Friday, October 21, 2016

Thoughts on the Gold Standard

Written on October 21st, 2016

Edited and Expanded on October 25th, 2016














     It has been said that all of the existing mined gold which currently exists in the country, would not be enough to support backing the national currency with gold deposits. I do not doubt that this is true.
     However, I believe that if the federal government were to practice fiscal solvency and responsibility, balance the budget, eliminate the budget deficit, and take steps toward paying off the debt, then not as much gold (and other precious metals; namely silver, palladium, and copper) would be needed to back the currency.
     This is because eliminating the federal budget deficit would make it unnecessary to engage in Quantitative Easing and Operation Twist -type programs, which essentially involve the Department of the Treasury printing new paper fiat currency "out of thin air". As a result, debt is built into the value of the dollar; thus, the value and purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar is diluted, and inflation increases.
     It is this Quantitative Easing, and inflation, and building debt into the value of the dollar, which cause currency users to spend it more quickly than they otherwise would. Inflation causes the money to "burn a hole in the pocket" of the currency user; some call this effect "the inflation tax on savings". The value of the dollar is declining as it sits in Americans' pockets; this gives currency users an incentive to spend money now - or as soon as possible - rather than spending it later, and rather than saving it for the long-term.
     As a result of all this, people spend most of their money to buy ordinary consumer goods that they need on a day-to-day basis; instead of saving that money, and instead of spending their money on things that they will need for the long-term - namely, and most importantly, homes - items that are long-term stores of value.
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     It is important to note about gold - and other precious metals - that they have more value in their exchange than they have in their use (at least in terms of productive, personal use to the average person, who possesses the metals for non-industrial purposes). Although gold and silver have industrial uses in electronics - and arguably some personal use in jewelry and silverware - they have little use to the average person, who possesses them for savings purposes.
     These facts render the value of precious metals' uses as currency, greater than their value for productive industrial uses; and it is the conversion of these metals into their productive industrial uses which gives the metals their high store of value as a medium of exchange. Widespread agreement among consumers that goods which count gold and silver (etc.) among their raw materials, are beneficial, is what makes precious metals viable currencies.
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     To recap: if the budget were balanced, the debt were paid off, inflation were driven down to zero, and the purchasing power of the dollar were stable and / or rising, then as a result, overall fiscal policy were to incentivize savings instead of immediate spending.
     If that were to happen, then people would be able to devote more attention to spending money towards procuring their long-term needs, such as houses in which they can live for decades (rather than towards obtaining the goods and services which they need every day), then the necessity of engaging in trade and commerce would decrease overall. This is because the more expensive long-term needs could be more easily obtained, due to the positive impact which inflation relief has upon savings. Decreasing sales taxes, excise taxes, luxury taxes, customs duties, imposts, and tariffs, could serve to further offset the disincentivizing effects on purchasing which are created by the "inflation tax on savings" which budgetary insolvency makes seem necessary.
     When people can easily afford what they need, they save more, they spend less value, they don't have to work as many hours, and they have extra time left over to devote to planning their purchases in ways that save them even more time and money in the process.
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     With (1) diminished consumer need to buy expensive long-term items, (2) strengthened purchasing power that makes it just as much easier to buy short-term goods (as compared to long-term goods), (3) more money in savings accounts, and (4) less money being spent in the marketplace; less currency would need to circulate in order to ensure that the medium of exchange reaches all the people it needs to, and reaches them in the amounts and value necessary to buy what they need.
     And when less currency needs to circulate, lower amounts of a value-storing medium of exchange  need to exist in order to back up the value of the U.S. Dollar. Simply put, the gold standard would be much easier to implement given successful implementation of the fiscal reform measures which I have outlined above.
     Speaking strictly in terms of the currently dominant paper fiat currency (as opposed to precious metals), less "faith and credit" in the treasury and banking systems are required to prop up this rapidly depreciating, failed, arguably unconstitutional currency.
     Here's to hoping that the value and purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar will be saved before our currency becomes yet another failed faith-based program.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Links to Articles About My 2016 Congressional Campaign

Letter to the Editor of the Daily Herald (written by my campaign manager Phil Collins)
http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20161014/discuss/161019357/



Letter to the Editor of the Chicago Tribune (not published)http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/10/letter-to-editor-of-chicago-tribune-on.html



Article in the Lake Forest Patch, written by Tim Moran
http://patch.com/illinois/lakeforest/lake-bluff-man-plans-run-10th-district-representative




Self-Authored Press Release
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/03/independent-candidate-enters-race-for.html




Trifold Pamphlet and 2016 Campaign Policieshttp://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/09/2016-us-house-campaign-trifold-pamphlet.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/09/positions-on-45-issues-for-my-2016.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/08/positions-on-39-issues-for-my-2016-us.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/03/2016-congressional-campaign-policies.html



Illinois Center Right Coalitionhttp://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/07/address-to-illinois-center-right.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/08/response-to-illinois-center-right.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/08/speech-to-ilinois-center-right.html
https://thegrandinquirer.com/2016/08/22/joe-kopsick-speaks-to-the-illinois-center-right-coalition/



Illinois LiberTEA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWtR-qSnVeo
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/07/response-to-illinois-libertea.html

Speech to the Chicago Libertarian Party

http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/10/speech-to-chicago-libertarian-party-on.html


Comparison of my positions to Dold's and Schneider's
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/10/bob-dold-brad-schneider-and-joe-kopsick_12.html



17 Questions for Dold and Schneiderhttp://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/10/seventeen-questions-for-bob-dold-and.html



Other Recent Articleshttp://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2015/12/guns-terrorism-and-immigration-reaction.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2015/12/papers-please-freedom-vs-permission.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/01/hammond-v-united-states.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/02/sanderss-foreign-policy-silence-hides.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/04/government-is-source-of-corporate.html

http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/04/health-care-and-health-insurance-where.html

http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/10/states-could-experiment-with-resource.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/10/296-people-who-want-women-to-register.html
http://aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com/2016/10/take-marijuana-off-schedule-i.html



Official Campaign Facebook Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/Kopsick2016/?ref=bookmarks

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Letter to the Editor of the Daily Herald on Illinois's 10th District U.S. House Race


Originally Written on October 6th, 2016

Edited on October 11th, 2016


Dear Editor,

      After following the race for U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 10th District for a full year, I am still not convinced that either candidate is preferable to the other, nor that either candidate shares a majority of my views.

