Free Markets, Free People
One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The “war on drugs” is a classic example of insanity at a world-wide level. We learned in the early 20th century that prohibition doesn’t work. Our experience with alcohol should have at least given us the basis for rejecting another such prohibition when it came to drugs. However we have charged ahead and for decades waged what can only be termed a horribly expensive, liberty stealing campaign against drug use that has empowered criminal organizations and allowed them to become powerful enough to challenge some governments.
As should be clear to anyone, the “War on Drugs” is an epic failure. If you don’t believe it, imagine numbers like this for any legitimate business and then factor in the ongoing campaign to deny the flow of the product:
It cites UN estimates that opiate use increased 35% worldwide from 1998 to 2008, cocaine by 27%, and cannabis by 8.5%.
In the face of the full might of the government of the US and many other governments in the world, this illegal enterprise has managed to supply demand that in some cases has increased 35% world wide. And it has cost us billions in “enforcement”, filled our jails and essentially had no effect whatsoever on the net side of things.
What did we learn from our own prohibition era? Apparently nothing. The market that exists today for drugs is eerily similar to that which existed for alcohol during the era of prohibition. It is a “black” market that exists because the demand exists, and government is single-handedly responsible for its existence.
Simple economics spells out how this works. There is an unfulfilled demand and whether or not you agree with the demand, the market will do all in its power to fill it. Government declaring something “illegal” may dampen demand – at least for a while – but the market will still do its best to fill the demand as long as there’s a profit to be made. All government does is change the nature of the market in question. It can be legal (which means regulated, controlled and taxed) or illegal (which usually means unregulated, untaxed and usually dominated by criminals and gangs), but it is not going to go away just because a government declares something “illegal”.
For whatever reason, after observing the results of the existing (and mostly unchanged) drug policies over decades, our political leaders still can’t seem to figure out the fact that they’re not going to “win” this battle. However, they can change the market dynamic tremendously simply by backing off of their desire to control what we consume and understanding that the best way to address such a market is through acceptance, regulation and taxation (yeah, I know, you never thought you’d hear a libertarian say that, but let’s be clear – that’s what we did with alcohol and it has worked).
The argument that people will go hog wild if drugs are legalized I find to be as nonsensical as when the argument was used about alcohol during the prohibition era. Those that are going to use drugs are most likely using them now. Additionally, part of the allure of drugs is their illegality. Yes, those with addictive personalities are probably going to get hooked on something – but given the inability of governments to stop drugs to this point, they’re likely already hooked on something anyway. The point is having this all out in the open and legal removes tremendous costs from “enforcement” and the revenue generated by regulated drug sales could be put toward treatment regimes. It also puts the criminals out of business and ends the drug related violence.
To this point, the War on Drugs has been an epic failure. All it has done is criminalize a behavior, create a market for now powerful criminals, and wasted our tax dollars on trying to control behavior.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy report calls for the legalisation of some drugs and an end to the criminalisation of drug users.
I agree. Of course, according to the story, the US and Mexican governments disagree. Therefore the war on the border will continue, the funding of criminal (and terror) organizations will continue, and the militarization of the police and the resultant violation of the rights of citizens will also continue. Jails will continue to fill even while drug sales continue to grow.
Our current drug policies are insane. The numbers prove it. It is time to stop the knee-jerk reaction to the term “drugs” and drastically reassess our approach to their control and use. We’ve been through this before. It is time we reviewed that era and applied its lessons.
I have no idea what happened but we were lights out since last night. I think it may have been a problem with our service provider because all the Monday posts have disappeared. That says to me that they may have had to recover from a known point – like Sunday night.
I’ll pop the Monday posts back up here (life in the semi-fast lane I guess) and QandO is back on the air. Thank you for your patience.
UPDATE: OK so I won’t be posting Monday’s blog posts. Apparently I forgot to save local drafts soooo .. welcome to Tuesday which feels like a Monday.
In his response to Obama’s fantasy-based speech about Israel returning to the 1967 borders, Netanyahu basically says that’s a non-starter.
In an unusually sharp rebuke to Israel’s closest ally, Netanyahu told Obama his endorsement of a long-standing Palestinian demand to go back to Israel’s 1967 boundaries — meaning big concessions of occupied land — would leave Israel “indefensible.”
“Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality,” an unsmiling Netanyahu said as Obama listened intently beside him in the Oval Office.
As usual, it’s the clever Reuter’s wordsmithing that amuses me:
Netanyahu’s firm resistance now raises the question of how hard Obama will push for concessions he is unlikely to get, and whether the peace vision he laid out on Thursday will ever get off the ground. [Emphasis mine]
I don’t really think “vision” is the word that reflects reality here. “Hallucination” would be a lot closer.
