Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Wall Street Journal”

From Killing Weeds to Killer Weed—A Mighty Brave Step (Roger Ingalls)

Sniff-sniff-sniff, is that the pungent kushie smell of progress? This cannot be true, my eyes and ears must be deceiving me.

afghani-kush cannabis

“I want to target the pot market, there’s no good reason we haven’t.” Do you have any idea who said this? It was Jim Hagedorn, the CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.  He made this statement a few days ago during an interview with The Wall Street Journal. SMG (NYSE) is a $3 Billion publicly traded lawn care company that generates 60 to 70% of its revenue from sales to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of suburban lawns and the chemicals that are put on them. I believe all lawns — not used for physical activities — should be converted to edible gardens. However, I must applaud Mr. Hagedorn for his boldness in making this statement. Nutrient providers and grow equipment manufacturers do not explicitly say that their products are used for medical cannabis out of fear of drawing attention from the Feds. The federal government regulates interstate commerce, and business activity related to marijuana is federally illegal no matter what an individual state’s laws may be. So, Mr. Hagedorn deserves some kudos for his remarks.

No doubt, it is in SMG’s best financial interest to get into this business. The overall marijuana market is currently two to three times larger than the $8 Billion lawn and garden industry. In addition, the lawn industry will fade in the coming decades due to water shortages and climate concerns related to global warming — lawns are environmentally damaging and expensive. SMG is a smart company and the writing is clearly on the wall.

Could endorsement by a respected public company be the tipping point for widespread acceptance of medical cannabis and perhaps recreational use? If so, think of the benefits to society:

-Ending the 40 year failed War on Drugs would save tax payers $54B a year (Fed and combined States expenses).

-Legalization would eliminate criminal activity associated with prohibition.

-Generate sales tax revenues in the billions of dollars.

-Create thousands of new jobs.

-Reduce non-violent incarcerations by 25% making room for violent criminals.

-Increase availability of affordable medicine with less side-effects.

Mr. Hagedorn didn’t make his remarks about pot because he wants to improve society, his motivations are purely profit driven (based on additional comments). However, it was risky considering the Fed’s current position on cannabis. If SMG does make that first bold move toward supporting the medical marijuana industry and it accelerates federal legalization, it would put them in the drivers seat and create a lot of customer loyalty. It’s a mighty brave step but a prudent business decision.

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Amy Chua – A Lesson in…

So it is well known that if you want to sell a book, get attention for a blog or an article, then you do or say something controversial. Some do this intentionally, others by mistake (we often call the latter – politicians). Hey, I even blogged about one yesterday.

Now Amy Chua is a Yale law professor, having studied at an impressive number of other Ivy League schools. We can assume she is smart. She is also from the Bay Area, so there is no problem with her credibility.

We can also assume that when she published her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” which essentially states that Chinese mothers are better than American mothers, then she knew that she just might strike a cord with a large and rather proud section of the population. In case you think I jest, read this – the title is “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.” Need I say more?

Now given that 70% of those who buy books are women and many of those possibly mothers, you can’t help but be impressed that her book sits atop most bestselling lists.

I haven’t read the book, but I hope it is as entertaining as the arguments and accusations that are flying around the Internet and even in those more serious newspapers.

I suspect there is a lot more behind how and why Chinese mothers (and fathers) bring up their children that is a reflection of their society. A friend of mine is US born and married to a Chinese woman. They have raised a daughter who, from what he tells me, is an example of achievement and excellence. You can read his responses at his blog: I Look China.

Without making any claim to having knowledge on the subject, I suspect we are a product of our society and our religion. My parents molded me with a hybrid of English/Jewish. I therefore eat chips – that’s freedom fries here -with a fork and am losing a battle to get my boys not to use their fingers. However, since I was also raised by Jewish parents, at least I still have the guilt up my sleeve.

Actually, I believe Amy Chua is married to a Jewish man, so her kids have challenges of their own. Two parents who are Ivy League professors and lawyers to boot, one Jewish, the other Chinese American – well I ain’t rooting for the Chinese or American moms.

I’m rooting for the kids. ——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

Fool Me Twice?

This was the title of an editorial in the New York Times last week. In the article, the author refers to a deal made with President Bush’s government in which the multinationals offered to bring back billions of dollars to invest in the US economy, building new plants and stimulating employment.

Congress passed the Homeland Investment Act, which allowed companies to repatriate some $300 billion in 2005 and pay only 5.25 percent in taxes (instead of 35% which is the corporate tax rate imposed on overseas profits when they are brought into the country). The multinationals got their tax breaks: the stimulus failed to happen. Almost all of that money found its way to the shareholders.

Now, according to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, the chief executive of Cisco, John Chambers, and the president of Oracle, Safra Catz, suggested that American multinational corporations have about $1 trillion stashed abroad and that this money could be brought back for the general good if taxes were again lowered to 5%.

The audacity of big business astonishes me – and I wrote a book about their behavior. I should read it again. That they were able to get away with this in ’05 is hard enough to stomach. But that they feel they can do it again is … well you can slot in the appropriate word.

Many multinationals have large amounts of cash stored in the US should they ever really consider investing into the economy. They do not need to bring money in from abroad. In fact, perhaps tax breaks should be awarded to such companies to bring money into the US after they have invested into the economy, and perhaps there should be a logical link between each sum of money.

It seems that the Obama administration does remember how the government was fooled and is not showing any interest. Fair game, but I can’t help wondering where these multinationals get the chutzpah to even make the suggestion. ——————————————————————————————————-

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

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