George Boardman: The busy bodies are still trying to tell us how to lead our lives |

George Boardman: The busy bodies are still trying to tell us how to lead our lives

Observations from the center stripe: Trends edition

ATTENTION SUPER food trendies: Researchers report that cockroach milk contains more protein and nutrients than regular milk … IF YOU want to spend over $600 for one of California’s new digital license plates, be my guest. I’ll stick with the ones I have … COINCIDENCE? The NBA started the season with two games on opening night: Boston at Cleveland and Houston at Golden State … THE STATE recorded 300,000 cases of sexually transmitted diseases in 2017, the highest total since 1990. What are they teaching in those sex education classes? … SO ABC dumped the reboot of “Roseanne” because of a joke that was considered in poor taste? Sounds like the kind of show for the Fox Broadcasting Co …

A group of busy bodies who want us to lead our lives based on their view of what is right and wrong has convinced a judge to derail California’s “End of Life Option Act” that legalized assisted suicide in 2016.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation got a judge in Riverside County to overturn the law because the bill wasn’t on the agenda of a special session of the state Legislature called to address health care issues. Defenders of the law claim the judge created a narrow precedent that isn’t supported by previous rulings of the California Supreme Court, but the law is invalid until higher state courts overturn the ruling or the state Legislature acts.

Life Legal Defense Foundation says its goal is “to give innocent and helpless human beings of any age, particularly unborn children, a trained and committed defense against the threat of death …” That includes the “billion-dollar abortion industry,” denial of life sustaining care to the elderly and disabled (death panels!) and “the terminally ill (who) are encouraged to end their lives prematurely” (assisted suicide!).

Life Legal is one of several conservative social outfits that want to set the rules on whether a life can be aborted under any circumstance, what we can pray for and where, who we can marry, how we conduct our lives, and how much control we have over the end of our lives.

California is one of seven states and the District of Columbia that give terminally ill people the option to end their lives early, and since it’s an article of faith that the Golden State starts trends that sweep through the rest of the country, these groups have been taking aim at the state’s law since it was enacted.

Patients can receive a prescription for life ending drugs only if they are mentally competent and have six months or less to live. To get the prescription, the patient must submit two oral requests 15 days apart to the attending physician, and one written request. The patient must be able to self-administer the drugs.

Despite the fear mongering of opponents, there has not been a rush to take advantage of the law. The California Department of Public Health reports 191 adults received prescriptions between the law’s passage and Dec. 31, 2016. Of those, 111 ingested the drugs and died — over 83 percent were receiving hospice or palliative care.

As has been the case in Oregon, where a similar law has been on the books for 20 years, the 42 percent who got prescriptions but didn’t use them likely were comforted by the fact that option was available. I certainly wish my sister had that option when she died of ALS. I’m here to testify that society gains nothing when a person spends the last couple of weeks of her life in a drug-induced stupor.

Resolving this issue in the courts could take years. The legislature should act immediately to make sure California residents have the ability to control of end of their lives.

Money or morals

Nothing will overcome moral objections faster than visions of more money coming in the door. That’s certainly the case when it comes to betting on sports events.

The major professional sports leagues and the NCAA, the governing body of college sports, have been steadfast in their opposition to sports betting, viewing it as a threat to the integrity of the game and a stain upon the pursuit of athletic excellence.

That’s been their position since at least 1992, when federal legislation barred sports betting in every state but Nevada. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned that law, paving the way for any state to legalize the activity.

Integrity doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore. The National Basketball Association wants to collect one percent of the money bet on its games, and the National Football League and Major League Baseball want to impose an integrity fee on sports betting operations to guarantee the accuracy of the statistics used in establishing betting propositions. The NCAA, bogged down with its own integrity issues right now, hasn’t offered a comment.

Naturally, the states want in on the action as well. Nevada imposes a tax of less than 7 percent on money bet on sports events, but politicians in California and other states are angling for a much bigger cut of what is currently a multi-billion dollar illegal business.

Nevada sports books are viewing this newfound enthusiasm for their business with the cynicism you would expect from people who make their living betting half their customers will back the loser. They point out that while large amounts of money are bet on sports, bookmaking is a low-margin business with little room for error.

Statistics compiled by the Nevada Gaming Control Board — the only source on the subject you can trust — backup their claims. Gamblers wagered $4.87 billion on sports in Nevada last year, generating revenue to the sports books of $248.8 million — barely 5 percent of the money that came in the door. Sports books are the bread and milk version of casinos, there to get you in the door so you’ll spend your money on more profitable items.

California and other states should keep that in mind when they decide how much they want to tax sports betting. Sports books will modify their “products” to compensate for high taxes, and the bettors will be even bigger losers than they are now.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at

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