Why Wait for 2021? End the Federal War on Marijuana Now!

The Boston Globe‘s Naomi Martin and James Pindell report that all of 2020’s formally declared “major party” presidential candidates say they support legalizing marijuana at the federal level. Yes, that includes President Trump.

Great idea! But why should the nearly 2/3 of Americans who want marijuana legalized spend the next 20 months listening to these candidates promise to make it happen? At least eight of them are in a position to get the job done now.

Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are US Senators. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is a US Representative. Any or all of them could introduce and sponsor/co-sponsor bills to legalize marijuana.

Donald Trump is the president of the United States. Any time he cares to pick up the phone and summon the Republican party’s congressional leaders, or maybe just  US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and US Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) over to the White House, he can lean on them to get a bill moving for the same purpose, then sign it when it passes.

There are opportunities here for all of these politicians. The first one to make a big move would get the most credit for ending the federal war on marijuana. The others could earn some brownie points (yes, I went there) for joining in. We could enjoy a rare “bi-partisan” lovefest where political opponents come together for the good of the country.

Of course, the candidates who don’t really mean it when they say the favor legalization would be put on the spot. They’d have  to either follow through or look like the liars they are. That’s a feature, not a bug. Let this issue winnow the field of candidates who thought they could run the clock out on it and then go back to business as usual.

So far, ten states have defied the federal government’s  ban on marijuana and outright legalized it for recreational use, while another 13 have “decriminalized” it instead of treating it as a serious offense. It’s legal for medical use in 33 states and the District of Columbia and another 13 states have relaxed restrictions on one of its most useful ingredients, CBD.

Marijuana legalization is an unstoppable parade. Time for the presidential candidates to run for the front of that parade instead of just standing in the crowd hoping the voters will throw them some candy.

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Tucker Carlson Needs Love from His Leaders

Fox News host and Trump cheerleader Tucker Carlson is a culturally conservative, big-government, nationalist populist. As such, he’s upset that establishment politicians and their sponsoring elite don’t care enough to promote his and his fellow Americans’ happiness. (See his recent commentary.)

That’s weird. Why would he want them to?

Timothy Sandefur has exposed Carlson’s failure to grasp that individual freedom and its spontaneously emergent arena for peaceful voluntary exchange — the marketplace — make possible what Carlson insists he values most: “Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence,” which Carlson correctly identifies as “ingredients in being happy.” In his view, those who oppose government interference with markets, that is, with our freedom to engage in mutually beneficial trade, prefer material things to higher goods like family and “deep relationships with other people.” That’s ridiculous: freedom is a higher good, and it underlies other higher goods.

But that’s not all that Carlson fails to grasp. Among other things, he misses the distinction between the libertarian’s appreciation (not “worship”) of markets and corporatism, or anti-market government support for favored business interests, such as tariffs and direct subsidies. He also engages in what I call the dark art of the package deal by assuming that America’s global empire and free markets are integral to a single rational political doctrine. On the contrary, war, big military budgets, and deficit spending make markets less free.

Let’s look at Carlson’s major complaint: that America’s so-called leaders (Trump excepted, I suppose) don’t love us. He spends a good deal of time whining about this. Rather than demand that our (mis)leaders get out of our way and leave the pursuit of happiness to us through private consensual interaction, Carlson calls on the politicians to care for us and even to make us happy. Why he doesn’t find that prospect disgusting is beyond understanding. Politicians could only do what Carlson asks by deciding what ought to make us happy and by forcing us to obey them. Thanks, Tucker, but no thanks.

“They [“members of our educated upper-middle-classes” whom most politicians represent] don’t care how you live, as long as the bills are paid and the markets function,” Carlson writes. Really? Then why does the elite-controlled government prohibit all kinds of peaceful conduct? For example, why does it impose behavior-distorting taxes, tariffs, occupational licensing, land-use restrictions, and intellectual-property rules, all of which impede economic mobility and harm families? Carlson disparages the private pursuit of wealth as detrimental to the pursuit of cultural values, but he ignores that prosperity can relieve the pressures that obstruct the cultivation of those values. He believes that marriage and family are paramount, but costs of government interference with private economic activity can take a toll on those institutions.

When Carlson disparages private decisionmaking in the marketplace, he shows himself to be in bed with the ruling elite. Contrary to his position, “market forces” don’t “crush” families; the government does. America’s problem is not an exaggerated desire for iPhones and “plastic garbage from China.” It’s political power.

