Tag Archives: Washington

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Why the Government Cannot Ban All Immigrants from a Certain Country – Article by David Bier

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Categories: Justice, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
David Bier
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I previously reviewed the exceptionally poor arguments that the Trump administration used to defend its blanket ban on immigration from seven majority Muslim countries in the State of Washington v. Donald Trump. Now, in its appeal of the district court’s temporary restraining order to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the government has added a new argument in favor of its position that is still fatally flawed. It claims:

The State continues to argue that Section 3(c)’s temporary suspension of the entry of aliens from seven countries contravenes the restriction on nationality based distinctions in [section 202(a)(1)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)]. But that restriction applies only to “the issuance of an immigrant visa,” Id., not to the President’s restrictions on the right of entry [under section 212(f)].

The government was right not to attempt this argument initially. Their argument is that a visa does not entitle the recipient to entry in the United States, but merely to travel to the United States. Therefore, they are free to discriminate at the border. To bolster the argument, INA 101(a)(4) does specifically distinguish between admission and visa issuance.  Essentially, they are defining “visa” in section 202 to include only the visa document that permits travel to the border, but does not grant status in the United States. And status is what grants a person the legal right to reside inside the country.

The problem is that the definition of a “visa” in section 202 includes “status” that grants a right to enter and reside in the United States. The State Department’s regulations define visa in section 202 to mean visa or status and have for as long as the INA has been around. Eligibility for status is either determined by an adjustment of status application for immigrants residing inside the United States or at the border for immigrants entering the United States on an immigrant visa for the first time. It is the act of granting entry that confers legal permanent residency status.

Thus, the government would be violating the prohibition on discrimination in section 202(a)(1)(A) just as much by denying entry as by denying visas. An immigration officer cannot deny entry based on nationality without also discriminating in the issuance of status to an immigrant at a port of entry.

Why “visa” cannot be interpreted narrowly

Not only is this interpretation based on the government’s own longstanding regulations, the interpretation of section 202 that the government offered during appeal would require it to adopt a variety of other positions that are at odds with the statute and regulations.

If “visa” in section 202 was interpreted to mean only the visa document, then adjustments of status applications for persons inside the United States would be exempt from the numerical limitations on visas in that section and in section 203. The clear intent of Congress was to control the number of persons who are entering the United States, not visa documents issued, and so the department has always held this view. Thus, the U.S. attorney in oral arguments before the district court admitted that per-country limits were about allocating how many people the United States allows “to come into the country.”

If the person is determined ineligible to enter, the visa is revoked at this point, and the State Department considers it not to have been issued at all. In other words, the department only counts “status” determinations against the visa caps, despite the fact that the section never mentions status. It is interesting to note on this point that the original version of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 actually had consular officers grant immigrants “status” abroad, which could be revoked at entry if they were deemed ineligible.

Why the government cannot be biased in entry but not in visa issuance

This interpretation does not undermine the distinction between visa issuance and admission in section 101(a)(4) because a determination of inadmissibility under section 212 applies equally to admission at the border as it does to visa issuance abroad. Immigration officers inside the country rely on the same criteria to determine eligibility to enter that consular officials use to determine eligibility for an immigrant visa. A person granted an immigrant visa in an unbiased manner would not be entitled to enter at the border. He would just be entitled to similar unbiased treatment.

This proves that the law forecloses the idea that the government could be unbiased in visa issuance but not in entry. This is also why all presidential proclamations under 212(f) are immediately printed in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual. The manual explains, “Aliens who have engaged in conduct covered by a Presidential Proclamation issued under the authority of section 212(f) may also be inadmissible under other sections of the INA or other statutes. These statutory inadmissibilities are to be considered prior to determining whether a Presidential Proclamation applies.”

The executive order itself admits that the State Department will be enforcing it by suspending visa issuance just as much as the Department of Homeland Security by suspending entry, and indeed, it has suspended visa issuance to nationals of those seven countries.

Another problem for the government’s view is that it implies that Congress intended to create a system in which it required non-discrimination for applicants abroad, but not applicants at ports of entry or inside the United States. Indeed, their argument would free the government to discriminate based on nationality in adjustment of status applications for immigrants who are residing inside the United States right now, even without a presidential determination that they are a “detriment.”

