The Daily Item
If I were running for office, this would be my platform.
1. Raise the minimum wage to $10.10. More than 80 percent of voters approve of this. It’s an easy way to reduce income inequality. It costs the government nothing, and will actually reduce the need for all sorts of welfare programs. It will restore dignity to full time workers who won’t need to get food stamps to supplement their Wal-Mart wages.
2. Make tobacco a Schedule 1 drug. I’ve been a heavy smoker since high school, up to three packs a day. I quit cold turkey 14 years ago, and stayed clean for 10 years, when I was tempted at a poker game. I’m back to a pack a day. Over my life, I’ve smoked more than half a million cigarettes. That’s about $125,000 in today’s dollars. They’ve cost me money, several good jobs, and my health, not to mention the social costs associated with this habit. After two weeks cold turkey, it was not hard to stay clean — I did it for 10 years, until that fateful poker game. I haven’t seen a survey, but I think most smokers would like to see them banned.
3. Legalize marijuana. A majority of voters favor this now. We’ve got a larger proportion of our population in jail than any other country. Clearly, the war on drugs is not working and never will. Pot is not addictive, less harmful than alcohol to oneself or to others. And the tax revenue would help cover the loss of tobacco revenue.
4. Put what’s called the “Robin Hood Tax” on stock transactions. This tax is only .03 percent — that is, 3 cents on $100. NASDAQ and the NYSE have a daily dollar volume north of $100 billion, so this tax would raise $30 million per day, and wouldn’t be felt by anyone.
5. I’d get rid of the Department of Education. I can’t see that it adds anything to the mix but another level of bureaucracy. It doesn’t offer any economies of scale, so if the federal government wants to support education, give a block grant instead. And while we’re on the subject, I’d eliminate tenure for teachers of K-12. Tenure was instituted to protect teachers espousing controversial views, but now it seems like it just offers job security that nobody else has.
6. I’d promise not to talk about foreign policy. Politics should stop at the water’s edge, and you can’t play a good game of poker when everyone is offering suggestions in the middle of a hand.
7. I’d push for background checks on all gun sales. 90 percent of voters favor this, including most Republicans and most gun owners. And the ones who wouldn’t vote for me because of this probably wouldn’t vote for me anyway.
8. I’d legalize online poker. I can’t see that it’s anyone else’s business. And it’s a source of revenue.
9. I’d accept federal money to expand Medicaid for 260,000 Pennsylvanians at no cost to the state. Seems pretty stupid not to.
10. I’d accept a utility bill as adequate proof of identity for voting purposes. I can’t imagine that anyone would forge utility bills to vote twice.
Well, that’s what occurs to me today. I imagine there’s something there to offend everyone. Good! Shows you’re thinking.