Carpe Diem

Quotations of the day on the “unprecedented change” that took place yesterday at the polls, “indeed a wonderful day”

“Voters have approved marijuana legalization measures in Colorado and Washington—an unprecedented change that could help lead our country away from the unjust, cruel, and disastrous policy of using force to impose politicians’ pharmacological tastes on the populace (MP: Also known as the “War on Drugs”).”

From Jacob Sullum on the Reason blog, who answers the question “What next?”

Updates: Separately, voters in both Flint and Detroit have just passed city proposals that decriminalize personal possession of up to one ounce of “weeds” on private property in those cities.

HT: Walt Greenway

New Update: There were actually 12 reform measures passed yesterday around the country at both the state and city levels, for either the medical use of “weeds” or for the personal possession of “weeds,” including five Michigan cities (Flint, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti, and Kalamazoo), see the full list here.  Here’s a quote from Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief:

“I cannot tell you how happy I am that after forty years of the racist, destructive exercise in futility that is the war on drugs, my home state of Washington has now put us on a different path. There are people who have lost today: drug cartels, street gangs, those who profit from keeping American incarceration rates the highest in the world. For the rest of us, however, this is a win. It’s a win for taxpayers. It’s a win for police. It’s a win for all those who care about social justice. This is indeed a wonderful day.”

62 thoughts on “Quotations of the day on the “unprecedented change” that took place yesterday at the polls, “indeed a wonderful day”

  1. Obama’s DEA will be in Colorado and Washington busting people because it’s still a Federal crime. I too cheered those victories, but they are too small compared to what this win of a sickening known quantity running on a platform of envy and greed (for what is theft laundered through government but the most vile expression of greed?) implies about the changing nature of the United States.

    • Until the state authorities begin stepping in and stopping the Feds from kidnapping their citizens under arbitrary drug laws, this is just fictional liberty (kind of like ‘free speech’).

      When the state police liberate somebody from Federal prison, you let me know. Then we’ll have some liberty.

      • I agree. The Feds have already put their foot down and are threatening arrests in all the states that legalized marijuana. I would dearly love to believe otherwise, but this marijuana legalization is as much of a myth as free speech (note the guy who made the anti-muslim film is now in jail for a year), due process, presumption of innocence, and liberty.

      • It ain’t gonna happen. States are too dependent on that federal teat. The servant has become the master.

        In 2002 a 3 hr standoff between DEA agents and Butte County (CA) sheriff’s deputies in what would become the SCOTUS case Gonzales v Raich resulted in the deputies standing down, and Diane Monson’s six state legal medical marijuana plants being seized by federal agents.

  2. The Washington referendum called for a 25% tax rate imposed on the product three times: when the grower sells it to the processor, when the processor sells it to the retailer, and when the retailer sells it to the customer…not much money left over for Cheetos after everyone gets their take. damn that’s a lot of taxation.

    • that does seem like an awful lot of tax.

      the great irony here may be that these tyrannical drug laws may wind up being done away with simply because it is so profitable to do so as opposed to for any actual belief in personal liberty.

      • Oh, the love of liberty has evaporated in this country. People are obviously very willing to trade liberty for a few cheap hand-outs.

        Somehow I think the probability of us meeting up in the caribbean has increased, Morgan.

        • the problem is that us voters all claim to support deficit reduction, liberty, and smaller government.

          the also support government funded retirement and healthcare.

          these views are contradictory.

          they resolve it by deciding that they want to keep getting the goodies THEY get, but that someone else needs to pay more/get cut.

          of course, the integral of this dataset does not work. they cannot all get that.

          so we get class war and massive deficits aided and abetted by lying politicians promising magic.

          ” A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

          * From bondage to spiritual faith;
          * From spiritual faith to great courage;
          * From courage to liberty;
          * From liberty to abundance;
          * From abundance to complacency;
          * From complacency to apathy;
          * From apathy to dependence;
          * From dependence back into bondage.”

          this has held very true thus far. i do not like the looks of what comes next.

          • Yes, they love the goodies they’re getting and they want more of the goodies and they want someone else to pay for it.