Or same song, different verse.
Not much new in this that I was able to discern, especially about Israel. While claiming that the Palestinians have some responsibilities and the Hamas/Fatah reconciliation is troubling, most of the onus for peace is once again placed on Israel with the claim that it should withdraw to the ‘67 borders. Of course the last time they agreed to a withdrawal and did so, they paid a price for it. Doubt this is going to fall for that again.
Couple of interesting things to note. Speaking of Libya:
As I said when the United States joined an international coalition to intervene, we cannot prevent every injustice perpetrated by a regime against its people, and we have learned from our experience in Iraq just how costly and difficult it is to impose regime change by force – no matter how well-intended it may be.
About “Arab spring”:
Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian democracy. There, the Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence for a democratic process, even as they have taken full responsibility for their own security. Like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. As they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.
Hmmm … anyone else spot a little contradiction here?
Back to the now officially “illegal” war in Libya:
Unfortunately, in too many countries, calls for change have been answered by violence. The most extreme example is Libya, where Moammar Gaddafi launched a war against his people, promising to hunt them down like rats. As I said when the United States joined an international coalition to intervene, we cannot prevent every injustice perpetrated by a regime against its people, and we have learned from our experience in Iraq just how costly and difficult it is to impose regime change by force – no matter how well-intended it may be.
But in Libya, we saw the prospect of imminent massacre, had a mandate for action, and heard the Libyan people’s call for help. Had we not acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners, thousands would have been killed. The message would have been clear: keep power by killing as many people as it takes. Now, time is working against Gaddafi. He does not have control over his country. The opposition has organized a legitimate and credible Interim Council. And when Gaddafi inevitably leaves or is forced from power, decades of provocation will come to an end, and the transition to a democratic Libya can proceed.
Two points – one, massacres in Iraq, using the Obama reasoning here, were already ongoing. Anyone, was Saddam hunting down opposition like “rats”? Er, yeah. So, what’s the beef with doing what Obama attempts to sell here for that reason only? And if Iraq was a dumb war, notwithstanding the same thing happening as in Libya, does that make Libya a dumb war (as well as “illegal”)?
Two – How does he know that “the transition to a democratic Libya” will be the result? And how does he plan to ensure it?
Obama gave Syria and Iran a tongue lashing, but I expect little else to occur in terms of action. Some sanctions will be imposed which, as they always do, hurt the poorest in the nation. He also mentioned Bahrain and Yemen in the speech.
Conspicuously absent from his bombast was any criticism of Saudi Arabia.
Like I said, nothing much new in the speech.
Seriously – this is just patent nonsense, offensive and a meme which needs to quickly die:
Try applying a different scenario (at the risk of violating Godwin’s law) - Those on the left are celebrating the death of 6 million Jews. Those on the right are celebrating the death of their murderer. If you can find those to be morally equivalent acts, then you’ll agree with the cartoon above.
Communists are as bad as Nazis, and their defenders and apologists are as bad as Nazis’ defenders, but far more common. When you meet them, show them no respect. They’re evil, stupid, and dishonest. They should not enjoy the consequences of their behavior.
I’m not even sure “as bad as” is sufficient. Deaths due to Communism outnumber deaths due to Nazism by a wide margin.
But he got pushback from someone living in the halls of academia, who wants to assure us that those Marxists aren’t really so bad:
As someone who works in academia, I run into my fair share of Marxists. While I disagree with their politics, many of them are decent non-evil people most certainly deserving of respect. There is, to my mind, a big difference between communism and Nazism: it is possible to be a communist with the “good will,” i.e. to sincerely wish the best most prosperous future for everyone. I think it’s pretty obvious that communism is not the way towards that goal, but intelligent people can disagree. Nazism, on the other hand, is fundamentally impossible to commit one’s self to with a good will. It is inherently racist, hateful, and concerned with elevating particular groups of people on the basis of the subjugation and dehumanization of others.
Put another way: communism, like it or not, is an Enlightenment project and an Enlightenment ideology. The evils of communism my be intrinsic, but they are not built into the ideology itself. I.e. Marx never advocated for any society like the Soviet Union or for gulags, etc. The same cannot be said of Nazism.
This is not to give communism a “pass,” but rather to separate the ideology and intentions of the believer, from, say, crimes like the Great Leap Forward. One does not convince communists to give up their creed by calling them Nazis and refusing to show them a modicum of respect. One convinces them (and I speak from personal experience) but engaging them as people who want the good, but don’t realize that their politics cannot and will never be able to effect the society they seek.
