Quick Hits

by lizard

Internationally, Nationally, Locally, it’s the same craziness over and over again. In Ukraine, the new president is already killing “pro-Russian” rebels. We haven’t heard anything from The Polish Wolf about Ukraine since April 13th, when he declared how The American Left has Failed on Ukraine. Now that PW’s assertion has been exposed for the crap it was back then, I guess he doesn’t have anything to say.

Nationally, our economy is Back in the Red and another disturbed young man killed a bunch of people with a gun. Regarding the latter, Ruth Fowler criticized the immediate media flurry around the cause du jour of this latest tragedy: misogyny:

Jessica Valenti in The Guardian makes the fatuous point that Elliot Rodger’s California shooting spree is “Further proof that misogyny kills”, as if the feminist movement and history has been lacking ample evidence up until this moment. She bolsters her argument by quoting her friends’ tweets, as if they too are the “further proof” that White Feminists have needed that they’re a peculiarly oppressed and tormented species. Delving onto twitter, other feminists resort to bad drama: When you are an affluent man who benefits from white supremacy, knowing how to talk to the police gets you a free pass… TO MURDER. @thetinavelazquez writes. In fact, everyone from Salon to The Guardian to The Atlantic to The New Statesman to The Huffington Post to Twitter, all basically say the same thing: Elliot Rodgers killed because he hated women, although they all seem to be conveniently missing each other’s articles and acting as if they’re the only ones drawing such a ‘radical’ conclusion.

Let’s cut the crap. Killers are not usually attracted to nonviolent philosophies, peaceful ideologies and challenging systemic oppression. Quit fucking acting like it’s a surprise Elliot Rodger was a misogynistic, racist, sex starved, white male privileged fuck either formed by, or attracted to, the kinds of ideologies expressed in his disgusting manifesto.

Locally, there’s another story about panhandling and this time, after admitting the ordinances aren’t working, the discussion seems to be centered around increasing the punishment to include jail time:

“The ordinance really hasn’t helped, and I’m not so sure it didn’t re-educate these guys,” said Worden’s Market owner Tim France. “They are more intractable, it seems. They’re clear about knowing where they can sit, and I’ve watched them sit for hours and hours and hours, even after multiple contacts by law enforcement.”

To deal with the problem, some have called for fines and possible jail time for repeat offenders. France has adjusted his business by monitoring liquor sales and types. Other downtown establishments that sell packaged liquor may do the same in an effort to forge their own solution.

France said he recently observed two intoxicated transients engage in a fistfight in the middle of the day with families nearby. It was one of several examples given to highlight the problems business owners and downtown shoppers face.

Why are physical assaults going unpunished? The article doesn’t get into that. Instead, we hear about a multimillion dollar investor telling city officials we need to clean up downtown Missoula:

Ellen Buchanan, executive director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, met recently with developers eying a high-priced project in the Riverfront Triangle.

After the meeting, one developer spent an evening downtown. Despite his worldly travels, he was less than pleased with the level of panhandling, aggressive behavior and inebriation he witnessed among Missoula’s transient population.

“He told me, ‘You’ve got some cleaning up to do in your downtown,’ ” Buchanan told the committee. “This is someone who’s looking at a multi-multimillion-dollar investment downtown. His concerns certainly caught my attention.”

I ran across an interesting article from Slate calling for a tripling of alcohol taxes because alcohol is a very dangerous drug:

Why would I, a great lover of the free enterprise system, want the alcohol market to be more heavily regulated? Precisely because I’m a believer in the power of the profit motive, I understand how deadly it can be when the product being sold is intoxication. For-profit businesses exist to increase sales. The most straightforward way to do that is not to encourage everyone to drink moderately, but to focus on the small minority of people who drink the most. That is exactly what liquor companies do, and they’ll do more of it if we let Big Liquor have its way. In Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, the authors estimate that at current beer prices, it costs about $5 to $10 to get drunk, or a dollar or two per drunken hour. To get a sense of what the world would look like if that price fell significantly, go to a typical town square in England on a weekend night, where alcohol-fueled violence is rampant, or to Russia, where the ruling class has used cheap vodka as a tool to keep the population drunk, passive, and stupid for generations.