            The problem (besides the one you outline) is that when a relatively few people receive the goodies (i.e., you subsidize relatively few people), the goodies are pretty good. When you try to subsidize a huge population, the goodies are rotten.

            So, these people are destroying the country for mere cheap promises. I’ve seen how this movie ends and I didn’t go through the pain of immigration only to end up in a slightly (but only slightly) watered down version of the shithole I left.

          • In fact, most Americans are complete hypocrites on this issue. There was an AP poll conducted some time ago, which asked those people who SPECIFICALLY identified themselves as Tea Party members, if they would be willing to get reduced benefits in exchange for lower benefits.

            Close to 80% said “no.” That means THEY weren’t willing to make ANY sacrifice, and it would all fall on someone else’s shoulders. In the meantime, they were convinced the deficit was “the greatest threat to the future of the US.”

          • People ARE, in fact, complete hypocrites, Maxie. There’s no question about that. It’s amazing how people don’t want to face the trade-offs.

            “The state is the great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” – Frederic Bastiat

            Americans are destined to find out just how much of a fiction they’ve bought into.

          • To me, it’s a matter of degree. Most people like Social Security and Medicare, and I believe those programs have enormous value. Social Security was born out of the wreckage of the Great Depression, and a lot of people got REAL comfortable with the idea we no longer needed a belt and suspenders program like it,since the “markets” would do the heavy lifting for us.

            I used to feel that way myself. As I approach retirement, I am very grateful I paid into the system, and I am not put at risk.

            Everyone gets “entitlements.” There is no rational moral reason to give a company tax depreciation on the purchase of heavy equipment, but we do it as an incentive for our factories and businesses to stay current. One man’s entitlement is another man’s necessity, and it’s not just “the people” who are hypocritical about this.

          • Maxie, you could have paid into an actual annuity and had the money when you retired instead.

            SS is an intergenerational wealth transfer scheme. It is exactly a Ponzi scheme. You paid into the system, but you are not guaranteed anything in return since all the surplus collected has already been spent.

            There is no rational moral reason to give a company tax depreciation on the purchase of heavy equipment, but we do it as an incentive for our factories and businesses to stay current.

            No. Depreciation is a real economic cost and that’s why we expense it in the income statement. It has nothing to do with incentives.

            Look, Maxie, you can say whatever you want, but when the incentive is to demonstrate need, suddenly nobody finds themselves able. And if nobody is able, then there’s nobody to tax. I don’t know you or care about you and I’m not working as hard at a higher tax rate to generate wealth that you will be the beneficiary of. And don’t call me “heartless” as you sit there waiting to launder your theft through government. You won’t get what’s promised. That’s just how it is and how it has always been no matter where these dumb policies have been tried – unless the beneficiaries are a small group like the truly poor. But Hussein Healthcare promises free, high level care to all. Ain’t gonna happen.

          • An annuity is not government backed, and is subject to the credit risk of the issuer. Not only that, Social Security has the lowest cost of any insurance firm’s annuity. The fee comes to less than 1%. Mass Mutual, et.al, will take thousands from you over the same time. You sermonize that this is a Ponzi scheme, but then write:

            “No. Depreciation is a real economic cost and that’s why we expense it in the income statement.”

            Where is there a God given right to depreciating an economic cost? This was pulled out of someone’s @ss, just like everything else we structured. Yet, you simply say it as if it were the natural course of things. It’s not. It’s a frikkin’ gift.

          • max-

            how do you figure?

            businesses get taxed on profits, just like everyone else.

            buying equipment is a cost.

            so why does that not count against profits?

            if you sell hot dogs that cost you $1 for $2, you pay tax on the $1 profit.

            if it also cost you money to buy a grill that will last 5 years, then why is that any less a cost (price/5 years) that what you pay for the dogs and buns?

            i think that’s a very rational and moral way to do it.

            what else would even make sense?

            the costs to build an auto plant are huge. if you cannot count them against profits, tax burdens would be outlandish.

            i just do not see the rationale behind the statement you are making.

          • The government ponzi scheme, as Morganovich points out, is also subject to the credit risk of the government. It is under no obligation to pay anything to you.

            Re depreciation:

            Okay. Time for an accounting lesson.