      While I share many of Congressman Dold's positions on trade, and many of Mr. Schneider's positions on marriage, their similarity regarding most other issues is troubling. Both candidates' voting records have contributed to increased taxes and spending, and to the growth of the size and scope of the federal government. There is no reason to expect that either one of them will not continue these patterns if elected.

     Both candidates support the same disastrous foreign policy towards the Middle East, domestic surveillance, restrictions on the right to bear arms, the failed A.C.A. health law, continued federal funding for organizations providing abortions, and inappropriate executive rather than congressional action on immigration; and both candidates oppose personalizing Social Security and are ambivalent on decriminalizing marijuana.

     Most importantly, in this “year of the outsider” election, neither candidate has stuck his neck out to support new proposals to help solve problems that have persisted in our country for decades. Neither has said anything original or refreshing about labor policy; nor has either of them demonstrated a unique way of understanding the relationship between taxation, economic productivity, and ecology.

     Moreover, they do not seem to subscribe to the notion that our freedoms and rights (including the freedoms to marry, travel, work, buy and sell, drink, smoke, vote, and defend oneself) are natural, fundamental, and inalienable; that they cannot be voted away by legislatures, nor turned into privileges to be sold or revoked at the whim of government.

     The 10th District needs another choice in this election.


- Joseph W. Kopsick

Lake Bluff, Illinois
Write-In Candidate for U.S. House (IL-10)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Twenty-One Questions for Bob Dold and Brad Schneider



Written Between October 1st and 16th, 2016
Published on October 10th, 2016
Edited and Expanded on October 20th, 2016




 


            One of some eight or nine debates between Illinois's 10th District U.S. congressional candidates Bob Dold and Brad Schneider took place at Lake Forest High School in Lake Forest, Illinois, at 1:30 on the afternoon of Sunday, October 16th, 2016. The debate, hosted by the Lake County League of Women Voters, was free and open to the public.


Audience members were invited to submit questions at the debate by writing them on notecards. Since, as a write-in candidate, my name is not technically on the ballot, I was not invited to the debate; however, I was there to submit questions. Since audience members were only permitted to ask several questions each, below I have listed twenty-one questions that I would like to hear the candidates answer.


 


Ninth Amendment
     I believe that the freedoms to marry, travel, work, go on strike, buy and sell, drink, smoke, vote, and defend oneself, are natural, fundamental, and inalienable rights; that they cannot be voted away by legislatures. Do you agree, or do you believe that our rights are mere privileges, which are sold or revoked at government's whim, and that we need to pay taxes on - and pay for applications, permits, and licenses for - everything we do?

Ninth Amendment

     Is there a single, unifying reason why self-defense, marriage, voting, working in an occupation, buying and selling, and traveling, should not be considered natural rights or freedoms, but rather as privileges which can be sold or denied by government, which has the exclusive authority to profit from the sale of license and permit fees?


Government's Role in Society
     What is your preferred vision of the kind of society that government has a responsibility to help create; a compulsory society, or a voluntary society? Would you prefer a compulsory society in which there is a military draft, and nearly everything we do is taxed, and may not be done without applying for a permit or license, and paying fees therefor? Or do you prefer an all-volunteer military; low barriers of entry into the professions; and a tax base relying only on voluntary contributions, user fees, and fees punishing waste?

Private Property

     What are you doing to make it easier to own a car with full exclusionary rights and access to the vehicle's Statement of Origin? What have you done to make it easier to fully own a home without being subject to neighborhood association guidelines and property taxes that disincentivize construction, growth, and useful production thereupon? What would you do to make it easier to owning landed property in full allodial title?


Separation of Powers
     How can you defend the constitutionality of federal involvement in health and education, without resorting to making excuses for the same kind of inappropriate delegation of congressional powers to the president; the kind that brought us the expansion of domestic surveillance and the size of the executive branch, in addition to the expansion of presidential war powers which led to the second invasion of Iraq?


Elections
     Which of the following is the biggest problem pertaining to campaign finance?: 1) lack of transparency in donation disclosures; 2) unlimited donations; or 3) the influence of lobbyists on expanding government, with its favors and privileges for donors and favored industries, in a way that makes such large donations typical? Also, would you support limiting your own office to four consecutive terms at a time?


Amending the Constitution
     Is there any amendment that you would like to see repealed or heavily amended; such as the 14th, 16th, or 17th Amendments? Would you support a new amendment to the Constitution? Would you support voting reform, term limits, an Equal Rights Amendment, or a Balanced Budget Amendment?


Taxes and Productivity
     Do you suspect that taxing any behaviors at lower rates might yield greater revenues? Do you think that keeping tax rates too high might risk inadvertently disincentivizing the behaviors being taxed (namely earning money, buying and selling goods and services, making investments, importing goods, giving gifts, and bequeathing inheritances)? Would it be less harmful to base all government revenue on voluntary contributions; user fees; fees for mineral resource extraction; and fees penalizing waste, blight, and pollution?


Taxes and Poverty
     How is poverty best addressed? Would you support: 1) extending the Earned Income Tax Credit; 2) applying homesteading tax credits to low-cost housing; 3) establishing a citizens' dividend or sovereign wealth fund; or 4) the Negative Income Tax, giving tax payments to those below the poverty level?

Unions

     First, were things better for workers when unions engaged in strikes without the permission of a government labor relations board? Second, would it benefit workers to amend the law so that wildcat strikes, sympathy strikes, and wide-scale boycotts are legal, effective, and possible? Third and last, would you amend the Wagner Act so that unions are no longer required to represent all workers in a workplace, including those who do not consent to paying dues and do not want the benefits of representation?

Wages, Treasury, and the Budget

     Would it still be necessary to raise the minimum wage for private-sector jobs, if we had a balanced budget, a more sound currency, a greater purchasing power, and consumers' costs could be relieved directly by eliminating duties, imposts, tariffs, and sales taxes?

Taxation of Business

     When it comes to enterprise, which types of behaviors by companies should be taxed; 1) malinvestments; 2) personal income, executive bonuses, sales and profits, imports, capital gains, investments, and retirement and health accounts; or 3) pollution, waste, abuse and disuse of land, and extraction of natural resources?

Corporate Privilege
     Would you agree that it is not possible to effectively boycott companies, unless and until several types of government-granted, taxpayer-funded corporate and small business privileges and supports are either revoked or more strictly limited? Also, should multinational businesses be free to sue governments for loss of potential future profits, if those governments don't agree to do business with those companies?