Not only is this plainly absurd, this would create the bizarre result that immigrants adjusting in the United States would have fewer protections against discrimination than immigrant applicants abroad. This leaves the government arguing that immigrants abroad have fewer constitutional rights than immigrants in the United States, while somehow also having more statutory rights.

This obviously cannot have been what Congress intended. In fact, as I have previously explained, Congress debated this very question of whether ending discrimination would allow unvetted individuals to enter the United States from certain countries where information is difficult to obtain. They rejected this argument. No member of Congress in 1965—whether they were for the bill or against it—believed that President Johnson could then have immediately undone their work with a presidential proclamation.

David_BierDavid Bier

David Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Secede and Decentralize: An Open Letter to Clinton Supporters – Article by Justin Murray

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The New Renaissance HatJustin Murray
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Dear Clinton Voters:

I know this election has been painful for you. Many feel betrayed and even believe yourselves no longer living in the country you thought you were. Reflect on that pain and frustration for a moment. Now recognize how you feel now is how an equally large, possibly larger, number felt for the past eight years. Those who are of a liberty bent feel it all the time, no matter who ends up in office. Reflect on it, feel it, understand it, own it.

Before you get the wrong idea, this is not my attempt at rubbing in your face the loss of your candidate or an endorsement of President-elect Donald Trump. If anything, I share your pain and frustration, just for an entirely different reason. What you’re feeling, this hopelessness, this feeling that you’re no longer represented, this feeling that people other than you are now able to dictate your way of life, this is all a result of the massive expansion of the Federal government. Elections have long ceased being voting for someone you think represents the lifestyle you want to live and are, in practice, an exercise on determining whether or not you get to impose your preferred lifestyle on someone else.

This is the nature of elections, especially the “first past the post” method utilized in the United States. This system is, by its nature, one where one group of people enjoys the ability to effectively dictate to those who did not win how they will be living their lives over the next term period. The effect of this on voter frustration, which manifests as cultural divisiveness, only gets magnified the more powerful that government becomes. A weak federal government would produce little divisiveness because there is little to be divided over. A strong Federal government would produce significant divisiveness since there is much to be divided over. It also goes to say that an absolute government would create absolute division while the absence of government would not produce a division because there isn’t any risk of having your life dictated by distant populations. When we add in factors of geographic distance and cultural diversity, we end up with a horrible mud-slinging process where people actively dislike both candidates and the electorate openly attacks one another over the political process, completing the division process. These issues won’t go away with vague calls of being civil, coming together or getting along. One group or another will always feel put out and ignored since those in office only truly represent those that got them elected.

However, you need not despair. The liberty movement has the answers you seek to not only distance yourself from future risk of being dictated to by distant populations and political heartache but also be able to more quickly and nimbly get policies and lifestyles you prefer without having to fight someone else for it.

Option 1: Demand Your Representatives Shut Down DC

Nothing Obama signed into law or created through regulatory diktat had to be done at the national level. Not the Affordable Care Act. Not raising minimum wages. Not identifying tax rates. Not regulatory agencies. Not even food stamps and various other welfare programs. None of it has to be done in Washington DC. All of it can be done at your State level and even locally. To prove a point, Colorado had an opportunity to form the nation’s first European-style single-payer health care system. Had that referendum passed, residents of Colorado could have been able to copy the Canadian model of medical care delivery. And it would have been entirely legal and done so without having to collect the opinions of 320 million people or impose it on residents of other States that would not have wanted it.

However, as noted in the linked article, the referendum was opposed on grounds that it could not be sufficiently paid for. This is not because of the common argument that the entire nation needs to be tapped to afford it. Colorado is wealthier than the national average, so Colorado would realistically end up having to pay residents of other States if such a scheme went national. So why is this law fiscally impossible in today’s environment? It is mainly because the Federal government is already taking all those resources for itself.

