Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Taxing Drug War...That Should Be Axed & Taxed

The United States needs to face the truth:  the self-styled "War on Drugs" died in its infancy. Long before modern crusades against both recreational and illicit drugs, humanity has sought ways to escape the realities of existence. With little to no success at stemming that cultural tradition even in recent decades – wasting billions in the futile attempt to enforce and thwart it – politicians, law enforcement and citizens nonetheless are na├»vely surprised by statistics that continually verify the fact. When the U.S. ratified the Eighteenth Amendment (1919) that ushered in Prohibition, it set off an unprecedented, if not unexpected, era of criminality – from the average citizen frequenting an illegal speakeasy to the amateur and professional bootleggers running the liquor to them. People were willing to violate the law to have a drink, the government be damn!

The same is true when it comes to more exotic drug use. After Prohibition failed, the crusaders again turned their attention to a consistent target:  marijuana. From the early 20th century, the environmentally-friendly (no pesticides needed), naturally-growing economic staple – in the United States, industrial hemp production for use in uniforms, canvas and rope peaked at the height of the Second World War – steadily went from a recreational drug of choice to an illegal “gateway” ripe for abuse. With the earliest policies emphasizing that position shaped by overzealous bureaucrats, threatened industrialists and "yellow" journalists like Harry J. Anslinger, the DuPonts and William Randolph Hearst, what has been the consequence? Ironically, the criminalization, rather than the drug itself, has become a gateway to other illegal activities and drug use. There is a direct correlation between not only the illegalization of marijuana, but also that of cocaine and heroin, to the more destructive yet cheaper and easily man-made scourge of the past few decades:  crystal meth. In areas that once harbored basement greenhouses, now house ad-hoc labs.

From this...

Even if it means combining household items purchased legally from the local store – rather than using a natural plant, like marijuana or even cocoa – people will always find a way to get a high.

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All one has to do is look at the tobacco industry as an example. Study after study points to tobacco use as a leading cause of cancer, and, by law, cigarette makers are required to carry such warnings. Politicians continually call for higher taxes on tobacco products, as a two-fold means of stamping out smoking and funding cancer research. Have Americans quit purchasing these products? Absolutely not. From Jamestown to the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution, the U.S. can trace its heritage intertwined with tobacco production. Hyperbole aside, tobacco has practically single-handedly funded this nation, and despite lawsuits and steeper regulation, the industry is still a multi-billion dollar revenue stream for both producers and government.

Today, both alcohol and tobacco are heavily enforced, regulated and taxed by layers of bureaucratic and enforcement agencies. Precedent exists for recreational drugs as well, from the Harrison Narcotics Act (1914) to the Marihuana Tax Act (1937). No matter the price, people will continue to use; sometimes, whether socially or otherwise, life dictates it. It is time the government stops wasting billions in taxpayer money on a “war” that, as history shows, cannot be won. Instead, there needs to be the realization that if you cannot beat them, join them – through strict enforcement, regulation and taxes. After all, revenue generation from taxed drugs is better than an open faucet taxing a lost cause. Just ask any pharmaceutical company. Or Australia, Germany or the Netherlands, which have seen positive results from instituting regulated, decriminalized drug laws.

©2012 Steve Sagarra

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If You Can Keep It

This week's Newsweek cover asks, "Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?" A better question, why are Obama supporters so delusional? Three years in, with one to go – what exactly is the plan? Continue a path that replaces free-market capitalism with a system that redistributes wealth to those who have not earned it, socialized medicine without choice and nationalization of private business? The housing market – which ignited the economic collapse in the first place – is still an upside down disaster, business owners still fear investing in new ventures, including job creation, due to market and regulatory uncertainty and Wall St. is still hedging its bets against another major downturn. Not to mention questions over border security and foreign policy that makes our allies nervous and emboldens our enemies.

If that is the plan, the president can keep it. 

Rather than any intellectual deficiencies, critics of the Obama Administration are aptly critical because of…THE PLAN. To say otherwise calls into question the intellect of those critiquing conservative-minded Americans. Moreover, it highlights a consistent leftist misunderstanding of the difference, and divide, between conservatism and liberalism in the United States. Of course, the liberal establishment is prone to such idiosyncratic thought, constantly demanding civility in political discourse while hypocritically hurling insults and violence against their conservative opposition. As much as liberals want conservatives to be liberals, it will never happen. Why? For one major reason: conservatives are conservatives, who disagree with liberal ideology. Duh.

Frankly, the Founding Fathers would find the current political climate unrecognizable from their vision, if not repulsive to their ideas. Even in their heated partisanship – particularly between Adams and Jefferson – none ever went so far as to threaten the very nation for which they had sworn so much and fought so hard to create. They rendered public service as a virtue to be defended and preserved by generations to come, setting aside personal differences in the cause of unity and liberty against tyranny. It would seem, 225 years later, that cause is no longer as important as the cause of our personal differences.

Perhaps that is why, at the close of the Constitutional Conventional in 1787, Benjamin Franklin prophetically stated, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

©2012 Steve Sagarra

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You're Welcome...Now Go To Hell!

As a born and bred red-blooded American – whose ancestors immigrated to the United States in pursuit of the freedom and opportunity it afforded – I am sick and tired of the bashing the U.S. receives, and takes, for existing. While it has its imperfections, it is closer than anything else ever offered in the history of civilization. Who oppresses free speech, and routinely murders their own people when they do speak out? Certainly, not those bastions of freedom and opportunity like Iran or Venezuela…yeah, MUST be the big "evil" US! When the world goes to shit next time – a la 1914, 1939, 2001, etc. – how about not bothering to call us? We will see how well that works out for the world. And how long it takes before the call rings out for American blood to once again spill upon the alter of freedom in sacrifice.

Who is going to man that wall though? Russia? China? Maybe the Useless Nations, an entity that has a stellar resume as a beacon of freedom and opportunity. Just look at Korea (originally, and still on-going, U.N.-sanctioned “police action”), Darfur and even pre-war Afghanistan and Iraq.

You're welcome. Now, go to hell. 

©2012 Steve Sagarra