Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor 10/16

Bootleg incentive

Lon Allan needs to learn how drug prohibition works before recommending that the Legislature “tax the heck out of (marijuana)” (Sept. 29).

The problem with “taxing the heck out of it” is that the incentive for a bootleg black market remains. Prohibition fails because providers of illegal marijuana make a fortune dealing it. In a legal market, prices must be kept low enough to prevent Mexican cartels and other outlaws from competing. Set the tax rate too high and nothing changes. Let marijuana prices drop to free market rates and the bootleggers will vanish like the booze barons who could not compete in a legal market after repeal.

Mr. Allan speaks from admitted ignorance and should learn that using marijuana causes none of the troubles that come to falling-down drunks. Most marijuana users greatly lower alcohol consumption or stop entirely. Many alcoholics credit their return to sobriety to using marijuana. Marijuana users seldom have troubles from their cannabis use. Almost all of the people “being treated for marijuana use” are forced into therapy by court orders to avoid serious punishment.

Atascadero is trying to turn the clock back to 1937 because they cannot name a scientifically verified reason to outlaw marijuana. They operate according to ignorance, decades-old lies, dissembling and deceptions that cannot stand the light of day in serious discussions.

Ralph Givens

Daly City

A brilliant idea

Regarding Mike Beachman’s letter (Oct. 11), in which he suggests supporters and foes of tanks at the SLO Vet’s Hall rent sumo wrestler costumes and wrestle on the lawn followed by a barbecue and discussion:

Mr. Beachman’s idea is brilliant. His suggestion highlights the real problem: all of our posturing and hiding behind ideology that produces divisiveness rather than real dialogue and understanding. He also offers a disarming solution: humor to break down differences and allow us to laugh together, and at ourselves. Then perhaps we can really talk to each other.

Laura Cooper

San Luis Obispo

Unite for reform

My niece and her husband have two small children at home. They pay $1,000 a month for health care insurance. They would like to change to a less expensive plan, but they cannot do this because of a preexisting health condition. And they live in constant fear that their insurance company might cancel their plan.

This would never happen in any other Western industrialized country. But under President Obama’s plan it will no longer happen in the United States because it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny coverage based on a preexisting condition, or to drop coverage when you get sick.

We are closer now than ever to enacting comprehensive reform. It’s time to stand with the president and pass real reform.

Laurence Houlgate

San Luis Obispo

Suspicious reaction

It seems suspicious that Harris Ranch would be so threatened by the food journalist Michael Pollan’s presence at Cal Poly and by the concept of a sustainable agriculture program that they would threaten to withdraw their pledged gift to the agriculture department of the university.

As a result of their actions, I, as a consumer, am making the assumption that Harris Ranch’s agricultural practices are environmentally unsound, that they wish to quell any discourse around agricultural practices that questions their way of raising livestock and that, further, their company is opposed to open and free speech. For these reasons I am going to think long and hard in the future before purchasing any products produced by Harris Ranch.

R. J. Wise

Shell Beach

Taliban distraction

Obama is currently reassessing U.S. strategy underpinning our eight-year presence in Afghanistan. It has become apparent we have forgotten that our reason for being there is to root out and bring to justice Osama Bin Laden.

Instead, we have allowed ourselves to be diverted into a war against a pesky group of indigenous zealots, the Taliban, much as the Bush/Cheney gang led us into a war against Saddam Hussein instead of concentrating on al-Qaida. This is all the more dumbfounding given that the Pakistani army now has joined the fight, meaning it should be easier to find Bin Laden, who supposedly is hiding out in the no-man’s land along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Taliban are bad guys to be sure, just as Saddam was, but Afghanistan is a dysfunctional state run by drug lords — 90 percent of the world’s heroin comes from there — and a corrupt central government under the rule of a war lord we installed who can’t even win an election without cheating.

We’re now being told it will require another 18 months before we’ll know if we’re on the right path, with benchmarks reading like a checklist of nation-building stages — something we’re not very good at.

Is Afghanistan another Vietnam? It sure looks like it.

Carmen Lodise