On average, the Federal government consumes 50 percent of all the taxes paid in this country. This means that, if the average holds for Colorado, and the State is likely further disadvantaged because of the higher income bracket, residents are sending $1 in taxes to the federal government for every $1 in taxes that are collected from them that go to the State or Local governments. In other words, Colorado residents have no say in how half their tax resources are used. Worse, Colorado residents would likely do a better job administering the exact same programs and do so for less because most Federal programs do little more than return the money back to equivalent State agencies. This means your State is having to cover the overhead of 2.7 million Federal employees whose sole purpose is to take money from your State then give it back again with orders on how to spend it.

By eliminating these programs wholesale on a national level and utilizing your existing State systems, you can avoid any disruptions in the programs and also enjoy a less expensive process. Instead of the Federal government collecting its pound of flesh, you will send it to your State capital. This not only allows you to continue the policies and even amend and adjust them more readily without having to convince up to 59 other Senators, hundreds of House representatives and a sitting president, along with an unknown and distant bureaucracy. All you need to do is ask your State representative, who is probably far more available to talk to than the senator you send to DC. With an added bonus, the people living the next State over aren’t going to feel threatened by your political philosophy because they are safe knowing that whatever system you decide to live under does not apply to them if they so choose not to.

Option 2: Secession

This is a more extreme process, but it is also just as valid and allows for more culturally compatible people to have a stronger option at self-determination. This strategy further removes the chances of having a central power structure usurping the wishes and desires of your more culturally compatible group by incompatible groups elsewhere. If one looks at the 2016 election map:

us_2016_election_map

We can find that, at minimum, save for a couple of orphans in the form of New Mexico, Denver, Minneapolis, and Chicago, the United States as it stands is perfectly set up for a secession movement to split the nation into at least three separate entities.

This would allow a greater level of freedom for residents of these three newly formed entities. Further, this split is more than possible from economic size. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll name the three new nations Cascadia (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and let’s throw Hawaii in there), New England (all the blue colored States from Virginia through Maine), and the United States (everyone else). If the USA split into these three entities, here is how the top 20 nations by GDP would look:

us_3_countries

These new nations would rank second, fourth and sixth in world GDP and two of them, USA and Cascadia, are one decent year of growth away from jumping up a rank.

An additional benefit of secession is the ability to further harmonize the new nation with more desirable trade practices, immigration policy, foreign policy, military spending, court systems, and monetary policy. These decentralized entities even have the option of altering how the government itself works, such as dispensing with individual State identities, removing the Electoral College and applying a direct vote system or even converting into a European-style Parliamentary system. Secession allows for even greater self-determination missing in today’s system.

Or you could continue operating as-is and hope enough swing voters decide they want to go back to your philosophy so you can take your turn again imposing your lifestyle on someone else and taking the risk of playing backseat where you truly have no representation or real say in how you live.

In any case, the liberty movement can be a strong ally to allow you to avoid having to live through another Donald Trump term and forge your own destiny without all the strife and divisiveness that goes with a modern American election cycle.

Justin Murray received his MBA in 2014 from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Is Congress Declaring War on ISIS…or on You? – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
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Passage of Senator Mitch McConnell’s authorization for war against ISIS will not only lead to perpetual US wars across the globe, it will also endanger our civil and economic liberties. The measure allows the president to place troops anywhere he determines ISIS is operating. Therefore, it could be used to justify using military force against United States citizens on US territory. It may even be used to justify imposing martial law in America.

The President does not have to deploy the US military to turn America into a militarized police state, however. He can use his unlimited authority to expand programs that turn local police forces into adjuncts of the US military, and send them increasing amounts of military equipment. Using the threat of ISIS to justify increased police militarization will be enthusiastically supported by police unions, local officials, and, of course, politically-powerful defense contractors. The only opposition will come from citizens whose rights have been violated by a militarized police force that views the people as the enemy.

Even though there is no evidence that the federal government’s mass surveillance programs have prevented even a single terrorist attack, we are still continuously lectured about how we must sacrifice our liberty for security. The cries for the federal government to take more of our privacy will grow louder as the war party and its allies in the media continue to hype the threat of terrorism. A president armed with the authority to do whatever it takes to stop ISIS will no doubt heed these calls for new restrictions on our privacy.

