Marijuana Legalization Update

Bloomberg:

By the end of 2018, 20 percent of Americans will live in a state where adults can legally buy and sell cannabis. Yet big problems remain unresolved, including a persistent black market that legalization was supposed to help undermine. There are also fights between states in favor of legalizing weed and localities that oppose it. And of course marijuana remains illegal under federal law, casting a shadow over the industry.

Come on, government people. There are businesses to create, people to hire, less crime.

Here.

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Congress Proposes to Increase Military Spending to $700 billion

 

Approved by the Armed Services Committee by a 27-0 vote in late June, the overall Senate bill provides $640 billion for core Pentagon operations, such as buying weapons and paying troops, and another $60 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Trump’s budget request sought $603 billion for basic functions and $65 billion for overseas missions.

As their House counterparts did, the Senate bill rejects Mattis’ plan to launch a new round of base closings starting in 2021. He told lawmakers in June that closing excess installations would save $10 billion over a five-year period. Mattis said the savings could be used to acquire four nuclear submarines or dozens of jet fighters. But military installations are prized possessions in states and lawmakers refused to go along.

Any base closings? Any discussion about cutting back on the ambitions of its advocates, the global footprint, the number of missions, the empire maintenance? Nope. Just like every other function of government, it continues to grow.

Are you kidding me? We have wars to fight, people to kill, money to spend, and jobs to protect.

Here.

 

That $65 billion in “overseas missions” is called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund.

It is a separate pot of funding operated by the Department of Defense and the State Department, in addition to their “base” budgets (i.e., their regular peacetime budgets). Originally used to finance the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the OCO continues to be a source of funding for the Pentagon, with a fraction of the funds going to the State Department.

Since the OCO fund has very little oversight and is not subject to the sequestration cuts that slashed every other part of the budget in 2013, many experts consider it a “slush fund” for the Pentagon.

Details here.

 

BLACK LIBERTY MATTERS

This is an interesting article on how liberty is interpreted through the lens of American history. And its not good.

Starting with history and American history, here is Samuel Johnson’s bitter rhetorical question about the American revolution: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”

Because:

. . . But often it is masters. Understanding all too well how they rule over other human beings, they identify being ruled like that as the great social evil, and they fiercely refuse to be subjected to it. Slaveowners and their neighbors can see what unfreedom is like, and they resist it for themselves. This is only partly because they come to identify their freedom as their freedom to own and rule slaves, and are desperate to protect their status as masters. In a more general way, they become very sensitive to anyone proposing to treat them as they treat slaves.

And:

The language of freedom in American political discourse has very often been appropriated for the defense of white supremacy. We have often heard the loudest yelps for liberty among those trying to protect the terror and apartheid states of the Jim Crow south, the quasi-serfdom of sharecropping, segregated schools, miscegenation laws, and the suppression of black votes. Particular types of freedom or particular strategies for limiting governmental power—freedom of association, religious liberty, federalism, bicameralism, and so on—all came to be identified at one point or another primarily as ways to prevent the federal government from breaking the power of white rule, just as before the war the protection of private property rights had so often been identified primarily with the protection of slaveowners’ supposed property in other human beings.

Conclusion:

Reimagining libertarian politics in light of the truth that black liberty matters will take a lot of intellectual and moral work. And this task, reorienting a set of ideas and ideals in light of a morally compromised history, of understanding what lessons need to be learned from it, of separating the arguments for liberty from the yelps, is insiders’ work. No one else is going to do it for us.

That’s for sure.  Read the whole thing.

President Trump To Declare Opioid Crisis a National Emergency

NPR:

President Trump says he is ready to declare the nation’s opioid crisis “a national emergency,” saying it is a “serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”

President Trump is showing he is a progressive and getting sucked into the swamp. Progressives left and right declare “War on something” where that something is whatever fits. Trump’s declaration is a variation on the War on Drugs. His adminsitration was clever enough to avoid the same “War on” label but its the same thing.

The War on Drugs initially by President Richard Nixon and US Congress and continued: Fail. The legalization to varying degrees by states of marijuana and the ease of availability suggests this failed also.

The U.S. also had the War on Poverty by President Lyndon B bing-bing-bing, Johnson and US Congress: Fail.

In the decade following the 1964 introduction of the war on poverty, poverty rates in the U.S. dropped to their lowest level since comprehensive records began in 1958: from 17.3% in the year the Economic Opportunity Act was implemented to 11.1% in 1973. They have remained between 11 and 15.2% ever since. It is important to note, however, that the steep decline in poverty rates began in 1959, 5 years before the introduction of the war on poverty (see figure 4 below).

Expect more aggressive policing, arrests, headlines, wasted tax money, civil liberties violations, larger bureaucracies in government and elsewhere, and failure.

With ‘El Chapo’ Gone, Violence Soars in Fight for Control of Cartel

José de Córdoba (WSJ,sub):

The extradition of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, Mexico’s long-dominant drug lord, has led to an explosion of violence in his home state of Sinaloa, the birthplace of the country’s narcotics industry.

Rival factions are fighting over Mr. Guzmán’s billion-dollar empire as he awaits trial in solitary confinement inside a high-security prison in New York. He was extradited to the U.S. in January on drug-trafficking and murder charges.

So that’s the tradeoff against legalizing drugs. Gang violence with innocents killed.

How Banning Drugs Makes Them More Dangerous

Hear about the drug 0verdoses in the Cincinnati area lately? They have been linked to carfentanil and/or fentanyl, a “powerful painkiller ordinarily used to tranquilize elephants and other large animals.”

Both fentanyl and carfentanil have shown up in powder sold as heroin, either as a substitute or as an adjunct to highly diluted batches of the opiate.

Why is this stuff found in heroin and possibly other powders? Simple: prohibition makes heroin more expensive to produce and distribute, which encourages dilution with additives such as carfentanil and fentanyl.

Why are illegal drugs so fatal?

. . . . prohibition, which makes drug potency inconsistent and unreliable. In contrast with prescription pharmaceuticals or beverage alcohol, which are delivered in carefully measured and accurately labeled doses, black-market heroin is unpredictable and may not even be heroin at all.

. . .

But weaker heroin encourages users to take larger doses, a habit that may prove lethal when purity bounces back, and encourages dealers to compensate by adding boosters such as fentanyl and carfentanil. Meanwhile, the ongoing crackdown on painkillers encourages opioid users to switch from predictably potent pharmaceuticals to whatever’s in the packets sold by heroin dealers, which might be an elephant tranquilizer.

 

Here.