18 million in sales tax is collected on $200 million in sales of medical marijuana.  Supporters also point out that legalization would remove a huge burden from the penal system and from law enforcement, as so much is spent in enforcing laws making possession and sales of marijuana illegal.  Those who don’t support the plan point out that marijuana users are more likely to try harder drugs, and to not be productive members of society.

Commentary:

It’s funny that alcohol and tobacco are legal, yet marijuana is not.  If a large corporation such as Phillip Morris were interested in profiting from the sales of marijuana, I think the government would take the idea much more seriously.  It’s all a function of having a strong lobby in DC or not.   So much money is spent in the attempt to stop the use and sales of marijuana in the US, yet it doesn’t stop people from wanting it.  It’s funny that alcohol was once illegal too, and that law was overturned because the US needed more tax revenue…..

Madoff sentenced to 150 years

Monday, June 29th, 2009

News Story:

Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for operating the biggest Ponzi scheme ever in Wall Street’s history.  His victims numbered in the thousands, and spanned the entire globe.  This is the maximum sentence allowed by law.

Commentary:

I’m glad the judge decided to send such a strong message in this case.  Hopefully the Madoff story will keep some people in the future from falling for  too good to be true investment schemes.

Obama promises to sign anti-smoking bill quickly

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

News Story:

Legislation to severely crack down on tobacco makers and products is underway, and President Obama has promised to sign this legislation into law quickly.

Included in the legislation will be the ability for the FDA to have the ability to regulate what goes into tobacco products, to demand changes in additives and toxic substances in tobacco products and also to block the sale of new tobacco products.

Cigarettes will be required to have warning labels that cover 1/2 of the front and back of the packaging, tobacco sponsorships and advertisement will be strictly regulated, flavor additives will be restricted or banned, and a new user fee will be imposed on the tobacco industry.  Currently, assessments are $235 million a year and are expected to rise to $712 million in 2019.

Commentary:

I think that it is important to encourage young people not to begin smoking, but I think that responsibility should lie with the family, and with schools.  There are education programs, that my children have been a part of that are effective at telling kids the dangers of smoking and doing drugs.  My kids are the first to lecture their smoking grandparents on the dangers of smoking….

I don’t think that additional government regulation is the answer.  This is just another area that the current administration will throw the hard earned money of American citizens at, that won’t really stop those who are going to smoke from doing so.  Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, they’re going to do what they’re going to do no matter what legislation Obama signs into law.

Colorado, NY representatives look to regulate gas “fracking”

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

News Story:

There is a push to begin government regulation of a procedure known as “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing used by oil and gas producing companies.  The process involves injecting chemicals, sand, and liquids underground to force open channels in formations of rock and sand so that gas and oil will flow to be extracted from the ground.  There is concern that the process could potentially cause environmental concerns such as contamination of ground water supplies.

The oil industry insists that the process is both clean and safe for the environment.  Detractors call the lack of regulation of the process the “Halliburton loophole,” as Halliburton, and oil services company was the pioneer of the process of hydraulic fracturing.  9 out of 10 wells in the US currently are fracked.  There have been reports of people with health concerns allegedly arising from contact with chemicals and materials used in the fracking process.  The industry does not disclose what it uses in the process of fracking for a new well.

Commentary:

This sounds like yet another abuse of power by both Halliburton, and the Bush administration, potentially at the expense and safety of US citizens, and in this case, the environment as well.  The US really needs to develop and use some other form of energy other than fossil fuels.

US Border traffic moves smoothly with new ID requirements

Monday, June 1st, 2009

News Story:

June 1st was the first day that more stringent identification requirements for crossing the US border went into effect.  It was feared the the new requirements would lead to major delays in commerce and travel over the border.  Those fears were not realized.  It is projected that 90-95% of those crossing the border came prepared with their passports as required by the new laws.  Those who didn’t meet the new requirements, but had documentation that met the old requirements were allowed to cross the border with a warning.