In recent years the oppression of people who engage in victimless acts has diminished in some ways, for example, through the legalization of marijuana in some states. For Carlson, however, this is bad: “Why are our leaders pushing [marijuana] on us? You know the reason. Because they don’t care about us.” Carlson forgets that people have voted for legalization. But in his view, removing a restriction on liberty is equivalent to promoting what he regards as a vice. Freedom be damned. Remember, this is the same guy who claims to value dignity, purpose, self-control, independence, and family. He sees little relationship between those things and freedom, and anyone who does understand the relationship is impugned as a shallow materialist who cares little for his fellow human beings.

“The goal for America,” Carlson says, “is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness…. But our leaders don’t care.”

Note the two problems here. First, “America” as a collective should not have goals. Goals are for free people to set, individually and within families and voluntary communities, according to their own values. Second, looking to “leaders” to promote our happiness means trusting rulers over free persons.

Carlson is an elitist in populist clothing.

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On Utah Politics IV

The Salt Lake Tribune reports, “Representatives from the [Mormon] church, the Utah Medical Association and a pro-cannabis group met for seven hours in House Speaker Greg Hughes’ office Monday, trying to hammer out details of a plan” for medical marijuana legalization. What the actual fuck? They, the Mormon Church, aren’t even hiding their political involvement anymore. Article 1, Section 4 of Utah’s constitution reads, “There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions.” Is working directly with State actors to craft and pass State legislation interfering with State functions? Sure seems that way to me. Far be it from me to give two shits about what some arbitrary constitution says, but the Mormon church does, or at least says it does. At what point does the Mormon Church’s interference in State functions warrant a lawsuit? Does anyone in Utah even have the courage to sue the Mormon Church? This could get interesting. And that’s today’s two cents.

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The Transition from Slavery to Freedom

I sometimes hear people, including freedom advocates, pondering how society might “transition” from an authoritarian system to a stateless society. The implication is that there could be some sort of gradual, peaceful phasing in of freedom, and a phasing out of governmental controls.

But that is not how things works, and not how things will ever work.

Ultimately, there are only two choices: either you own yourself, or you are the property of someone else (the majority, the collective, some political “authority,” etc.). The choice is binary. You can’t “sort of” belong to yourself and “sort of” be the subject of a ruling class. It’s one or the other. If there is a disagreement between you and some other “part owner” of you, one opinion has to “outrank” the other. And whichever opinion that is, that is the actual owner.

This principle applies to “owning” anything: whoever has the final, exclusive right to decide what is done with something is, by definition, the “owner” of that thing. (This is also why “collective ownership” almost always ends in disaster: if different members of the collective have different ideas about what should be done with what they “collectively own,” then what?) A slave can’t be partially owned by himself and partially owned by his master. Whoever has the final say is the actual owner. A slave who is “allowed” to do certain things by his master is still 100% a slave. Here is how an actual slave expressed the point:

I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each week, pour the reward of my toil into the purse of my master. … He was satisfied with nothing less than the last cent. He would, however, when I made him six dollars, sometimes give me six cents, to encourage me. It had the opposite effect. I regarded it as a sort of admission of my right to the whole. … I always felt worse for having received any thing; for I feared that the giving me a few cents would ease his conscience, and make him feel himself to be a pretty honorable sort of robber.” – Frederick Douglass

Likewise, either “government” has the right to rule, or it doesn’t. You can’t gradually transition from authoritarianism to freedom, as if there some grayscale possible between the two.

The only way in which there will be a “transition” from statism to a stateless society is in the number of people who have given up the superstition of “authority.” But for each individual, he either believes in freedom, or he believes in “government” (i.e., someone else having the right to rule him). The two are mutually exclusive. And believing in a kinder, gentler master/owner, as “minarchists” do, is still to believe in the Divine Right of Politicians, and is still fundamentally incompatible with actual freedom.

For a lot of people, talking about a “transition” from “government” to a stateless society is really just an expression of their own reluctance to give up their own attachment to the political mythology they were taught. They find it uncomfortable to all the way let go of the philosophical security blanket of a protector “government,” so they hope for a more moderate happy medium—more pleasant, comfortable chains, that are a slight improvement but without having to upset their deeply ingrained statist paradigm.

But the choice remains binary. For example, either the state has the right to rob people, or it doesn’t. (It doesn’t.) To “transition” from one to the other would be akin to claiming that 50% forced extortion is intolerable tyranny, but that 49% is righteous and moral. The only principled choices are 0% or 100%. Either you are the property of someone else, and they get to decide how much of your stuff they will take from you (the basis of both the belief in slavery and the belief in “taxation”), or you own yourself, and the state (or anyone else) taking even one penny from you without your permission is immoral theft.

