Wednesday, July 08, 2015

My California

My California
"My California" is a collection of short stories published to raise money to benefit the California Arts Council.

The bool states that "Canadians spend $145 per capita every year to fund their arts, Germans $85 and Californians three cents." I liken the state (City, Federal) budget to the home budget. Shelter, food, clothing are first items to be paid out of available income. That would mean a source of income is needed. Thus the tax dollars should be used second to fund creation of jobs and affordable housing. First on the State (Federal, City) budget would be to pay for protection and maintenance: police, fire fighters, water, electric, gas workers, sewage disposal, roads and such. If there is any money left over, either in the home or State budget, it seems keeping family or citizens healthy should come next.

I love art, beauty and nature. Yet funding "the Arts" is like the family spending a limited budget for entertainment purposes, such as seeing a movie or going to Disneyland. If the money is not there, stay home. What is "per capita"? Per person? Each person contributes 3 cents to the Arts per year? If the only taxes citizens pay were State taxes, upping that might be okay. Last I calculated, 1/4 of our earned income is deducted from our paychecks, or we work one day for payroll deductions, not including amounts deducted for health and life insurance and retirement.

Even renters are indirectly paying property taxes. When city's raise those taxes, the cost is passed onto with rent increases. Increase utility bill taxes, water bill expense likewise raises rents. Then there are the other taxes, sales tax, on gasoline, booze and God forbid if one still has the audacity to smoke cigarettes! Best, than, to keep taxes down, and sad, if that includes spending on "the Arts".

Problem with that for me, is the Library might be part of that Arts budget cuts. Teaching music and art in schools has been cut. Library's provide a needed community service. Paying a school teacher to take a year off to write a novel, may/may not enrich the lives of the many. I say let the teacher teach and write his book, nights/weekends. (That teacher lived in Pennsylvania not California, btw.)

The copy of "My California" that I checked out of the library is "A Special Edition Celebrating The Fifth Annual Long Beach Reads One Book". I never participated in the event, which was started to get people reading. I read. Without the enticement.

Speaking of libraries, the Main library is scheduled to be closed on Sundays. That makes little sense to me. People who work Monday to Friday and school-age kids will have to fit a library visit into their Saturday schedules. No branches are open on Sunday. Since the Main has already been closed Mondays, why not Mon/Tue or Thursday/Friday. I say Friday because it is the downtown Farmer's Market day. However, the library itself knows what days are most busy.

By cutting library hours, jobs are being lost. So those elected to take care of the City budget forgot that jobs or income is one of their essential considerations when planning how to allot our tax dollars.

I did not read most of the stories in "My California". I enjoyed the one about Seal Beach and other bits and pieces of writers' personal histories in the state. "Transients in Paradise" by Aimee Liu is basically about Beverly Hills' homeless.

State and City Budget Cuts
Reading about Seal Beach in "My California" I learned that the small town's budget was in trouble a while ago. Their City Council planned parking meters on Main Street which the author said was the beginning of the end of small town atmosphere. I can not say that I noticed the lack of parking meters on Main Street when I used to drive there. In my "good, old, homed days. My PSC, Shad, lives in Seal Beach and he took me there one day for lunch. He parked on Main Street and, again, no recall as to parking meters.

Senator Jenny Propeza authored a bill to ban smoking on state beaches and in state parks. The fine would be $250. but was lowered to $l00. Before the ban could be enforced signs would need to be erected. Okay, there is a place where the State budget is going awry. Yeah, the sign makers and those who contribute to printing of the signs, such as ink makers, get some work. But it is a limited type of income that benefits the few, not the many.

Long Beach had 27 homicides already this year. So now, Ms. Jenny thinks the cops should keep busy handing out tickets to smokers. It was at midnight on a New Years eve that cops went to bars handing out tickets to those violating that new "No Smoking In Bars" ban. Why turn smokers into criminals? Hand a homeless cat a ticket for violating the new ban, and s/he tosses it in the trash along with the other tickets. No money to pay it. Those unpaid tickets go to warrant, the cat gets picked up, sent to jail for a few days. Jails overcrowded, they are quickly released and ticket fines marked "Paid by Time Served". Even if time served was two days.

Bulk of citizens do not care if a homeless cat goes to jail for having the audacity to light up at the beach or a park. Dang, they would not care if a taxpaying citizen went to jail or became homeless because they thought they lived in the U.s.A. Ya know, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Liberty means freedom of choice, not if one's choice is to smoke cigarettes.

Any time citizens lobby the government for things ~ such as getting rid of smokers ~ it costs tax money. New laws always do. Even if it is only to erect signs and pay police/park rangers to enforce the ban. While the police/park rangers are busy with the homeless or smokers, another person is getting robbed, knifed, shot at and/or killed. Smokers or those who earn at least part of their living selling cigarettes are taxed without representation. Boston Tea Party anyone? Of course, smokers are a minority. Yet, I wonder, how many jobs have been lost due to the push to turn cigarette smokers into criminals? Rather to force people to quit smoking.

Go figure, at the same time the State reps are working overtime to rid the state of cigarette smoke, they are working to legalize marijuana as a new way to raise taxes. I do not use, but have long been in favor of decriminalizing pot. It is mostly harmless from nature if no additives are used. But smoke is smoke. If one type of smoke is bad for non-users lungs, so is the other.

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