Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Funding our penchants

According to a recent news item, a Washington State legislator has proposed an intriguing amendment to a bill that would expand the state's medical marijuana law.

Rep. Glenn Anderson (F-Fall City) has proposed an amendment requiring the state to reimburse medical marijuana patients for pizza they eat while legally high. The amendment specifies that the state would not reimburse for more than three toppings, or for tips to pizza delivery drivers.

"The entire subject is rather cheesy," Seattle Hempfest organizer Vivian McPeak noted. "All I am saying is give pizza a chance."

Well, why not? Last night I saw the irrepressible Bill Maher defend government funding for gang members who want to have facial tattoos removed so that they can get jobs. What happens, though, if they have the tattoos removed and still won't get a job--a legal one, that is? Do they have to reimburse the government?

For many years I have suffered from bibliomania. As a result of this passion I have some 14,000 books stashed away in my apartment, some quite expensive items. Had I been able to secure government grants for this meritorious activity, I could have many more books.

The larger point is that there are all sorts of legal activities that we pursue at our own expense--beer drinking, going to fancy restaurants, bird watching, attending rock concerts, subscribing to the New York Times, and so on ad infinitum.

Yet lobbyists have managed to get some activities of this kind subsidized by the government, that is, with our tax money. Why should this be happening?

That would seem to be case with National Public Radio, which can survive without the fairly paltry federal support it receives. In fact, NPR would probably be in better shape if it got off the dole.

Doubtless to the annoyance of some readers, I favor applying this principle to abortion. Whatever one's feelings about this controversial procedure, it is legal. That remains so, despite efforts by opponents to chip away at it.

But why should government money be used for this purpose? There are plenty of rich liberals who can come forward (and probably are coming forward) to support abortions for poor women.

Despite all the weaseling and denial currently on display in Washington DC, it is clear that the looming financial crisis will require cutting all sorts of programs. Why not start the process of excision by eliminating subsidies for legal forms of behavior than can easily continue without such assistance?



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