            Business expenses are line items on the income statement. If an item provides economic benefits in short period of time (think paperclip or electric bill for the month), then it’s just expensed in the period. If, however, a purchase is meant to provide economic benefit over multiple years (think capital equipment like computers, desks, chairs, machinery), then it is NOT expensed at the time it’s purchased. Instead, it’s capitalized. That is, the money is paid to buy the piece of equipment and then the expense is taken in chunks over the useful life of the equipment instead of all at once when the equipment is purchased. When the equipment is fully depreciated (that is, all of what was paid for the piece of equipment has been run through the income statement over the years), whether it is still in service or not, the depreciation expense ceases.

            The purpose of depreciation is to line up the economic benefit with the economic cost. That’s it.

          • Sir, I am well familiar with the principle behind it, but true to form, you act as if this ability to do this was as natural as childbirth. It’s a tax rule, in a code devised by human beings, not God, to use to facilitate an end.

            In that regard, it is no different than any other rule, be it Social Security, tax brackets, the home interest mortgage deduction, or anything else out there. It is an artifice. The fact that YOU think it has value doesn’t make it any less so. This really just blows right by you, doesn’t it?

          • Just for the record, I’m a “m’am”.

            Okay, so we can add basic accounting to the long list of things you can’t understand. Fine. I’d frankly prefer to take all of my CAPEX expense up front to lower my taxable income. I’m forced to depreciate by the evil state you love so much. So, if you can make that happen for me, I’d really appreciate it.

            And if, as I suspect, what you’re really saying is that we should not be able to net the cost of producing an income against the income produced then you are simply hilarious. If it costs me $900 per period in capital equipment to produce $1000 of gross revenue, your anti-depreciation rant would insists on me paying taxes on $1000, not the $100 profit. Thus, you assume that the profits rain down on me from heaven and cost nothing to produce. Nobody would ever invest a dime if the costs of production (of which capital equipment is a part) are simply ignored.

            Exactly what kind of investment professional are you?

          • max-

            let’s boils this down to very simple terms:

            income tax is a tax on income.

            income is revenues – costs.

            capital equipment is a cost.

            so what possible justification do you have for not including it in the costs part of income determination?

            that’s just ridiculous, especially when you start trying to drag morality into it.

            methinks-

            “Exactly what kind of investment professional are you?”

            i’m guessing retail broker who has mistaken a series 7 for a financial education.

          • You’re missing the point. IT’S JUST A CONSTRUCT, not Holy Writ. We put it there because WE WANTED IT THERE TO PROVIDE A RESULT, just as we deduct mortgage interest and allow tax deferral on IRAs. That’s all I mean by this. What is so hard to understand?

          • Morganovich, I’m guessing you’re right. Although a CFP is not out of the question either. There’s not much difference between them.

          • Looks like you have bought in to the government story telling. Social Security was paid into by all those that work and as such those same people should be able to get it back when they retire. This was not a “freebie” and was never to be touched by the government to fund anything but the retirement of those workers.
            What the government fails to mention is that they are the ones that have been stealing from the fund for years, that’s why there isn’t enough to “go around” Plus they have allowed addicts to receive “disability” from the SSDI!! Sorry, they made a choice, why should a retirees SS fund that choice?
            As far as Medicare goes, that is also, paid into by the worker. But is really a joke and why our medical costs are so high. It is a trough that drug companies and doctors enjoy feeding at, and as such won’t go away anytime soon, even though it should be dropped.

        • max-

          “An annuity is not government backed, and is subject to the credit risk of the issuer. Not only that, Social Security has the lowest cost of any insurance firm’s annuity. The fee comes to less than 1%. Mass Mutual, et.al, will take thousands from you over the same time. You sermonize that this is a Ponzi scheme, but then write”

          then make it voluntary. if it’s such a great deal, people will line up for it.

          but it’s not a great deal at all. it has negative nominal returns on contributions.

          if you saved your own money and bought an annuity, you’d get 5-7x the payout when you retire.

          further, an annuity GUARANTEES its return. ss does not. once this mythical “rust fund” is exhausted, SS becomes paygo and payouts drop. worse, they can be altered any time by politicians.

          it’s a terrible deal. given any choice, anyone rational would walk away. i’d happily give up any claim to ss payouts later and surrender all the money i have paid in to date just to get out of fica.

          ss is about the worst deal around for retirement.

          work it out for yourself. figure out what you have paid in and what you will get out. then calculate the rate of return adjusted for inflation. it’s deeply negative.

          if you want a spreadsheet to work with, coyote has built one:

          http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2007/01/social_security-2.html

          SS is a dismal retirement plan. and regarding credit risk, you have to be kidding. i’d trust new york life or fidelity over the us government any time.

          have you seen our national balance sheet?

          sure, they can print money, but what will that money actually be worth if they have to print that much?

