The Drug Debate Remains Frustrating

The New York Times seems to have made up its mind: pot should be illegal. It has recently run pieces that suggest things in Colorado are going very bad indeed since the legalization of marijuana, and a first-hand scare story about a “bad trip”. Edible products seem to be the new target of choice, I guess because it is easier to scaremonger with things you eat than things you smoke.

Both pieces rely heavily on anecdotal evidence – and the former manages to even combine the observations that sales have been lower than expected, and that there is little hard data available about the effects of legalization, with various claims about the harms it has been doing.

Fortunately, Vox.com has been doing a great job reporting some, you know, actual facts about these issues. As they show, the data that is available shows what anyone who has taken the time to look into these things has known for a long time now: drug legalization makes things better, not worse.

This is old news. But wouldn’t it be nice if newspapers reported the true old news instead of harmful but “new” lies? Maybe then harebrained politicians like Chuck Schumer will stop asking, yet again, for ramping up the drug war – even though we know this is a terrible idea.

Published on:
Author: Bas van der Vossen
  • Les Kyle Nearhood

    Lets see, New Yorker Schumer and the NY Times, aren’t these people lefties? I was always told that if the left got it’s way those silly old drug laws would go away.

    Of course that was by left wing professors. It seems politics is always a little different than academia. Right and left are both horrible on this subject.

    • HelloFeds

      No! Schumer is by no means a leftist. He’s a “liberal” centrist. Mainly just a corporate centrist. The NYT are about the same. Real leftists do generally favor legalization or decriminalization of drugs. The people who love the war on drugs the most are law and order conservatives and status quo centrists. It’s only on the margins of both left and right that you start to get expressions of the principles of harm reduction and cognitive liberty.

      • JoshInca

        Schumer’s a neo-fascist, as is much of the US left.

        • HelloFeds

          Schumer probably is a neo-fascist, but do you think he’s less of a neo-fascist than Paul Ryan, or Mitch McConnell, or Rubio or Hilary or any of the rest of them? Think again.

          • JoshInca

            Ryan, McConnell and to a lesser degree Rubio definitely support cronies via government largess, however none of them, that I’m aware of, support systemic management of the economy as the democrats do, nor have they favored mob action to punish people who deviate from approved social norms as democrats increasingly do.

            And no I’m not a supporter of any of the three, but I hate the kind of sloppy their all statists(or fascists in this case) meme that equates Pol Pot with Konrad Adenauer.

          • HelloFeds

            All the so-called conservatives above and pretty much all the conservative politicians in the country with the exception of Ron Paul and Justin Amash and a few others support the military-industrial complex which is by far the leading way in which your income is stolen from you and given to corporations. But worse than that, given to corporations to help them produce goods and services which kill people. That might not be “systematic management of the economy” but it amounts to the same thing – the creation of the largest welfare system ever known, the American War Empire.The conservatives love this system considerably more than any actual leftists. So no, you’re right Pol Pot doesn’t equal Adenauer. But Bernie Sanders doesn’t equal Newt Gingrich, and the worse of the two is not the more “leftist.”

          • HelloFeds

            I should probably also mention at this point that I absolutely detest, loath, and hate Chuck Schumer. 🙂

          • JoshInca

            And I’ll add that I hate McConnel and his ilk. Were I a Kentucky resident I’d be voting for Grimes in November.

            On whole, however, the left and democrats are much greater enemies of liberty, at this time, than the republicans.

          • HelloFeds

            Absurd nonsense. This is Bleeding Heart Libertarians, not Red State. If you remember, the protests to pretty much every major war the US has been involved in from Vietnam to Iraq has been OPPOSED by the US left and SUPPORTED by so-called “conservatives” and Republicans. Last time I checked the Vietnam war caused about 5 million civilian casualties and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan another million or so more. Add a few more million for covert ops and coups largely run by Repubs (some run by Dems, to be sure) and you’ve got something just a little bit worse than Bernie Sanders or whoever trying to stop you from drinking 64 oz Big Gulps.

          • Sean II

            Hey, kid:

            The Vietnam war was engineered by the Old Left, and later opposed (ineffectually) by the New…so nothing to be proud of there.

            The Afghanistan War was initially supported by nearly everyone in American politics except a tiny handful of radicals from left, right, and elsewhere.

            The Iraq War was initially supported by about 80% of people in America, and indeed 60% of Senate Democrats.

            Jokes aside, you REALLY need to read this page: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman

          • JoshInca

            Not only that but the left claimed that Afghanistan was the good war and went so far as to blame the rise of the taliban on US disengagement following the end of the Cold War. Obama campaigned on shifting the focus of the WoT from Iraq to Afghanistan and uncharacteristically kept it.

          • HelloFeds

            I can’t and won’t defend anything Obama has done or anybody who supports either of these wars or the GWOT. But few if any of these people were actual “leftists.”

          • Sean II

            Yeah, bud…you still don’t get the No True Scotsman concept so now I’m gonna force it in you with a feeding tube. Here’s how it applies:

            Everyone else in the world uses “leftist” to mean one thing – which is big and messy and not easy to precisely define, but which works well enough when used in a sentence. Every day, people use this term and understand each other quite well. They say things like “left-wing darling Elizabeth Warren” or “right-leaning writer John Milius” and people – even people who agree about very little – end up with a fair and reasonable idea of what is meant.