Following last year’s mass shooting in California, President Obama called for restricting the Second Amendment rights of any American on the “terrorist watch list.” The president also used the attacks to expand the unconstitutional gun background check system via executive action. Can anyone doubt that President Obama — or a future anti-gun president — will use the absolute power to do whatever is necessary to stop terrorism as a justification for imposing new gun control measures? Using the war on ISIS to justify more gun control will be particularly attractive since even many pro-gun politicians will support gun control measures if they are marketed as part of the war on terror.

As the American economy faces continued stagnation, and as challenges to the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency mount, an increasingly authoritarian government will impose new restrictions on our economic activities and new limits on our financial privacy. In particular, our ability to move assets out of the country will be limited, and new reporting and other requirements will limit our ability to use cash without being treated as criminals or terrorists. Those who carry large amounts of cash will find themselves at increased risk of having the cash confiscated by police under civil asset forfeiture laws.

If Senator McConnell’s declaration of perpetual war passes, presidents could use the war on ISIS as a justification to impose new restrictions on our use of cash and our financial privacy via executive action. After all, they will say, the government needs to make sure cash is not being used to support ISIS.

The only way to protect both liberty and security is to stop trying to impose our will on other countries by military force. The resentment created by America’s militaristic foreign policy is ISIS’s most effective recruiting tool. Adopting a non-interventionist foreign policy that seeks peace and free trade with all would enable the government to counter legitimate threats to our safety without creating an authoritarian police state.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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Congress is Writing the President a Blank Check for War – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
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While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.

The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.

President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.

It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week the media reported that the US military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the US would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the US is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the US military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the US military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.

The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with US backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn’t al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?

The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch’s power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people’s branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.

Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the US Constitution will be all but a dead letter.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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More Guns Plus Less War Equals Real Security – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
November 2, 2014
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Last week’s tragic shootings in Canada and Washington state are certain to lead to new calls for gun control. The media-generated fear over “lone wolf terrorists” will enable the gun control lobby to smear Second Amendment supporters as “pro-terrorist.” Marketing gun control as an anti-terrorist measure will also enable gun control supporters to ally with those who support any infringement on liberty done in the name of “homeland security.”As with most infringements on liberty, gun control will not only make us less free, it will make us less safe. Respecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms is the original and best homeland security policy. Restricting the right of people to arm themselves leaves them with no effective defense against violent criminals or a tyrannical government.

Every year, thousands of Americans use firearms to stop violent criminals. One notable example occurred in September, when Oklahoman Mark Vaughan used a rifle to stop a knife-wielding co-worker who had already killed one person and wounded another. Unfortunately, most of the media coverage focused on speculation that the assailant was motivated by “radical Islam” rather than on Vaughan’s use of a firearm to protect innocent lives.

It is no coincidence that states that pass “concealed carry” laws experience a drop in crime. Since passing concealed carry in Texas in 1995, murder in the state has declined by 52 percent. In comparison, the national murder rate declined by only 33 percent.

Perhaps the best illustration of the dangers of gun control is federal regulations forbidding pilots from having guns in their cockpits. Ironically, this rule went into effect shortly before September 11, 2001. If pilots had the ability to carry guns on 9/11, the hijackers may well have been stopped from attacking the World Trade Center and Pentagon or persuaded to not even try.

Shortly after 9/11, I introduced legislation allowing pilots to carry firearms in the cockpits. Congress eventually passed a bill allowing pilots to carry firearms if they obtain federal certification and obey federal regulations. Aside from the philosophical objection that no one should have to ask government permission before exercising a right, the rules and expensive approval process discourage many pilots from participating in the armed pilots program.

It should not be surprising that the anti-gun Obama Administration wants to eliminate the armed pilots program. I actually agree that the program should be eliminated, so long as pilots who can legally carry a firearm in their states of residence can carry a firearm on the planes they fly. Allowing pilots to carry guns is certainly a more effective way of protecting our security than forcing all airline passengers to endure the TSA.

Both gun control and foreign interventionism disregard the wisdom of the country’s founders.

