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California economy: taxes, marijuana and Twitter

Jagger It was the famous 20th century philosopher Mick Jagger who wrote: "You can't always get what you want; but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need."

Three stories in The Times on Sunday illustrate the Stones songbird's point.

First, California's budget gap: Gov. Jerry Brown, who delivers his State of the State address Monday, wants voters to approve keeping certain taxes in place -- or else, he warns, even more drastic budget cuts will be necessary. Like what?  Brown isn't saying. Apparently, he doesn't think it works to scare voters.

But Californians know what they want: fiscal sanity.  

And they know what they need: to sacrifice. 

And they're prepared to sacrifice. Republican legislators, for example, are prepared to sacrifice the jobs of most government workers, along with those workers' pensions. And they'll sacrifice the environment. They just won't sacrifice big business, which has already sacrificed enough by firing a bunch of us workers.

Democratic legislators, of course, will sacrifice too: by having taxpayers keep paying more taxes. But they won't sacrifice their union supporters, because otherwise the legislators would have to sacrifice by losing their jobs in the next election.

Which brings us to our second story on Sunday, and possible help for the budget mess: legalizing marijuana.

The last attempt, Proposition 19, lost in November. But The Times reported on a weekend meeting of marijuana-legalization advocates who hope to get another, better measure on the ballot in 2012. Do Californians want legal pot?  Duh. Do Californians need the tax revenue it would bring? Duh again.

The most interesting aspect of this story, though, is that the potheads (OK, I don't know they are, but they do want it legalized) are seemingly better organized than our legislators. The potheads' moment of decision isn't until 2012, but they're already hard at work. The state's fiscal mess is ongoing, but the legislators keep acting more like, well, Cheech and Chong.

So, OK, the state needs more revenue. And Californians want to tweet. In fact, they need to tweet.

Which brings us to Twitter. 

It's based in California. And it's booming.

Or is it?

The Times' Business section reported that Twitter  is "at a crossroads, where it will finally have to answer the question: Can it make money?"

Call me old-fashioned, but somehow I can't picture Henry Ford saying: "I have this great idea. I'm going to build auto-mo-biles, and I'm going to give them away. And if they get really popular, then I'll see if I can figure out a way to make money."

But I think I know what Twitter's problem is: How can anyone build a business plan in 140-character chunks?

Insiders tell me this is what happened at its last strategy session:

"OK, everyone settle down. We don't have much time, or characters. I'm here today to present our plan for profitability. Basically, what we have to do make money is to bu ... "

So, in the spirit of Twitter, here's my two cents (in under 50 characters): Keep the taxes. Legalize the pot. And keep tweeting.


A state budget reality check

Facing the budget music

Redevelopment debate: California mayors duke it out with Gov. Brown

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Mick Jagger performing in 2002. Credit: Joe Cavaretta  / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (11)

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Nice little common-sense article. A little pessimistic, but who isn't at this point?

I'd add extending drinking hours to the list of things to do. Nobody is talking about it, but it would help local businesses and cut down on drunk driving. Let the bars and clubs serve 24 hours, so most of them would choose to close at the same time the trains start running again. Not to mention instead of everyone flooding out onto the streets at 2am, people can actually just leave when they want (or when they've had time to sober up).

Not only would this boost sales for the bars and clubs, and therefore taxes from those sales, it would probably boost the income from the Metro rail and buses.


Here's my 2 cents: No to extended taxes, fee or tax increases, no to marijuana and Yes to tax cuts and elimination of pensions and high pay for state union workers. They don't deserve it. They've never done anything for me. Plus, remember this old adage: The Noblest Motive is the Public Good. Therefore, government employees and lawmakers should be working for the best interests of the California people at the minimalist costs.


Pot is the largest cash crop in the state, and has been for over 20 years. It clearly has been a waste of billions of dollars trying to stop it - and a crime against humanity for criminalizing people who use it. As alcohol, a far more dangerous, deadly and addictive drug, IS legal, it is the height of hypocrisy to continue the prohibition against pot.


A multi billion dollar industry - pot, and the state gets zero income from it. Even worse, they have spent billions trying to stop the unstoppable. Brilliant. At the same time, the wine industry is promoted around the world as a a gourmet delight, even though it is a far more dangerous drug than pot. It is sad that a fiscal crisis is needed for the politicians to see the light , or the revenue stream, but if that what it takes, so be it.


Don't be surprised if gov. Brown jumps on the legal pot bandwagon. The state needs money badly and this is a no brainer. And I think we can be quite sure that he knows many successful people who are also pot smokers. The tide has turned with pot and the liars and myth spewers are now seen as bad jokes. Too many good people have been needlessly screwed by the draconian pot laws. California will light the way for the rest of America.


What nonsense. Legalizing pot will not fill the State coffers. California will spend more trying to enforce official licensing for outlets, tax collection, and combating smugglers trying to evade the tax. Not to mention that federal law prohibits possession, trafficking, and cultivation of pot. No way is this anything but a pot smoker's dream.


not only should pot be legal, but billions could be raised by taxing and regulating its production. The us currently imports industrial hemp from other countries, imagine the positive economics from allowing its production here at home.


Colorado took in 20 million dollars last year from pot. The naysayers are living in the past, and they will soon be part of distant history. Good riddance to the walking antiques.


Colorado took in 20 million dollars last year from pot. The naysayers are living in the past, and they will soon be part of distant history. Good riddance to the walking antiques.


Based on an article in the oc register.....stating the poor performances of the Dana Point middle schools.....what will happen to the young people in CA.....when even less money is available....higher student teacher ratios will result..along with poorer performances by the students....and likely just in time for them to pay taxes on the weed they will smoke.


If our government wised up and legalized marijuana AND prostitution, not only would the money help fill in the massive debt we have but also make our streets safer.

- Massive amount of taxable income
- Millions saved on the costs of arresting, prosecuting and jailing "criminals"
- Less women being murdered, raped, beaten in some alley
- Less disease being spread by prostitutes due to regulation
- Less money going to drug cartels and gangs.

I doubt you can find a bigger cash cow than weed and prostitutes. Hey in works in Amsterdam, and partially in Vegas.



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