            Then you come along, and the whole bargain goes to shit. Why? Because it seems you’ve developed some emotional attachment to the word “leftist”, and so…instead of using the common coin definition of leftism, you go around demanding that a leftist must be defined as “someone who is both on the political left and who supports a set of policy presences known only to the blog commenter Hello Feds”.

            And from your point of view it all seems to work perfectly. If there’s a leftist who shares your policy preferences, then they get to be a true leftist. If there’s a leftist who shames you by supporting something you don’t like…well, then it simply means they were never really leftist in the first place. The system is flawless.

            Except there’s one huge problem. The “set of policy presences known only to the blog commenter HelloFeds”…is known only to you. It’s private. You’ve created a private definition of leftism which no one else can share, because the definition now INCLUDES your own preferences. And so it happens that you must now spend a lot of time getting upset at people who don’t – indeed, CAN’T – understand what leftism is and is not (according to you).

            They get frustrated, you get angry, you look foolish, nobody learns anything they didn’t already know, etc.

            It’s not a good plan.

          • HelloFeds

            Wow. You and your partner in ignorance here are really something.

            I actually know something about what the left is. You on the other hand, don’t have a clue. So, I guess I’ll explain it to you.

            The contemporary left are critics of everything from neoliberal policies and “economics” to the politics of state oppression in all of its forms. The left is a movement of people seeking egalitarianism greater than what we currently have, as well as increased personal freedoms, a cleaner environment, an end to war, militarism, racism and sexism, and other difficult-to-achieve goals. The left certainly would have wealth more evenly distributed than it is, and particularly to people in great need. The left is a big tent movement that includes anarchists, greens, radical environmentalists, communists, socialists – statists and anti-statists, etc. It also includes workers movements and labor unions. It doesn’t really include many politicians. The left has basically no representation in the US – a handful of greens and an even smaller handful of Democrats.

            The Democratic party in general has never represented the left. The Democratic party makes token appeals to the left and may adopt a few slightly-socialist sounding polices on occasion, but views the left and its goals generally with suspicion and hostility. Liberals and the left are not only not synonymous; liberals have been one of the main targets of the radical left since at least the mid 1960s. You remember which party the protests of 68 targeted, right grandpa?

            People use terms like “left-wing” and “right-wing” in a completely inaccurate way which only reflects media-created stereotypes and their own prejudices. This is the only way in which Charles Schumer can be represented as “the left.” Charles Schumer is not in favor of the workers owning the means of production. You do understand this now, right? Charles Schumer is in favor of pleasing Charles Schumer’s clients, and the richer these clients are, the more he is in favor of what they want. He is, like 99% of both parties, a pawn of corporate power and special interests within the government, with a few sops to the people he pretends to “represent.”

            Since I communicate broadly with a huge swath of “the Left” it would be unlikely that my version of “the Left” would be unique and singular. In fact, it is not. My version of the left is the one I have formed based on many decades of formal and informal interactions with people whom identify as being on “the Left.” Thus, if we apply even simple principles of empiricism, my expertise on the topic would appear to be significantly higher than someone so misinformed as to actually believe that “The Old left started the Vietnam War.” Such an assertion, made to any of the rather well-informed people on the left I associate with would be met with the quick conclusion that the person who uttered it is either clinically insane or a fucking idiot. And all of this shame and ridicule could be so easily avoided by simply not mislabeling corporatist liberal centrists being controlled by the MIC as “leftists.”.

            So, I believe now you may have some inkling of what “the Left” is. And as one of their representatives, let me again reiterate – you don’t have a fucking clue. But that’s ok. You’re never too old to learn, poppy. I would be happy to supply a reading list for your edification upon request.

          • Les Kyle Nearhood

            Then you should have just substituted “idiots” for your description of the left because egalitarianism is completely incompatible with liberty.

          • HelloFeds

            Actually wage slavery is completely incompatible with liberty.

          • HelloFeds

            And your name calling is duly noted. You have no argument, just insults and vague generalizations.

          • ricketson

            shouldn’t a word like “left” or “right” describe roughly half of a society? Or maybe a third, if you want to include a “centrist” group. But anyway, the “left” should not be 1% of the population.

          • HelloFeds

            It is just not accurate. You cannot divide the population in half and call half of them right and half of them left – I mean, you can, but once you do these terms lose all meaning. The left in the US is so marginalized that they do represent I’d say much less than 10% of the population. This wasn’t always the case, but it largely is today.

          • HelloFeds

            I’m not a kid, pops. The “Old Left”? You mean like socialist trade unions? They started the Vietnam War? Well that’s some fascinating historical revisionism right there.

            Yes, the Afghan war was supported by all the mainstream pols – few if any of whom are “left.” Ditto the Iraq War.

          • Sean II

            You’re under 25, I’m pretty sure…maybe under 20.

            What makes me so sure? Young people have this weird knack of taking humiliation in stride. You can get caught out in the most embarrassing blunders, and come firing right back with the same manic conviction you showed a moment before. I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that humiliation is an everyday feature of adolescence and young adulthood.

            Later in life, you’ll develop a strong aversion to it. Indeed, for the sake of not being humiliated, you’ll be willing to do a lot of things that seem difficult for you now. Crazy things like: listening to opposing arguments, testing your own ideas before you trot them out for public display, conceding points of weakness, not changing the subject when a given line of discussion against you, etc.

          • HelloFeds

            You’re only off by 25 years. I have nothing to be embarrassed about. But you do. Because you clearly don’t know history, international relations, politics, or what the fuck you’re talking about. And you seem kind of conceited about your ignorance, which is the really special trait that elevates you above mere dickhead. For you this is all a game of one-upmanship and ego gratification. To me, this shit matters. Fuck you.

