Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

On a lighter note: my reply to Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County

April 14, 2020

Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County

I appreciate your inquiry about my positions on issues and shall answer the five questions, with clauses, you pose.

1) Do you favor term limits for members of Congress? If so, what period and why?

The way in which you phrase the question implies the answer is presumed to be “yes.” I oppose term limits for members of Congress. I would suggest your read Federalist 53, written by James Madison. The Framers considered, and rejected, term limits. Term limits ignore the principle of people having a choice at the polls and the value of experience.

2) What is your position on legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana? Medical vs recreational? State rights vs Feds?

-Prohibition of pot and of alcohol have proven equally successful - in other words, not at all successful. Turf wars between gangs arise. People still consume. People die, go to prison, or at the very least acquire criminal histories.
Any “bad effects” of marijuana result from its illegality, not from the intrinsic nature of
use of the plant. The World Health Organization has noted: There are no cases of fatal cannabis poisoning in the human medical literature. WHO, “The health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use,” 2016, p. 19.
Pot never has been proven to have a “gateway effect.” Janet E. Joy, et al., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Div. of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).
No link has been established between smoking pot and increases in traffic accidents. Pot smokers tend to compensate effectively while driving via behavioral strategies. Epidemiological studies: inconclusive re: whether pot use causes increase risk of accidents Sewell, et al, “The Effect of Cannabis Compared with Alcohol on Driving, Am J. Addict. 2009; 18(3): p. 185.
On the other hand, organized crime profits greatly when marijuana is illegal. According to one study, when a state on the Mexican border legalized medical use, violent crime fell by 13% on average. The Guardian, “Legal marijuana cuts violence says US study, as medical-use laws see crime fall,” 01/14/18.
The danger of buying and using any illegal drug is we can never know for sure what exactly is in it. Since cannabis is illegal, it is unregulated. It could contain contaminants like mold or mildew or fillers that may be toxic. Drugs produced and obtained inside a regulated system can be controlled for purity and strength. The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, “If cannabis is dangerous, why are we legalizing it?” 2018.
Drug laws racially discriminate: despite studies showing black and white people use marijuana at the same rates, black people are approximately four times as likely to be arrested for either misdemeanor or felony marijuana possession, and enforcement of marijuana possession laws has created a crippling backlog at the state agency tasked with analyzing forensic evidence in all criminal cases, including violent crimes. Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center , “Alabama’s War on Marijuana,” 10/18/18.
Some believe “decriminalization” is a good mid-way point, but that means pot STILL WOULD BE ILLEGAL. Possession would be the same as a parking ticket, but it could not be consumed, or bought and sold, legally. That means there still is the problem of the illicit market. Also, because sale and possession of marijuana still would be is illegal, banks could not allow accounts for cannabis businesses. There are tax revenues to be gained from legaliztion.
While I believe marijuana should be legalized, I would go further and say the arguments about prohibition apply equally to all drugs. All drugs should be legalized. Portugal decriminalized all drugs - IN 2001. In Portugal, usage rates have gone down. They face none of the problems that those who pushed the “war on drugs” said we would face. (I was at one of several events that commemorated the end of the “war on drugs.” The events were called Grateful Dead concerts.)
We need to legalize all drugs, expunge the criminal histories of non-violent drug offenses of all of those who have been victims of this absurd effort, and devote our resources elsewhere than drug enforcement.
-As to States rights vs Feds: States that seceded did not secede for some “grand cause” encapsulated as “States’ rights.”

First, States do not have “rights.” The Declaration of Independence makes clear: “WE hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the Governed...”
Governments have powers derived from the consent of people. To say any government has “rights” is to put that, or any, government on a level equal to human beings who create government. The Framers did not do that.

