Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Odds and Ends

Shouldn't that be 'odds and evens'?

Random stuff bouncing around in the cranium and vicinity.

Flann O'Brien is really funny in a quirky Gaelic kind of way. Try The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story About the Hard Life (includes illustrations by Ralph Steadman) about growing up in the Gaeltacht (Gaeltacht - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).


The Germans seem to be making a lot of good films lately.

Facing an ethical quandary, Jewish master forger Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) must choose between abetting the Nazis and saving his skin in this taut Oscar-nominated drama based on a true story. Assembled at a death camp, a cadre of printers, artists and chiselers -- led by the opportunistic Sorowitsch -- is tasked with counterfeiting currencies to weaken Allied economies. But will Sorowitsch's conscience begin to gnaw at him as the war draws to a close?

Netflix: The Lives of OthersDas Leben der Anderen(2007) R

Set in 1980s East Berlin, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut feature (which earned an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) provides an exquisitely nuanced portrait of life under the watchful eye of the state police as a high-profile couple is bugged. When a successful playwright and his actress companion become subjects of the Stasi's secret surveillance program, their friends, family and even those doing the watching find their lives changed too.

Shortly before World War II, a Jewish couple and their young daughter emigrate to Kenya from Germany to escape the Nazis. Not all members of the family are happy with this drastic change -- but going home isn't an option. Ultimately, they must all come to terms with a new life in a new continent. Director Caroline Link's epic drama won the 2002 Oscar for best foreign film.

For a quirky, funny and touching foreign movie try the 1968 winner Closely Watched Trains (Closely watched trains (DVD) [videorecording]). It's Czech not German.

Surrounded by but seemingly removed from the violence of World War II, a naïve railroad apprentice (Václav Neckár) working at a train station in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia carves some excitement out of his humdrum existence by exploring his own sexuality. Jirí Menzel directs this Oscar-winning foreign-film classic based on a novel by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, who co-wrote the screenplay with Menzel.


Raise the beer tax? It was set at $1/barrel in 1933. It was raised top $2/barrel in 1969. The Wisconsin beer tax has not been raised in 40 years. Raising the beer tax to $10/barrel would generate about $50 million in added revenue per year. (If my math is right that means the current beer tax generates all of $12 million a year.)

Yoinks! the WSJ's Scott Milfred likes the idea.

Ok, then did you know that California already taxes medical marijuana sales at 9.5%. Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana (Wisconsin, of course, is not one of them.). A company called Medical Marijuana Inc. is already in the business of managing these tax transactions.

According to an article in the Atlantic, California State assemblyman Tom Ammiano made his pitch in February, a bill that would legalize the "cultivation, possession and sale of marijuana by people 21 and older." The bill would amount to about $50 per ounce tax on the drug, raising an estimated $1.3 billion for the state of California.

Now, California has about 6.5 times as many residents as Wisconsin (around 36.7 million compared to 5.6M) and I doubt Wisconsinites keep up with California in the stoner department, but still, if a marijuana raised even 1/20th that amount we're talking $65 million in tax revenue per year.

CNN has a chart projecting lower, but still significant revenues ($13.4 million for Wisconsin).

Here is a Slate magazine article on the revenue enhancing qualities of legal marijuana.

Hmmm, instead of $30,000/year free room and board for pot dealers, we turn them into respectable tax-paying business owners. Back when Wisconsin was progressive, it might have happened here. Not anymore.

But think of the increased sales of Pop Tarts!


  1. MMMMM, well, you and me are starting to think a like, scary.
    I will make an appt with my doctor.

    I once considered pushing for the legalization in Monona of growing and selling small amounts of your own. In my line of thinking, I could make money and my (and others) land value(s) would go up.

    However, I have since given that idea up-it is just too controversial-even with my jet set.

    Say-do any your green buddies use the following item:Power Monitor from Black & Decker Corp?

  2. Yeah, scary indeed.

    Monona could not pass its own law to legalize marijuana.

    Power Monitor from Black & Decker? You can borrow a similar item from the library for free.

    I used one for a couple weeks and it was informative. Unplug stuff!

    If the link below doesn't work, go the LinkCat and search for Portable Energy Meter.!dial&view=subscriptionsummary&uri=full=1100001~!1554164~!2&ri=3&aspect=subtab13&menu=search&ipp=20&spp=20&staffonly=&term=Madison+Gas+and+Electric+Co.+(Madison,+Wis.)&index=AA&uindex=&aspect=subtab13&menu=search&ri=3

  3. At the very least, decriminalization would save a lot of that "room and board" money. Release the non-violent offenders.

    The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world ( America, land of the free and the not so free...

  4. And that's just the tax revenue. Has there been any analysis of the savings in the law enforcement and criminal justice system? How much money do we spend every year locking up pot dealers and users?

    The only thing that gives me pause about legalization is that I don't think there's a good roadside test for law enforcement to use for driving under the influence, or is there? I know the employment-type tests don't detect impairment but rather just indicate usage anytime within the last few weeks.

    And while Monona can't legalize, it could pass an ordinance similar to Madison, no? But if we thought chickens were controversial, can you imagine?

  5. Not sure on roadside tests - they have eye thingy they use.

    I believe our ordinance already provides for a fine for simple possession of small amounts. Will check later.

  6. Yes, see 11-2-9. $100 fine for 25 grams or less for first-time offense.

  7. What are Monona's rules on hemp. Is it part of the $100 for 25 grams rules, or is it allowed?

  8. "SAN FRANCISCO – A bill to tax and regulate marijuana in California like alcohol would generate nearly $1.4 billion in revenue for the cash-strapped state, according to an official analysis released Wednesday by tax officials.

  9. What throws another huge wrench into the tax-revenue numbers is whether the price would come down based on it being legal, or would rise due to it being taxed at $50/ounce. When something becomes legal the price automatically comes down due to supply and demand (removes penalties like jail time, stigmatism of growing, etc which all increase supply), so even with the tax it could be cheaper than it is now. When items become cheaper, more people buy/use it, so the revenue could be even more...