We shouldn’t be satisfied with keeping the per dollar cost of getting drunk where it is today. We should make it higher. Much higher. Kleiman and his colleagues Jonathan P. Caulkins and Angela Hawken have suggested tripling the federal alcohol tax from 10 cents a drink to 30 cents a drink, an increase that they estimate would prevent 6 percent of homicides and 6 percent of motor vehicle deaths, thus sparing 3,000 lives (1,000 from the drop in homicides, 2,000 from safer highways) every year. Charging two-drink-per-day drinkers an extra $12 per month seems like a laughably small price to pay to deter binge drinking. Then, of course, there is the fact that a higher alcohol tax would also raise revenue. If you’re going to tax tanning beds and sugary soft drinks, why on earth wouldn’t you raise alcohol taxes too? If anything, 30 cents a drink isn’t high enough. Let’s raise the alcohol tax to a point just shy of where large numbers of people will start making illegal moonshine in their bathtubs.

An interesting line of thinking, and probably a better approach than jailing addicts so chemically dependent to booze that going cold turkey could kill them.


  1. dg

    Slumloard Tim France has been milking money from the poor for thirty years and more. He and Mike Munsey of the Depot (America’s Last Worst Fern Bar) carefully bank their money and pretend to be philanthropic by donating a case of bad burgandy to some non-profits each year (a pandering practice that got John Engen elected.) France must also have friends in the Health Department because he’s certainly paying his custodian in dented cans of beer–judging from the conditions of that money pit.

    • lizard19

      everyone is frustrated, for different reasons, but all for the most part legitimate reasons. I don’t see your commentary as very informative or constructive.

  2. evdebs

    There are close to ten times as many social drinkers as there are alcoholics. They all get to vote. The Koch brothers tell them all that none of them should have to pay taxes.

    So what kind of a chance do you think the “two per day” drinkers are going to vote for measures to increase the tax or support candidates who would pass legislation for the higher taxes, to get rid of those bothersome or dangerous to them?

  3. JC

    You can probably draw some inferences on how a tax increase on alcohol might affect usage from the data on cigarette taxes.

    Combined state and federal taxes were about $.57/pack in MT before a series of tax hikes beginning in 2003 drove the taxes/pack up to $2.71 in 2009. Usage dropped significantly. Of course, there’s a lot of other factors at work.

    Then again, in Missoula, all the store, bar & restaurant owners would be up in arms if a tax increase 1) reduced drinking and number of folks showing up for a drink or to make a purchase, and 2) reduced profits if they owners had to eat some of the tax increase in order to keep their clientele.

    Of more interest to me would be what the state does with the increased taxes. And of course, we all need to remember that liquor wholesaling is a monopoly by the state, that returns 9 million in profit to the general fund every year! Increased funding for treatment/diversion and housing? That would be good.

    As for PW, well, I’m sure he’s wallowing in neocon/neolib glee now that the pro-russian separatist/terrorists are getting their come-uppance, and that the prospect of NATO moving into Ukraine increases with every skirmish and insurgent death.

    And the investor for the riverfront triangle? Fuck him. The last thing Missoula needs is some 1%-er moneybags walking in here telling us how to run our city. Of course, the mayor probably will listen to him before anybody else, now, so who knows…

  4. evdebs

    Elliot Rodger wasn’t “white” any more than Barack Obama is “white.”

    Rodger identified himself as “half-white” on his “Retribution” video. His mom is ethnic Chinese from Malaysia.

  5. JC

    I think India found a solution to the drunk problem:

  6. Big Swede

    Here’s a quick hit.

    [audio src="http://thepeoplescube.com/music/Ukraine_Putin_Clapton_Cocaine_.mp3" /]




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