Vol: 89 Issue: 17 Tuesday, February 17, 2009
California’s economy is so vast that if California were a country, it would be the world’s seventh largest economy.
In good times, that is a blessing. But right now, California is on the brink of economic catastrophe. The state is nearly out of cash, has laid off scores of workers and put hundreds more on unpaid furloughs.
It stopped paying counties and issuing income tax refunds and halted thousands of infrastructure projects. Matt David, communications director for Governor Schwarzenegger said another 20,000 pink slips would be going out this morning.
In the absence of a budget we need to realize this savings and the process takes six months, David said.
California has also lost access to much of the credit markets, nearly unheard of among state municipal bond issuers. Recently, Standard & Poor s downgraded the state s bond rating to the lowest in the nation.
No other state is in the kind of crisis that California is in, said Iris J. Lav, the deputy director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research group in Washington.
While nearly all U.S. states currently face budget shortfalls, California’s deficit is more than one-third of its general fund. That’s largely due to its dependence on income taxes, which slide during a recession. And the state can’t easily borrow due to the government bond-market freeze.
There’s no easy fix to the problem, as any solution likely requires cutting benefits and social services tough political choices for Schwarzenegger. But the state does have an abundant natural resource it may be able to draw on for help.
Marijuana is California’s largest cash crop. It’s valued at $14 billion annually, or nearly twice the value of the state’s grape and vegetable crops combined, according to government statistics.
Marijuana accounts for two-thirds of the local economy of Mendocino County north of San Franscisco.
Proponents of legalizing and taxing marijuana say the numbers involved justify rethinking California’s marijuana laws.
A national legalization effort would save nearly $13 billion annually in enforcement costs and bring in $7 billion in yearly tax revenues, according to a study by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron.
Since California represents 13 percent of the U.S. economy, those numbers suggest the state could save $1.7 billion in enforcement costs and nab up to $1 billion in revenues.
And that doesn’t even take into consideration the revenues narco-tourism would rake in, as in the Netherlands.
Proponents say that legalizing and taxing marijuana could bring in more than $3 billion in annual revenues. Recently, the Fraser Institute did a study calculating how much tax revenue the Canadian government could make by legalizing and taxing marijuana.
The study estimates that the average price of 0.5 grams (a unit) of marijuana sold for $8.60 on the street, while its cost of production was only $1.70. In a free market, a $6.90 profit for a unit of marijuana would not last for long.
Entrepreneurs noticing the great profits to be made in the marijuana market would start their own grow operations, increasing the supply of marijuana on the street, which would cause the street price of the drug to fall to a level much closer to the cost of production.
Noted Easton: “However, it’s quite likely that the demand for marijuana would change from legalization. We saw that there was a risk in selling marijuana, but since drug laws often target both the buyer and the seller, there is also a risk (albeit smaller) to the consumer interested in buying marijuana. Legalization would eliminate this risk, causing the demand to rise. This is a mixed bag from a public policy standpoint: Increased marijuana use can have ill effects on the health of the population but the increased sales bring in more revenue for the government.”
Ok, so we create more dope addicts, but getting into the narcotics business will bring in the bucks. So it makes a few addicts. Look at cigarettes, booze and gambling.
Think it won’t happen?
Think back to when gambling was illegal. Numbers runners would work the neighborhood ‘lotteries’ making their ‘bankers’ rich men. The government’s role was to expend a fortune on law enforcement in order to break up the numbers runners and smash the bookie dens.
Until the government decided to go into the numbers running business for itself. Between the profits from the gambling operations and the savings to the legal system, it seemed like a great idea.
Of course, legalized gambling had its own social downside, much like legalizing marijuana.
In their greed, lawmakers forgot that downside was the reason that gambling was outlawed in the first place. Gambling quickly became a major social problem. Soon, the government started running ads telling problem gamblers where to go for government help with their ‘addiction’.
There was a time when the idea of government-run lotteries was as foreign as the idea of buying pot from the government sounds now.
But the pro-legalization arguments for marijuana are persuasive. And they fit entirely with the outline of the last days as set forth by Bible prophecy.
The Bible makes a number of references to sorcerers and sorcery. In Exodus 7:11, Pharaoh called on his sorcerers to face down Moses. Exodus 22:18’s admonition, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” translates ‘witch’ using the same Hebrew root word, “kashaph” for both ‘witch’ and sorcerer.
The word or a variation of it appears six times in the Old Testament and five times in the New. In each of the OT instances, the same root word, “kashaph” is translated as ‘witch’ or ‘sorcerer’. “Kashaph” means to practice or use witchcraft or magic arts.
In the New Testament, we find the word appearing twice in the Book of Acts:
“And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus . . .” (Acts 13:6)
“But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.” (Acts 13:8)
Throughout both Testaments, the word translated ‘sorcerer’ (and all its variations) is translated from either ‘kashaph’ (Hebrew – magic) or magos or magea (Greek -magic, magic arts).
Until one comes to the Book of Revelation — the only book of Scripture whose narrative is entirely prophetic. That can’t be stressed enough — it is a book that only the generation to whom it was penned can understand.
“Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” (Revelation 9:21)
“And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. ” (Revelation 18:23)
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:18)
“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. ” (Revelation 22:15)
There are a couple of things I want to call your attention to in the Revelation verses. The first, as noted, is that Revelation describes the events of the last days before the return of the King.
Although penned in the 1st century, it is an eyewitness account of events from the 21st century. Secondly, Revelation lists sorceries as one of the REASONS for judgment. (Revelation 9:21)
Thirdly, sorceries and sorcerers make more appearances in the Book of Revelation than any other single book of Scripture.
Finally, let’s look at the original Greek word translated as ‘sorceries’ in the KJV version of the Book of Revelation. The Greek word is not magos or magea. The Greek word translated as “sorceries” in Revelation is used uniquely in the Book of Revelation.
It does not appear elsewhere in Scripture since it describes a circumstance unique to the last days before the Return of Christ. (And just imagine how confusing it must have been to the translators four hundred years ago.)
That word is ‘pharmakea,’ meaning ‘the use or administration of drugs.’