Legalize recreational weed to ease budget woes

Photo by Dimitri Bong via Unsplash

Toke up, Iowa.
It’s time.
Legalize marijuana.
Medicinal. Recreational. Whatever.

Let’s do it.

This is not for me. I’ve smoked weed twice. I liked it.

But I spend big money on pharmaceuticals to keep my brain chemistry regulated. I worry weed, however benevolent, would put stress on a system already not up to code.

No, the reason I want legal weed and the reason every Iowan should is the oldest reason in the world: money.

More specifically, tax revenues.

The coronavirus pandemic kicked us in the rear end when it comes to projected sales, business and other tax revenues.

Our schools and public works will suffer greatly unless we do something to get money pouring back into the local and state accounts.

Legalizing marijuana for any and all purposes is one route.

It’s not the only route and it certainly won’t fix projected shortfalls in city and state budgets alone.

But it will sure help.

Early projections of heavily populated states such as California raising $1 billion from legalized pot sales proved laughably wrong. California made about $500 million in revenue for the fiscal year that ended in June 2019.

Still, that’s $500 million into the state’s general fund that wasn’t there before and didn’t involve income tax or property tax increases.

Colorado raked in more than $250 million and Washington more than $450 million.

Iowa, of course, has a much smaller population than those states and, thus, fewer people who would indulge in recreational marijuana.

But the idea deserves serious consideration.

People justifiably worry about addiction.

That’s a legitimate concern.

Except that very few people scream and holler about addiction to alcohol, which is far more common. We allow beer and booze to be associated with every event save high school sports.

If there’s a good time to be had, it’s to be had with beer. Count the commercials for beer in a baseball game when the season finally starts up later this month. I’ll bet its more than runs scored in most games.

Legalizing marijuana also takes some of the burden off police officers during this era of racial reckoning.

Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have called on mayors in Des Moines and across the country to make marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement concern.

Lowest? Let’s try no concern at all.

A buddy of mine served as a military police officer and then member of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command.

He often said he never went to a violent domestic abuse scene where everybody was stoned. He never went to a bloody fatal vehicle crash where the driver was stoned.

It was always alcohol.

Legalizing pot won’t solve the pending budget crises brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment curtailed consumer spending, which is more than 70 percent of the national economy.

Iowa schools have shifted some of their physical plant costs to sales tax revenues. When those revenues drop, as they have during the pandemic, school buildings start to decay and development gets delayed.

Iowa added another penny-per-dollar to its sales tax to pay for billions in delayed road repairs and improvements. Sales stagnated for nearly a quarter of 2020 and may be hit again if a predicted coronavirus resurgence or second wave hits.

Unemployment remains high.

State income tax increases are almost a certainty baring an economic miracle in the coming months.

Everyone hates income taxes.

Well, I don’t think that’s precisely true.

People hate government waste, and the dominate narrative for several generations now is that almost anything the government does is wasteful.

That isn’t true, either. But let’s not get into that here.

What Iowa lawmakers need to do is get creative.

The road ahead is bumpy. Legalized recreational marijuana might smooth things out in more ways than one.

Daniel P. Finney, independent journalist

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit

John Wayne: Iowa’s cultural icon or a ‘rotten SOB?’

Some California Democrats want Orange County to strip John Wayne’s name off their airport because of some racist and homophobic things he said in an interview.

Wayne, of course, was born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset in 1907. He became one of the most successful actors in history. He died in 1979 at age 72.

The damning Wayne quotes come from a 1971 Playboy interview. Wayne supported white supremacy, referred to gay men as perverts and a common homophobic slur and demeaned Native Americans.

I read the interview text. No context has been stripped. Racist thoughts came out of his mouth the way bullets came out of his six-shooter in his Westerns.

It’s ugly and sad.

I don’t know what the fine people of Orange County should do about their airport name.

I suggest they not pick a person.

Who could live up to the scrutiny?

We’re all sinners and these days there’s a concentrated effort to make sure every sin is paid even posthumously.

Thank God the Duke didn’t have Twitter.

I wondered if the flap over the airport would affect the John Wayne Birthplace and Museum in Winterset. I called Brian Downes, the former Chicago Tribune reporter who is executive director of the attraction.

“We’ve been packed lately,” Downes said. “I don’t know how many for sure we had, but they were backed up out the door.”

Wayne has kept his drawing power in ways other Iowa legends haven’t. Cleveland Indians legend Bob Feller died in 2010 and the museum in his native Van Meter soon followed.

The museum is now Van Meter’s city hall with a large exhibit honoring “the heater from Van Meter.”

Wayne, however, died 41 years ago. People still keep coming to see the screen legend’s birthplace.

What to do with the legacy of Wayne provides an interesting challenge for Iowans.

I grew up in Winterset. The main street through town was named in his honor when I was a kid. I watched Wayne Westerns with my dad.

“The Quiet Man” is my favorite romantic movie. “True Grit” and “Rio Bravo” are as good a way to winnow away a lazy Saturday afternoon as I can muster.

Wayne made good art.

Well, sort of.

As fiction, they’re harmless, but I worry too many people think John Wayne Westerns are in any way a historically accurate portrayal of how the Western United States was “settled.”

They’re not. And one could make a strong argument that so many movies, both by Wayne and scores of other Westerns, have badly mislead Americans about the history of this nation, especially atrocities against natives.

Wayne certainly held no empathy for Native Americans.

“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians,” Wayne said in the infamous Playboy interview. “Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

Phew. It gets harder and harder to like this guy every quote I read.

The dictum of this era is that I should renounce Wayne, maybe burn a photo of him and post the video to Instagram to prove how sensitive I am.

But I never watched a John Wayne movie because of what the Duke thought about politics, race or history. I did not take my idea of what it is to be a man from his characters, either.

I watched them to be entertained. That I am entertained by those movies may rankle some people, but I generally believe what I do with my own time is my own damn business.

As for Wayne, don’t look for Winterset to burn down his birthplace and topple the nice bronze statue out front of the museum.

The birthplace is a private not-for-profit outfit. They’re not a public entity and as such not subject to the whims of cultural waves. Wayne’s association with Winterset will be preserved.

Some people will think this is a bad idea, that Wayne should be loathed rather than adored.

But that is the short-sighted nature of things these days. Everything is a dichotomy. Sinners and saints. Good or evil. Hero or villain.

But that all-or-nothing approach is not human nature.

Wayne once said, “Each of us is a mixture of some good and some not so good qualities. In considering one’s fellow man it’s important to remember the good things…

We should refrain from making judgments just because a fella happens to be a dirty, rotten son of a bitch.”

I condemn Wayne’s comments in the Playboy article. They’re indefensible.

But I believe people are more than one thing. I believe a person can create art and say terrible things. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both owned slaves, yet without their guiding hands, we would not be here to debate the propriety of honoring them.

Like most things, it’s all a matter of perspective. The Bible offers some stern guidance on the matter of idolatry.

Maybe we should look at Wayne less as a cultural hero or icon of manliness and simply see him as a man.

All men have the capacity to be good and rotten SOBs.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit