Friday, November 26, 2010

Did California Err In Not Legalizing Pot?


    Yes they did, if you ask an observer from overseas.

Watching America

El Pais, Spain
The Ups and Downs of Marijuana

By Mario Vargas Llosa
Translated By Jonathan Fitzerald
7 November 2010

Edited by Hoishan Chan

Spain - El Pais - Original Article (Spanish)
Californians made a mistake when they voted against its legalization. The government should treat drugs the same as alcohol and tobacco — giving freedom to the individual and punishing others for the harm done.
On Nov. 2, voters from the state of California rejected the legalization of the cultivation and consumption of marijuana by 53 percent to 47 percent, which was, in my opinion, a wrong decision. Legalization would have represented an important step in the search for an effective solution to the problem of crime linked to drug trafficking, which, according to recent official reports, has caused the chilling total of 10,035 deaths so far this year in Mexico.
A solution must include the decriminalization of drugs, an idea which up until relatively recent times was unacceptable to the majority of a public convinced that repression by police of producers, dealers and users was the only legitimate method for putting an end to such a plague. Over time, reality has revealed that this idea is erroneous. Studies point out that despite the astronomic sums of money invested and the gigantic mobilization of troops to combat it, the drug market has continued to grow, extending throughout the world and creating mafia cartels of immense economic and military power. As witnessed in Mexico since President Calderón has decided to confront the mafia cartels with the army at the frontline, the drug kingpins and their gangs of mercenaries are able to fight on equal terms, thanks to their power in states which they have infiltrated by way of terror and corruption.
The millions of Californians that voted for the legalization of marijuana is a promising sign that there are more and more of us who believe that the time for change has come regarding drugs and the redirecting of efforts, from simply repression to prevention, treatment and information, with the aim of putting an end to the unbridled crime driven by the ban and the havoc that the drug cartels are inflicting upon democratic institutions, above all in Third World countries. The cartels are able to pay better salaries than the government can, neutralizing and gaining the favor of members of parliament, policemen, government ministers and government employees by financing political campaigns and acquiring media outlets to defend their interests. In this way they provide jobs and support to countless professionals hired in industry, commerce and legal enterprises in which they launder substantial profits. That dependence upon the drug industry by so many people creates a tolerant or indifferent state of mind contrary to what it implies — the deterioration and collapse of lawfulness. That is a path which leads, sooner or later, to the suicide of democracy.
Of course, the legalization of drugs will not be easy, and, at first, as its detractors point out, it will undoubtedly lead to increased consumption, especially among youth. Therefore, decriminalization can only exist if it is accompanied by intense informative campaigns about the risks and harm drug consumption involves — similar to campaigns that have served to reduce the consumption of tobacco in most of the world and from parallel efforts to detoxify and treat victims of drug addiction.
But the most positive and immediate effect will be the elimination of the crimes which thrive thanks to the prohibition of drugs. As it was with the gangsters who rose to great power and saturated New York, Chicago and other American cities with blood and death during the years of alcohol prohibition, a legal market will do away with the mighty cartels. It will deprive them of their substantial profits and in effect destroy them. As the drug problem is principally economic, its solution must also be so.
Legalization will bring enormous resources to the states in the form of taxes, which, if used for educating the youth and for informing the general public about the harmful effects to one’s health that drug consumption poses, may have infinitely more beneficial and long lasting results than a policy of repression, which, beyond causing excessive violence and a day-to-day life full of insecurity, has not done the slightest in the way of stifling drug addiction in any society. In an article published in The New York Times on Oct. 28, the columnist Nicholas D. Kristof cited an investigation chaired by Harvard professor Jeffrey A. Miron in which it is estimated that the legalization of marijuana alone, across the entire U.S., would bring around $8 billion annually to state funds, while at the same time saving it an equivalent amount invested in repression. That enormous injection of funds poured into education, primarily in the schools of low-income neighborhoods, out of which come the vast majority of drug addicts, would in a small number of years drastically reduce drug trafficking within the social sector which accounts for the highest number of violent crimes, juvenile crime and family breakdowns.
Kristof also cites the conclusion of a study carried out by former policemen, judges and U.S. district attorneys, which stated that the prohibition of marijuana is the main culprit behind the proliferation of violent gangs and cartels that control the distribution and sale of the drug on the black market and reap “immense benefits” in the process. For many youths living in Hispanic and black ghettos, already struck hard by unemployment caused by the financial crisis, the possibility of earning quick money through crime gains an irresistible allure.
Opponents to these pragmatic arguments in favor of decriminalization tend to respond with a moral argument. Should we then give in, they argue, to crime in all the cases in which the police are not able to catch the criminal and then recognize it as lawful? Should this be the response, for example, in the face of pedophilia, domestic violence and gender violence, phenomena that, instead of decreasing, are on the rise everywhere? Are we to throw down our hands and give up, endorsing them since eliminating them has not been possible?
Oil and water should not be mixed. A democracy cannot condone crime without denying itself and turning into an uncivil nation. A nation has the obligation of informing its citizens about the risks involved with smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs, of course, and to severely sanction and penalize anyone who, through smoking, drinking or using drugs, causes harm to others. But it does not seem very logical nor coherent that if this is the policy followed by all governments with regards to tobacco and alcohol, that it not be the same one followed in the case of drugs, including soft drugs like marijuana and hashish, despite it being proven that the harmful effects of the latter to one’s health are no greater than, and may actually be less than, the excesses of tobacco and alcohol produce.
I have not the slightest fondness for drugs, hard or soft, and I, with all honesty, find both drug users and alcoholics to be quite unpleasant, aside from annoying and wearisome. But I also deeply dislike people who pick their nose in front of me or use toothpicks or eat fruit with seeds and skins, but it would not occur to me to request a law prohibiting them from doing so and sending them to jail if they did. Therefore I don’t see why the government should have to prohibit an adult, owner of his/her own reason, from deciding to do harm to him/herself by, for example, smoking joints, snorting coke or stuffing themselves with ecstasy pills if they like it or if it relieves their frustration or feelings of apathy. Individual freedom cannot mean the right to be able to do only good and healthy things, but also things that are not, provided of course that these things do not bring harm to others. That policy, which is applied to tobacco and alcohol, should also govern the consumption of drugs. It is extremely dangerous that the body politic begins to decide what is good and healthy, and what is bad and harmful, because those decisions mean an intrusion on individual freedom, a fundamental principal of a democratic society. On that path we could senselessly end up with the disappearance of individual sovereignty and a form of veiled dictatorship. And dictatorships, as we already know, are much more lethal for citizens than the worst drugs.