Banking and Bailouts
     How is the public best insulated from the risks of Wall Street speculation, the excesses of commercial banking, and the risk of bailouts? Should Glass-Steagall be restored, should the amount of money that the F.D.I.C. can insure be lowered, is it the credit and bond rating systems that need reform, or should something else be done?


Abortion
     Should partial-birth abortion be legal, should it be publicly funded, and is it abortion or infanticide? Also, what in the Constitution gives any agent or agency of the federal government authority on matters of abortion, except when it comes to whether health insurance should cover the reproductive health needs of federal workers? Lastly, does anything about either the 9th or the 14th Amendment agree or conflict with your position on abortion?

Guns and the Draft

     Should the Second Amendment be modified as to recognize the natural right to refuse service in the militia; and the right to claim a moral philosophical, or religious conscientious objection to being required to render military service in person, whether as part of a draft or mandatory civil emergency preparedness service? Should women be required to register for the draft; or should mandatory draft registration end altogether, and the draft be repealed via a constitutional amendment?


Foreign Aid to Israel
The federal government sends $3.8 billion to the State of Israel each year. Considering that an IRmep/Google poll revealed last month that more than 80% of American adult internet users surveyed, thought that aid to Israel would better be spent on something else, would you consider reducing or revoking aid until the Israelis agree to end their draft, withdraw from illegally occupied territories, admit their possession of nuclear weapons, and sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?


Israel and Iran
   What would you say to a voter who opposes foreign aid to both the State of Israel and its majority-Muslim neighbor states, for the same reasons; women's rights violations, denial of religious freedoms, disregard of civil liberties in policing and military recruitment, and non-transparent nuclear military ambitions? Could Israel take a more merciful role in the peace process? Lastly, do you support the Iran deal, and why or why not?

Schneider's Foreign Policy
Mr. Schneider, what should be done about U.S. presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan? Should we stay in Iraq to fight I.S.I.S., or work with the Russians to achieve peace in Syria? Would you support the Iraq partition plan, or time-tables for withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan? Finally, should the U.S. Army be guarding Pakistan's border with India instead of its border with Afghanistan?


Dold's Inconsistencies
Congressman Dold, what would you tell a conservative or Republican voter who feels that you have flip-flopped on repealing Obamacare, and sees your commercials where you promote gun control and continuing funding for Planned Parenthood, and wonder whether there are any key issues on which you are in total agreement with conservative voters?

Rahm Emanuel
Have you met Rahm Emanuel, do you think he is a good leader, and do you think he has done anything unethical in any of his roles in government or business - such as his time as a Clinton fundraiser and adviser, on the board of Freddie Mac, in his role in the 2008 restructuring, as President Obama's Chief of Staff, or as the Mayor of Chicago - that should disqualify him from seeking higher offices?


Friday, October 7, 2016

Letter to the Editors of the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times on Illinois's 10th District U.S. House Race

Written on October 6th, 2016

Published on October 7th, 2016




Dear Editor,
      After following the race for U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 10th District for a full year, I am still not convinced that either candidate is preferable to the other, nor that either candidate shares a majority of my views.
      While I share many of Congressman Dold's positions on trade, and many of Mr. Schneider's positions on marriage, their similarity regarding most other issues is troubling. Both candidates' voting records have contributed to increased taxes and spending, and to the growth of the size and scope of the federal government. There is no reason to expect that either one of them will not continue these patterns if elected.
      Both candidates support the same disastrous foreign policy towards the Middle East which has weakened our credibility and leadership abroad over the last several decades. Both support expansions of domestic surveillance which undermine due process and which are destructive of privacy. Both candidates have supported measures that interfere with the right to keep and bear arms; measures which diminish our abilities to defend ourselves from violent crime.
      On health, both candidates have opposed efforts to defund and repeal Obamacare, the bailout of the health insurance industry which has increased health spending, while subjecting the medical sector to unnecessary new taxes and regulations. Both support continued federal funding for organizations that provide abortions, an extremely contentious policy which in no way promotes the general welfare.
     On immigration, both have praised the executive-penned DREAM Act, which would contravene congressional authority on naturalization policy. Both candidates have voted to oppose the personalization of Social Security, and have been reticent about taking steps toward a reasonable drug policy.
     Most importantly, in this “year of the outsider” election, neither candidate has stuck his neck out to support new proposals to help solve problems that have persisted in our country for decades. Neither has said anything original or refreshing about labor policy; nor has either of them demonstrated a unique way of understanding the relationship between taxation, economic productivity, and ecology.
     Moreover, they do not seem to subscribe to the notion that our freedoms and rights (including the freedoms to marry, travel, work, buy and sell, drink, smoke, vote, and defend oneself) are natural, fundamental, and inalienable; that they cannot be voted away by legislatures, nor turned into privileges to be sold or revoked at the whim of government.
     The 10th District needs another choice in this election.


- Joseph W. Kopsick
Lake Bluff, Illinois
Write-In Candidate for U.S. House (IL-10)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Critique of Gary Johnson on Fourteen Issues

Written on October 6th, 2016

Edited on October 11th, 19th, and 27th, 2016
Edited and Expanded on October 25th, 2016
 



Table of Contents
1. Johnson's Gaffes
2. Basic Income and Taxing Pollution
3. Summary of Criticism
4. Energy, Foreign Policy, and Guns
5. Taxes, Abortion, and Social Security
6. Baking the Cake
7. Campaign Finance
8. Science Research and Drug Policy
9. Drivers' Licenses
10. Conclusion



