Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 02-07-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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12 OPINION FEBRUARY 7-13, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER Will we embrace socialism? Are Americans lurching to the political left-wing as much as the polls are reporting? Maybe. Is it a problem that President Donald Trump is so inept at stating the case for free enterprise? Yes, he has pleased conservatives with his judicial nominations and get- ting the boot of government off businesses, unleashing a huge wave of job creation, but he's no "Great Communicator" like Ronald Reagan. And he doesn't seem worried about the federal deficit, which is a prob- lem for many on the right. Reported Politico this week, "A plan from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to slap a 70 percent marginal rate on income earned over $10 million clocked in at 59 per- cent support in a recent Hill/ HarrisX poll. The new Politico/Morning Consult poll, conducted Feb. 1-2, found that 61 percent favor a proposal like the "wealth tax" recently laid out by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would levy a 2 percent tax on those with a net worth over $50 million and 3 percent on those worth over $1 billion. Just 20 percent opposed the idea." I can't say that I'm surprised. There is, in fact, a growing divide between rich and poor. Blame the internet, where the smart ones are able to leverage computer code to rake in mil- lions, and then billions of dol- lars, without so much as hiring a cashier. In the world I grew up in, we were at the tail end of an industrial boom in Woonsocket. Seventy years before that, men with means were able to open a mill and harness the power of machines to increase pro- ductivity of others who came from Quebec, Ireland, and elsewhere for a better life. That "leverage" of labor made many of them wealthy for their time. But there was only so much one or two owners could do. A mill could only be so big; the river could provide only so much water. Owners never made more than 10, 20, or 50 times more than their employ- ees. Contrast that with today, and the power of the inter- net. In 2013, two Stanford whiz kids, Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, were offered $3 billion for their creation, Snapchat. That's 3,000 mil- lion dollars! Spiegel was 23; Murphy was 25. And they rejected the offer. The men had leveraged their knowledge of the web and created a new product with worldwide reach. That's capitalism. But to people who will grow old and never earn even a million dollars in a lifetime, is it fair that, had the two men sold Snapchat, they'd have paid only a lower capital gains tax? Should there be a higher tax on that kind of "get-uber-rich- quick" product? (And memo to Ocasio-Cortez, your high 70 percent income tax hike would not touch the Snapchat sellers. It's the capital gains tax they'd have to pay. Do your home- work). The Snapchat owners are an exception. That doesn't happen much. For most, business own- ership is a long haul over many decades. If owners – the "capi- talists" who employ people – have to turn over 70 percent of their pay, and another 5 to 10 percent to their state, will they grow the company? Hell, no, they won't! Why should they? I turn again to Ken Langone, the Home Depot founder. In an interview in Saturday's Barron's to introduce his book I Love Capitalism!, he takes direct aim at the socialist tax propos- als. "All of these people with their highfalutin' ideas – be careful you don't throw out the baby with the bathwater ... what we're hearing today is draconian. "If I have a chance to make an investment, if it works, 70 percent of it is going to the government, I'm not going to make that deal." And the jobs will never be created. And the income taxes from those jobs never paid. Continued Langone, "she (Ocasio-Cortez) doesn't know what the hell she's talking about. Over $10 million, you pay a 70 percent tax? Why would I want to put up a dol- lar? I won't do it. Chill invest- ment in America and watch what happens." "These (high tax ideas) all sound good," said Langone. "They're all meant to appeal to the masses. Regrettably, the masses don't understand how the system works until it's too late." Socialist Venezuela is Exhibit A. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspapers From the Publisher TOM WARD State is addicted to addicts In an effort to find money for the burgeoning state budget, Gov. Gina Raimondo is proposing to legalize recreational mari- juana. She projects that the state would receive $14.3 million in gross revenue by the end of fiscal year 2020 after an outlay of $3.5 mil- lion to get the business up and running. Attorney Gen. Peter Neronha is correct in raising concerns about its implementation. He notes that the proposal should require strong regulations to protect public health and safety and prevent children from accessing the drug. He is joined by the R.I. Association of Police Chiefs in urging caution, not that anyone on Smith Hill is really listening. They only see green. Ho hum! Here we go again. Rather than curb the state's appetite for rapacious spending, lead- ers will do just about any- thing to get more money to spend. Unlike alcohol, which can be detected on impaired drivers, no such "Breathalyzer" test pres- ently exists to determine impaired driving because of the high from too much weed. Yet, despite the dubi- ous driving which already abounds in the state, officials are ready to add potheads into the mix. No approval should be given until appropriate detection is in place, regardless of what other states risk. Multiple studies exist that say young men's brains do not fully develop until about age 26. No mat- ter. The state isn't look- ing for Einsteins. Maybe Generation X shouldn't be too smart lest they see the flaws in government. The most annoying argu- ment is that legalized drugs will prevent black market cannabis from being pur- veyed. Hardly. Usually the state-sponsored dope costs more. Further, after a while the sub rosa market will market its bhang by scoff- ing at the "kiddie stuff" sold statewide as opposed to their designer roach which will pack a punch. Policy wise, there is some- thing disconcerting about making money off bad habits. It's no accident that the governor is advocating the tax hike from $4.25 to $4.50 per pack for cigarette smokers. Senate President Ruggerio is cheerleading the effort to allow sports betting via the internet. The state seems awash in sin taxes. Where would the state cof- fers be without addicts? In a recent Colorado study, where marijuana was legalized a few years back, almost 30 percent of the heaviest pot users comprised 87.1 percent of demand for the drug. Certainly, medical mari- juana is supportable so the real issue is the sanction on recreational pot. Earlier the concerns of Neronha were noted but it should also be pointed out that he also supports the conten- tion that the current drug and criminal justice policies are far too punitive and costly, helping to contribute to the mass incarceration of Americans. During my tenure as Attorney General, mere possession cases were routinely filed following addiction treatment. Adding to the drug cul- ture is the epidemic of opioid abuse. Sensible steps have to be taken to deter this growing problem. It seems a little silly to add another class of drug uses as a matter of public policy because we want the taxes. It's almost as if we've given up the ghost on addiction raised by the above proposals to legal- ize marijuana and extend online sports gambling in the name of raising rev- enue. The social costs are much higher. Negligible money is set aside now for gambling addiction. Query about how tight the purse strings will be for new addictions. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume LXIII, Number 49 February 7, 2019 @ Observer THE VALLEY BREEZE & ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Barbara Phinney, Controller

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