          • You still don’t get the distinction, because you don’t WANT to. If an economic conflagration occurs, and you bought your annuity through AIG, those returns you mentioned may not be there. The people who structured SS understood this, and like Obamacare, everyone has to be on board to make it work and keep the costs down for everyone.

            Moreover, there is nothing stopping anyone from buying an annuity in addition to SS participation. But I’m telling you as an investment professional, annuities are one of the most costly and ineffective vehicles out there. Commissions are huge, fees are high, and payouts are small.

            This statement: “SS is a dismal retirement plan. and regarding credit risk, you have to be kidding. i’d trust new york life or fidelity over the us government any time.”

            means you don’t understand credit risk. Sorry.

          • no max, you do not get it.

            ss is a dismal program with negative returns.

            it does prevent you from buying annuities by forcibly taking money from that that you could have used to do so. sure, you could still buy some, but you can buy fewer.

            also: SS is not an annuity. it does not guarantee returns or payment. explicitly written into the law is a paygo clause that will cut your returns if income drops below outlay once the mythical “trust fund” is consumed.

            that is NOT an annuity. that is a declining payout stream. not the same thing at all.

            you are staking out absurd and contradictory ground here. if it’s such a great plan, why do i need to be forced to participate?

            you speak of morals and ethics, yet provide no justification for requiring through threat of force to participate in a program i dislike.

            i know exactly what credit risk is. this is what i do for a living (i run a hedge fund). i’m quite good at determining to what i would like to have risk exposure. risk is only one half the equation. reward is the other half. even if we take as given that the us government can print money and pay (though i note that even the ratings agencies now rank the us government lower than many private agencies) so what? the certainty of getting paid negative nominal returns on savings that will decline and become even more negative as paygo kicks in is far inferior to the risk taken in saving and then buying an annuity. the payout is 4-7 times higher for very little incremental risk.

            you clearly have no idea how investment works. you claim to be a professional, but your sure do not sound like one. further, no one says i have to buy an annuity. i would likely never do so. the point was not that annuities are great, it’s that despite how crummy they are, they still outperform SS by multiples. do the math.

            your arguments around taxes and depreciation are even worse.

            you try to stake out this ground that depreciation is somehow unnatural and arbitrary. so are income taxes. how is the latter any more natural than the former?

            if you are going to have an income tax, it will always have arbitrary rules. what are you suggesting? that the costs of generating revenue should not be considered before taxing income?

            that’s not an income tax. that’s a sales tax.

            you seems to have some very muddled and incomplete ideas.

            if you are indeed actually an investment professional, then i have grave concerns for your clients.

    • An article in the Puffington Post mentions the price will be much cheaper – from $300 and ounce to $3. Makes me wonder what effect, if any, this will have on the Mexican drug cartels – it’s only two states but uh…probably the “highest” user states. I also wonder how many vacations to Amsterdam just got cancelled.

    • Washington State’s approach is fascinating in that instead of having the police arrest people for using pot, they will have the police arrest any growers, processors or retailers who try to evade paying the excessively high taxes. Just like high taxes on cigarettes keeps that black-market in business, high taxes on pot will maintain the current black market in pot. So, we’ll probably still see the same number of arrests for pot distribution. Not because it is illegal, but because the State didn’t get their piece of the action. Now Big Brother has a profit motive to add to their policing agenda. I can only assume that Washington State already has revenue generating traffic cameras and State-controlled gambling, so this was the best way to allow their trusted government agencies to expand their revenue generating potential. Markets always find a way to grow (pun intended).

