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The Fiscal Impacts of Social Values


I can’t help thinking about the classic John Denver tune, Rocky Mountain High in Colorado, when I consider that Colorado is the first state in the union to legalize marijuana. It is going to be very interesting to watch what happens in Colorado and to Colorado as a result. Will the mental, physical and emotional health of users suffer or not? Will users move onto harder drugs once the high from marijuana ceases to thrill? Will more people be tempted and willing to use marijuana now that it is no longer illegal? Finally, will the state be forced to grapple with the resultant impacts of a greater number of people driving under the influence of marijuana?

Personally, I don’t think anything good is going to come out of this because most people who take drugs in order to get high are, in reality, seeking to escape from the dismal reality of their own lives- whether from boredom or pain. To the extent they waste their time, energy and resources pursuing an alternate reality means they have lost the opportunity to do something constructive to better themselves in the real world in which they live.

Besides driving liberals mad, I often get into squabbles with fellow conservatives, especially libertarians, when I opine on issues such as this. These fellows would rather I focus on fiscal issues only. They think social issues are what causes conservatives to lose elections. But, the reality is social issues have fiscal impacts and truly there is something more important at stake than winning elections!

The losses associated with drug abuse costs business billions of dollars per year in terms of lost productivity and accidents, not to mention the insurance costs generated by health care problems associated with the same. Additionally, many crimes are committed while under the influence of drugs and in pursuit of revenue to pay for drugs. It is a fact that most drug addicts deal or steal to pay for their habit.

Of course, fiscal concerns arising from social issues is not limited to a discussion pertaining to drug abuse. Not long ago, I was watching a news story about a welfare case in San Diego. This guy surfed every day, which indicates he was physically fit, and he played in a rock and roll band. He collected welfare simply because he wasn’t interested in getting a real job to support himself apart from his failing career in music. Why should our taxes pay to support this loaf?

Another social issue that costs taxpayers a fortune has to do with various issues related to marriage. The truth is, the major causes of poverty in America have nothing to do with race. The major poverty indicators have to do with how young a woman is when she becomes pregnant, whether she has finished high school, and whether she is married at the time.

There is no getting around the fact that personal values have fiscal impacts relative to our society and economy.

First Published in the Santa Barbara News Press

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