An interventionist foreign policy, like gun control, threatens our safety. A hyper-interventionist foreign policy invites blowback from those who resent our government meddling in their countries while gun control leaves people defenseless against violent criminals. Returning to a foreign policy of peace and free trade and repealing all federal infringements on the Second Amendment will help guarantee both liberty and security.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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The 2012 US Election and the War on (Some) Drugs – Article by Bradley Doucet

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The New Renaissance Hat
Bradley Doucet
December 14, 2012
Recommend this page.
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I spent the evening of November 6 with some friends, intentionally notwatching US election coverage. There were only two plausible outcomes in the presidential race, and each was worse than the other, as one friend likes to quip. Another friend kept referring to the occasion as Halo 4 Launch Day, and we all pretended the release of that pvideo game was the most momentous thing happening on the world stage. We didn’t even tune in to see what humorous comments Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert might have come up with to lighten the sombre mood.

But along with the dark storm clouds that will continue to hang over the United States for at least another four years, there are other, lighter, more fragrant clouds that will be hanging over two states in particular: Colorado and Washington, whose voters approved ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana not only for medical purposes, as many states have already done, but even for recreational use. That’s right, in Colorado and Washington, you can now legally get high without a note from your doctor.

Two Steps in the Right Direction

I’ve written against the Drug War a number of times in the past, a fact that has led some people to think that I’m a big pothead. No, I assure them, this calm, laid-back demeanor is my natural, unaltered state of mind. I don’t write about ending drug prohibition because I personally want to smoke marijuana without fear of legal reprisals, but rather because drug prohibition is stupid and wrong. It’s stupid because it does not achieve its ostensible end of protecting us from ourselves by curbing drug abuse, and it’s wrong because protecting us from ourselves is not a legitimate function of government.

The Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative (aka Amendment 64) asked voters if there should be an amendment to the state constitution “providing for the regulation of marijuana” and “permitting a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana,” as well as licensing production and taxing the proceeds. The Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Initiative (aka Initiative 502) asked voters if the state should “license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.” Both measures were approved, each receiving 55% of votes cast. This is a sign of the times, as more and more people are realizing that drug prohibition is as wrongheaded as alcohol prohibition was in the 1920s—although a similar measure was defeated in Oregon, receiving only 45% of the vote.

Now the Hard Part Begins

Of course, just because the people of Colorado and Washington decided to legalize marijuana production and consumption does not mean the War to End the War on Drugs has been won in those states. For one thing, other recreational drugs will remain illegal, so the government can keep right on kicking down doors and shooting family pets in its crazed search for those substances. (If you haven’t heard about such occurrences yet, check out this chilling music video for the song “No Knock Raid” by Toronto musician Lindy.)

But even when it comes to marijuana, a substance that by all accounts is less harmful than alcohol, the fight is not over. That’s because the federal government is unlikely to honour the democratically expressed wishes of a majority of voters in these two states to be left alone. Instead, according to two former U.S. drug control officials interviewed by Reuters, “the federal government could sue to block parts of the measures or send threatening letters to marijuana shops, followed up by street-level clampdowns similar to those targeting medical marijuana dispensaries the government suspects are fronts for drug traffickers.”

On the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama, who has admitted to using marijuana and other drugs when he was young, spoke as if he were going to allow states to go their own way on the medical marijuana issue, breaking with the Bush administration’s policy of raiding pot dispensaries. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” he promised. Yet as President, he has broken that promise, cracking down even more than his predecessor on growers and dispensaries in the 16 states that allow marijuana use for medical purposes. There is little reason to believe that the Hypocrite in Chief’s reaction to the Colorado and Washington initiatives will be any more restrained.

We’re from the Government, and We’re Here to Help

The notion that prohibition could accomplish anything besides the empowerment of organized criminals is one that should have died with the Volstead Act in 1933. The notion that other people ought to have the power to tell you what you can and cannot put into your own body is one that should offend any individual with a modicum of self-respect. On the one hand, it’s discouraging that the Drug War drags on in this day and age. But on the other hand, the fact that voters in Colorado and Washington have, for practical or moral reasons, denounced this destructive, bankrupt policy is at least a little something for lovers of liberty to celebrate this election cycle.

