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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pot Legalized!....Really?

         Before you pack your bags to head off to Colorado or Washington state to get a Rocky Mountain High you might want to check out what they really passed.  Technically pot is still illegal in Washington State.  They are just not prosecuting people for possession.  You can not grow your own.  That would define legal in my eyes.  The state is taking over the marijuana business from the criminals.  To sell it or grow it you have to be licensed by the state. The license will only cost you about $5000 dollars.  As I did my research I also found out if I understand it correctly you can not do both.  It is an either, or situation.  You can do one or the other.  Also you will be paying a 25% sales tax.  Oh and the state is modifying its driving under the influence law and you can now be charged with driving under the influence of both alcohol and cannibus.  Finally you still can not go to work high or get high at work.  Employers can still do drug screens and if you are under 21 years of age it is still illegal.  Washington State laws will start going into effect December 6th, 2012.

         The real reason for passing the law in Washington was to be able to pass the buck to the Federal government.  As it is now technically legal in Washington they are not spending their court money and time prosecuting what is a Federal Crime.  They also have been dropping charges and letting people go who  were caught prior to the law going into effect.  Surely they will be reviewing and letting prisoners out of their jails also.  The cost saving in this area alone could be into the millions of dollars.  Now they will tell the Federal government, "It is your law.  You enforce it, you pay for the trial, and you spend the money for the incarceration of those you catch."  This is a pretty sound decision based on a statement made by Deputy Attorney General David W.Ogden of the Obama administration.  He basically said, "It is not a wise use of Federal Funds to prosecute cases in states which have medical marijuana laws."  Well when he said it, it applied to thirteen states.  It now applies to eighteen states and the District of Columbia.  It appears even the Federal government is not willing to spend money enforcing their laws.

      Most people think legalizing pot is about getting high.  The reality is that it is all about money.  The states that legalized it can now tell the Federal government it is legal in their state.  They can simply refuse to enforce Federal law and not house prisoners.  Washington State made it very clear where they stand on the issue.  Even though the law does not go into effect till December 6th they dropped all the cases that were pending for drug related charges.  I am sure that saved the state a ton of money.  The next thing one can expect to see is the state cleaning out the prisons.  People with minor possession charges could be released for time served.  The potential savings just in that area is in the millions and millions of dollars.  When you add in the possible revenue that the state can get from taxing the now legal pot, state budgets may finally get some much needed relief. Sorry about repeating myself, but it is an important point in whole issue.

      What the states are really gambling on is that they can make money by taxing and licensing the growing and distribution of marijuana.  In this area Colorado is way ahead of many other states thanks to the actions of Deputy Attorney General Ogden.  They took the matter to the state house and approved a model medical marijuana system.  It is state licensed and state controlled.  When the State of Colorado legalized pot they did in fact legalize it for people over the age of 21.  You can grow up to six plants.  Three may be mature plants and three immature plants.  The catch is that it has to be grown in a controlled and secured environment.  One mature pot plant can be as big as a Christmas tree.  How many people can afford to house three full grown plants.  Colorado is only going to charge a 15% tax which is cheaper, but they will license all growing and selling operations and collect an annual license fee.   They have enacted laws to protect their already existing medical marijuana operations.  Also they are working toward making a way to grow a commercial grade pot for making paper, clothe, and rope.  Colorado definitely is far ahead of the other states when it comes to potentially creating jobs from the marijuana industry.  The Colorado laws do not go into effect until July of 2013 though.

   The real question is how the Federal government will react to the legalization of marijuana.  They can fight it, but if they do the states actually have a much better chance of winning than does the Federal government.  The Constitution makes clear that all rights not specifically given to the Federal government belong to the states.  As two former Presidents, Washington and Jefferson both grew marijuana on their farms it should be easy to prove that it was not the intent of the founding fathers to make marijuana illegal.  If the states win the battle it could be a big bonus for the Federal government. The Fed can then add on their taxes, release hundreds of thousands of prisoners and refocus billions of dollars in funds to more important purposes.

     So if you are considering relocating to get a Rocky Mountain High, Colorado might be the best choice.  Only time will tell if it matters at all.  If the world ends on 21st December as the Mayans predicted or the country goes off the fiscal cliff in January it may all be a moot point.  At least Coloradans will have a way to take their mind off the fact there are no jobs to be had as the economy moves from the edge of the cliff and into the abyss.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Grover Norquist, Patriot, Hypocrite, or Subversive?

