Current Job: City Bus Driver
Top 3 Priorities if Elected:
1. Work on state's debt crisis-taxes.
2. Restoring our schools.
3. Environmental protection.
By Gerry Manata, candidate for Assembly
Yes, taxes. We are going to need to raise them. The economic downturn and careless overspending in recent years have put our state in serious trouble. If we add up all the figures on the negative side of the ledger, California state government has a debt total of about $384 billion. In the last 4 years, in an effort to remedy this situation, the state has reduced spending by about $56 billion. State and local governments have cut over 100,000 jobs. The attack on our schools has been devastating. In that same period, they have lost $20 billion and 59,000 teachers and support staff. We are now 50th out of 50 states in per pupil spending. College fees and tuition are up 94% in the last 5 years. Many classes and programs are gone. This assault on our children has got to stop. It is time to raise taxes.
One theory of taxation that I like, usually associated with the Steady State School of economics, is that you tax the bad and not the good. Right now, our country is in the midst of a health epidemic. The World Health Organization lists the U.S. as 72nd in overall health and last (191) in something called preventable mortality. All studies point to our voluntary unhealthy diet as the prime cause and pollution a distant second. This is the main reason why our health care costs are so high. Two of these individual causes are alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. We see that prohibition on items like these does not work, so what we have done is to create steep excise taxes on them. This can work to discourage their use, while at the same time we can collect needed revenue on them. And now we need the revenue. They have not been raised for some time. We should raise the taxes at least $.20 on every pack and gallon.
Candy has no sales or excise tax. Candies are usually full of harmful chemicals. The biggest is concentrated processed sugar in amounts making it basically a toxic substance that is behind a string of degenerative diseases. Even though organic sweet treats are much less harmful, even they should be taken in moderation. The body requires very little carbohydrates, which when taken should be in a natural form to be digested slowly. Let's put a sales tax on candy.
The same can be said for so-called soft drinks. They should be taxed the same as wine since they are just as harmful. That would be $3.50 a gallon. I'm glad we got these drinks out of our schools.
It takes a lot of energy to produce and package bottled water. Of the 1.4 billion plastic single-serving water bottles Californians buy annually, only 16% are recycled. The rest are simply thrown away into the environment. But even recycling can be an energy intensive and polluting industry. Again, these items are not taxed. Let's put a sales tax on them.
Prescription drugs are also not taxed. People often use these "magic pills" to hopefully counter the illnesses caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. These drugs, however, could be just as unhealthy for Americans as processed sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oil. More than 200,000 people die every year from properly taken pharmaceutical drugs, and another 10 million are injured. The harmful side effects are usually THE effect. Independent studies show cure rates little better than placebos on many popular drugs, with the pharmaceutical companies using what is called statistical contortionism to make their cure rates look better. According to Federal Data, about 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, with about 4.7 million addicted to painkillers, more than heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines combined.
The State Board of Equalization estimates that if candy, drugs and bottled water were taxed, it would raise about $2.2 billion annually.
More than 173 million pounds of pesticides were reported to have been used in California in 2010 according to the Department of Pesticide Regulation. Most pesticides can cause cancer, neurological disorders, reproductive problems, lymphoma, leukemia, birth defects, Parkinson's disease, and poisoning to humans and other animals, including colony bee collapse. We need an additional surtax of at least 5% on most pesticides and artificial fertilizers sold in California. We need to encourage more organic farming.
We continue to cling to a suicidal transportation system in which Californians burn about 1.3 trillion gallons of gasoline monthly. This is a finite resource that condemns our children to pollution caused health problems and global warming. The most efficient way to transport people and burn the gasoline or diesel is with a fully loaded bus. We need to get people out of their cars and into buses, especially for their commutes. I would like to suggest a raise of the state gasoline tax of at least $.20 a gallon, with the money going to a special fund to augment existing money dedicated to urban mass transportation. This could mean lower fares or the purchasing of new "greener" buses.
One way to apply the taxing the bad, not the good, system is called tax shifting. It has been used in Europe for some time. An example of how it would work with gasoline is to increase gasoline taxes annually for an indefinite period of years while simultaneously lowering either income or other sales taxes by a comparable amount. That would allow us to transition into using more hybrid/electric vehicles, or healthy bicycle riding or walking. Humans are actually very good at long distance walking and running, but that would be hard to tell looking at a typical contemporary American. I am often slightly amused whenever I pass a fancy health club, dedicated to exercise, but seeing its large parking lot totally full of its members' automobiles. Such is the power that the American automobile culture has on its citizens.
This tax strategy can be used with any of the above mentioned taxable items, plus a host of others, various kinds of processed foods, dangerous but legal chemicals, or plastic disposable diapers, for example. Putting this into practice will take a political battle with all kinds of powerful special interests. It will also require people honestly agreeing on what exactly is bad and what exactly is good.
I also support proposition 30and 38 to help the schools. Hopefully, at least one will pass. If both pass, only the one with the highest vote will go into effect. In the assembly, I would work to bring some of the best features into an assembly bill of the proposition that did not go into effect.