          • Sean II

            “You’re only off by 25 years.”

            I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to suggest you were actually “25”. I just meant you’re either “25” or that you argue like someone with an “emotional age of 25”, which I define as anyone who argues in ways I don’t like

            There…see how annoying that is!

          • HelloFeds

            Not really annoying. Just a phenomenal waste of time. Like every single thing you have posted in this entire comment page.

          • HelloFeds

            And on the One True Scotsman argument, if you want to find fault with the left there is plenty there! Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc. The left and right boot on your face – no difference. Obvious.

          • JoshInca

            The Vietnam war was initiated with lies by a left wing president, the democrats voted en mass for the authorization of force in Iraq and those same democrats claimed that the real problem with Iraq is that it was a distraction from the necessary and good war in Afghanistan. Obama even ramped up the US involvement their after becoming president.

            So it’s laughable to claim that all of those wars were exclusively or even primarily driven by right wing politics.

          • HelloFeds

            Why would “leftists” start a war against communists? Now that’s laughable. LBJ wasn’t a “leftist.” Christ, neither was Kennedy for that matter. The military industrial complex and their intelligence agency henchman started that war, like all the rests. Not a leftist to be seen at the head of the major defense contracting firms or the CIA now is there.

          • Sean II

            “On whole, however, the left and democrats are much greater enemies of liberty, at this time, than the republicans.”

            Quite right. They’re more effective, more persistent, more adventurous, and they are much more consistent pushers of statism in deed, thought, and word.

            Everyone overlooks that last point, to their peril. The fact is, if you took Ronald Reagan’s speeches and left them in a time-capsule as the blueprint for some future civilization, the result might not be too bad. All the key ingredients of classical liberalism would be there: individualism, the free market, spontaneous order, suspicion of centralized power, etc. You’d just need to make sure no memory survived of Reagan’s actual deeds.

            The same is not true of, say, Hilary or Obama, who oppose freedom in a thoroughgoing way that shows through in every public utterance. It just never occurs to them to leave their fellow human beings alone, and you can hear that whispering behind their words.

            So while someone like Reagan did many horrible things to spread the practice of statism, people like Hilary and Obama do all of those same horrible things while also spreading the idea of statism.

            And yep, that really is worse…if what you care about is the long term campaign against statism.

          • JoshInca

            And in addition their is a movement within the republican party to hold the politicians to the principles that they purport to hold. As small and struggling as that movement is, there just isn’t anything similar on the democrat side.

          • HelloFeds

            What? Who? Ron Paul – oops, retired. Justin Amash maybe. That’s it! And Kucinich was just as principled coming from the left.

          • Sean II

            Yes! And take a close look which faction of the right wing leftists hate (and talk about) most. It’s the libertarian-oids.

            Guys like Orrin Hatch are just minor stock characters to them. Rand Paul plays the big bad.

            That says a lot about the state of things.

            CUE: HelloFeds enters stage ‘left”, screaming “Rand Paul isn’t a real libertarian, because he supported X!” (where X is 1% of Rand Paul’s platform).

          • JoshInca

            Similarly MSNBC has gone full retard in support of Thad Cochran over McDaniel in MS, supposedly because, the latter supports school vouchers and is against pork spending

          • Sean II

            Brace yourself. When ‘Feds gets back, I’m sure he’ll tell us that no true libertarian supports school vouchers.

          • HelloFeds

            Not being a long-time libertarian, I have no strong views on what a libertarian is or isn’t. Of course I wouldn’t utterly and completely *misuse* the term and twist it to mean whatever I want it to mean just to score points in an argument, as you try to do with your ridiculous and nonsensical misuse of the term leftist. But I’ve already schooled you on that, and as usual, when a substantive point is made you have absolutely no response.

          • Sean II

            “But I’ve already schooled you on that…”

            Spoken just like the 45 year old you surely are.

          • HelloFeds

            “…and as usual, when a substantive point is made you have absolutely no response.”

          • Sean II

            So I’m finally going to let you in on the joke here.

            In one sense, you’re right to feel this little exchange between us has been devoid of substance. It has.

            But the reason for that is not as you imagine. The reason this discussion lacks substance is…you. It’s because there was never any substance in your original comment.

            I’ve been trying to point this out to you since jump street, but you came into this thread (responding to a humorous comment, by the way) and you started the lamest type of argument there is: one which disputes the “true” meaning of a commonplace term, whose meaning, as used, was clear as it could be.

            Why is that bad? Why is that taboo on higher-end message boards like this? Because it’s boring as hell, that’s why.

            Think about it. What if everyone did as you’ve been doing here? What if everyone grieved the common meaning of every little word? What if you couldn’t say the words “conservative” or “democracy” or “modern” without someone jumping your shit and screaming that he alone knows the one true definition of those words. The quality of discussion here would suffer very much, would it not?

            That’s why I’ve been fucking with you so much. Because I like this place, and right now you’re making it harder to like.

          • HelloFeds

            I’m not bothered by your joke. I want to make a point and I want you to understand it.

            I’m someone from the left. Far more than you realize, in a far more formal capacity. That gives me insight into what the term “the left” means today. People who self-identity as “left” should be able to determine the meaning of the term and as I’ve reiterated, I believe the definitin I am using is relatively consensus among self-identified “big tent” leftists. But Chuck Schumer is just not someone on that tent.