Content


1. Johnson's Gaffes


      On Thursday, September 8th, 2016, Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson replied "And what is Aleppo?" when Mike Barnicle, the co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe", asked him what he plans to do about the Syrian city, which was then and is still under siege by I.S.I.S..
     Since then, Johnson has been harshly criticized in the media for the flub; "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough said it was disqualifying, while Barnicle himself said it displayed "an appalling lack of knowledge" but did not consider it disqualifying. The same day on ABC's "The View", Joy Behar said that the gaffe was a disqualifying moment.
     Johnson explained that he thought Aleppo might have been an acronym for a terrorist group, similar to I.S.I.S.. Internet searches for Gary Johnson and Aleppo skyrocketed following Johnson's "Morning Joe" appearance.
      Vice President Joe Biden commented that Johnson thought the city was a dog; by that I suppose he meant to refer to the dog food brand Alpo. So that's one gaffe for Johnson, and another one to add to Biden's long list. But there's more.
      Several weeks later, on Wednesday, September 28th, Johnson appeared with his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, on MSNBC's Libertarian Town Hall, hosted by Chris Matthews. Matthews asked Johnson to name a foreign leader that he admired. While Matthews spoke over Johnson's attempt to respond, Matthews repeatedly rephrased the question. When Johnson replied that he admired former president of Mexico, he was unable to immediately remember the man's name, until Weld said Vicente Fox.
Since that appearance - what Johnson himself referred to as another "Aleppo moment" - the media have repeated their attack. Hillary Clinton was asked the same question, and laughed, mocking Gary Johnson's answer. She responded that she admired German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom William Weld also named as his favorite living foreign leader (also naming recently deceased former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres).
Since the foreign leader gaffe - instead of reminding people that he answered Vicente Fox - Gary Johnson has repeatedly stated that the reason he couldn't easily name someone, is because there aren't many foreign leaders whom he admires. Considering that there aren't many countries run by libertarians, this stands to reason. Johnson has recently claimed that the Hillary Clinton campaign is spending more money to discredit his own, than his entire campaign has spent throughout this election season.
Finally, today, October 6th, 2016, new articles from USA Today, the Huffington Post, Politico, Business Insider, New York Magazine, Esquire, Mediaite, TPM, and others have published articles claiming in their titles that Gary Johnson cannot, will not, or declined to, name the leader of North Korea. His supporters were quick to note that he is familiar with the man, because he believes that North Korea - which recently tested long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads - poses the most imminent military threat to the United States.
In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, October 5th, Johnson declined to name the leader of North Korea when asked if he knew it. He responded that he did know, but did not name Kim Jong-Un.
The day of the foreign leader gaffe, while Johnson - in a room with his running mate - was asked on videotape to explain his response, told a reporter that he was "angry that people would be calling me out on the names, geographic locations, names of foreign leaders, when the underlying policy has thousands of people dying". He also explained that Hillary Clinton's influence as Secretary of State is part of the reason that we now have a foreign policy that excuses "military interventions".
While it is likely that Gary Johnson declined to say the name of North Korea's leader because he was fed up and frustrated with the way the media has been treating him – and didn't feel that he had any obligation to answer - it is just as likely that he did not name Kim Jong-Un because he does not know it.
However, in my opinion, even if Johnson did forget the man's name, he has probably known it at some point. Besides, it is a name that is easy to forget, especially to speakers of English. I'd even surmise that one could hardly expect to ask a room full of well-educated people, even legal professionals or politicians, whether Kim il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, or Kim Jong-Un is the current leader of North Korea, and which was his father, and which was his grandfather.
As a member of the national Libertarian Party whom will be voting for Gary Johnson for president for the second time, as someone whom agrees with Johnson at least 85% to 90% of the time, and as someone whom has written a critique of Ron Paul, I feel that I have the responsibility to publicize the several disagreements I have with Gary Johnson's record as governor, and with his statements as a presidential candidate.


2. Basic Income and Taxing Pollution
 
In case it isn't clear enough by now, I do reject the idea that Johnson's statements about Aleppo, foreign leaders, and North Korea, are disqualifying. I also reject the idea that Johnson is a spoiler for Hillary Clinton because of his support from conservatives against Trump, and because of his not criticizing Clinton enough, and because of his running mate criticizing Clinton even less. I believe that Johnson's comment on Clinton's influence on our disastrous foreign policy, affirms that he is a critic of Clinton.
Additionally, I would not refuse to support Johnson on the basis of his support for taxing pollution and carbon emissions, nor for being open to a universal basic income guarantee. A universal basic income guarantee was proposed by Thomas Paine - as compensation to citizens for the deprivation of the right to fully own and inherit landed property - and is thus (based on what I have read) totally in line with what Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson said on the matter.
Additionally, I do not oppose taxing carbon emissions. Don't get me wrong: I am against United Nations Agenda 21; government schemes to invest in carbon-offset companies; and federal involvement in environmental policy without proper authorization through a constitutional amendment, which Johnson supports.
However, I believe that it is appropriate to impose punitive fines on the blight, disuse, abuse, neglect, waste, and pollution of landed property (in addition to fees on natural resource extraction, user fees, and voluntary contributions). This is because I believe that all taxes are punitive; that is, they have the effect of paradoxically discouraging the behavior which is being taxed. This is because the people who earn money, buy and sell goods and services, make investments, and import goods, will do those things less in order to avoid paying the taxes.
Also, I believe - like Milton Friedman did, in his proposal of an income for the poor that would be funded through what he called the Negative Income Tax - that a Citizens' Dividend, or Universal Basic Income Guarantee, should be passed, if and only if the taxation system that supports it, replaces and overhauls the entire current government tax base. I have defended these ideas in my article "Conservatives for Georgism and a Social Market Economy".
And there we have it: my first enumerated area of disagreement with Gary Johnson; federal involvement in environmental issues without proper authorization through a constitutional amendment. Before continuing to the other twelve issues, it has been noted by Reason Magazine that while serving as governor of New Mexico, Johnson presided over an overall increase in public spending, as well as the growth of state debt from $2.7 billion to $3.9 billion. According to Spiller, the debt grew from $1.8 to $4.6 billion, and public spending grew from $4.4 billion to $7.7 billion.
This is not a concern for me as a voter, because I believe that this is attributable to Johnson's contention with a heavily Democratic legislature; a legislature which was willing to override his veto of the state's 2003 budget (Johnson's final budget), and one which was submitting nearly a hundred bills a year that he was unwilling to sign.
 
 

3. Summary of Criticism


Aside from (1) federal involvement in environmental policy, I disagree with Johnson's positions that: (2) off-shore oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gases should be expanded; (3) the idea that working with Russia to achieve a solution in Syria is likely or possible; (4) the U.S. should maintain its alliance with the State of Israel; (5) the federal government should continue to ban the sale and ownership of automatic weapons; (6) the FairTax and a national value-added sales tax are the best ways to fund the federal government; (7) cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood should not be a priority; (8) means-testing, raising the retirement age, and privatization should be on the table when it comes to reforming Social Security; (9) all American enterprises must sell goods to patrons on demand; (10) political parties receiving more than 5% in elections should receive public taxpayer funds; (11) political donations must be transparent and publicly disclosed; (12) the federal government should fund scientific research, including green energy alternatives; (13) marijuana should be legalized, but cocaine, meth, heroin, and other drugs should not; and (14) automobile drivers should be required to obtain licenses and pay fees therefor.
 