This is so wrong-headed that I don’t know where to start. Let’s go phrase by phrase and point out some of the highest caliber foolishness.
While I disagree with their politics, many of them are decent non-evil people most certainly deserving of respect.
No, they’re most certainly not deserving of respect. They might or might not be “non-evil”, but if they still defend the rotten corpse of Marxism and its legacy of death, they’re idiots, and therefore deserving of no respect, no matter what degrees they hold or how much cocktail-party glibness they possess.
Naturally, someone in academia is likely to form some psychological accommodation to these idiots. They’re just down the hall, don’t ya know, and the kids play soccer with them, probably in games where it’s not allowed to keep score. Letting them know that they’re idiots is career-affecting, and seriously curtails opportunities for social activities on campus. So it’s pretty easy for someone in that environment to convince themselves that “on a personal level, those Marxists are not really that bad” from their own need to find a rationalization to avoid friction with them.
There is, to my mind, a big difference between communism and Nazism: it is possible to be a communist with the “good will,” i.e. to sincerely wish the best most prosperous future for everyone.
First, this is the classic leftist fallacy: that good intentions are enough to excuse anything. They’re not.
Second, it’s patently untrue. “Everyone” includes people who have a lot of wealth. Communism explicitly says such people are supposed to give up that wealth for others, and be brought down to supposedly becoming equal with them. How in Hades is that the “best most prosperous future” for those wealthy people?
That’s even leaving out the reality that goes even beyond the iron-clad logic above: Many (most?) of the wealthy were murdered in every case where Communism was tried. Anyone who can hand-wave that aside and still sincerely believe that communism offers the “best most prosperous future for everyone” has a pretty narrow definition of “everyone”.
Instead, I think it’s an indication of the Marxist’s view (shared by many academicians even if they don’t realize it) that the wealthy are nothing but a bunch of immoral exploiters. It’s easy to leave them out of “everyone” if you hold that view of them.
I think it’s pretty obvious that communism is not the way towards that goal, but intelligent people can disagree.
No. Stupid people and people who crave a reason to control others can disagree. Intelligent people only have to look at a century long string of failure and death to know that communism is not the way towards that goal. If a person can’t see that, I can’t conceive of how they can be labeled “intelligent”. (Of course, my definition of “intelligent” includes a connection to reality, which often seems to be strangely missing from the academician’s definition of “intelligent”.)
Put another way: communism, like it or not, is an Enlightenment project and an Enlightenment ideology.
Wrong again. The ideology that inspired the terms “groupthink”, “double-think”, and all the rest isn’t an Enlightenment ideology. Communism in practice is profoundly anti-Enlightenment. It distorts every meaning that it touches, and disposes of rationalism as soon as it challenges the ideology. Hence the Soviet joke “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”
This is not to give communism a “pass,” but rather to separate the ideology and intentions of the believer, from, say, crimes like the Great Leap Forward.
But separating the supposed intentions from a century of results is giving them a pass! These people defended the Soviet Union my whole life, far past the point where it was clear that it was a murdering, thuggish regime capable of producing only deprivation and violence.
Academic historians were among the worst such defenders. They’ve never come clean about their support of the Soviet Union. These Marxist fools are still supporting Chavez and Castro today! Sorry, their supposed good intentions shouldn’t give them a pass for that.
One does not convince communists to give up their creed by calling them Nazis and refusing to show them a modicum of respect. One convinces them (and I speak from personal experience) but engaging them as people who want the good, but don’t realize that their politics cannot and will never be able to effect the society they seek.
First, saying that their ideology produces results just as bad or worse as Nazism isn’t calling them a Nazi. It’s stating the clear truth.
But there’s an even better reason to treat their "creed" with complete contempt. Behaving otherwise makes their beliefs acceptable, even respectable, in academia.
Those beliefs should not be respectable. It’s time their ideology joined phlogiston, the luminiferous ether, phrenology, and Lamarkian biology in the historical gallery of failed concepts. They shouldn’t be coddled for believing in nonsense; they should be ridiculed for it.
Giving them any respect whatsoever means that get to continue to indoctrinate new generations in the same idiocy, meaning we still have the problem of academic idiots pushing an evil, failed ideology into the indefinite future.
Far better, I believe, to make it clear and obvious that their belief is not a respectable one. That in fact, continuing to believe in Marxism at this late date means defending over a hundred million deaths committed in its name, and advocating a philosophy that has caused hundreds of millions to live their lives in misery, deprivation, and de facto slavery. That should be beyond the pale, not treated as some sort of ideological quirk to talk someone out of.