            By automatically linking “the left” to statism, big government, the nanny-state, and social control , you mischaracterize the left in such a way as to belittle it and try to establish its complete incommensurability with libertairanism.

            As someone who is both libertarian-left and actively seeking to forge strong political ties with libertarian-right thinkiers and activists, I find this tactic tremendously counterproductive.

            the problem is not just in the mischaracterization of what the contempoar left, as a movement, are But evoking the left to refer to every POS Democrat politician is just strategically deployed language to denigrate the ideas of the left by linking them to corrupt, amoral, and essentially anti-intellectual politicians who are far more accurately described as centrists, liberals, or moderates. I reiterate – Schumer can not and does not understand Marxist or anarchist thought and simply is non-ideological, or at worst, ideolgicall liberal.

            In other words, it is unfair to Marx, Bakunin, Kropotkin, etc. to associate their philosophies with a self-serving crook like Schumer. LIkewise it would be equally unfair to Mises, Hayak and Nozick to say that Rush Limbaugh was a good exemplar of their philosophies.

            . Since I believe the libertarian left and libertarian right MUST become natural allies in an issue-oriented political movement, I find the kind of denigration and guilt by association offensive – not personally – but to my political goals of building a broader based libertarian movement that can encompass progressives and leftists with right-libertarians in issue-oriented networks..

          • HelloFeds

            Rand Paul is of course not a Libertarian. Leftists do not in fact hate Libertarians. That’s why Ralph Nader just wrote a book about libertarians and leftists working together. That’s why Counterpunch had writers who lauded Ron Paul. That’s why Kucinich did. It is kind of hard to imagine how someone can be quite as uninformed as you are. Kudos on that.

          • Sean II

            You just did the very thing I predicted, in response to the comment in which I predicted it.

            You’re starting to sound like some foil I created, except that I would never write a character so clownishly predictable.

          • HelloFeds

            Yes. You made yet another laughable and demonstrably false claim and I pointed it out. We can continue this as long as you’re content to make stupid, asinine, and completely factually wrong claims. Be my guest. I could also invent a character like you – I’ve seen plenty of them. Grumpy old conservative white assholes whose party has long abandoned them and their half-baked principles and so who like to argue about libertarian minutiae and fight with people they’d be trying to make alliances with if they actually had any desire to change policies. But of course, they don’t, since the sum goal of their ambition is purely masturbatory squabbling over terms they don’t seem to understand. pretty fucking pathetic.

          • HelloFeds

            This is just complete nonsense. Words are more important than deeds now? Reagan ramped up defense spending to levels never seen before. He approved the start of continuity of government planning leading down the cliff towards totalitarianism we are plummeting down today. He militarized the drug war and presided over the real beginning of the prison-industrial complex. He brought Death Squads – the purest expression of totalitarian statist hell – to much of Latin America. I don’t understand how any self-respecting “libertarian” could have the slightest bit of respect for the hopefully now burnt-to-a-crisp tyranical fuckwad that was Ronald Reagan.

          • JoshInca

            He approved the start of continuity of government planning leading down the cliff towards totalitarianism we are plummeting down today. He militarized the drug war and presided over the real beginning of the prison-industrial complex. He brought Death Squads – the purest expression of totalitarian statist hell – to much of Latin America.

            This is nothing more than revisionist nonsense.

            It was Woodrow Wilson that started the US on the road to totalitarian central planning, a road that reached it’s fulfillment under the 3rd FDR administration with Wickard and Korematsu. We’ve be clawing our way back from that precipice in fits and starts for the last seventy odd years.

            The drug war was begun by Nixon and the president most responsible for militarization of the police is Clinton (admittedly only by a small margin).

            Fascism and military rule in Latin America reached it’s apex in the 1970s, before Reagan was elected. And while he supported some vile regimes as part of the larger anti-communist crusade he also opposed Argentine fascists military adventurism in the Falklands, which precipitated their downfall and his administration also worked for a peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy in Chile.

            Overall, his policies in Latin America were a net positive for liberty and certainly much more so than either his immediate predecessors or successors.

          • HelloFeds

            You’re out of your fucking mind. What the hell are you doing on this page? This is BHL, not Rush LImbaugh.

          • Sean II

            My favorite thing about this guest comment is how it sounds nothing at all like a sock-puppet created by HelloFeds.

          • HelloFeds

            Actually what you wrote is the revisionism. The sad truth looks more like this: http://www.consortiumnews.com/2011/020611.html

          • JoshInca

            The conservatives love this system considerably more than any actual leftists.

            One of the myths that US leftists tells themselves is that they are opposed to American imperialism. When the truth is that they just prefer overt ideological imperialism to a nationalistic one.

            But Bernie Sanders doesn’t equal Newt Gingrich, and the worse of the two is not the more “leftist.”

            Funny, I don’t recall Newt calling for an elimination of the 1st amendment, or gun confiscation, or controls on what I can eat and drink or what commerce I can engage in. All of which Bernie Sanders has and are more direct threats to my liberty than Newt’s jingoism. And make no mistake that given power most on the left will go abroad seeking monsters to destroy, just different ones.

          • HelloFeds

            What monsters? Tell me some more about Emma Goldman, Ralph Nasers and Kucinich’s “imperialism.” These assertions are laughable.

          • JoshInca

            None of those three hold elective office today.

            I actually like Kucinich and probably would have voted for him as a congressman despite his horrible record on economic freedom because I valued his voice on civil liberties and foreign policy.

