Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Issue 18 -- should I vote for it?
Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Thu, 11/02/2006 - 02:49.
Issue 18 -- the signs make it seem so clear. "Arts & Culture". Yes! I'm for that! That's what my life is all about, really; five years earning my B.A. in fine arts, two years for a M.A. in art history , 6 years of a Ph.D. in art history and museum studies. I go to art openings, visit MOCA and the CMA frequently, and I collect art. I go to the opera, the film festival, a few plays and musicals each year. I love to support arts and culture.
How could I not vote for issue 18? I have heard that issue 18 funds arts and culture by taxing cigarettes (I'm not sure where I heard this information, the act seem a bit nebulous to me). So it seems to me there is a dilema inherent in issue 18 -- moral and otherwise. If you want lots of money to be spent on arts and culture in Cuyahoga County (Oh, and I do. The more money this county spends on arts and culture the more likely I am to have a good job and fun things to do in my spare time) then that means that I want people to really smoke a lot. Myself, I don't smoke, and I don't think I could stand to start, so if issue 18 passes I should encourage smokers that I know to smoke more. Maybe I could even support arts and culture by buying cigarettes for smokers that I know? Give out carton of cigarettes for Christmas, donate cigarettes to the homeless. When I think about it, most of the people I know who smoke are artists. That makes issue 18 seem a bit unfair. Artist should n't be taxed to support their own art making. I know the IRS agrees, art supplies are tax deductible for artists.
But don't we want people to stop smoking? I frequently get emails from my employer about smoking ceasation classes they sponsor and I remember seeing ads on TV about state programs to help people quit smoking. Are n't there two other issues on the ballot to stop people from smoking inside and outside of nearly all buildings? Issues 4, 5, and 18 seem like they could cancel each other out. If issues 4 and 5 pass will it mean that people will smoke less and arts and culture won't be well funded even if issue 18 passes? And what about all the cost of smoking? Will this tax that benefits arts and culture out weigh the cost of smoking to our already very fucked up health care system? The costs of smoking in America seem like they must be very high. First you have to consider the cost of all the people who get cancer, emphysema, heart disease. Then there are the babies born premature, children with asthma and chronic bronchitis and the related costs, people who require oxygen tanks, stomas, wheel chairs, respitory therapy, nursing home or hospice care. There is also the occasional accident where someone with a cigarette burns their house down.
What I have not heard is how much money we can expect to see from issue 18, how it will be spent and who decides how to spend it. I seems to me there must be a better way to fund arts and culture. The lesser of two evils is still evil.