4. Energy, Foreign Policy, and Guns

     (2) Johnson believes that the U.S. should expand off-shore drilling for oil; and that hydraulic fracturing for natural gases should be expanded, as long as there is oversight. While Johnson and I agree that more testing and / or oversight is needed if fracking for natural gases is to take place safely, I do not believe that the practice is safe, while Johnson seems to believe that it is. Although Johnson and I believe that the energy sector needs to be de-regulated, that it needs to be subject to consumer demand and other market forces, and that the federal government should cease subsidizing and protecting energy industries (especially failed energy technologies); unlike Johnson, I do not believe that off-shore drilling for oil should be expanded. I would like to see environmental and energy policy devolve back to the states, and I would like to see each state and / or community become independent signatories to either the Kyoto Protocol or something like it, and also put into place measures that would achieve zero non-offset carbon emissions by the year 2030.

(3) In my opinion, it is clear from the partial breakdown of U.S.-Russian relations in the last week, the prospect that working with Russia to achieve either peace or a military solution in Syria, seems very unlikely. I believe that the U.S. should exit N.A.T.O. before it continues to expand; stop providing military aid and protection to foreign countries without being compensated; stop intervening in foreign elections and civil wars; stop backing foreign leaders and despots; and stop funding, training, and arming rebel groups that only promote chaos and instability in the region. I do not think it is appropriate to assume that just because we have a stable government in Iraq, or an Iraqi Partition Plan, or we arm the Kurds, or even if we have a Libertarian president, that Westerners will suddenly understand how to control and pacify the Middle East. I do not think it is possible to have better relations with Russia or Syria until we abolish all entangling formal alliances, re-evaluate who our friends and enemies are in the Middle East, reconsider our relationship with the State of Israel, and learn to cooperate with the Third World. This is, in my opinion, the only foreign policy that will prevent joint military exercises between Russia, China, Pakistan, and Syria, from becoming a real, imminent threat to the United States in specific, and the West in general.
     (4) That brings me to the State of Israel. Johnson's response to iSideWith.com's presidential candidate survey revealed that he believes the U.S. should continue to support Israel, and that the U.S. should respect Israeli sovereignty, and not dictate how it should interact with its neighbors. I agree with Johnson that the U.S. should not tell Israel what to do regarding matters of foreign affairs. However, I do not believe that the U.S. should continue its alliance with that country; as George Washington warned against getting involved in entangling alliances. I also believe that all federal foreign aid should be cut, including to Israel; Johnson disagrees with me on this issue. In my platform for the U.S. House, I have stated that I would vote to urge the State of Israel to end its military draft; cease occupying territory, captured during wartime (in defiance of international law) and later annexed; and to publicly admit to its possession of nuclear weapons, and sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I do not make all of this a condition for continuing foreign aid; on the contrary, I oppose military aid altogether (because military appropriations bills pertaining to greater than two years are unconstitutional), and because I would criticize those who would like the U.S. to emulate the State of Israel on matters of the draft, airport security, and policing tactics. I remain a firm critic of that country, and I strongly disagree with those who argue that "there should be no daylight between the U.S. and our strongest democratic ally in the region, Israel", in part because I agree with the Jewish religious objections to the state, espoused by activist group Neturei Karta and others in the Satmar and other Hasidic Jewish communities. Johnson has not called for a strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel; in fact, he has criticized that country, saying that he would not allow it to attack Iran. I agree with this; however, I would caution any candidate about emulating Israel too closely.
     Before switching gears from foreign policy to gun control, I will also note that I disagree with Johnson's position that the U.S. should remain in the United Nations, and with his position that the U.S. should continue defending other N.A.T.O. countries that maintain low military defense budgets relative to their G.D.P.. I would like to see the United States exit both the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or at the very least drastically scale back our involvement in these organizations, and move the headquarters of the U.N. to some other country. If our allies cannot afford to pay us to protect them, then we should cease protecting them; otherwise they will likely spend too much on their welfare states, and too little on building independent, self-sustaining national military forces, and this risks obligating American taxpayers to foot the bill for their irresponsible spending. I additionally oppose continued U.S. membership in N.A.T.O. because its membership is expanding, and this fact makes it more likely that the U.S. will be pulled into a war, being obligated to treat any attack on a N.A.T.O. ally as an attack on itself.

     (5) I disagree with Gary Johnson and Bill Weld that the federal government should continue to prohibit and punish the ownership, purchase, and sale of semi-automatic and automatic weapons. The Second Amendment makes it clear that Congress shall not infringe upon the natural right to keep and bear arms; this includes the right to own weapons (not only firearms), and the right to defend oneself against a tyrannical government. Since I believe that the powers of a just government derive from the consent and permission of the governed, I believe that governments have a duty to refrain from requiring permissions and licenses (and fees therefor) for guns; and that governments' authority to own and use weapons, derives from the right of the people to do the same, and that that authority comes through authorization by the people.
     At a time when the rule of law and the Bill of Rights are being neglected - and both major party presidential candidates are open to reinstating the draft (while nearly 300 elected officials support reinstatement and / or requiring women to register) - it is crucial to retain our fundamental, natural rights to keep and bear arms; these include our right to defend ourselves against any government (foreign or domestic) seeking to compel us to fight for it. That is how our country was formed; I resolve that it will not be destroyed due to widespread public ignorance of the original intent of the Second Amendment.
     If suspected terrorists, violent felons, domestic abusers, the mentally ill, and people with criminal histories involving the use of guns, are to have their rights to bear arms - and their rights to travel - revoked, then those rights may only be revoked through a judge's order; not through legislation, and certainly not through legislation passed at the federal level.
     Finally, on the subject of guns, I will note that I disagree with Johnson's position that victims of gun violence should not be allowed to sue firearms dealers and manufacturers for reasons other than to hold the defendants liable for negligence. I oppose Johnson on this because every citizen, regardless of their jurisdiction, has the equal right to sue any person or organization for any reason. Whether the case is frivolous should be up to the jury - and up to the willingness of the defense attorney and prosecutor to take the case - not up to legislators in the federal government.