            WRT what monsters the left would slay? – Qaddafi, Assad, Boko Harram, Joseph Kony and until the last year or so the Taliban. The only guiding principle seems to be that the left supports intervention so long as there is no benefit to the US in doing so.

          • HelloFeds

            Kucinich and the other people I mention are the only leftists being mentioned in this discussion! That’s what makes it so completely idiotic. Calling conservative or mainstream liberals “leftist” is wrong on every level.

          • JoshInca

            Ok so you’re saying that only a few ideologues are actual leftists.

            Would you similarly agree if I said that the only true right wingers were Rand Paul, Murray Rothbard and few similarly minded ideologues?

          • HelloFeds

            I tend to not use the word “right-wingers”, especially in the disparaging fashion you use “leftists” for EXACTLY THAT REASON. It is grossly inaccurate to think that Pat Buchanan and Paul Wolfowitz are one and the same. It is equally ridiculous to assert that Diane Feinstein and Noam Chomsky can be lumped together under one label. Just quit using “leftist” in this way and there’s no issue. Use “corporate liberal” maybe, or “centrist hack” or something!

          • HelloFeds

            Qaddafi – initially targeted by GW Bush, who just didn’t have time to get in and overthrow another country. And yes, I’ve seen Hilary’s evil gloating laugh about killing him but, again, she’s not a leftist.

            Assad – ditto. Initially on the list put together probably by Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc.

            Boko Harram – we want Nigerian oil. We will do whatever we have to get it. Nothing to do with “leftists.”

            Joseph Kony – Just more of the new “struggle for Africa.”

            Taliban – Created by our spook friends at the ISI. Leftists don’t have an agenda in Afghanistan. Pipelines though… that’s another story. Nothing to do with leftists.

          • JoshInca

            Qaddafi – the evil Boosh neutered and made peace with him.

            Assad – A long time Soviet and Russian client that Booosh ignored but Obama wanted to wage war against. A wish that was thwarted largely because of vehement opposition from crazy tea baggers.

            Boko Harram – #bringbackourgilrs

            Taliban – as I mentioned elsewhere, the left blames American disengagement for the rise of the Taliban, IOW insufficient intervention, ie colonialism.

          • HelloFeds

            It’s not “insufficient intervention.” It’s “fucked up beyond all recognition” intervention. We didn’t fund a bunch of mujahadeen war lords who raped and pillaged the country, guess what? No Taliban. I wouldn’t be in favor of intervention anyway – just makes things worse – but take some fucking responsibility for god’s sake.

            Sorry – Syria and Libya, that was indeed Bush’s plan. Or Cheney or Rumsfeld or whatever other puppetmasters ran that horror show. http://www.salon.com/2007/10/12/wesley_clark/

            The #bringbackourgirls is about justifying an increased US military presence in the oil-rich regions of Africa. Obama is a warmonger so if that was your point, no argument there.

    • Sean II

      Yeah, this one turns out to be a real shocker. How should we write the headline?

      In Bizarre Twist, Personal Choice Haters Hate Personal Choice

      “I don’t understand”, says an unnamed source speaking from Boulder Colorado. “When I joined the left wing of American politics, I did so because I believed in a vision of bureaucrats with centralized power minutely controlling things like people’s energy use, wages, risk tolerance, health spending, access to prescription drugs, and consumption of salt, fat, and carbohydrates.”

      “I just can’t believe anyone would pervert that vision into an argument for continued pot prohibition.”

      • HelloFeds

        You completely misunderstand the nature of the word “left.” “Leftist” is not the same thing as statist. Most of the leading American anarchists historically were on the left – they were anti-capitalism but not pro-state. Same thing with left-libertarians. Libertarians need to understand that both anarchism and authoritarianism can be the overriding philosophy of either left or right. Calling Schumer a “leftist” is absurd – he’s a centrist statist authoritarian. You know, like 99% of the politicians in the country.

        • Sean II

          Oh, I get it. No true Leftsman wants to bar us from putting pot in our porridge.

          I’ll be sure and remember that.

          • HelloFeds

            What you might want to remember is that being a dick and ignoring evidence doesn’t actually win you arguments.

          • Sean II

            If I’m not winning, why are you upset?

          • HelloFeds

            Check the vote on the latest Congressional amendment to bar the DEA from raiding medical marijuana facilities. 170 Dems voted for it. 172 Repubs voted against it.
            Now tell me some more about how the Repubs are better on the War on Drugs then the Dems again?

          • Sean II

            “Now tell me some more about how the Repubs are better on the War on Drugs then the Dems again?”

            Who ever said such a thing?

            How can I tell you more of that, when I never told you any of that?

            What sort of fucked up logic class did you take to learn that “the left is bad on drug legalization” implies “the right is good”?

            How can you come to a libertarian website and still persist in thinking the only choices are “Dems” and “Repubs”?

            When will you grow tired of losing this argument?

          • HelloFeds

            Yeah, what you wrote was exactly this:
            ” No true Leftsman wants to bar us from putting pot in our porridge.”
            Proven false above. Give it a rest. I’m as much of a libertarian as you are. Maybe more. Just a LEFT libertarian.

          • Sean II

            Hey dude, read this back to yourself sometime:

            ” ‘No true Leftsman wants to bar us from putting pot in our porridge.’

            Proven false above.”

            Read it carefully. You’ll be embarrassed.