Commentary:

I’m amazed that these new requirements weren’t instituted sooner with all of the concerns about national security that we’ve been hearing about for the last 8 years…

29 year old man has fathered 21 children

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

News Story:

Desmond Hatchett of Tennessee has fathered a total of 21 children by 11 different women before his 30th birthday.  This information became public in the Knoxville, TN courts due to his inability to keep up his child support payments with his minimum wage job.  He has had 4 children in a single year in two separate years.  Tennessee  courts are unable to take more than half of his wages for child support, thus some of the mothers will only get about $1.98 per month when the money is divided up.

Commentary:

Obviously someone needs to explain the concept of birth control to this man.

Graduates of Notre Dame protest Obama speech

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

News Story:

President Obama was a speaker at the commencement ceremonies at Notre Dame University on Saturday.  He was also awarded an honorary degree.  Many students protested that he was chosen to speak at a Catholic university which does not support abortion or stem cell research as President Obama does.

Commentary:

It’s good to see that there are Americans who are capable of staging a protest that does not involve violence of any kind.  What do protesters who become violent, or start riots think they will get by behving in such atrocious ways?  The students of Notre Dame clearly let the world know their stance without any violent or disruptive behavior.

US Government considering public health care plan

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

News Story:

US senators are meeting to discuss possible options for the US government to begin to offer a government run healthcare plan to US citizens not currently eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.  This would be especially focused toward benefitting the middle class.

There are several plans being discussed.  The first would be similar to Medicare, but would compensate healthcare providers better.  The second would be run similarly to a typical health insurance plan, patients must pay premiums, not taxes, to participate, but the government would not need to be profitable as health insurance companies do.  Also, the possibility of allowing individual states to institute their own public healthcare plans is on the table.

Obviously, insurance companies are opposed to any government control over the industry.  The insurance industry is currently negotiating many changes in their practices with the government in hopes of preventing the public takeover of healthcare insurance.

Commentary:

The healthcare insurance industry as it stands today is in definite need of an overhaul.  As in so many corporate run industries, executives are obscenely overpaid at the expense of customers, patients in this case as well.

I don’t think the government should be emulating the Medicare program, however.  I also don’t think that putting this burden on individual states will be a good idea.  There would be massive disparity from one state to the next in the quality of healthcare available.  Any time the government gets involved in control of new areas it concerns me immensely, as  efficiency, and quality of service are not a strong point of the US government.  When you remove financial motivation completely from the equation for those running programs, you don’t get good performance typically.

US considering overhaul of financial sector pay practices

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

News Story:

The Obama administration is in discussions concerning initiatives to change how financial-services corporations compensate their executives.  This would even affect corporations who were not recipients of federal bailout money.

Commentary:

I have very mixed feelings on this subject.  On one hand it is obscene how large the divide between a typical corporate employee’s pay is compared with a typical corporate executive.  This is especially true in the financial sector.  What really merits being paid hundreds of millions of dollars?  And this in a time when banks and financial corporations were failing miserably due to such a long period of very questionable lending practices…..and they get rewarded with more money in a year than most people will come close to seeing in an entire lifetime?

My concern with this though, is that government dictating pay scales to the financial sector just opens the door a bit wider to total government control of the lives of US citizens.  Where does the line get drawn?  Are we truly a capitalist society anymore when the government is taking such strong control over the details of how corporations function in the US?  Just one step closer to the socialist society that Obama would like to create.

Democrats in the House plan to subsidize vehicle trade-ins

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

News Story:

Democrats in the House of Representatives want to pass a bill that gives consumers money to trade in their old vehicles for new vehicles with improved gas mileage over their current vehicles.  This is to help US car manufacturers and to improve the overall gas mileage of vehicles on the road in the US.

Commentary:

This is a good idea overall for its helpfulness to struggling US car manufacturers, although it is paid for with stimulus money, which I am opposed to.  The supposed benefit to gas mileage of cars on the road is a bit of a ruse, though, as the car dealers will just resell the trade in vehicles and most will remain in use.