by Warner Todd Huston | April 19, 2012 9:40 pm
Californians are being asked once again to fund a government boondoggle with a ballot initiative which will levy more taxes on an already over taxed state. This time it is Proposition 29, intended to fund the California Cancer Research Act, a measure that appeals nicely to emotions but will likely be just another black hole for tax dollars when all is said and done — just like many other successful California ballot measures have been.
Naturally, many members of the media are in love with yet another new tax not to mention its chimerical promise of “cancer research.” Take Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee, for instance, who recently pumped out the false dichotomy of having to choose between the wonderfulness of “cancer research” and those evil, rotten cigarette companies.
Here is how Morain characterizes the debate:
Ordinarily, I agree with arguments against initiatives. Proposition 29 on the June 5 ballot has its problems. But my decision is easy any time I have to choose between tobacco companies and cancer researchers, doctors who treat cancer and public health experts who try to prevent cancer.
Though a nice play on people’s emotions he presents a false choice, for sure. Opposition to Prop 29 is not a choice between saving lives and enriching cigarette companies. It is a choice between giving unaccountable government lackeys nearly a billion dollars of California’s tax money to waste on more government boondoggles and not having such new government waste instituted.
If passed, Proposition 29 will authorize the California Cancer Research Act to impose a further tax on cigarettes in The Golden State. This new tax money is supposed to go to new research to find a cure for cancer.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Who could be against cancer research, eh? But would that this were its chief benefit.
Unfortunately, what this new measure actually does is create a new state government agency that will have nearly a billion new tax dollars to fund soon-to-be-hired government worker salaries, build new buildings, buy automobiles and office furniture, and serve as yet another chance for California’s groaning pension system to add even more government workers to its rolls.
Worse, the governing body of this new boondoggle will not even be accountable to the people through their elected representatives as the 9-member board that will be appointed by the politicians in Sacramento will not be answerable to those who appointed them once they take their seats on the board. These members will be completely autonomous and cannot be removed or fired.
Another absurd part of this ballot initiative is that if it passes, the whole scheme is permanent. There is no process for review, reassessment, or termination if fraud, waste and abuse is found nor if there is failure of gaining a cure.
Then there is the fact that the “research” won’t even be required to be performed in California. So, Californian’s taxes could go to doctors, scientists, and institutes outside their state. It’s highly possible the taxpayer’s money will benefit others in the process.
Then there are the problematic projections of tax receipts. Supporters of Prop 29 claim that the nearly one billion can be easily gotten from cigarette buyers through the new tax. But when have the always overly rosy projections of the take from new taxes ever come to fruition? The truth is these projections are always way high and rarely realized. New York found that out recently when its cigarette tax scheme failed to bring in the $130 million that was promised by supporters.
That being the case, do you think the good “cancer researchers” of Prop 29 will lower expectations and spend less?
If you think that, you are living in a dream world. No, what will more likely happen is that this new, permanent government agency will simply find other ways to take taxes from the citizens to sate their addiction to government spending. There is nothing so permanent as a government agency, after all.
Now, last month the coalition that is pushing this boondoggle, a group that includes the American Cancer Society, attacked me personally for daring to write in opposition to this new tax hike.
It is sad that a once proud organization like the American Cancer Society, one once funded by caring private donors, is now reduced to groveling to government for giant new taxes to fund themselves. Charities aligning themselves to government like this make the lie to their status of being a charity as far as I am concerned. They become just another arm of the government at some point.
It is worse when these supporters use illegitimate arguments to win the debate, too.
Supporters like Bee columnist Morain want to push the feels-good, emotional nonsense that fuels Proposition 29 instead of highlighting the real flaws and concerns of those that oppose the measure. People like Morain don’t want to discuss the actual issues but would rather put up the boogeyman of those evil cigarette companies as if they are the real issue here.
The truth is, I could care less about smoking. I don’t do it myself. But the issue here is government waste, overspending, and jobs-killing taxes in California and the desire — no, the necessity — to avoid them, not the existence of those evil tobacco companies. Prop 29 should be defeated. It is just the responsible thing to do in this day of deeply indebted budgets. Californians should not be creating new huge government agencies that will become just another gaping, insatiable maw hungry for more tax dollars.
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