5. Taxes, Abortion, and Social Security

      (6) I disagree with Johnson that the FairTax, or a flat national value-added sales tax, are the best ways to fund the federal government. I do believe that replacing all non-user-fee-based government revenue on sales taxes would be preferable to the current system; especially if sales taxes were levied with the intention of replacing income taxes and property taxes, and especially if all behaviors taxed are taxed at the same rate. However, I also believe that sales taxes effectively discourage and diminish sales. I also believe that sales taxes increase consumer prices, which makes it more difficult for struggling people to afford the ordinary consumer goods and services that they need to survive. Some have criticized Johnson's two favored tax programs for being regressive - that is, placing an undue burden upon the poor - but that criticism only makes it clear that taxing luxury items would be preferable to taxing all goods bought and sold. Of course, luxury taxes would diminish the sales of luxury items, so in my opinion, the Single Tax on land value (also called Land Value Taxation; L.V.T.) described by Henry George, is still the least harmful tax ever proposed.
      (7) While I agree with Gary Johnson that protecting the mother's right to choose to get an abortion, until the point of viability of the fetus, is a good starting point when it comes to finding compromise on the issue, I do not agree with Johnson's recent statement that cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood should not be prioritized. In my opinion, abortion - and the federal government's role in it - is one of the issues which most contributes to the growing divide in partisan politics. People who are against abortion simply do not want to be taxed in order to fund organizations that provide abortions. In order to spend federal taxpayer money on budget items that actually promote the general welfare, and in order to make bipartisan or multi-partisan compromise on abortion possible, federal funding for Planned Parenthood should end as soon as possible. Until that happens, I believe that we are more likely to see the same kinds of attacks on abortion clinics, and the same use of abortion as an issue to threaten to shut down the federal government, that we have seen over the past twenty or thirty years.
     That being said, I would commend Johnson for attempting to block funding for Planned Parenthood while he served as the governor of New Mexico. Although his response to iSideWith.com's presidential candidate survey revealed that he opposes de-funding Planned Parenthood, this is not exactly accurate; Johnson said in February 2016 that while he does not want to make cuts to Planned Parenthood funding, it would be subject to across-the-board cuts, which he has stated would be on the table for consideration in the event that major cost-saving reforms are not achieved. Lastly, on the subject of reproductive health, I disagree with Johnson that health insurance providers should be required to offer birth control.

      (8) I disagree with Johnson that Social Security recipients should be means-tested. There are many measures that can and should be taken, long before means-testing should be considered. It is unconscionable to me that people who have paid into the Social Security system through decades of hard work, should have their own money curtailed. Keep in mind, the value of this money has diminished  - and is declining as we speak - due to deficit spending, and due to the devaluation of the dollar that those budget problems have caused.
     In my opinion: waste, fraud, and abuse should be cut; young workers should be allowed to opt-out of the program; workers should be free to personalize their accounts, rather than experience federally directed privatization of the system; mutual and cooperative retirement account options should be explored; and the system should be block-granted to states in order to find the best practice and best solution. All of these should be done before considering either means-testing or raising the retirement age.
     That brings me to Johnson's support of raising the retirement age. In my opinion, raising the retirement age would be the preferable alternative to means-testing; but only if it is done gradually, the collection age is only raised by several years, and terminally ill people over 65 are given exemptions and may collect. Only if all of these proposals fail, should means-testing be considered.
     I disagree with Johnson that means-testing, raising the retirement age, and privatization, should be among the first proposals on the table when it comes to reforming Social Security; they should only be last-ditch efforts, and those efforts should only follow failed attempts to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, cut military spending, and dismantle corporate privilege.
     Additionally, because of all the flaws in the current Social Security system which I have outlined above, I disagree with Johnson that immigrants should be expected to pay taxes, and given Social Security numbers and required to pay into the system.





6. Baking the Cake
      (9) I disagree with Johnson that all American enterprises must sell goods to patrons on demand. As a  bit of background on this issue, Johnson told an audience of students at Liberty University that he believes in religious liberty, but does not want to restore rights to discriminate that do not exist now, because the religious liberty argument could be used to justify discrimination on the basis of race. Johnson's response to iSideWith.com's presidential candidate survey revealed that he believes that a business should not be able to deny service to a customer if the request conflicts with the owner's religious beliefs, saying that all customers deserve to be treated equally. I will note that the issues of civil rights and religious liberty are intertwined with the issue of discrimination against customers in enterprises accommodating the public; this brings us to the civil rights part of the equation.
     Just as with the views on the subject espoused by Barry Goldwater, and then Ron Paul and Rand Paul, there has been some controversy among libertarians and others regarding Johnson's comments on the issue, which has a lot to do with Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, requiring that enterprises with public accommodations may not segregate nor discriminate. That law - upheld in the 1964 case Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States - interfered with the Fifth Amendments (so the losing side argued), because it deprived business owners of their rights to run their businesses the way they see fit - the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason - and business owners were not compensate for their losses, nor did they consent to the takings of rights. The law also, arguably, turned employees of public accommodations into Thirteenth Amendment involuntary servants, and blurred the line between what is public, versus what is private.
      Gary Johnson's solution - require employees to sell goods that are already available on the shelves, but do not require them to decorate a cake, nor to do anything special for a customer, if they have a moral or religious objection to what they are being asked to do - is, to some extent, a good place to start. Most importantly, for the most part, it respects the right to refuse to serve a customer, upholding property rights in the process (however, another problem may be created if the employee's hiring contract conflicts with the employee's conscience and/or with the law), and it solves the problem of people being discriminated against not being able to find someone willing to sell them the good or service they need without traveling unreasonable and unaffordable distances. However, focusing on what an employee should or can or may do, only obscures the issue, because the real focus should be on the federal-state relationship, and on what is the appropriate interpretation of the interstate Commerce Clause.
      In my opinion, businesses should be allowed to refuse service to whomever they please, especially if the patrons or potential patrons are being threatening. But unless the patrons are being threatening, refusing service should only be considered a right, when it occurs in enterprises that are only active within a single state, and as long as the enterprise does not receive the at least ten forms of taxpayer-funded privileges, supports, and regulatory favors, which governments creates. This policy affirms that the federal government's role in interstate commerce is to keep it regular - i.e., free from undue interruptions and inhibitions - and to create a free-trade zone within the United States, ensuring that enterprises directly involved in interstate commerce do not inhibit the ability of potential patrons to access public accommodations facilities and buy the goods and services they need. Additionally, this policy creates a situation in which multi-state businesses that want to discriminate or segregate, are free to do so: provided that they give up all taxpayer-funded, government-granted business privileges; and provided that they retreat to within the borders of the single state in which they choose to remain active. This policy would also allow states to determine whether to allow intrastate enterprises to segregate or discriminate, while states would not be free to require either segregation or discrimination in enterprises serving the public.
 

