Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 3:23 am | Fair 51º


Ron Fink: Christmas Was Yesterday; Now For Next Year

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas gatherings and shared good times with your families. Some in our extended community are without homes, and my thoughts are with them as they try to piece their lives back together.

It’s an unfortunate reality, but Christmas has become more commercialized every year. Marketers used to wait until after Thanksgiving to hawk their wares. Now they start right after Halloween and don’t stop until mid-January.

If you fell prey to the temptations of the glitzy advertising and “easy payment plans,” and stuffed your plastic card into the mouth of a hungry credit-card reader, then pushed a button and walked out with your treasure, now is the time you must start paying for all that stuff.

So, how about some predictions for 2018. A lot of writers are going to ply you with their thoughts for the new year and I will be happy to join the parade.

In Lompoc, the elephant in the room is a proposed cannabis ordinance. It seems many politicians are firmly convinced that allowing sales, manufacturing, testing and distribution of this weed is going to somehow bolster their budgets and make their constituents happy.

From Sacramento to Lompoc, elected officials are busy crafting regulations that include taxes and fees they hope will bring riches to the community. For their part, cannabis dealers see it as an opportunity to fill their pockets with greenbacks.

For users, they see a way to nirvana and a cure for everything from cancer to resolving psychological issues associated with their addiction to the smart phone.

My prediction is this is merely a house of cards ready to collapse.

The first issue is whether the product is any safer than the street variety that has been in use for more than 100 years.

Proposition 64 promised to provide testing, labeling and strict controls so users could feel the same level of safety they do with any other food or drug product they buy on the free market.

But the state isn’t ready with testing protocols yet and won’t be until late next year.

Some testing firms that have analyzed product that will be ready for sale on Jan. 1 say it “may have greater levels of pesticide, mold, or contaminants than pot grown in more strictly regulated states like Colorado or Oregon."

The second is just how much cash will the new legitimate market generate. Considering the costs of production and hefty taxes/fees being levied on sales, most current users will stay with their current street-level suppliers or just grow their own.

It’s a matter of economics and the plethora of thrift shops and dollar stores in Lompoc seem to indicate folks will always look for a bargain.

Last is the acceptance of commercial sales without limitations. In Lompoc, residents initiated a referendum, the first in more than 30 years, to bring four rogue council members into check and allow voters to have a say in the matter.

Whether the effort is successful or not awaits certification by the registrar of voters.

All the recent wildfires will be followed by mudslides if it ever rains. They will be followed by more fires later in the year.

This cycle repeats itself every year, yet people still think that building houses “out there in nature” and uphill from a large patch of vegetation is a responsible way to live.

I figure if you have enough money to build a place in the hills, you should invest some money in vegetation clearance to protect your investment.

The last prediction is that the political, business and entertainment industry scandals surrounding highly visible personalities has just begun. Boorish behavior isn’t a new phenomenon and open enticement isn’t either.

Gaining control of this issue can’t be regulated. Folks need to be raised to respect everyone, when they start out in the marketplace, they need to respect their co-workers.

The entertainment industry also needs to stop glorifying those who prey on other people. Go to any movie, watch any daytime soap opera, evening drama or situation comedy and you’ll understand what I am talking about.

But, there is a positive side to the new year. It offers an opportunity to modify your lifestyle, improve your surroundings and ponder the wonderful lives we live. Rich or poor, life is what you make it.

Live within your means, accept both minor and major successes. and strive to make things better.

I hope your stocking wasn’t full of coal and your family time was an experience worth remembering for all.

Now, on to the new year, starting with the Rose Parade.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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