Salem Oregon – What was it Deep Throat said during the Watergate fiasco? “Follow the money.”
When we do so today in the Measure 50 debate what do we find?
We find the anti-50 side has shattered all records for spending… over $10 million and still going strong… 99.999% of which comes from three out of state tobacco companies.
Oh the shock and surprise are palpable.
No? Me neither.
Big Tobacco, one of the greatest liars of the modern age, is pulling out all the stops in their desperate attempt to derail Measure 50, the Healthy Kids initiative.
To most this is a no-brainer. Raise taxes on tobacco, a known killer and health risk, to fund health care for kids. The ignorance is what is truly palpable however.
I lost track of how many folks spew the ignorant whine that if the tax decreases smoking it will reduce the revenue from the tax and make the project non-viable. This ignores a few facts. If the tax were to cover every penny that smoking costs the health care industry etc it would be over $11 a pack. So we are adding around 85 cents a pack to bring the total; to just a hair over $2 a pack. So let’s say the tax causes a million less packs to be sold. That means $2 million less in revenue from the tax BUT $11 MILLION LESS EXPENSE to the health care infrastructure.
A net GAIN of $9 million.
And couldn’t $2 million of that $9 million in savings be put back into the Healthy Kids initiative, leaving $7 in reduced health care costs that can lower insurance rates and medical costs, fund additional services or some combination of these or other things?
Getting people to quit smoking tobacco is NEVER a bad thing. For society as well as the individual it is always a positive. The smokers might not like to see it that way, but it is.
You have the right to smoke if you are 16 or older. No one is changing that. But it still does not change the fact that it is a stupid thing to do. And I quit a 3-and-a-half pack a day habit in 1985 so I am not just some anti-smoking Nazi. It was stupid then and it is even more stupid now with all the information, costs and inconveniences involved.
But you do NOT have the right to just foist all these incredibly high costs of your chosen vice onto everyone else. Why should the general public subsidize the majority of that $11+ per pack cost associated with your personal habit, especially when doing so means less of the health care pie is available to kids needing health care?
Short answer… it shouldn’t.
The argument in the ads is we should not tax a few to benefit others. The truth is we should not tax everyone to benefit the stupid personal health choices of a few. But that is the current standard, unfortunately, but Measure 50 balances it out just a little bit. Nowhere near how much it should, but a lot better than it does currently.
One of the lamest arguments provided by Big Tobacco’s well funded propaganda campaign is it is wrong to modify the Constitution of Oregon.
Who the heck do these tools think they are kidding? This is Oregon. We mess with the Constitution all the time. When was the last 4 year period where there was not at least one Constitutional amendment on the ballot? Puh-LEEZE! And we do not put tax issues into the Constitution? SINCE WHEN?
Basically the argument is too ludicrous for mere words to describe in its full grandeur.
The last argument by the desperate liars of the Big Tobacco propaganda machine is that there are kids who already qualify for the Oregon Health Plan but are not enrolled. While this is true, it is not an indictment against the OHP nor Measure 50. No one is REQUIRED to enroll. It is voluntary. Measure 50 would allow tens of thousands of kids to enroll who CANNOT enroll currently. Will some still not be enrolled? Probably. But that is the decision of the parents.
Many who qualify do not apply because of the way the system works. I know a person who could qualify, for example, for job placement assistance. But he will not do it. Why? Because not only are the jobs provided bottom of the barrel types with no future but the program requires you to attend meetings, during work hours, and these employers are not interested in giving the participants the time off, so either you get disqualified for your food stamps because you missed the meetings or you get disqualified because you got fired.
It is a no win situation and whether they are right or wrong many people feel the same way about the Oregon Health Plan. And this is just one big reason for the lack of enrollment of many who already qualify.
But that is an issue with DHS, not Measure 50.
But the most telling reason to vote YES on 50 is because out of state Big Tobacco seems to think they can come into our state like carpetbaggers in the post-Civil War South and buy elections in Oregon for their benefit and against the interests of Oregonians.
Send the carpetbaggers packing.
Help kids get health care.
Reduce the use of tobacco.
Increase the health of Oregonians overall.
Rarely can you do one right thing for so many right reasons, Do not miss the opportunity now.
Vote YES on Measure 50
Source: Political Commentary by Neal Feldman Salem-News.com