7. Campaign Finance
      (10) I disagree with Gary Johnson that political parties receiving 5% or more in elections should receive taxpayer funding. Although Johnson appears very likely to achieve at least 5% in the 2016 presidential race, I believe that support for this policy is self-serving, even for minor parties. I take this position even in spite of the fact that it would deny myself - an independent write-in candidate for U.S. House from Illinois's 10th District - a benefit. I take this position because I shudder to think of how, under the current policy, taxpayers would be expected to foot the bill to fund the campaigns of ultra-nationalist, authoritarian communist, or other totalitarian political parties, in the event that any of them were to attain 5% or more in elections.

      (11) I disagree with Johnson that political contributions should be transparent, open, and public. I believe that, when it comes to transforming an aspect of our elections into something more transparent, it should be voter rolls, not political contributions. I take this position because I agree with what Ron Paul wrote about the matter in his book Liberty Defined; the idea that it is primarily government largesse - and the government overstepping its constitutionally negotiated boundaries - which contributes most to the high-stakes federal political environment that we have now. Due to our agreement on this issue, Paul and I agree that Citizens United does not need to be overturned, and we agree with Lysander Spooner that traditions of surety contract dictate that voters' and representatives' agreement to a financial relationship, should require certain written oaths and affirmations, which do not exist today because voter rolls are secret. I believe that political donations should be unlimited - and, if the donor chooses, undisclosed - and that secret donations are nowhere near as significant threats to ensuring that the will of the electorate is adequately represented, as are runaway federal governance, and outdated voting systems rooted in the flawed first-past-the-post systems that are prevalent today.


8. Science Research and Drug Policy

      (12) I disagree with Gary Johnson that the federal government should fund scientific research, and fund green energy alternatives. Although the Constitution does authorize the federal government to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" by protecting intellectual property rights, I believe that intellectual property is a government-granted business privilege which is protected too much, that taxpayer-funded science breeds biased results, and that funded science including green energy risks wasting public money on failing industries and technologies. While I believe that green energy alternatives are appropriate and necessary, I believe that consumers will choose these alternatives, especially if federal funding of research and development for all energy sources - as well as other supports, and gasoline taxes - are discontinued.

     (13) While I agree with Gary Johnson that marijuana and its byproducts should be decriminalized - and while I do agree with Johnson on his basic philosophy on drug policy in terms of its relationship to personal freedoms and privacy - I do not agree with Johnson on some other areas of drug policy. His insistence that cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and other hard drugs, would remain prohibited under his administration, is troubling in my opinion. I do  appreciate that Johnson has praised - and noted the effectiveness of - needle-exchange programs, programs that allow addicts to help make sure that the drugs they possess will not kill them, and programs to give away free dosages of hard drugs. I also agree with Johnson that "drug addiction is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue". However, I would appreciate Johnson's policies on drug enforcement even more, if he were to more strongly emphasize the idea that legalizing drugs may help hard drug addicts to come out of the shadows, and help reduce overdoses, and hospital visits and deaths caused by overdoses.
     I feel that Johnson's approach to marijuana rests too heavily on the idea of legalization, rather than decriminalization alongside normalization. In my opinion, legalizing drugs creates new problems; subjecting marijuana growing and sales to regulation. It also increases the risk that hard drugs not tested (possibly according to government regulations) might be prohibited, thus exposing drug addicts to the risks associated with arrest, including denial of medical treatment and violent apprehension.
     Additionally, I disagree with Johnson's position that children should not be allowed to use marijuana products. Johnson's approach is to regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco; in taking this position, he intends to allay fears that liberalizing drug laws could lead to children doing drugs. In my opinion, his need to appear overly cautious about this risk, ignores the fact that there are children experiencing severe pain because the policies laid out by the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency are preventing them from trying the cannabis products that treat nerve cancers and decrease seizures. Finally, on the topic of drugs, I will note that I disagree with Johnson that welfare recipients should be drug-tested, and also subject to increased restrictions.


9. Drivers' Licenses

      (14) I disagree with Gary Johnson's statement - made during a debate between himself and the four other leading candidates for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination - that people should be required to obtain licenses, and pay the fees in order to obtain them, in order to be permitted and allowed to drive an automobile. I believe that to require such measures interferes with Ninth Amendment freedoms, and with the natural freedom of locomotion and travel. To impose fees in exchange for the privilege to exercise the freedom of locomotion, turns natural rights into privileges, the price for which a government agency (the Department of Motor Vehicles, and/or the Secretary of State's office) has the exclusive right to derive monetary benefit. This is an undue interruption and inhibition of the travel aspect of interstate commerce; and it is an artificial, government-granted, taxpayer-funded privilege and support for enterprises within the given state, in addition to a privilege for the state itself.
     Furthermore, to impose such fees puts poor people at a disadvantage, relative to people whom can easily afford the costs of obtaining a driver's license. Free adults can learn to drive cars, and learn to use the highway system, without passing driver exams; so can minors, whether driving on a learner's permit, or driving during emergencies when licensed adults cannot be found. Additionally, independent and private driver licensing organizations might prove to be more effective and efficient than government driver licensing systems. Lastly, driver's licenses are an undue inhibition of the freedom of locomotion, especially considering that our vehicles are not truly our own property, given that most drivers have been unjustly deprived of the right to exclude others (i.e., the police) from accessing their property, through the requirement that they register their vehicles, such that the government may deny continued registration, and take custody of vehicles.


10. Conclusion

      I do not completely agree with Gary Johnson on the environment, foreign policy, automatic weapons, taxes, abortion, Social Security, public accommodations, campaign finance, science and energy funding, drug policy, and driver licensing. However, I believe our differences on most of these issues are small, and I do not believe that our differences on any of these issues are disqualifying, for the reasons I have explained above.
     Furthermore, I do not believe that Johnson's comments (or lack thereof) on what do to about the city of Aleppo, nor foreign leaders he admires, nor the name of the leader of North Korea, are disqualifying; for the very same reasons that Johnson has given.
      At this moment, I am looking forward to voting for Johnson. However, I am also feeling somewhat fortunate that Gary Johnson has decided not to run again in 2020 (saying that this 2016 run for the White House is the last time he will seek elected office); not only because of the disagreements which I have enumerated above, but also because of some similar concerns that I, and (at most) half of Libertarian Party members, share regarding his running mate, Bill Weld; and also because I favored both John McAfee and Austin Petersen over Gary Johnson in the Libertarian presidential primary.
     Although I appreciate Johnson's influence on the growth of the party over the last five years, and although I have some concerns about who might be able to garner as much support in polls as Johnson is getting now (8-10% recently, and as much as 13% throughout the election), I look forward to discovering who will be running for the party's nomination in 2020, and to watching the debates. I plan to judge the candidates based on their degree of agreement with myself on the topics I have covered above.