The left wants us to play by different rules from what they impose on themselves. By their lights, believing in principles espoused by the founders of this nation is extreme and racist, but believing in principles that have killed more than a hundred million and enslaved hundreds of millions more is just an ideological quirk.
I believe that not more than one in a thousand can be convinced by the gentle means advocated by this academician. After all, they don’t really seem to learn from history or reality. They took no responsibility for the support of the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, or today’s Venezuela. And I wonder how many of this academic’s friends are *still* siding with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
So no more coddling. Just ridicule. If they don’t like it, well, too bad. I think it’s time they suffered the consequences of total ridicule for their idiocy; maybe that would convince some of them to re-examine it.
Iran is again upping the ante in the game of brinksmanship it is playing with the US and the rest of the Western world. It’s latest move? An agreement with the anti-US regime in Venezuela to base medium range ground-to-ground missiles there.
Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on western information sources, according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, of November 25, 2010. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit o Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on October19, 2010. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles.
At a moment when NATO members found an agreement, in the recent Lisbon summit (19-20 November 2010), to develop a Missile Defence capability to protect NATO’s populations and territories in Europe against ballistic missile attacks from the East (namely, Iran), Iran’s counter-move consists in establishing a strategic base in the South American continent – in the United States’s soft underbelly.
Some of us are old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis of the Kennedy era and the fact that we went to the very brink of nuclear war to prevent the USSR from establishing missile bases in Cuba.
Of course the USSR was a nuclear power at the time and so the possibility of nuclear weaponry being a part of those missiles was both real and likely. Iran, on the other hand, isn’t yet a power with nuclear weapons (or so say it and the rest of the world). But it is anticipated that they will soon have that capability.
So, if the report is true will the US allow the establishment of such missile bases in Venezuela? And with the possibility of the regime in Iran developing nuclear weapons, the possibility they’ll “share” them with Venezuela has to be taken serious. The agreement apparently allows Iran to establish a military base there manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The base with be jointly occupied by Venezuelan military as well.
And then there is this bit of ominous news about the agreement:
In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an "emergency". In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for "national needs" – radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia. The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be deployed in the proposed base. It says that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, including intensive training of officers
The reported missile won’t reach the US, but the Iranians also have the Ghadr-110 which has a range of 2,500 to 3,000 km which is capable of hitting the US (Texas and Florida are less than 2,000 km from Venezuela. New Orleans is 2900 km from Venezuela).
Not only all of that, but it seems it is through Venezuela that Iran is planning to bypass UN weapons sanctions as well:
Russia decided not to sell five battalions of S-300PMU-1 air defence systems to Iran. These weapons, along with a number of other weapons, were part of a deal, signed in 2007, worth $800 million. Now that these weapons cannot be delivered to Iran, Russia is looking for new customers; according to the Russian press agency Novosti, it found one: Venezuela.
Novosti reports the words of Igor Korotchenko, head of a Moscow-based think tank on international arms trade, saying that if the S-300 deal with Venezuela goes through, Caracas should pay cash for the missiles, rather than take another loan from Russia. "The S-300 is a very good product and Venezuela should pay the full amount in cash, as the country’s budget has enough funds to cover the deal ," Korotchenko said. Moscow has already provided Caracas with several loans to buy Russian-made weaponry, including a recent $2.2-mln loan on the purchase of 92 T-72M1M tanks, the Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems and other military equipment.
If Iran, therefore, cannot get the S-300 missiles directly from Russia, it can still have them through its proxy, Venezuela, and deploy them against its staunchest enemy, the U.S..
So, thus far, this is what the US’s “unclenched fist” has brought. A move by Iran – whether admitted or not – to establish a way at striking at the US should the US strike Iran. Additionally, it has found an ally to help it avoid weapons sanctions and obtain advanced weaponry that would help protect it’s nuclear facilities from air strikes through a proxy (of course, training and maintenance and parts may be difficult to obtain should Venezuela buy them and send them to Iran).
Iran has obviously not been sitting idly by while the West contrived to choke it off from the weaponry it wants. Additionally it has found a way to make any strike on their facilities much more risky for the US.
Anna Mahjar-Barducci of Hudson New York (Hudson Institute) concludes:
Back in the 1962, thanks to the stern stance adopted by the then Kennedy administration, the crisis was defused.
Nowadays, however, we do not see the same firmness from the present administration. On the contrary, we see a lax attitude, both in language and in deeds, that results in extending hands when our adversaries have no intention of shaking hands with us. Iran is soon going to have a nuclear weapon, and there are no signs that UN sanctions will in any way deter the Ayatollah’s regime from completing its nuclear program. We know that Iran already has missiles that can carry an atomic warhead over Israel and over the Arabian Peninsula. Now we learn that Iran is planning to build a missile base close to the US borders. How longer do we have to wait before the Obama administration begins to understand threats?
