October 8th, 2015

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You know what crocodile tears mean don’t you? They’re phony.

I guess we’re going to have those tears and plenty of hand-wringing from the arts community. Beggars.

They want your vote on November 3. It will retain a tax on cigarettes at 30 cents a pack for another 10 years.

They know that they are taking millions of dollars from the least of us economically but are claiming that it’s to HELP the least of us enjoy the Arts.

What BS.

They already have taken more than $150 million in Cuyahoga County with the cigarette tax. Even though they know that the tax weighs most heavily upon working people and low income users. They comprise the major smoking public.

Not a penny goes to reduce smoking, a killer and health burden. If there is a cigarette tax it should go to help smokers quit.

“In fact,” writes one apologist, “the levy allows even big arts institutions like the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Museum of Art to provide low or no-cost programs for the less affluent.”

How much do those two arts institutions, which get millions in public dollars, spend on those “low or no-cost programs for the less affluent,” the article in Cool Cleveland doesn’t say. Pennies on the dollar, I say.

The 2015 Cleveland Orchestra program lists “cumulative giving.”

The Cuyahoga cigarette tax has given the orchestra $10 million or more, it states.

But that’s not all. The State of Ohio is listed as giving another $10 million or more. And the Ohio Arts Council is listed as giving another $10 million or more.

That’s $30-million or more in public tax funding.

Do they really need 30 cents a pack from smokers?

There’s a whole lot of media begging going on to keep this heavy tax on smokers, who already are hit by sin taxes for stadiums, with absolutely no thinking about alternatives. The news media give little play to any opposition. And, of course, the PD and TV news really does no enterprise reporting on the issue. They are one-sided and bought off.

You will see the Pee Dee endorse this tax naturally.

As of the end of September the total revenues of the Arts & Culture Tax, according to Cuyahoga County records, was $151,026,145.13. All of it, according to the count document, disbursed.

There are enough wealthy individuals, foundations and trusts here to provide for the needs of the arts.

But they go to taxes, to government, our Republican elites.

When I wrote about this tax earlier this year one respondent described the tax on lower income people as “cruel.”

Here’s what one anti-smoking group said:

Tobacco and poverty create a vicious cycle: low income people smoke more, suffer more, spend more, and die more from tobacco use.

Low social-economic status populations include low-income individuals with less than 12 years of education, the medically underserved, the unemployed, and the working poor. They can also be prisoners, gays and lesbians, blue collar workers, and the mentally ill.

So they are easy prey.

Here’s how I previously described the push to keep the tax going:

And we all seem to acquiesce, as if to vote against this tax would be to kick a starving artist. Not so. (And I’ve come to appreciate the word “acquiesce” after reading the book that so describes our times, “The Age of Acquiescence.”) We take too much abuse on too many levels…

There is no attempt by those pushing this tax to find a more honest, equitable tax. It’s easy to pile on smokers, usually people without political power.

It’s disgusting.

Here are the big winners (compiled earlier this year):

  • Cleveland Orchestra, $15,373,965.*
  • Playhouse Square, $12,773,534.
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, $11,895,381.
  • Ideastream, $7,941,564.
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, $7,778,583.
  • Cleveland Institute of Art, $6,421,811.
  • Cleveland Institute of Music, $6,339,578.
  • *Also received more than $10 million from the Ohio Arts Council and the State of Ohio.

    Here, alphabetically, are the top takers of public funding as of earlier this year. Another $7 million has come in since:

  • Beck Center for Arts $1,478,200
  • Center for Arts-Inspired Learning 1,274,054
  • Cleveland Botanical Gardens 3,402,901
  • Cleveland Institute of Art 6,421,811
  • Cleveland Institute of Music 6,339,578
  • Cleveland International Film Festival 1,131,551
  • Cleveland Museum of Art 11,895,381
  • Cleveland Museum of Natural History 5,023,927
  • Cleveland Playhouse 3,428,268
  • Community Partnership for Arts & Culture 3,553,757
  • Great Lakes Science Center 3,717,035
  • Great Lakes Theater 1,988,813
  • Ideastream 7,941,564
  • Karamu House 1,053,994
  • LAND Studio 1,259,725
  • Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage 1,252,299
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland 1,115,603
  • Playhouse Square 12,773,534
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum 7,778,583
  • Cleveland Orchestra 15,373,965
  • The Music Settlement 2,005,208
  • Western Reserve Historical Society 2,468,383
  • By Roldo Bartimole…

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