          • HelloFeds

            Your statement was meant ironically. It’s idiotic. Which countries in the world have moved to legalize cannabis? Uruguay, and to a lesser extent the Netherlands and Portugal. More left than right. It’s a stupid, idiotic debate. Clearly the left is better than the right on this issue and anarchists, and libertarians of both left and right varieties are better than the mainstream.

          • JoshInca

            In CA, the fight against marijuana legalization was spearheaded by noted leftwing senator Diane Feinstein, who was supported in that effort by every prominent democrat in the state. Meanwhile at the national level, Barack Obama’s administration has been more aggressively persecuting medical marijuana distributors than his evil predecessor.

          • HelloFeds

            Agree with everything except, Feinstein is not the least bit left-wing! She’s a defense contractor posing as a human being! At best, beat, she’s a moderate centrist. Nothing “left” about her at all. And while they both suck, the Dems in congress are better than the Repubs on drug policy and that’s plain from their votes like the one I cited on not raiding dispensaries.

          • HelloFeds

            You might want to note you are at BLEEDING HEART LIBERTARIANS. Not Brutalist Fuckheads Inc.

          • Farstrider

            “What sort of fucked up logic class did you take to learn that ‘the left is bad on drug legalization’ implies ‘the right is good'”?

            If you did not mean this, then your statement was either sloppy or deliberately misleading. (Yes, you can mislead with technical truths.) I’ll be gracious and give you sloppy.

          • Sean II

            What? That makes no sense.

      • ThaomasH

        I guess different people sign up for different chapters of
        the “left wing” of American politics. (I’m going with your language, I of course think I’m exactly in the center.)

        My chapter starts with the idea that everyone should do exactly as they want subject to laws outlawing violence and fraud and
        things that will get you sued for a tort However court suits are not necessarily the best way to deal with the externalities
        of everyday living. Hence it makes sense to regulate (taxing does not seen feasible) the places where people can blow
        tobacco smoke into the air and how much (here taxing will work) CO2 an industrial process can emit. In addition, I see things like ensuring drug safety that can be done at a fairly low cost if done by a government that would be more costly if each person had to do them for himself or purchase a service to do it for him.

        There are other things that we need a government to do such as look for earth orbit crossing asteroids and prepare to deflect them or give money and services to low income people because there is no way to exclude those who don’t subscribe to the asteroid strike prevention service from the benefits of prevention or those who do not give to charity from living in a society with less misery.

        And in a few cases my chapter considers that people (or some people) may be so bad a t choosing the good for themselves in certain areas that the rest of us should override their choices.
        Doing all this stuff is costly so we think governments should coercively collect money from citizens, more from those that are better off than from others.

        It’s easy enough to see where this scheme can go wrong and
        in any historical moment it’s inevitable that some externalities are going to be regulated too much, too little and wrongly.
        Too much effort and the wrong kinds will go into some kinds of collective consumption and too little to others. And some kinds of collective goods will be produced in too great quantities
        and not at least cost and others in insufficient quantities. Things will go wrong because information on costs and benefits of these activities are not easy to come by, because voting is a poor way of aggregating preferences, and because regulators and some of the regulated and producers of government services will develop vested interests in the programs even when the conditions that justified them have changed.

        Consequently almost everyone in the chapter disagrees sometimes very sharply on the details of regulations, public expenditures and taxes. What we are pretty much agreed about however is that we can’t find the best answers to these questions by always being in favor of less regulation, less public expenditures, and lower taxes.

        And since there are so many dimensions of disagreement, I
        personally see considerably downsides to classifying people and ideas as “left” or “right.” “Center” is nicer as there
        is always a “center” to a polyhedron no matter how many dimensions it has.

        • Sean II

          The crazy thing is, the only time I have the political will to confront our asteroid problem is after I’ve smoked a bowl.

          Once the paranoia subsides, status post waffles, I go right back to thinking about how surely the federal government would fuck up anything as big, complex, and time-sensitive as an asteroid deflection system.

          I can just picture the announcement: “Let me be clear…if you like your current photosynthesis-based food chain, you can keep it.”

        • Sean II

          I got a disqus alert that brought me back to this thread three years later and, on reflection, it’s plain I did not give this excelllent comment its due.

          • ThaomasH

            Thanks for the praise. I do not remember the “wise ass” remark. 🙂 On re-reading my post, I will have to admit that it really is a fairly “right” of the center of US politics.

            And an area that it did not address is attitudes toward second best policies. For example I recognize that raising the minimum wage to the extent it does not reduce employment is a tax on the owners and customers of affected firms whose proceeds are redistributed to workers. The lost employment reduces total wealth (and may affect the most marginal worker most of all) and as tax it falls on an arbitrary group. But … if other forms of redistribution to low income workers is politically not acceptable [why minimum wages are more acceptable than a higher EITC is a different kind of issue] I am quite happy to go along with a modestly higher minimum wage.

  • Axiom Seer

    prohibitionists are simply ill-informed

  • Jerome Bigge

    Drug laws in general always create problems. We didn’t have a “problem” with drugs until we started out with the Harrison Drug Act back in 1914. (A Century Ago!) We followed this “mistake” up with the prohibition of alcohol in 1918 which really created problems. We passed prescription laws in 1938 which increased the cost of health care. Because of our drug laws we turned out police forces into a semi-military forces (SWAT). We also created a federal police force by the Drug Enforcement Act. We have managed to even create problems in other countries thanks to our drug laws. Columbia with cocaine, Mexico with the drug cartels which have been responsible for thousands of deaths. We also have more people in prison (drug offenses in many cases) than any other country on Earth. Part of our military operations in Afghanistan have to do with control of the growth of opium poppies. Consider the cost of all of these “activities” over the past century: The hundreds of billions of dollars spent in a futile attempt to prevent people from using drugs.