        During the just ended election cycle one name kept popping up in the news over and over.  It seemed every time I turned around the name of Grover Norquist kept popping up.  The question that kept crossing my mind is why would anyone sign a pledge for him?  Especially as I find him to be a rather weaselly looking individual. Signing his pledge effectively tied the hands of any Congressman willing to stick by his word.  The whole thing raises a very major question.  Members of Congress take an oath to uphold the Constitution.  Swearing not to do something that is their duty could be construed as treason.  Norquist is smart as he is appealing to an issue that effects people's wallets.  Especially those who have big wallets.  The problem is his stance seems to be hypocritical.

        From what I have been able to find out about him on line.  He has supported wars in Afghanistan,  even helping the freedom fighters.  As his wife is of Middle Eastern background and Muslim he seems to have leaned toward their point of view.  Supposedly he was involved in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration.  So he believes in supporting or fighting wars.  Wars cost money and that money is usually raised in the form of taxes.  Mr. Norquist objects to raising taxes and could be viewed as a subversive based on that point of view.  His goal seems to be to create the problem he says he is trying to eliminate.  He complains of over spending and high debt, but his own actions are helping create the problem he is complaining of.

       When Congress ties their own hands and eliminates the tools they need to bring order to the domestic budget it is a sign of incompetence.  Not raising taxes definitely appeals to the fat cats who support the candidates in their election campaigns.  Raising taxes may limit Congressmen's ability to raise funds for future election campaigns.  The pledge is appealing to the Congressmen as they do not have to do anything.  That is of course exactly why America is in the situation it finds itself now in.  Congress has failed to do its job for the last twenty years if not longer.  The rise in national debt can easily be traced to bi-partisan actions during the Clinton administration.  Agreements between then President Clinton and then House Speaker Newt Gingrich initiated the explosive rise of the national debt and actions by Congress since that time have only escalated the problem.  If you want the whole story on this read my February 20, 2012 blog entry, "America's Economic Bipartisan Death Deal,"  it explains why our national debt is out of control.

     Please forgive me for getting side tracked from the reason for writing this post.  The reason for the side trip was to show that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were basically funded on credit and no taxes were raised or allocated for the fighting of those wars.  Norquist evidently had no problem with the burden those actions placed on the National Debt.  What I have been able to find on Mr. Norquist background is rather disturbing.  He attended the Leadership Institute which trains people to be more effective conservatives.  Some other graduates of the Institute are Karl Rove, Ralph Reid, and Senator Mitch McConnell all of whom have been involved in actions which seem to be aimed more at undermining government than promoting sound leadership.  Following the trail back far enough, through the leaders of the movements and schools, and you end up at the American Independence Party.  It was created by Alabama Governor George Wallace in his run to be President.  This explains their narrow minded, bigoted and racist points of view.  It also makes sense as to the anti Obama stance that they have taken so fervently.  Of course they will all deny that they have a racist, bigoted bone in their body.   America needs to wake up and see what some of these people in leadership roles actually believe in.   Their actions speak louder than their words.

    Getting back to Norquist.  He was involved in Afghanistan supporting the "Freedom Fighters" who were trying to throw Russia out of Afghanistan.  One of those "Good Guys," at the time was a guy named Osama bin Laden.  That was when he was fighting a war we not only sanctioned, but financed and which came back to bite America in the butt.  Did he have any contact with Osama?  I do not know, but I know his actions are doing exactly what Osama bin Laden advocated.  They are destroying the United States economically by binding Congress's hands and causing government to come to a standstill.  He may have used a legitimate weapon, but the outcome is still the same.  I can not prove his intentions, but I can say one thing.  His actions are as bad, if not far worse than Romney's "47% group."    He is not only making a living off the fat cats, that are to dumb to see that he is destroying the very system they need to make a living.   He is undermining the whole American government.  He has done it very skillfully.  So he is not only living off the system as the 47% are doing in an effort to survive.  He is attempting to destroy that very system to line his pockets.  Having said all that I will  not go into his support of pro Muslim groups that also are attempting to undermine our government..

     Congress needs to take a long hard look at Mr Norquist and see if his actions are not out of line with what he seems to advocate.  He has mastered the art of mining money from the hate groups of the extreme right.  The real kicker is that he is using that money to "support" groups the extreme right hates with a passion.  He has figured out how to have his cake and eat it too.