Today we’re talking about two things — efforts to remove mentions of climate change from Florida textbooks and temporary tax breaks that are really just gimmicks.

Let’s start with the gimmicks.

Scott Maxwell
Scott Maxwell ( Provided )

You’re going to hear a lot this month from Florida politicians who want you to thank them for giving you a “Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday” in July.

Politicians from both parties pat themselves on the backs for this. In fact, this year’s “Freedom” tax breaks were approved unanimously by the Legislature. Just know that economists roundly agree that these temporary tax breaks are little more than “political gimmicks” that “distract policymakers and taxpayers from genuine, permanent tax relief,” as the hard-core tax opponents at Tax Foundation put it.

Here are four reasons why:

1. These breaks benefit tourists, not just Floridians. This month’s “freedom” break exempts taxes on things like sunscreen, sunglasses, snorkels and tickets to concerts and sporting events — all things tourists purchase. In fact, every time Florida politicians want to raise sales taxes, they stress that tourists pay many of those costs. Well, obviously the reverse is true. Meaningful tax relief for Floridians would target Floridians.

2. The trade-off is lame. Florida — a state that claims it doesn’t have enough money to properly pay teachers or provide services to families with disabilities — will lose $90 million in tax revenue this month, according to state economists. In exchange, you save 36 cents on a bottle of insect repellent. As does every visitor from Canada and Brazil.

3. Temporary tax breaks — whether for summer fun or back-to-school — don’t do squat to “stimulate the economy.” If your kid needs a new calculator, he needs a new calculator. The only thing that might change is when you buy it.

4. Some retailers actually raise prices during the tax holidays, “reducing consumer savings,” notes the Tax Foundation.

Still, the biggest problem economists have with temporary tax breaks is that they’re used as gimmicks in an attempt to distract you from real pocketbook issues — like sky-high insurance and the fact that Florida has more toll roads than any other state in America. Those things cost hard-working Floridians money every week of the year. But Florida politicians give you a few weeks where you can save a few bucks on backpacks and fishing tackle — and then expect you to thank them for the “freedom.”

Censoring ‘climate change’

You may have seen the latest example of Florida pumping out stupid the way Texas does oil in Sunday’s Orlando Sentinel under this headline: “Textbook authors told climate change references must be cut to get Florida’s OK.”

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Yes, Florida is now approaching science and education like a 2-year-old: If you don’t like something, just pretend it doesn’t exist.

Pay no attention to the rising waters frequently flooding Miami. If we just tell students they can’t learn about climate change, it’s no longer a problem.

The potential here is amazing. Next, we can ban words like “hurricane” and “mosquito.” Soon, all our problems will disappear.

To be fair, the authors and publishers who spoke to the Sentinel said that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education department didn’t order them to cut all climate-change references from their science textbooks. Just a lot of them — including an entire section from a high school chemistry book.

Maybe you don’t think climate change has anything to do with chemistry. Do you know who disagrees? Chemists.

The American Chemical Society says “the chemistry enterprise has a critical role to play in helping to mitigate climate change by developing green technologies to meet (greenhouse gas) reduction targets.”

And the Royal Society of Chemistry says chemistry is crucial “to tackling climate change,” going on to say: “The chemical sciences help us to understand, mitigate, and adapt to climate change.”

So the chemists say chemistry and climate change are integrally linked. But what do those dumb scientists know?

That last sentence could increasingly be Florida’s motto.

We’ve got a surgeon general who hangs out with “doctors” who believe in demon sperm and conspiracy theorists who believe humanity is controlled by the Illuminati and a “Babylonian blood-cult.” So of course we’re rejecting chemists’ advice on chemistry.

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has gone after climate change. He also recently signed a bill that removed references to “climate change” from existing statutes. In doing so, DeSantis said he was “rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.”

A friend said “Radical Green Zealots” sounds like the name of a grunge band that should be playing at Will’s Pub this weekend. But I think the governor was going for scary, hoping that when you think of “climate change,” you’ll envision Greta Thunberg storming the shores of Lake Eola aboard an anti-whaling ship as she tries to confiscate everyone’s gas stove.

In reality, virtually everyone agrees the climate is changing. While there is some debate about how much of it is man-made and what we might be able to do to impact it, as NASA explains: “the vast majority of actively publishing climate scientists — 97% — agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change.”

So you’ve got 97% of scientists on one hand and a handful of politicians and moms-for-censorship types on the other.

I think all parents and educators want textbooks vetted. And it’s probably only natural for there to be some give and take in the editing process. But I also think most of us would like scientists to write our science books and chemists to choose our chemistry lessons. And when those raising red flags about scientific censorship in Florida include the president of the board of the National Center for Science Education, that’s reason to be concerned.

©2024 Orlando Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.