    • HelloFeds

      Great comment – but it’s not thousands in those countries – its 10s or 100s of thousands. Colombia, Mexico, Burma, Afghanistan, Central America – the carnage of drug prohibition goes on and on. Don’t overlook the role of the banks though – drug laundering has been claimed to be up to something like 7% of the money in the entire global financial system.

      • Sean II

        “…drug laundering has been claimed to be up to something like 7% of the money in the entire global financial system.”

        Yeah, by the same journalists who’ve made sure, for over 40 years, that the monster of anti-drug hysteria hasn’t missed a meal.

        Ask those same journalists, and they’ll tell you a pound of weed carries a “street value” of $25,000.

        I no trust their math.

        • HelloFeds

          These numbers don’t come from mainstream journalists actually. They come from pro-legalizers. Google HSBC money laundering sometime.

          • Sean II

            Hey, buddy…when you google “HSBC money laundering”, the first 10 hits come from Bloomberg, Forbes, Huffington Post, New York Post, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Wall Street Journal, BBC, Rolling Stone, and the Guardian.

            Those are all mainstream journalism outlets.

            Exactly how far down the hit list should I go?

          • HelloFeds

            So that means it isn’t true? Banks don’t launder drug money and as a percentage of global trade drug money is small?

      • Jerome Bigge

        Yep. The big banks play their role too. Most likely they played the same roles during Prohibition, although the “War on Drugs” is actually world wide when you consider the sources of the drugs in question. If you add in those who make their “living” in one way or another off the Drug War, it’s probably in the range of hundreds of billions of dollars on a world basis. Goes to show that the laws of supply and demand always apply regardless of if the item in question is “legal” or not.

    • ThaomasH

      Quite correct and this does not include the drug profits that finance terrorism and investments in non-drug related crimes. Nor does it get at all of the Fourth Amendment violations that are occasioned by the “need” to discover voluntary transactions.

  • How does Chuck Schumer manage to be so belligerently wrong on every political question whose answer is less obvious than “should we exterminate the lesser races”?

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      I’ll bet if you scratched him hard enough he would have a positive opinion on that one too.

      • dL

        don’t have to scratch too hard…Schumer is on record supporting the “Palestinian Diet”

  • ThaomasH

    This looks like the most recent boneheaded statement of a politician on the subject and it was a certified liberal Democrat. He and the NYT deserves and all the excoriation they got. But if you are looking for people who want to reduce the harm from drug and other kind of regulations by looking at them from a cost-benefit angle, you will probably find more on the “left” than the “right.” More important be willing to look to both directions.

    • HelloFeds

      Schumer is really one of the worst on this stuff. He was also behind the efforts to ban a bunch of synthetic drugs based on the “bath salts” hysteria.

      • ThaomasH

        Glad he’s not my Senator.

  • Irfan Khawaja

    Uh, I don’t think you’re in much of a position to be getting on your high horse about issues of facticity, Professor Van Der Dossen. Not long ago, when questions of facticity arose with respect to a post of yours, I cleaned your clock on the factual issues, and you didn’t have a response to offer that was worth laughing at. But you seem to be back at it again, taking the same high-handed attitude toward the facts, and discussing them in the same insouciant way. Memory refresher:


    Maureen Dowd’s piece doesn’t “rely on anecdotal evidence”: it IS anecdotal evidence. What’s the problem? Do you have an epistemic problem with anecdotal or testimonial evidence? You seem to put great stock in Vox’s vaunted “two minute explanation” statistics, but ultimately, every statistic they present reduces to someone’s testimony. If testimonial evidence was unreliable, statistical evidence would be equally unreliable–a fact obvious to anyone who’s actually had to collect data for a statistical study.

    In any case, nothing Vox presents contradicts anything Dowd said. (If you’d like to dispute that, find an “actual” passage in Dowd contradicted by any statistic presented by Vox and explain the inconsistency.) Your reliance on Vox is a classic case of ignoratio elenchi. Incidentally, the Children’s Hospital spokesperson quoted by Vox says that pot should be treated “as any other drug or medicine.” Not exactly the clearest formulation. Most psychotropic medications require ongoing medication management by a qualified physician (and most physicians aren’t qualified to manage them). Is the same true of pot? Should “we” be treating pot the way we treat, say, Prozac, Effexor, Wellbutrin, or Adderall? That’d be news. But I haven’t heard anything about it from the resident drug experts here at BHL. Guide me to the relevant post if I’ve missed it.

    You put the phrase “bad trip” in scare quotes. Is your claim that there are no bad trips, or that Dowd didn’t have one?

    Nothing in Dowd’s article says or implies that drugs should be criminalized or re-criminalized. Her one policy-related conclusion is this: “But it turns out, five months in, that some kinks need to be ironed out with the intoxicating open bar at the Mile High Club.” Not a particularly draconian prescription. Her point is that the labeling on some pot products can be misleading, and in her case, that it was. How is that wrong? Evidently, Dowd’s advice to tweak the labeling is so disorienting that we need to discredit her so that no one takes her “anecdotal” claims seriously. Of course, no one has disputed any particular one of her claims, either.