Bradley Doucet is Le Quebecois Libré‘s English Editor. A writer living in Montreal, he has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness. He also writes for The New Individualist, an Objectivist magazine published by The Atlas Society, and sings.

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US Gone to Pot, but Not Completely – Article by Mark Thornton

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The New Renaissance Hat
Mark Thornton
November 12, 2012
Recommend this page.
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The only good thing about the 2012 campaign — other than its being over — is that much progress was made on marijuana policy. Marijuana was legalized in two states, Colorado and Washington. Medical-marijuana legislation passed in Massachusetts. Marijuana was decriminalized is several major cities in Michigan and Burlington, Vermont, passed a resolution that marijuana should be legalized. The only defeats were that legalization failed to pass in Oregon and medical marijuana was defeated in Arkansas.

This is a stunning turnaround from the 2010 campaign when Prop 19 in California failed to pass despite high expectations. I explained in detail why Prop 19 failed here. It was an unfortunately common story of Baptists, i.e., people who oppose it, and bootleggers, i.e., people who profit from black-market sales, who stopped the legalization effort.

With regards to the legalization victories in Colorado and Washington, Tom Angell, Director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) called the election a “historic night for drug-law reformers.” Paul Armentano, the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), called the Colorado and Washington victories “game changers,” noting that “both measures provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections.” He noted that “until now, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults.” Writing for the Marijuana Policy Project, Robert Capecchi called Colorado and Washington “historic victories,” saying that they “represent the first bricks to be knocked out of the marijuana prohibition wall.”

Following is a list of all marijuana measures on the 2012 ballot as provided by LEAP:

Colorado Marijuana legalization Passed
Washington Marijuana legalization Passed
Oregon Marijuana legalization Failed
Massachusetts Medical marijuana Passed
Arkansas Medical marijuana Failed
Detroit, MI Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession Passed
Flint, MI Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession Passed
Ypsilanti, MI Marijuana to be lowest law enforcement priority Passed
Grand Rapids, MI Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession Passed
Kalamazoo, MI Three medical-marijuana dispensaries permitted in city Passed
Burlington, VT Recommendation that marijuana should be legalized Passed
Montana Referendum restricting medical marijuana Likely to pass

Some readers might not be fired up at the prospects of legalization, decriminalization, and medical marijuana, but the benefits are higher than you might think. First of all, the economic crisis is a great opportunity to get this type of reform passed. There are several economic dimensions at work here. The most obvious thing that comes to mind is that legalized marijuana might be a source of tax revenues and possibly excise taxes and license fees. It would also be a source of jobs, although the net gain in jobs and incomes is probably initially small.

A major benefit would be a reduction in the size of government. Marijuana prohibition results in hundreds of thousands of people being arrested, tying up police, jails, courts, and prisons. When the city of Philadelphia decided to make marijuana prohibition a low priority and treat it like public intoxication ($200 fine), they ended up saving $2 million in the first year.

One of the most important benefits of these measures is that they make for a more liberal society in the Misesian sense. Marijuana prohibition is public violence, prejudice, and partiality. Legalization and liberalism is private property and public tolerance. As Ludwig von Mises wrote,

The essential teaching of liberalism is that social cooperation and the division of labor can be achieved only in a system of private ownership of the means of production, i.e., within a market society, or capitalism. All the other principles of liberalism democracy, personal freedom of the individual, freedom of speech and of the press, religious tolerance, peace among the nations are consequences of this basic postulate. They can be realized only within a society based on private property. (Omnipotent Government, p. 48)

The key thing, economically speaking, is that more liberalism is good for business, jobs, and prosperity. Legalizing marijuana, along with things like same-sex-marriage laws, may be appalling to some people, but when companies are looking to get started or establishing new operations, those are some of the things that are looked at, just like taxes, schools, crime, etc. States that are competing for the best companies that offer the highest paying jobs are the same states that are liberalizing their policies.

Therefore, it should come to no surprise that a state like Washington legalized marijuana even though it does not have a history of marijuana-reform activism. Washington needs to compete with other states for computer programmers, engineers, and technicians for Washington-based firms like Boeing and Microsoft. Do not be surprised if what happened in Colorado and Washington spreads to other states in coming elections.

