Happy New Year, again

© 2018-Paso Robles Press

Perhaps it is a factor of getting older but I feel like time is going by faster each year. On the other hand, looking back over the last month it seems like November was a year ago instead of just a month past. The Christmas season started out extremely busy with four or five nights a week taken up by one or another event or meeting. By mid-December burn-out sets in as all the dinners, celebrations and public gatherings suddenly come to a halt. Relief is short-lived as one suddenly realizes that Christmas is only ten days away and about 90 percent of planned Christmas shopping has yet to take place. Company arrives within a week and the next seven days more closely represents a holiday comedy as additional pets arrive with owners and chaos ensues until everyone gets used to everyone else. In the end, it all turns out well as Roberta and I settle into the final week of the season to quietly bring in the New Year. New Year’s Day is spent taking decorations down and then trying to figure out what goes into what box which was previously labeled with permanent markers as to contents, except for some reason nothing exactly fits into the properly labeled container. The final task is to somehow place it all back into its appropriate storage place in some kind of logical order for next year yet the Nativity scene, wreaths and outdoor lights which go up first will still manage to be buried in the back of the attic under at least several tons of seldom-used decorations. Our final reprieve will be to return to watching serious drama/mysteries from British TV along with a few local favorites, none of which of course will start until sometime in the middle of January. Fortunately, God invented the DVD player which induces calmness as we escape from the reality of the rest of the New Year. Looking forward…

If I had a wish for 2018 it would be that somehow we could return to a degree of civility in our discussion of issues that affect all of us. A local commentator recently loosed a barrage of invective in our county paper toward those with whom he vehemently disagrees, launching a tirade of personal insults toward his political opposites. Once upon a time, there were editors whose job it was to reject ad hominem attacks and require writers to stick to facts and issues. Obviously, they’ve all been fired as cost-cutting moves; it’s simpler just to hire members of political campaigns to elaborate on the human failings of their political opponents.

There are some real issues that are going to impact all of us, such as the Jan. 1 increase in DMV vehicle registrations, imposed by the State Legislature on top of gas tax increases to raise revenue for road improvements. Most politicians who remain in office long enough are likely retired, slight-of-hand illusionists. They are quite adept at persuading voters they’re really trying to help them as they mislead and misdirect our attention from their real agenda. In the case of the gas tax/DMV fee increase, our (Republican) State Assemblyman, Jordan Cunningham, revealed to us months ago that as much as 40 percent of prospective gas tax revenue had already been earmarked by the Democrat-controlled Legislature for purposes other than fixing or improving roads, which is the lowest spending priority for most of his Democratic colleagues in the Legislature.

On top of that, zealous analysts have already figured out that fuel economies imposed on cars purchased by the public are producing the unintended consequence of so reducing vehicle fuel usage that insufficient tax revenues are being collected to fix the roads. The Democrat’s solution is to impose miles driven fees to recoup the money drivers are saving and recover it into the State’s tax coffers, naturally to spend on something else other than roads.

Other insults to the voters include continuing to dump convicted felons onto the County Jail, thereby minor offenders, (like the guy who breaks into your car to steal your stereo) gets a summons instead of being arrested. He ignores the summons as the jail hasn’t any room for him anyway and he can come back and steal the replacement stereo your insurance company refused to pay for (your loss didn’t cover the deductible).

Living in California will be more dangerous as more drivers are getting “high” to escape the expensive Purgatory the state has become. The Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area released an analysis of how legalization of marijuana is working out in Colorado. It’s not.

Traffic fatalities directly linked to marijuana use have increased 48 percent since legalization, even though all traffic deaths increased only 11 percent. When recreational use was added traffic deaths increased 62 percent. Youth use of the drug increased 20 percent and Colorado is now No. 1 in the nation for past month marijuana use. There are many more statistics, none good except, hey, I bet in a few years California will be “number one” in something once again.

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