Best Of The Holidays

By Norman E. Kjono, December 10, 2006

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather
to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, glass of wine in the
other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming
WOO HOO what a ride!"


As many former military service folks do, I have kept in touch with previous shipmates from years gone by. A fellow with whom I served in submarine duty has been retired from the Navy for more years than I care to admit about myself. He now spends much of his time posting missives and odd-lot humor for friends and shipmates. The above quote is one of his more recent nerdles of knowledge.
While Ron's tongue-in-cheek humor is always sure to prompt a chuckle or smile, perhaps it is also prescient on occasion. He paints above a glowing contrast between normal folks and those who are terminally Agenda-Afflicted. That affliction is often inbred through "Group think" to such an extent that its adherents actually believe taxing alcohol, piling on premiums to health insurance for the obese, banning smoking, and getting their boxers in a knot about how many millimeters per day they believe one must move each muscle makes a material difference. As now-well-documented about the subject, it turns out the agenda has far less to do with helping anyone and for the most part it is about lining advocates' pockets at the intended expense of those they claim to be "Saving."
Perhaps Ron is onto something with the above quote: living life - to be, to do, to enjoy - is far more important to most than complying with ever-escalating demands of healthist mandate muggers. It seems to me that, in the end, a simple idea like that has more political punch than all the politically-correct mantras Social Marketing wonks have spewed over the past decade.
Consequently, I expect that we will be writing the epilogue for anti-obesity, anti-tobacco, and anti-whatever-churns-a-foundation-grant Social Marketing in 2007. By 2008, normal folks will have had enough of that fiscally irresponsible tomfoolery to where a eulogy will be in order. Critical elements of the battle have already been won in 2006 and the post-turning-point trend will become evident in 2007. By 2008 we will be in final mop-up operations to pursue accountability of publicly-visible perpetrators.
As the end of the "create a crisis, pile new taxes on target products to fund a solution, then rake in the bucks" Social Marketing agendas approaches it becomes obvious that Anti-Mentality activists will consume themselves. Such will be the case because by definition "intelligent intolerant" is an oxymoron. Those who defy the laws of civil discourse, desecrate sound public policy, and discard common decency toward their fellow citizens in pursuit of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant bucks suffer from acute narcissism (some would opine terminal intellectual constipation). Sooner or later, they paint themselves into untenable corners and are left to fend for - consume -- themselves. Agenda-Afflicted activists therefore define themselves as fundamentally ignorant: only fools, idiots or those with a political death-wish willfully choose courses of action that will predictably render them extinct.
A case in point being the recent humiliating loss of Proposition 86 in California. That ballot measure, which would have added $26.00 per carton in new cigarette taxes, was initially projected to win by a 63 percent majority. In the final analysis, the people of the great State of California rejected Proposition 86 by more than a 4 point spread, about 52 to 48. Yes, Big Tobacco put up millions in public advertising to oppose that measure, but that was not the sole defining variable. Much more was at stake with that vote. Those who cast ballots obviously got the message. I defined some of the deeper issues in a work that was published by the Los Angeles Daily Journal on November 2, 2006, shortly before the November 7 election day. As explained in that work, California voters apparently figured out that by passing $2 billion-plus in new taxes on cigarettes they were in fact passing a massive new tax on themselves - including nonsmokers.
Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds spent millions opposing that cigarette tax measure because California law requires the same taxes levied on cigarettes be applied to Other Tobacco Products. Had Proposition 86 passed, riding the tax spread between highly-taxed cigarettes and lower-taxed OTP that allows those companies to pad profits at taxpayers expense could not have occurred. The game of charging hyper-inflated cigarette prices for a tin of smokeless tobacco, then pocketing the tax differential based on lower OTP tax rates, could not have occurred in California. In Washington that scheme of dipping the public till works well. During the 2005 legislative session Washington's Democrat-led legislature increased cigarette taxes and decreased OTP taxes to accommodate Big Tobacco dipping taxpayer and consumer pockets to accommodate that fiscally irresponsible scheme. We therefore observe anti-tobacco and Big Tobacco working hand-in-glove to essentially loot all taxpayers and consumers, not just a politically unpopular minority that is their "Target Group" of choice. We the people get it.
California taxpayers understood something far more important than tax spreads and dumping taxes on their neighbor. They understood that even though Proposition 86 appeared to be focused on a minority its far-reaching consequences would directly affect them, too. To their credit, California voters responded accordingly. Perhaps many voters understood that not only would they voting for their own tax increase but the fiscal policy they would have approved could also be applied to products that they enjoyed as well.
Which is why Anti-Mentality agendas predictably fail, they rely on their own self-serving, mean-spirited stereotypes that normal folks - the people - are ignorant bigots who cannot comprehend their own legitimate interests. Fortunately, as illustrated by November 7 votes in California and nationwide, such is not the case. There's genuine hope in that.
As I was collecting my thoughts for this final column of 2006 I received another missive form Ron. It's a hilarious story about mishap and misadventure based on actual events recorded in the file for a bricklayer's Workman Compensation claim. Fortunately, the fellow survived and has apparently recovered.
Without further ado, the story goes:

"Subject: Aussie Know-how: Possibly the funniest story in a while. This is a bricklayer's accident report, which was printed in the newsletter of the Australian equivalent of the Workers' Compensation board. This is a TRUE STORY. Had this guy died, he'd have received a Darwin Award for sure....

Dear Sir:
I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block 3 of the accident report form. I put "poor planning" as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six story building. When I completed my work, I found that I had some bricks left over which, when weighed later, were found to be slightly in excess of 500 lbs. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which was attached to the side of the building on the sixth floor. Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it.

Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the bricks. You will note in Block 11 of the accident report form that I weigh 175 lbs. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope.  Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equal, impressive speed. This explained the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collar bone, as listed in section 3 of the accident report form.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of beginning to experience a great deal of pain.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, that barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight. As you can imagine, I began a rapid descent, down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and several lacerations of my legs and lower body. Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain unable to move, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope and I lay there watching the empty barrel begin its journey back down onto me. This explains the two broken legs.

I hope this answers your inquiry. --"

The message in the above story for Agenda-Afflicted, Anti-Mentality activists is straightforward: when laying tax bricks it is wise to avoid simultaneously seizing the ropes of public policy. By doing so intellectual flyweights can find themselves rocketing into the stratosphere in apparent short-term success. But they predictably wind up in a spectacular crash to the hard place of fiscal responsibility. The crash occurs when the 500 pound gorilla of public opinion wakes up. All it takes for that to occur is a majority of normal folks to decide truly living is vastly more important than compliance.
My deepest thanks to normal people who have read my columns this year. In particular, I express appreciation to many who have taken the time to write; in many cases providing interesting comments and points of view. I suspect that the past mean-spirited, Agenda-Afflicted tenor of the times will begin to improve significantly in 2007.
I wish all of you many opportunities to chuckle - to enjoy the merriment of laughing-'til-you-cry with friends and family - over the holidays. Lighten up, folks. Deeply drink from each of life's opportunities and profoundly enjoy one day at a time. Find many things to be thankful for. Good things be comin' on 2007. Like the biblical plague of locusts, the Agenda-Afflicted, too, shall pass.
Best Wishes For The Holidays,
Norman E. Kjono

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