Will the Bronx Hear Obama's Message?

President Obama always makes a big splash when he comes to New York City.

Thursday was no exception. He spoke at the NAACP’s annual convention, and brought the audience to its feet more than once. It was his most direct speech on issues of race since the campaign, and contained more than one reference to the need for black people to take individual responsibility for bettering our condition.

I spent part of Thursday in a part of New York City that’s not too far from the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan where the president spoke. Not too far, at least, as the crow flies.

In some ways, the  West Bronx is a world away from Midtown. Walk its streets and you experience hope and despair simultaneously. There’s the hopeful hum of road repair and new construction. Unlike “back in the day”, a good number of wearing the hard hats are people of color.

You look in wonder at a vest pocket community garden on Morris Ave. just below 181st St.

You hear the laughter of young children at a playground up the block. A couple of blocks away, the rumble of the elevated subway provides a tympani roll every five minutes or so. Whether walking or driving through the Bronx, you realize this place has a rhythm all its own. The smells of restaurant food from the English and Spanish speaking Caribbean come together to remind you it’s almost lunchtime.

Yes, warts and all, the Bronx is a beautiful place to me. Yet I know better than to try to romanticize it. As President Obama told the NAACP, much still needs to be done. On that note, a thought came to me as I digested the speech and my trip to the Bronx at the same time. While it’s fine for the president to talk about individual and family responsibility, what about the responsibility of politicians to better the conditions of poor, working people in places like the West Bronx?

Recent local developments could lead one to conclude some politicians are acting as irresponsibly as fathers who make babies and then abandon them. They build fiefdoms through providing needed services like health care, then pay themselves princely salaries in addition to what  they make as lawmakers. The recent gridlock in the New York State Senate, the inability of California lawmakers to work out a budget agreement, and other examples around the country seem to say the need for responsibility doesn’t stop at the doorstep of black America.

Maybe one day soon, President Obama will get to walk the streets of the Bronx?

He certainly walked the streets of Chicago as a community organizer, so he knows the pain of poverty and dashed expectations first hand. That’s why his message resonates with many in the black community. He needs to deliver that same message to greedy, avaricious politicians, even if they’re members of his political party.

You think it would make a difference?

http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png
Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it,
tell a friend
about it.

Can Legalizing Weed Save Cali?

Well, no, it can’t.

A new estimate says legalizing marijuana would net the Golden State around $1.4 billion dollars. Their current budget gap is something like $26 billion. But it would, no doubt, make a dent. That’s why there’s a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate weed sales that’s been introduced in the California Assembly. Tax officials bas their estimate on a $50 dollar per ounce fee, as well as revenue from sales taxes.

Call me old fashioned, but I have a problem with the idea of legalizing something to make money from it. Sort of brings up the question why was it illegal for so long? It smacks of political and financial expediency. That said, it does make sense. I know there are some old stoners in California looking at that $50 dollar an ounce fee and thinking “I can remember when an ounce cost less than that”! Yet the logic of the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano rings true. With California’s legislature unable (as of Thursday) to reach a budget agreement, with furloughs, state IOUs, and cutbacks the order of the day, can the state really afford not to take a look at this potential revenue source?

Some facts are in order. California is the nation’s largest marijuana producing state. Last year, law enforcement seized 5.3 million plants. At the same time, residents consumed an estimated 500 tons of weed, implying that the law can only interdict so much. So the question really becomes, can the state afford to ignore what’s going on under their nose?

Of course, medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996. There’s also a move afoot to tax that as well, especially now that the Justice Dept. under Attorney General Eric Holder has taken a more rational position on federal raids on dispensaries. Other states will be keeping a close eye on what California does. Whether by legislation or referendum, Cali is a bellwether state. As it goes, so goes the rest of America, or so the thinking goes.

It’s just interesting how financial necessity becomes the mother of invention. Would efforts at legalization be taken so seriously if California’s economy was steaming along? Will the black market dry up completely if marijuana is legal? Can the state’s tax collection system adapt itself to properly monitor sales and collect revenue?

All these are hypothetical questions that in a way put the cart before the horse. Let’s see what happens when the Assembly takes up Tom Ammiano’s bill. Legalization opponents, especially those in law enforcement, won’t simply go away. After all, weed seizure is big business to them.

What do you think? Will California bite the bullet and legalize marijuana? Should they?

http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://www.markrileymedia.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png
Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it,
tell a friend
about it.