      This piece is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all of the differences I have with Gary Johnson. I have disagreements with him on other issues, namely: (15) whether foreign terrorism suspects should be tried in military tribunals or civilian courts; (16) whether illegal immigrants should be offered in-state tuition rates at public colleges within their residing state, or pay the same rates as out-of-state students; (17) how much the federal government should prioritize cuts to public spending vs. cuts to military spending; (18) whether Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion on the Kelo v. City of New London eminent domain case was valid; and (19) whether the federal government should be involved in food labeling (and, if so, for what reason).
     We may additionally have some small disagreements about: (20) whether labor unions are helpful or harmful to the economy overall; (21) whether - and how much, and under what conditions - the federal government should fund space travel; and (22) whether (and how) trade deals like N.A.F.T.A. and T.P.P. help promote free trade and free movement of labor and capital. Lastly, while I agree with Johnson that (23) government should not regulate the prices of prescription medications, we may have some small differences regarding the reason why it should not do so.
     I also disagree with Johnson and the Libertarian Party on the matters of whether the state should be responsible for maintaining a criminal justice system at all, and whether private sector agencies could apprehend criminals and bring them to justice more efficiently and humanely than the government does. On issues like these, I find little fault with Johnson's silence on them, and with his neglect to mention them, because I would expect anyone running on the Libertarian Party ticket to be a minarchist, not someone who advocates transitioning to a voluntary society overnight, so it doesn't bother me that Johnson may not be influenced by any anarchist-leaning philosophers.
     But on the other hand, I imagine that Johnson, and most libertarians, would agree - even if they do not support such thoroughly transformative measures in the short-term - that those principles are in line with what most libertarians and Libertarian Party members desire in the long-term. Marine veteran and former New Mexico U.S. House candidate Adam Kokesh plans to run in 2020 on a platform of abolishing the entire federal government through a single executive order. What will happen in 2016 and 2020 - especially to progressive voters, and in the Libertarian Party - is impossible to predict.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Take Marijuana Off the Schedule I Narcotics List


Originally written on September 28th, 2016
Edited and Expanded on October 4th, 5th, 10th, and 19th, 2016
 
 
 
            On June 20th, 2012, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) asked Drug Enforcement Administration Chief Michele Leonhart whether heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine were greater health problems than marijuana is. Leonhart refused to comment, and declined to admit that hard drugs pose a greater health problem than marijuana does. Years later, Polis commented that she was "terrible at her job".

            Of course, marijuana and its byproducts should not be classified as Schedule I narcotics. This is, first, because the term "narcotic" has several definitions. One definition is simply a vague label for any illicit or prohibited drug. Another definition refers to any substance that affects mood or behavior, and has nonmedical purposes. Yet another definition implies that "narcotic" applies to opiates and sedatives, pain relievers and painkillers, and drugs with analgesic and anesthetic effects.


            While it is true that marijuana is illicit and prohibited, and has non-medical purposes (including its effects on psychology and emotions), it would be misleading to describe it as a narcotic. Marijuana is not a narcotic; rather, it has stimulant and depressant effects, both of them mild. Marijuana is certainly not an opiate; in fact, alcohol is more chemically similar to heroin than either alcohol or heroin is to marijuana.

            Secondly, marijuana does not belong on the Schedule I narcotics list, because drugs are supposed to be put on Schedule I only if they have no scientifically demonstrated medicinal benefits. Of course, marijuana does have medical purposes. The most active psychoactive ingredient in marijuana - Delta-9-THC (Delta-9-tetrahydracannabinol) - facilitates the growth of neuronal stem cells into adult neurons, and untangles the tau protein that agglomerates in neurons. This protein probably causes, or at least contributes to, a host of neurodegenerative disorders, possibly including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Tourette's. Whole-plant marijuana - which can be eaten; it doesn't have to be smoked - has even been shown to reduce seizures, even more so than concentrated synthetic marijuana-based compounds that have had the psychoactive ingredients removed. THC is found in cannabis sativa, and is responsible for the "head-high" effects that some cannabis gives.

            Although marijuana has some mild depressant effects, it is not a narcotic in the sense that that term means sedatives or opiates. It does, however, have pain relief effects. CBD - cannabidiol, which is responsible for the "body-high" effects in some cannabis, and which is found in cannabis indica - is the type prescribed to medical marijuana patients. It has been used to relieve joint pain and glaucoma, to expand the alveoli of the lungs (increasing lung capacity), and to stimulate and regulate the appetite.

          Vaporizing marijuana at 190 (instead of smoking it) ameliorates nerve cancers, while avoiding the lung cancer caused by inhaling combusted material. Congress should either repeal unconstitutional federal laws against drugs, or else it should enact drug policy via a proper constitutional amendment. Until that occurs, the states have every right to nullify those laws, and interpose the federal government if it tries to enforce them.
     Either way, marijuana and its byproducts should come off of the Schedule I narcotics list. Additionally, governments should legalize and normalize the production of hemp, which is only toxic if consumed in amounts which are impossible to ingest by creatures of our size. Removing marijuana from Schedule I would legalize the testing of new cannabis strains which is needed to officially show that the drug is not harmful when ingested properly.
     Until we adopt D.E.A. and F.D.A. policies supporting legal testing - and a drug education policy that seeks to enlighten, not frighten - we will continue to be plagued with problems like addicts being in the shadows, addicts being driven to a life of violent crime, and people overdosing because they don't know whether their dose will kill them.

     Additionally, we will still have to face problems associated with young people trying drugs for the first time, not knowing simple things about how to take drugs safely (for example; that they shouldn't hold-in marijuana smoke, because more than 99% of THC is absorbed by the lungs upon inhalation, and holding in the smoke does not increase the drug's effects, but only leaves tar on the user's lungs).
     Lack of knowledge regarding safe drug use can lead to overdose deaths, as well as deaths resulting from ecstasy users dying from water poisoning because they incorrectly believed that they needed to drink as much water as possible while on the drug. Moreover, the risk of (non-fatal) overdose extends to marijuana as well; in my opinion, marijuana prohibition has resulted in a shift from smoking to edibles; because ingesting cannabis in foods allows users to more easily conceal its scent. Few marijuana users seem to be aware that the risk of non-fatal overdose (including disorientation) is higher for edibles as opposed to smoking cannabis; I believe that normalizing the smoking of cannabis will help reduce non-fatal overdoses from edibles.