Riff Raff: Kneeling, grandstanding, and zig zagging

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 23 views 

Questions hitting the inbox in recent days and weeks have sought opinion on protest by anthem kneeling and amazing depths of Wells Fargo thievery. Let’s throw some marijuana in for good measure.

Opinions on the kneeling quarterback in San Francisco no doubt resulted in a lot of unfriending on Facebook. When asked for thoughts on the quarterback’s kneeling, my response is this interrogative: Do you support the absolute guaranty of freedoms provided by the Constitution, or do you support the amending of freedoms based on the whims of prevailing thought?

Responses to the interrogative fall in three broad categories:
• “How can you, a veteran, not stand up for the flag?”
• “Why do all you media folks hate America?”
• “You politically correct folks are destroying this country.”

I am a veteran. Proud of it. Never remember during the induction oath there being caveats about Constitutional provisions we would defend against enemies foreign and domestic. What’s more, some National Football League players and teams have now moved to create constructive dialogues with police agencies. That was not happening prior to the anthem kneeling. Speech that makes us the most uncomfortable is often the best reminder of why it is the first amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Speaking of grievances, there were the recent hearings in the U.S. Senate and House about this crazy stupid thing to create millions of false accounts that Wells Fargo did to inflate profits. On the Schmuck-Meter, these Wells Fargo execs peg the needle. Several folks took pleasure in the grilling received by the Wells Fargo CEO from members of Congress – especially from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren who told the Wells Fargo boss he should resign. Sure, it was fun and entertaining, but not sure it qualifies for good government.

This Wells Fargo thing needs to be pursued to the full extent of the law. The company’s board of directors made a small step in the right direction by withholding millions in pay for a couple of the bank execs. But this hearing stuff comes across as political theater. And yes, it’s crazy that 2 million fake accounts were set up that stole money from hundreds of thousands of folks, but it’s also estimated that 300,000-plus vets died while waiting for VA treatment. There are some estimates of $125 billion in medicaid/medicare fraud alone each year. Our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, and in some areas almost beyond repair. We can argue that Sen. Warren hasn’t been in Washington long enough to be part of the problem, but all things being equal, I’d prefer members of Congress drop the sanctimonious BS until they get our fiscal house in order, take care of the vets and the poor without it becoming a corporate welfare program, spend less on foreign wars and more on domestic infrastructure – you know, do their job.

Speaking of political theater, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe and the state chamber continue to push their message that passage of medical marijuana would somehow devastate the state’s economy and result in the Natural State becoming a Cheech and Chong movie.

We have the option to believe in marijuana apocalypse, or consider reality. We have real-world laboratories in which medical marijuana and full-blown recreational marijuana is now legal – and has been for years. Let’s look at Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Colorado job numbers totaled 2.784 million in July 2016, up from 2.712 million in July 2015, and well above the 2.473 million in July 2010. That state’s jobless rate was 3.8% in July, below the 3.9% in July 2015 and a full percentage point below the 4.8% in July 2014.

Job numbers in Oregon during July reached 1.951 million, up from 1.853 million in July 2015 and also well above the 1.773 million in July 2010. The July jobless rate was 5.2%, down from 5.8% in July 2015 and well below the 6.8% in July 2014. Job numbers in Washington during July reached 3.413 million, up from 3.339 million in July 2015 and also well above the 3.163 million in July 2010. The July jobless rate was 5.8%, up from 5.6% in July 2015, but below the 6% in July 2014.

Someone forget to tell the three state economies marijuana is wholly disruptive. Also, the short list of innovative state economies with respect to new technology includes Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Also, state officials opposed to medical marijuana because it could be bad for employers and citizens conveniently in recent years missed the dangers of legal drugs on employers and citizens. In the 13 states that passed laws allowing for the use of medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010, 25% fewer people died of overdoses of opioid drugs each year. In 2014, there were an estimated 18,893 deaths related to prescription opioid overdoses. In that same year, there were zero (0) deaths related to medical marijuana overdoses.

The tremendous rise in potential workforce problems resulting from legal (prescribed) drugs did not result in a series of press conferences and call to arms by state officials. What is essentially a natural drug without the potency to inflict immediate death is, however, enough to marshal the resources of state government in opposition to what could soon be a snack-crazed Zig Zag Zombie world.

But don’t take my word for anything about anthems and bankers and drug policies. I grew up near Newton County, Arkansas. We weren’t always 100% with nationalistic fervor, Congressional obeisance, or drug wars.

We had moonshine, and every so often would throw some marijuana in for good measure.