Taxing the Poor to Save Hollywood Celebrities, The latest Finance column by Gina Loudon PhD

By Gina Loudon PhD

Welfare, like greed, has many faces.

Thomas Jefferson warned us that as soon as people learn they can vote themselves money from the treasury, it will signal the end of our republic.

The occupiers talk about the 1%. Americans point fingers at Wall Street. Ron Paul tells us to audit the Fed.  All are bemoaning the same prediction Jefferson warned us about. A most insidious “get rich quick” scheme may just be the use of the ballot to tap into the public treasury and separate citizens from their wealth. The new business model is simple. Pull together a few wealthy, conflicted interests, and stick a tax on the ballot making baseless promises and vote yourself largess from the public treasury. It works like a charm and it is being copied everywhere.

In 2004, Stowers Institute spent over $30 million and passed the constitutional right to clone and kill in Missouri. Cloners felt so good about their prospects that they duped California voters into going much further and voting a $3 billion bond issue – Billion with a B – to annually fund cloning research. Proposition 71 passed with almost 60% of the benevolent but deluded Californians hoping to find cures for their ill neighbors and celebrities like Michael J. Fox. So how have Californians done? The score: Researchers: $ Billions-Sick people: Nada.

California is broke. Katy Grimes, at Cal Watchdog reports that the figure is over $41 billion, which is far higher than the $17 billion that the lapdogs in the mainstream media will report. How can taxpayers justify junkets to Vegas when they cannot afford their mortgage? The answer: Who cares? Californians voted to obligate themselves, so dialing the spending back is not an option. Sadly, California taxpayers have shown themselves so pathetically gullible that they have been targeted again.

The state that spends almost as much as the national treasury on cloning research, with zero cures or payoffs of any sort, is now polling in favor of voting over $800 million a year in new spending.  This time, the sell exploits cancer victims.

Most people, when asked to invest, ask one question right out of the gate:  What is the expected return on investment (ROI)? When California voters ask the question (making the audacious assumption that Californians actually care to ask if they are getting a ROI), the answer is a simple “NO”. Nothing.  Seven years into a ten year, $3 billion investment of public funds, and there is not one single cure, not one single therapy, not one single successful clinical trial, although there is one failed clinical trial from a failed spine regeneration.

What Californians do have is one public statement after another about funding for this or collaboration for that and a few international agreements inked. A handful of researchers and bureaucrats get junkets and all Californians get is this lousy bill that is overdue. So, Michael J. Fox, how is that taxpayer funding working out for you?

Not surprisingly, seeing that The Golden State likes to dump their gold into the pockets of a “collaboration” of elitist do-gooders, they are coming back to the golden trough. Led by the American Cancer Society (how many cures have you given us?) which plowed an eye-popping $7.5 million into the campaign, the coalition of other hangers on have placed a stunningly greedy tobacco tax of $1 per pack on the ballot, June 5th. It is estimated to haul in upward of $850 million per year that these groups can tap for “collaborations” of their own. Spending $7.5 million now for hundreds of millions in perpetuity is a pretty good potential ROI – for the “investors”– not Californians.

In years past, social welfare activists would be crying foul. Wealthy research groups should not be making a killing off the backs of smokers, the majority of whom are poor, minority, and female. Leftists who revile regressive taxation usually hate sales taxes. Where are they now? No tax is more regressive than the cigarette tax. There is scant evidence that raising the cost of cigarettes causes the addicted poor to quit. The ones who suffer are their children. Evidently, in Taxifornia, even the liberals can look the other way when the poor are getting screwed. Whose heart is bleeding now?

By contrast to California, Missouri leftists, led by Amy Blouin of the respected (albeit left wing) advocacy group, Missouri Budget Project, stands squarely in opposition to The American Cancer Society’s efforts to screw the poor, just as they did when the cancer people tried unsuccessfully to get into Missouri wallets in 2006. It seems that people in fly over land ask questions that progressive Californians do not.

Looking deeper into the motivations behind these tax drives, Californians might want to consider the scathing report on cancer “charities” issued by the American Institute on Philanthropy titled, “Cancer Charities Need Dose of Organizational Chemotherapy”. The top salaries among philanthropy executives are dominated by cancer charities. The lead bankroller of these taxpayer heists is the American Cancer Society with nearly $1 billion in annual donations. Their COO, Don Thomas, hauls in almost $1 million per year, evidently whether his ballot issues win or fail. How are cancer survival rates improving after all of that investment?

Further complicating these questions for Californians, and taxpayers across the country are questions of the time-value of money and lost opportunity costs. On what could the public have otherwise invested this money? Those are questions for another day. It is interesting however, to note that in Missouri, where voters rejected the cancer elites’ tax advances, the budget is balanced. One can imagine that for Californians, when retired government union members and current office holders left your budget $41 billion upside down already, investing $1 billion or so per year paying down debt or building infrastructure rather than blowing it on shiny new shoes is academic. Those are big questions. We will see if Californians really care about cures, the children of the already disadvantaged, or ROI this Tuesday.