© 2010 Watching America and All Rights Reserved


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Is Over…


and it is not over soon enough for me. I really despise this time of the year only because one has to put up with all of those well meaning family members that you do not see to often trying to tell you how to live your life and telling you what a fuck-up that you are. I’m not the only person in this country who endures this, I’m sure. the worst part of the deal is that many of us will have to put up with this crap all over again at Christmas time. It’s even worse then because we have to listen to our so-called Christian family members nag us about going to church if we do not do so on any kind of schedule.  But, at least we have the fortune of knowing that our know-it-all’s will be going back to their own homes not soon after  and that we will not have to start the new year in a depressed mood because of our well meaning family members.

   I continue to work on changing this blogs looks, which will take a few days to do. When you visit this site over the next 2 or 3 days, you will see a different layout every few hours or so until I get things set the way that I wish to have them. This will will still remain in a darker color mode for the most part since it is easier on the eyes when reading.

   Have a great remainder of the holiday weekend everyone. Come and visit here once in a while, will you?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Off For Thanksgiving…


at least I will be in theory. Some of you know how  a holiday off can go.

   Anyway, thank you for being here and I look forward to seeing you again, real soon. On either Friday or Saturday, this site will have a new look to it. I hope that you like it.

   Be safe out on the road if you are driving, and be even more careful if you are at the airport. Watch those pat-downs if you opt for that choice.

                          HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Has President Obama Done For Us?


   You may remember that before the mid-term elections all that the Tea-baggers and the Republicans would tell you is that we need a smaller,less intrusive government and that the deficit must be brought under control, which has never happened when the Republicans ran anything.

   We also heard that President Obama has done nothing to improve the job situation, and that this administration has done nothing but add more to the huge budget deficit.

  So just where has some of that money gone? Not just to the banks and Wall Street, that is for sure.

   This post comes to you because of a few comments by our so-called columnist who have taken to saying that President Obama is more or less a conservative, a group that I despise with a passion, so far. No conservative would do this kind of stuff for the American people because most of us do not make enough money to join their club.

  Cross posted from The Peoples View  (Edited)

This is where we are in our political discourse as Democrats and this is where I say, if only we held each other close like they do...

...if only we held each other close...
...after passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that gave birth to the almost dead American Economy that could have easily caused 3 million jobs disappear...

...if only we held each other close...
...after salvaging the US auto industry that saved at least 1 million jobs; after extended Unemployment benefits up to 20 weeks; after pumping $26 billion aid to states package preventing large-scale layoffs of teachers and public employees...

...if only we held each other close...
...after ensuring that coverage can’t be denied to children with pre-existing conditions; after ensuring that adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ health plans; after making free preventive care available; after eliminating lifetime limits on insurance coverage...

...if only we held each other close...
...after making rescinding cover illegal; after restricting annual limits on insurance coverage; after pumping $5 billion to support affordable coverage for the Uninsured with Pre-existing Conditions; after another $10 billion investment in Community Health Centers...


