Printed letters, April 2, 2014
In Rick Wagner’s column on Colorado’s pot taxes he didn’t mention tobacco taxes. So, I did some searching and found tobacco taxes (including the Master Settlement Agreement) brought in $319 million.
If retail and medial marijuana sales follow the same track, taxes will be about $42 million. Alcohol taxes will bring in around $32 million.
A portion of tobacco taxes goes to the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, and a large part goes to different groups for educational cessation programs.
Millions of dollars will forever go to these same groups because that’s how Initiative 35 was written and passed in 2004.
I’m sure TV stations are happy with their cut of the pie. Big Pharma is happy selling nicotine replacement aids and developing new medications, ensuring a new generation of addicts.
When you include the entire country for 2009, both federal and state tobacco taxes brought an astounding $24 billion. It’s a big shame that this money does not go for cancer research or any other myriad of diseases.
It should have been the parents’ responsibility to teach their children in the first place.
The past 30 years, more money has been spent on awareness campaigns than research.
‘Park’ more aptly describes our local natural treasure
“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” — John Muir
To change Colorado National monument to a national park has nothing to do with money or cars or what side of the political street you stand on — or anything else quite as visceral. It has to do with connecting with what makes this country unique.
No other country takes its natural beauty to heart as much as the United States does. This is accomplished in part via the national park system.
Converting and protecting our local treasure means connecting to this unique and truly all-American heritage, something only 59 other locations can claim. John Otto felt pride in the land he loved being made into a national monument. However, he wanted it to be a national park.
The difference between the two words in basic meaning point us in the correct direction. “Monument” is more a tribute to a person, erected in his or her memory; “park” is “an area of land, usually in a largely natural state, for the enjoyment of the public, having facilities for rest and recreation, often owned, set apart, and managed by a city, state, or nation.”
The first National Park Service director, Stephen T. Mather, said, “Who will gainsay that the parks contain the highest potentialities of national pride, national contentment, and national health? A visit inspires love of country; begets contentment; engenders pride of possession; contains the antidote for national restlessness ... He is a better citizen with a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here who has toured the national parks.”
Let’s be better citizens.
WCAF video objection based on intent of First Amendment
I wish to correct several misapprehensions and outright errors in recent letters to the editor concerning the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers’ role in the school proselytizing incident.
First, the event was not a lunch and it was not held at a local church, but rather on school grounds.
Second, the so-called healthy activities for this event included offerings of junk foods and drinks to entice children to attend.
Third, students were not told in advance that they would be subjected to a religious video.
Fourth, we at WCAF are proud of being freethinkers by endorsing a rational, nondogmatic approach to issues of all kinds, including the local hot topics of separation of church and state, evolution and climate change.
We do support, as an organization and individually, local charities such as Catholic Outreach and the Salvation Army.
We are not opposed to children being taught religion in a noncoercive manner. But it should be outside of school hours and definitely not on school property.
Young, impressionable minds should not be exposed to aggressive proselytizing through the inadvertent or deliberate actions of a schoolteacher. We do not use the term “religious nut cases” for those who would push religion in the public sphere, but recognizing that there are such types, we should all be alert to such efforts and resist them strenuously.
Thomas Jefferson’s call for a wall of separation between church and state has become enshrined in our culture as the embodiment of the First Amendment’s intent rather than being — as implied in one of the letters — a mere historical footnote to it.
EARLE MULLEN, President
Atheists and Freethinkers