So, for example, to gradually transition from the current levels of authoritarian “taxation” to only voluntarily-funded services implies that, in the interim, legalized extortion is valid and righteous. Is armed robbery okay as long as the thief is slowly phasing out his crimes? Of course not. To talk about any gradual “legislative” solution necessarily implies that it is up to legislatures to decide how much control they should have.

Again, that is analogous to a slavemaster slowly allowing his slaves more and more “freedom.” Until they are released completely, have complete freedom and 100% control over their own lives, they are still slaves, and that is still wrong. As long as the slavemaster has any say in what happens, there is not true freedom. For the exact same reason, engaging in politics at all amounts to condoning authoritarian domination, because petitioning, campaigning, voting, running for office, all of it implies that elections and legislation are actually legitimate, and that the outcome of political rituals determines who has the right to rule.

A slave who still thinks that he needs his master’s permission in order to be free is not even free inside his own head, just as a person still seeking the legislative permission of “government” in order to be free is not even free inside his own head.

If the choice is still up to the ruling class, as all elections, campaigns and political petitions imply, then the people remain slaves, no matter how relatively nice or nasty the rulers decide to be. This is why “political action” is not something anarchists or voluntaryists should engage in, since it obviously implies that voting and legislation are the path to freedom. They are the exact opposite. Always. To play the game at all is to concede that we need the permission of “law-makers” to be free. And that, of course, means we’re not free, no matter what the “law-makers” do or don’t allowus to do.

There will be no gradual “legalization” of freedom. Ever. To try for that is worse than futile: it is entirely counter-productive. Politics is a game of the parasites, by the parasites, and for the parasites. It is never the road to freedom. If anything is gradual, it will be a gradual increase in the number of people “illegally” ignoring, disobeying and/or resisting the state, until its decrees become unenforceable and it’s extortion fees (“taxes”) become uncollectible, before it finally crashes under its own weight. But no, there will be no gentle, official, “legal” transition from freedom to slavery. There never has been, and there never will be.

To expect those in power—those who sought out positions of power—to be the ones who will diminish and eliminate their own power, is ridiculous. As Thomas Jefferson said (and as basic human nature and all of human history should make obvious), “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”

Just as chattel slavery ended by way of disobedience, “law-breaking,” and occasional violence, so too will statism. There will be no smooth transition, no gradual conversion, between an authoritarian system and a free society. The belief in the Divine Right of Politicians is incompatible in every way with the belief in freedom, and those who muddle the two together (“minarchists,” Constitutionalists, political “Libertarians,” etc.)—or try to find some “compromise” between the two, even if they say it’s just a temporary measure on the way to the goal—are doing little more than strengthening and keeping alive the most dangerous and destructive superstition ever: the belief in “authority.” They are, in fact, prolonging injustice, in the name of being “practical” and “realistic,” when the reality of the situation is that all political action—bickering over who is on the throne and begging the masters for mercy—has never and will never lead to true freedom.

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Alex’s Journey, and Writing Fiction (1h21m) – Episode 085

Episode 085 welcomes Alex Knight, III to the podcast for a chat with Skyler. Topics include: large print books, becoming a fiction writer, his rock bands, growing up in the Northeast United States, his parents, political awareness as a teen, marijuana legalization, Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, Harry Browne, Marc Stevens and his No State Project, thoughts on veganism, dating as an anarchist, libertarian themed short stories, and Netflix recommendations.

Listen to Episode 085 (1h21m, mp3, 64kbps)

Show Notes

Alex Knight III, Facebook Profile, TwitterAmazon Author Page, Smashwords
Skyler’s Small Business, LargePrintLiberty.com
Alex’s Non-Fiction Articles: Strike-the-Root.com, c4ss.orgDailyAnarchist.com, Everything-Voluntary.com
Marc Stevens, No State Project
George Donnelly, Amazon Author Page

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There’s No Such Thing as Legalized Crime

I wish it would go without saying, but many a libertarian decry practices like taxation and civil asset forfeiture as “legalized theft.” Et cetera, Et cetera.

It is only “legalized” if the laws allowing it actually applied to anyone, that they are anything more than opinions scribbled on parchment, paper, or computer screens.

The fact is: they don’t. Tax laws, civil asset forfeiture laws, permit laws, business licensing laws, and on and on, aren’t legalized anything.

And I think we do clear thinking and the cause of liberty a disservice when we assume, in spite of the absence of facts and evidence to the contrary, that these scribbled opinions have any applicability on anybody.

Legal codes and constitutions are as applicable to you and I as are mafia and gang orders.

They are opinions backed by violence. That’s factually all they are. Taxation is not “legalized” theft; it is just plain… old… theft.

Same goes for every other aggressive imposition against innocent people made by those calling themselves “government.”

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