    • max-

      what a foolish comment.

      you do realize that it’s quite possible to support the freedom of others to make recreational choices that you would not, right?

      there are many kinds of tyranny that many of us oppose. heck, i even support your right to free speech despite the way that you use it.

      • I support decriminalization of pot, but advise against its use. Getting a job and then losing then losing the job because a post-offer drug test cannot be passed is a bummer. I see that happen a lot.

        No drug use, a valid driver’s license with an insurable record, dependable transportation, a high-school diploma, and no felony record are minimum employer expectations today. I am afraid telling an employer you only smoke “legal” pot will not get you anywhere.

          • Yes, they could and probably would retract a job offer using current law. They can even require that you do not smoke legal cigarettes. Smokers are not a protected class against discrimination. Some hiring discrimination is perfectly legal–for now.

          • sure they could. why not? employers should be free to set such standards if they like. perhaps fewer would, but there are jobs even now that will fire you for drinking, even if it is just still in your system from last night.

            i’d never work for such a company and i think such rules are foolish, but, as private enterprises, i also support their right to impose them if they deem it desirable.

            that’s the hardest part of being libertarian, no?

            supporting the rights of others to do things you think are stupid?

        • To add a bit add a commercial drivers license and you can make 35 to 40k a year as truck drivers are in short supply. Note that the drug test applies to the commercial drivers license.

  3. Actually, I think that this is the “Quotation of the day”:

    “Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the ‘new, wonderful, good society’ which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean: more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

  4. The people have spoken and they say they want your stuff. Romney wasn’t great, but with his business background he might at least bought us some time. The Detroit-ization of America is now baked in.

  5. As long as their is profit we will have weed moonshiners and the criminal element will always be lurking to take over anything. The problem of the 60′s parents still has to be addressed as they think it’s ok to give kids weed and alcohol as long as they stay home and do it.

  6. Quoting from a neuro-psychiatrist:

    We cannot vote for or against the ‘toxicity’ of a drug. How much a drug impairs cell structure or chemical function is neither subject to nor governed by congressional committee, public referendum, or the federal constitution.

    We cannot govern the electromagnetic behaviour of chemical molecules by popular vote, judicial proclamation, personal opinion, or individual desire.

    Chemically, marijuana is a far more dangerous drug than most of the scientifically ignorant media and North American consumer have been duped into believing.

    • Anything is chemically dangerous: alcohol, Tylenol, meat, salt, prescription drugs, cough medicine, toothpaste, hand soap, fish, etc. That in and of itself is no reason to outlaw something.

  7. re: the arguement that you could do better with a private annuity rather than SS. is wrong for average and below average wage earners. If you earn $35,00 per year and you take your 6.2% and invest it at a very generous net after tax 5% for 45 work years you accrue $350,00 at 65 and that would buy you a fixed for life annuity payment from an A+ rated insurance company of $1600 per month. That is almost identical to what SS would otherwise pay. You cannot argue that you should have access to your employer’s half of the mandated SS tax because you did not purchase survivors or disability insurance.

    • So, what you’re saying is that you could purchase an annuity that would pay you the same amount as SS with only half of the investment demanded by SS. What a racket!

      • Doyle,

        Social Security is not an investment plan, it is an insurance plan for disability, survivorship, and death for what you are paying now and have paid in the past. You pay for those on it now in the hope that people in the future will pay for yours for the retirement portion. How well has your car, house, and term life insurance paid off as an investment for you?

        • The first question of course must be if it’s such a good deal, why are we forced to pay for it?

          OASDI legislation consists of separate titles, purposely not directly connected, so as to avoid the constitutional barrier to government selling insurance or retirement plans.

          The so called “retirement” portion is a tax on current earnings, and a separate welfare program for retired workers. There is no guaranteed entitlement to any amount of retirement income, but you WILL pay the tax on your current earnings.

          As you pointed out it is a redistribution from current workers to current retirees, and with no real assets, relies entirely on the contributions of new workers entering the workforce equaling or exceeding benefits paid to those leaving and retiring – something that’s no longer happening. SS is a classic ponzi scheme, held together only by the force of government.

    • More to the point, a private insurance company can go belly up, and is not backed by the Full Faith and Credit of the USG.

      Didn’t 2008 teach you guys ANYTHING?

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