Friday, May 9, 2014

Alcohol Today, Marijuana Tomorrow: When Money Changes Our Values

In the small rural town where I live, the citizens recently voted to make it wet.  For city-folk, a dry county is a county where the selling of alcohol is banned.  A wet county is where alcohol can be bought and sold.  There were several arguments used by proponents for making the city wet including wanting to move the town out of the dark ages, some simply wanted buy beer closer to home, and others suggested it would decrease the chances of prolonged drinking and driving.

But there were more substantive arguments put forward.  One of those arguments was taxes.  If the town was wet then the city government could increase its tax revenue.  This was perhaps one of the most common arguments proposed by proponents of the measure.  Money.

One of the things I have noticed over the years is how government seems to always need more, yet waste all of it and are more than willing to make compromises in order to get more of it.  Our little city became wet while our state tries to legalize gambling for the same primary reason: money. The gambling industry has assured lawmakers that if gambling becomes legal the states' tax revenue would sky rocket and be able to pass new programs without breaking the budget.

But what do you do when every county is wet and gambling is legal?  Some states are debating while a few others have already legalized marijuana. The motivation behind it is the same as alcohol and gambling above: money and tax revenue. California, for example, is deeply in dept and needs increased revenue. Legalizing marijuana would fill that void.

The movement to legalize marijuana is growing in America.  In 2010, Fox News reported:
Americans are more accepting of medical marijuana. Sixty percent support the idea and 74 percent believe the drug has a real medical benefit for some people. Two-thirds of Democrats favor medical marijuana as do a slim majority of Republicans, 53 percent.

With state and local governments desperate for cash, some legalization proponents are pushing marijuana as a potential revenue stream. But only 14 percent of those surveyed who oppose legalization would change their mind if states were to tax the drug.
Has anyone noticed the trend?  Our town needs money now and so it loosens its laws in order to gets its money.  When a government does that it assures us that the funds are necessary and without them teachers and firemen will lose their jobs.  And so we give them the extra revenue and, sure enough, in a few short years the government finds itself in the red again. Instead of tightening its belt, it begins to look for another source of income.

Whether it be alcohol, raising taxes on cigarettes, or legalizing prostitution, gambling, or marijuana, the government always spends more than it receives and thus must increase its revenue. My concern here is not regarding what one thinks about alcohol, gambling, prostitution, or marijuana, but the blind motive behind these initiatives. Instead of telling the government to tighten its bloated belt as private citizens are forced to do, we enable gluttonous politicians by giving them access to more of our income.

Money is very enticing and when politicians feel they need more they will do whatever it takes to get their hands on it.  A government as big as ours will never stop spending so long as the people allow them to take from its people.  People may want alcohol in our local town, but do they really want the bloated taxes placed on alcohol?  People may want to gamble, but do they really think that the state government needs more?  People may enjoy getting high and wasting their afternoons chasing unicorns, but do they really think that bigger government will make their life better?

When money is our main motivator, perhaps we need to take a step back and demand a different direction.  If our governments need more money perhaps its because they wasted most of it.  Maybe instead of pushing for more liberal limits on the things of this world, perhaps we should ask our government to do what it has forced us to do: tighten its belts and only spend the money is has.

This is why the Bible frequently warns of becoming too materialistic.  As Christians, our treasure must be in heaven, not here on earth.  On Earth, material goods get old, get rusty, and waste away.  If what we own controls us we will compromise any and all values to keep what we have and gain what we lust for.  Let us instead stand firm in our faith and live in contentment free from the things of this world.

Now if only government will learn the same lesson.

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