Her points are dead-on. The unclenched fist, as we predicted, has caused the aggressors of the world to decide to push the envelope. Believe it or not And why not? There’s no penalty evident for doing so. As I’ve told anyone who would listen, 2009 would be a year that the bad guys watched the new guy on the block and assessed him (weak or strong?). If they decide he’s a weak sister, they will begin to test him in 2010 and 2011. North Korea is right now in the middle of doing that and, as this deal indicates, Iran (and Venezuela) has absolutely no fear of the US’s reaction to basing missiles capable of hitting the US mainland in Venezuela. And START does nothing to address this situation, obviously. Yet that’s the administration’s current priority.
The phone is about to ring at 3am. You have to wonder when it does if it will just go to the answering machine.
“In a wave election, … you feel powerless. Everything I feel I know how to do, that I’m trained to do, I can’t do.”
The title comes from a quote by a pollster for the Democrats in this article. Most of the article is about the resignation that the GOP will take the House, with some Democratic strategists predicting as many as 70 Republican pickups.
I highlighted that quote because I think it indicates what is different about this election and what is wrong with most elections.
Democratic consultants, pollsters, and strategists have a tried-and-true playbook. It includes some of the following:
To be sure, Republicans sometimes dabble in the same tactics. They can’t depend on the media to carry water unless they are pretty lickspittle to the press and talk trash about other Republicans, but some of them do that. And generic promises and backroom special interest deals are a staple among professional politicians of all stripes. The interesting thing about this election to me is that some of those Republicans faced the same difficulties as the Democrats (an “adverse political climate“) and some are already gone from the field.
This election is different because there is a contingent of voters that simply does not give the benefit of the doubt to either professional politicians or the media any longer. In fact, it’s worse than that. They assume what they’re hearing from those entities is distorted or dishonest. They assume the media has chosen sides. They assume that the professional politician cares more about his power and perqs than about governing responsibly.
They have every reason to assume all of this, because it’s all true.
I see two things that have made the difference this time around. First, the media trashed any remaining credibility they had in relentlessly pimping for Obama. They covered up every potentially damaging fact that came up about him, never challenged him on specific policies, and basically acted as though they would be happy to bear his child (even the men) if that could be made to happen. This level of obsequiousness was detectable even in people who don’t pay much attention to politics.
Second, the failure of leftism, and the arrogance of leftism even in the face of its own failure, is more obvious than ever. Obama and his cronies have made no attempt to hide their contempt for the foundational principles of the country. They believe they know better than the common citizens what is best for the common citizens.
That arrogance has been around for a while. There are Democrats who have been trying to nationalize healthcare since Medicare passed in the sixties.
The difference is that now it’s on open display. Barney Frank can now be caught saying outright that he wants single payer, but it can’t pass right now, so Obamacare is the best progress they can make this time around. Multiply this by thousands as the words Democrats are used to telling the faithful (and expecting to be hidden from wider view by a complicit media) now get played on YouTube to millions of pi$$ed off voters.
We have a generation of political consultants and strategists who have basically looked at voters as a large group of marks and suckers. With good reason, since tactics based on that attitude have worked to put odious, nasty leftists like Frank, Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, and many others in office for decades.
My biggest hope based on this election is that our incompetent and corrupt ruling class has at last awoken a critical mass of voters who refuse to be marks and suckers. Who work relentlessly to expose the true arrogance and ineptitude of pro politicians, and the feckless bias of the media.
We’ll have to wait until 2012 to see if that’s the case. But then, I’ve waited all my life to see that critical mass awaken, and I’d almost given up even trying to talk to people about the dangers we face from unbridled government. I can wait a while longer to see if I’ll be disappointed again.
Whitman’s maid claims Whitman knew she was an illegal immigrant. Whitman posts the maid’s falsified employment docs. http://bit.ly/bormPh
California Gov. signs bill against loud aftermarket motorcycle exhausts. Now we’ll see if loud pipes really save lives. http://bit.ly/bUiFG9
Wow, that Gloria Allred is a c … uh … committed advocate for her client, huh?
Meg’s maid felt “exploited, disrespected, humiliated, and emotionally and financially abused.” But stayed for 9 years. http://lat.ms/auFy6P
Soooo, that went well. Meg Whitman Housekeeper Flakes On Allred Press Conference. http://bit.ly/9T7DmF
Two Things Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) Can’t Stand: Racial Intolerance and Vietnamese. http://bit.ly/cEShrW