The most important aspect of the victories in Colorado and Washington is that the people of those states stood up and voiced their opposition to the federal government and its policy of marijuana prohibition. They are directing their state governments to no longer cooperate with the federal government. You can bet that federal officials will seek to intimidate local officials and businesses as they have done in California. They seek to use fear and violence to maintain their power.

However, demographically and ideologically, they are fighting a losing battle. Supporters of legalization are younger, smarter, better educated, and have above-average incomes. The leaders of the reform movement do not seem to view their efforts as “pro-marijuana,” but rather as anti-prohibition, and they realize that the benefits are in terms of health, public safety, and prosperity.

When my book The Economics of Prohibition was published 20 years ago, I was often asked my opinion if marijuana should be or would be legalized. My stock answer was that medical marijuana would start to be legalized in 10 years and that marijuana would start to be legalized in 20 years, probably during an economic crisis. My only prediction in print was that the reform process would begin around the turn of the century. The first reform was actually a medical-marijuana law passed in California in 1996.

Mark Thornton is a senior resident fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and is the book review editor for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is the author of The Economics of Prohibition, coauthor of Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, and the editor of The Quotable Mises, The Bastiat Collection, and An Essay on Economic Theory. Send him mail. See Mark Thornton’s article archives.

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Copyright © 2012 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided full credit is given.

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War Drums for Syria? – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
July 7, 2012
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War drums are beating again in Washington. This time Syria is in the crosshairs after a massacre there last month left more than 100 dead. As might be expected from an administration with an announced policy of “regime change” in Syria, the reaction was to blame only the Syrian government for the tragedy, expel Syrian diplomats from Washington, and announce that the US may attack Syria even without UN approval. Of course, the idea that the administration should follow the Constitution and seek a Declaration of War from Congress is considered even more anachronistic now than under the previous administration.

It may be the case that the Syrian military was responsible for the events last month, but recent bombings and attacks have been carried out by armed rebels with reported al-Qaeda ties. With the stakes so high, it would make sense to wait for a full investigation — unless the truth is less important than stirring up emotions in favor of a US attack.

There is ample reason to be skeptical about US government claims amplified in mainstream media reports. How many times recently have lies and exaggerations been used to push for the use of force overseas? It was not long ago that we were told Gaddafi was planning genocide for the people of Libya, and the only way to stop it was a US attack. Those claims turned out to be false, but by then the US and NATO had already bombed Libya, destroying its infrastructure, killing untold numbers of civilians, and leaving a gang of violent thugs in charge.

Likewise, we were told numerous falsehoods to increase popular support for the 2003 war on Iraq, including salacious stories of trans-Atlantic drones and WMDs. Advocates of war did not understand the complexities of Iraqi society, including its tribal and religious differences. As a result, Iraq today is a chaotic mess, with its ancient Christian population eliminated and the economy set back decades. An unnecessary war brought about by lies and manipulation never ends well.

Earlier still, we were told lies about genocide and massacres in Kosovo to pave the way for President Clinton’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. More than 12 years later, that region is every bit as unstable and dangerous as before the US intervention – and American troops are still there.

The story about the Syrian massacre keeps changing, which should raise suspicions. First, we were told that the killings were caused by government shelling, but then it was discovered that most were killed at close range with handgun fire and knives. No one has explained why government forces would take the time to go house to house binding the hands of the victims before shooting them, and then retreat to allow the rebels in to record the gruesome details. No one wants to ask or answer the disturbing questions, but it would be wise to ask ourselves who benefits from these stories.

We have seen media reports over the past several weeks that the Obama administration is providing direct “non-lethal” assistance to the rebels in Syria while facilitating the transfer of weapons from other Gulf States. This semi-covert assistance to rebels we don’t know much about threatens to become overt intervention. Last week Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said about Syria, “I think the military option should be considered.” And here all along I thought it was up to Congress to decide when we go to war, not the generals.

We are on a fast track to war against Syria. It is time to put on the brakes.

Representative Ron Paul (R – TX), MD, is a Republican candidate for U. S. President. See his Congressional webpage and his official campaign website

This article has been released by Dr. Paul into the public domain and may be republished by anyone in any manner.