I would like to comment on Steve Dodge's op-ed piece titled "Left With Nothing" (July 16). Welcome to the world of legal, regulated and taxed industry. This falls under the category of "be careful what you wish for" — you may end up having to play by the same (overburdensome) rules the rest of industry and small business have been for decades ... and it's about time!
Ian Schatz, Eureka
Would like to thank Steve Dodge for helping me get rid of the worst feeling of evil triumphing in my lifetime. I refer to the jury decision in the O. J. Simpson Trial.
Mr. Dodge trumps any sleaze from that incident, and leaves it squirming in the used potting soil. His fantasy fact-filled "Left With Nothing" is a poster child for the "We-Don't-Ever-Want-the-Gravy-Train-to-End" group, and their hideous efforts to portray themselves as about as downtrodden as migrant workers.
At every turn, these folks twist and distort virtually every possible nuance of legalization. Obviously, the only thing which can stop all this lying and devious talk is R.J. Reynolds, or some such. These growers are showing every bit of greed, and P.R. work as any corporation on earth. Why we even need to consider them, since over half of them are from out of our area anyhow, is beyond me. Think of all the people who get up and go to work each day, NEVER knowing the kind of windfall money these growers get.
Legalize it all the way. Get Newsome and his ilk out of the way. It grows like a weed, and is so easy to grow that these guys trying to keep this artificial gravy train on the tracks are not only an insult to everyone hearing them speak, but also to the consumers. Dodge and company want to keep prices UP, for something so easy to grow, even after the illegal part is absent.
Take all the money buried in the back 40, and gloat over it. TAX FREE TREASURE!!! Tell stories about how fun and how easy it was to get rich. Roll one up, put on some tunes and put your feet up on the paid-off 40 you got from it, and let it go. Your efforts to keep this thing paying off indefinitely are so undignified.
Joshua Kinch, Eureka
According to Steve Dodge, the average existing illegal pot grow will have to double its footprint after legalization for the grower to maintain the lifestyle to which he's grown accustomed. It appears that Mr. Dodge is suggesting that there be no limits at all to farm size and is soliciting public sympathy for the plight of the pot-farming family. These growers have staked their families' fortunes on a single, illegal, non-essential crop. I'd like to address each of those adjectives individually.
Single: No wise farmer puts all his eggs in one basket, just as no wise community ties its economy to a single commodity. The folly of doing so has been proven over and over again throughout history. Diversification is the name of the game, whether in finance or agriculture. Heck, it's even the biological foundation of sex. Without diversity, you cannot adapt to changing conditions. Mr. Dodge says, "We need to stay agile;" it seems a bit of preemptive agility might have been in order long before now.
Illegal: I don't for a moment think that pot ever should have been illegalized, but it was, a long time ago. What kind of society would we have if we permitted everyone to ignore those laws he happens to find silly or inconvenient? We'd have anarchy. The way to deal with silly laws is to change them, not subvert them. Mr. Dodge seems surprised — wounded, even — to discover that, lo and behold, his livelihood is lucrative only because it's illegal.
Non-essential: I might feel differently about this if we were talking about food, but we're not. We're talking about nothing more than a psychotropic plant, a delivery mechanism for a consciousness-altering chemical. People need to eat, but no one needs to get high. Is it ethical to convert forests that harbor wildlife, produce oxygen, protect watersheds and sequester carbon into recreational drug factories? Can we still afford that? I think not. (I happen to feel the same way about cemeteries, golf courses and vineyards.) We need to value our biological wealth, because without it we are all "left with nothing."
Sorry, Mr. Dodge, but as I see it, your predicament is entirely of your own making, and my give-a-damn's busted.
Ken Burton, Arcata
There are some problems with Steve Dodge's calculations in "Left With Nothing." Alas, Mr. Dodge reveals only a superficial knowledge of how small businesses work and, therefore, presents an inaccurate and ill-informed picture.
First, if Mr. Dodge had actually paid income taxes on a business venture, instead of relying on the rest of us to pay his share for him, he would realize that income tax is based on the net profit, after expenses, not total sales.
He also lumps long term infrastructure investments, like the well, pond and others, into ongoing operating expenses. These are one-time costs, not every year costs.
Using his figures, and the tools that most real small business people use, I show that rather than making no money, he would actually take home around $52,000, after income taxes. Just to be fair, I also assumed he would be paying on a loan for the infrastructure costs. And this is from farming 1/20 of an acre. Let's not tell this to the organic vegetable farmers.
Also: Most small business people would look at each expense and assign a number to them, not use generic estimates. Just to be petty, Mr. Dodge whines about not being able to buy a home, yet he claims property taxes on a home and land as business deductions, which they may or may not be.
What I would say to Mr. Dodge is: Welcome to the real world of small business. As a business consultant, I've advised several hundred small business owners over the years, and we all deal with the realities of variable prices, increasing costs, regulations, taxes and limited capital. Oh, well ...
If Mr. Dodge's article is a plea to make an economic case for larger allowable grows, I would say his case is harmed by his own numbers.
Stilson Snow, Eurek