    Sorry to remind you of inconvenient facts, but five months ago, I made a point related to Dowd’s right here that you were too high and mighty (so to speak) to acknowledge, much less respond to:


    To repeat: I am NOT in favor of criminalizing drug use (pot, coke, meth, whatever). But there are difficult questions about labeling, consent, and product liability that need to get addressed before we can start celebrating drug legalization or urging an expedited approach to it. It might have been nice to get clear on these questions before starting to urge legalization. The message here seems to be: let’s celebrate first and ask questions later, then accuse the questioners of ruining the party. Which would work–if we were all on drugs.

    “The drug debate remains frustrating.” Yeah. Guess why.

    • Irfan Khawaja

      Sorry, I meant Professor Van Der Vossen. I keep relying on anecdotal evidence there.

  • Irfan Khawaja

    “The New York Times seems to have made up its mind: pot should be illegal.”

    That claim is a classic Van Der Vossian combination of sheer ignorance and incompetence at reading comprehension. The two pieces of “evidence” adduced to support it are a column by Dowd, and a news report earlier this month by Jack Healy.

    Problem 1: The editorial staff of the Times doesn’t dictate what its columnists write, so even if Dowd had come out in favor of criminalization of pot, that fact wouldn’t indicate the Times’s position on drug legalization.

    Problem 2: Dowd didn’t in fact come out in favor of criminalization of pot.

    Problem 3: The news article by Healy is a very balanced combination of scary stories and qualifications. It neither claims nor “suggests” that things have, all in, been going badly in Colorado. What you say about it is a whole-cloth invention that flouts the text. The title of the article puts the point with perfect accuracy: there has been a downside to legalization, no more, and no less.

    Challenge: find an “actual” passage from the Healy article that says or implies what you say about it in the post (and don’t change the current wording of the post: a lamentably common BHL trick, as I’ve discovered when I’ve criticized other posts here).

    Suggestion: stop relying on weasel words like “suggest” when you lack the textual evidence to make a bona fide case for your claims. The news articles under discussion here involve reading comprehension skills at about the tenth grade level. If you can’t manage to convey their contents to your readership in an accurate way, you lack the credibility to be writing on this subject–or any other.

  • HelloFeds

    The reason the comments have proliferated and now have nothing whatsoever to do with the original article is because of simple-minded and factually incorrect uses of the words “left” and “leftist.” Charles Schumer is not a leftist. He would not identify as one. Nobody could look at his policies and describe him as one. If Bleeding Heart Libertarians is looking to expand its base to include libertarian-leaning progressives and leftists, misusing terms in this manner and labeling all manner of statist cretins in US politics as “the Left” is really, really, remarkably unhelpful.

    I am in some ways a leftist, but I am as staunch an opponent of the war on drugs as anyone can find. Every real leftist I know, most of whom also lean libertarian these days, feels similarly. We all want regulated legalization (regulated for purity, potency, free of contaminants, etc). I know tons of people in the pro-legalization movement. Most are leftists, some are libertarians. All get along well because we don’t try to label each other and condemn each other as belonging to some political group that we blame for all the ills in the world.

    I had the perhaps naive idea that this was what Bleeding Heart Libertarians was about – an attempt to create a larger movement of libertarianism by including anarchists, left libertarians, civil libertarians etc.in with standard an-cap types. If this is indeed the goal, screaming at each other about being “leftists” or Dems being worse than Republicans, etc. is more than unhelpful. It is incredibly damaging to the goal of building a larger movement.

    The war on drugs is evil, and wrong. It is bad policy. It violates the crucial principle of cognitive liberty. it is inhumane. It causes massive amounts of suffering. It disproportionately targets the poor, and then even controlling for wealth and income, minorities. There is NOTHING good about it. We should all agree on that point and move forwards – together – to end it.

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      Yeah keep telling yourself that, he loves big government, big taxes, and to control others, that’s pretty much a reliable description of a lefty as you can get.

      • HelloFeds

        No, that isn’t. But you aren’t really saying anything even intelligent enough to argue with at this point. You might as well just be calling people names.

        • Libertymike

          Melting pot.

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      By the way, YOU are the one who opened up the whole can of worms about labeling people. I merely made the observation that both left and right were bad and that the posturing about being anti drug war by the left was bogus. I stand by that. I have never seen a group of left wing politicians make a big push for decriminalization.

      • HelloFeds

        I posted the recent house votes on ending the DEA raids of medical marijuana facilities below. Overwhelmingly supported by Dems. Overwhelmingly opposed by Repubs. Wow, it must really suck when evidence trumps your ideological assertions so utterly.

        • Libertymike

          Seeing that I have taken a liking to you, let me offer you some advice:
          Do not engage Sean II in sesquipedalian logomachy, you will be left behind, right off.

          • Sean II

            A fine joke…wasted, I fear.

          • HelloFeds

            Yes, wasted, like Maureen Dowd after consuming an entire Hubby bar.

            I like you too Libertymike – particularly a comment you made elsewhere that started with “the biggest pansies….”

            Despite the nasty bantering here, I get along great with “right”-libertarians normally. We agree to disagree on certain issues but are on the same page on many others. I personally think finding points of agreement is more beneficial than arguing. Left or right-libertarians, we’re all marginalized in mainstream political discourse.

          • Libertymike

            That comment was made on a site that, shall we say, caters to a less erudite crowd. Nevertheless, I stand by it.
            IMO, I think Sean II likes you, too.

          • HelloFeds

            Always happy to make new friends. The “pansies” quote – I wasn’t being sarcastic. I think it’s right on the money, erudite or not.

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