Thursday, October 26, 2006


Shoot a Cleveland Smoker, Save an Artist's Life

Over the U.S., citizens are so eager to extend the banishment of smoking from all areas -- including in front of Omaha, Neb. police firing squads if need be -- that they become too quick to extinquish smoking's long-term financial benefits that add to a community's overall health. Look at Cleveland, Abe's town:

Historically, the arts have been supported by Cleveland's affluent and corporate community. This has held true for most if not all cities throughout history. The patronage over the years has been substantial in Cleveland, as is seen, heard and appreciated at University Circle -- a cultural hub in the city proper where our major museums, performance houses and hospitals are centered.

Since Cleveland's wealthy have lately become stingier and less cultured, and with corporations continuing to move out of Cuyahoga County due to high tax rates, the arts have taken a hit and the powers commissioned have decided that smokers should now fill arts' bill, through Issue 18, by nickle-and-diming smokers an additional 1.5 cents per stick so the shows can go on. This act sounds the last knell for Cleveland arts and culture. (Along with Ohio's 'slots' issue that 'insures' the academic future of Ohio's kids.)

Not only does Issue 18 tax Cleveland smokers further than they already are physically, it does so to those that are most likely poorer, less educated and less apt to use the arts for their facility. Thus, it's an easy squeeze by the well-off on the not-so -- at least initially -- but a grip that quickly tetanizes and slows the tempo of revenue, leading Cleveland's arts scene to a wheezing withdrawal.

The Commish's office says we need to rescue the arts because it will be good for business in that Cleveland's cultural attractions do just that. It's also well known that it's business' business to attract business.

Mssrs. Commissioners and Good Voters of Cuyahoga County: Do you believe that the arts will be saved by a dwindling tax base of blue-bloated smokers ready to die at moments notice for Winston while running Pall Mall from Haydn? Or, do you believe that the best answer may not be the one that bucks history, but continues with the 'high' traditions of corporations and upper-classes?

The answer is that Commish should have commissioned an actuarially-sound study demonstrating that smokers don't live as long as others, and their shortened lives cost less after totaling society's aggregate long-term health bill. So, in fact, dwindling is what smokers do best. And, that by lowering taxes, a real attraction will debut that will draw companies into Cuyahoga County and help loosen the purse strings of a few ex-patrons of Cleveland's cultural community.

On the other hand, maybe Cuyahogans can could go to the extremes of Omahans by dialing 911 to rat on smokers as emergency cases. That way, the county can collect stiff fines and the cops can pass out bubble gum to the butt-snuffers.

Pass the Copenhagen, please.

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Thanks for the link, Abe. Hope you'll write more about Issue 3 before next Tuesday.
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