...if only we held each other close...
....after signing a sweeping bank-reform bill into law, managing a part Bush era $700 Billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that Banks have already repaid 75% of the TARP funds that stabilized our Capital Market's system; after cuts Salaries For 65 Bailout Executives; after closing offshore tax safe havens, tax credit loopholes on companies that use the tax laws to ship American Jobs oversees; after passing Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act to increase accountability for corporate and mortgage frauds; after passing signing the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act to look after consumers...

...if only we held each other close...
...after implemented renewable fuels mandate of 36 billion gallons by 2022 that is four times what we currently consume; after requiring automakers to meet a fleet-wide average of New Gas Mileage Standards at 35.5 MPH by 2016; after a $60 billion investment in renewable and clean energy...

...if only we held each other close...
...after increasing the amount of federal Pell Grant awards and enabled the stripping of banks privileges as intermediaries for student loan servicing; after pumping $100 Billion for reforms to strengthen Elementary and Secondary education, early learning programs and college affordability...

...if only we held each other close...
...after pumping a $33 Billion Jobs Package allowing small businesses to get $5,000 tax credit for new hires; after a $26 billion State Aid Package Jobs Bill saving 300,000 teachers and public workers jobs from unemployment...

...if only we held each other close...
...after providing $275 billion dollar housing plan to prevent at-risk mortgage debtors already fallen victim to foreclosures and to bring about confidence to offer affordable mortgages and to stabilize the housing market; after establishing "Opening Doors" to end the homelessness of 640,000 men, women, and children in the United States in 10 years; after providing $510 Million for the rehabilitation of Native American housing, after the $2 billion assistance for Neighborhood Stabilization Program to rehab, resell, or demolish in order to stabilize neighborhoods; after providing the $5 billion Weatherization Assistance Program for low income families to weatherize 1 million homes per year for the next decade; after providing grants to encourage states and localities to take the first steps in implementing new building codes that prioritize energy efficiency...

...if only we held each other close...
...after giving $250 economic stimulus check to 55 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients in 2009; after cutting prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients by 50% and began eliminating the plan’s gap ("donut hole") in coverage; after passing a $6.4 billion measure reversing a 21 percent cut in physician payments that would have started a flood of rejections by some doctors of seniors covered by Medicare; after expanded eligibility for Medicaid to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,400 per year for an individual)...

...if only we held each other close...
...after extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees; after signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; after instructing HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights(effective date 1/1/11); after banning banning job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation's largest employer); after signing the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act; after extending the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover Gay employees taking unpaid leave to care for their children of same-sex partners...

...if only we held each other close...
...after bringing back nearly 100,000 U.S. troops home to their families and ending combat mission in Iraq; after passing a $112.8 billion VA budget, an increase of 15.5 percent over 2009, the largest percentage increase for VA requested by a president in more than 30 years; after implemented a strategic plan to increase the hiring of Veterans and Military spouses throughout the Federal civil service; after ending media blackout on war casualties, after creating a 'Green Vet Initiative' to promote environmental jobs for veterans; after covering the expenses of families to be at Dover AFB when fallen soldiers arrive; andafter increasing the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans...

...I don't know about you but I am starting to question the planet Pual Krugman is from. If you are interested to ask Paul Krugman that question, here is his contact information. I bet the Conservatives Nixin, Regan, Daddy Bush and Son Bush have done so much for this country compared to the Conservative Obama.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Outlaw Smoking? some Think It Should Be Done


    I just so happen to be one of the people who do not think that smoking should be outlawed in the United States,and luckily, not many citizens in  this country feel that my only remaining bad habit should be banned.

    Rasmussen Reports

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that just 17% of Americans think tobacco smoking should be against the law in the United States. That’s down slightly from 22% in December 2008

Seventy-two percent (72%) disagree and think smoking should not be outlawed. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Nineteen percent (19%) of non-smokers like the idea of a tobacco ban, compared to just 11% of those who say they currently smoke.

When it comes regulation of the cigarette industry, Americans are divided over how much is enough. Twenty-two percent (22%) think the level of regulation is too high, while 26% believe it's not high enough. Thirty-eight percent (38%) say the current level of regulation is about right.

   If you wish to ban a product that is not good for you then just look towards the alcohol industry. Yes, smoking can kill you with many forms of cancer and such things as second hand smoke (?), but a cigarette has not made to many people run into other vehicles and kill the people in said vehicle, or people in crosswalks either.

    I’ve never heard of cigarettes making anyone go totally dumb and stupid and start shooting at someone just because a person may have pissed them off.

    Ban the alcohol or either tax the hell out if and leave us smokers alone for a change.