3) What proposals would you make in order to decrease the national debt?
“The size of the national debt in the United States has almost always been a function of war, including the Cold War.” Harvard Business School professor Thomas McCraw wrote that in the Winter 1994 issue of The American Scholar, p. 50.
The groups of people who cannot live “within their means” are the defense establishment - not only military leaders, but also military contractors - and very rich people who suck up tax cuts.
Our defense expenditures have been absurdly high. We have 37% of the World’s military budget. And we have military personnel and military resources in far too many places.
Currently we engage in an act of war against Iraq. That’s right - refusal of a nation to remove its armed forces from another nation when the latter demands removal is an act of war. Iraq’s parliament voted unanimously for the USA to withdraw our forces.
We have to remove our military from Iraq. Iraq has ordered that to occur. We are less secure when we bomb other countries in the modern era. We can afford to cut the military budget in half and we need to eliminate tax cuts for the very rich. We also need to adhere to traditional GOP policy positions, among which is a vibrant estate tax. Teddy Roosevelt advocated for estate taxes, saying that to allow large estates - remember, there always was a one-time exclusion that was up to $625,000 and would cover most people - to go untaxed only rewards those who do not work.
Finally, I would wipe out national student debt. Today the average debt for 69% of college graduates is $29,600. The debt for 14% of parents who took out loans for their kids is $35,600. We need strong post-secondary education, whether it is traditional academic (college) or some form of professional trading for a skill. No other country - I would say “advanced” country, but I am unsure if USA is advanced anymore - heaps idiotic debt on students who cannot afford, but go to, college. We damage our future by dumping as much money as possible into a military that makes us less secure because we are killing people for little or no reason.
When people use terms like “free” education, they fall into a trap. If college is “free” to students who then go to college and party, it means average taxpayers are paying for keggers. That makes middle- or lower-class kids who would benefit look like moochers.
This enables people such as DeVos to allow glorified loan sharks to gouge money from college students. We should abandon the idea that any of these important items are “free.” We need an education system in which a student can go as far as she or he’s abilities. M.D. or Ph.D. in science, a tech degree or a Ph.D. in history or anthropology. Probably most would do for a bachelor’s degree.
At the end of that education, in a public system, the student should not face horrendous - or any - debt. The student gets one shot to go as far as his or her brains and perseverance takes them. We ALL benefit. We should not force kids into the military as what for many is the only choice available to get a degree. (Besides, robots will doing a lot of the work there, soon, and people will be needed far less.)
At the same time we should wipe out all existing student debt, mainly held by the same big banks we bailed out in 2008-2009. They already made tidy profits out of the money we gave them. That influx of cash will result in a huge jump in the economy.

4) Describe any overreaching policies of the federal government that you believe might be unconstitutional.
Again, the way in which this (non-question) is phrased implies that the only answers would address Federal overreach. I believe we should restore the vibrant GOP-launched programs that improved this country since the party’s founding in 1854. We need to advocate for civil rights, crack down on large corporations, limit our military involvement overseas, and reverse the trend against clean air and clean water.
We also need to get Federal and State government out of women’s wombs and reproductive choices. Roe v Wade was written by a GOP-nominated justice and supported by four others in 1973.

5) Do you believe the government has a “spending problem” or a “revenue problem”? What would you do to solve either problem?
There are problems in both areas. First, we decry spending on the poor and the middle class as “socialism” and “welfare,” but describe it as “subsidy” and an effort at “job growth” when it is for the very rich and large corporations. We should flip that spending. If you provide poor and middle class people with money, they spend it locally and on necessities. If you give it to the rich, they blow it on drugs (pun intended), stock buy-backs and overseas investments. The rich are extremely irresponsible with money. I’d sooner trust Florida Evans with a national budget than I would Gomez Addams. (Both characters are fictional, but some would argue Gomez is far closer to reality.)
Second, we need to restore tax rates to what they were during a decade of some of the greatest improvements in the United States. The income tax rates during President Eisenhower’s presidency were graduated and productive. (If anyone still believes in “trickle down” economics, they have not paid attention to history.)

I hope I have directly addressed your questions.


Mark Small.

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