The cigarettes Audrey Silk used to smoke — Parliament Lights — are made at a factory in Richmond, Va. The cigarettes she smokes these days are made and grown in Brooklyn, at her house.
Ms. Silk’s backyard is home to raspberry and rose bushes, geraniums, impatiens and 100 tobacco plants in gardening buckets near her wooden deck. Inside her house, around the corner from Flatbush Avenue, in Marine Park, she has to be careful stepping into her basement — one wrong move could ruin her cigarettes. Dozens of tobacco leaves hang there, drying on wires she has strung across the room, where they turn a crisp light brown as they age above a stack of her old Springsteen records.
Silk is not a neo-hippie, not that being one would be bad, but she is a former police officer. Why is she growing her own. New York has the highest cigarette taxes in the country. So-called sin taxes are not always bad and there is a logic behind that protects many tax payers against the personal excesses of others. New York may have crossed the tipping point where sin taxes encourage sin via making it profitable for organized or disorganized crime to make a profit by making cigarette runs to North Carolina where tobacco taxes are among the lowest Georgia and Mississippi are also among the lowest tobacco tax states). Home grown tobacco is not taxable. Maybe as much of a hardship as the taxes, are New York city’s prohibitions on where one can smoke. The City Council approved a bill banning smoking at beaches, parks, and pedestrian plazas. So how this works is you’re sitting on one end of a park or plaza bench with cars. trucks and buses going by emitting far more pollution than cigarettes or cigars, building generators emitting pollution, various VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in paints and carpets, and society is going to make life miserable for nicotine addicts. Light up, get caught and you become part of the justice system and all the related costs. New York City is a few degrees away from tobacco Prohibition. making cigarettes the new marijuana. Even if you just get a ticket for smoking tobacco, that becomes part of a legal record. Employers already delve too deeply into people’s personal lives. A conviction for simply possessing a joint will disqualify you from some jobs. The same for having some hard luck and screwing up your credit score – forget working for a bank, big insurance company or even clerical work in law enforcement. Smoking and second-hand smoke has been proven to be bad for your health. Though it seems like some good intentions have made the original smoking health risk, less of a threat to one’s health than the hardship on the offenders. Somewhere along the way someone said to hell with even trying to balance personal freedom with protecting the public. That balance is expecting too much. Wisconsin Governor Walker seems constitutionally incapable of having an honest debate about the Wisconsin state budget and its non-connection with union bargaining rights. In the realm of public policy issues the debate over unions and state budgets is not even a close call. No delicate balancing required – basic worker rights should not be sacrificed on the altar of some zealous hatred of some union busters. If the issues in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states cannot be discussed truthfully, no wonder, considering the examples of public leaders, some people cannot just move to another park bench to get away from a smoker.
Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.
By their recent consent to pay for into their retirement benefits, Wisconsin public workers have actually agreed to a pay cut. If everyone on the gov’mint payroll is a leech than how come conservatives, given the opportunity, are happy to jump on the alleged gravy train, Bush Makes More Last-Minute Appointments
President Bush appointed a total of 47 people to serve in his almost-finished administration yesterday, the latest wave of last-minute appointments to relatively obscure agencies.
Outgoing chief of staff Joshua B. Bolten, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and top Republican donor Sanford Gottesman all earned five-year terms on the Holocaust Memorial Council, which oversees the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Several sports stars will serve out the remainder of two-year terms on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, including NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte….
[ ]…The President intends to appoint the following to be Members of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, for six-year terms expiring 06/19/14:
Panel of Conciliators:
James C. Boggs, of Virginia;
William Burck, of New York;
Ronald A. Cass, of Virginia;
Emmet Flood, of Maryland.
Panel of Arbitrators:
Fred F. Fielding, of Virginia;
Daniel M. Price, of Maryland.
The President intends to appoint the following individuals to be Members of the Board of Directors of the Valles Caldera Trust:
Raymond Loretto, of New Mexico, (State or Local Government Representative in New Mexico), for a four-year term beginning 01/17/09;
Virgil Trujillo, of New Mexico, (Livestock Management Representative), for a four-year term beginning 01/17/09.