Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How Do They Pick What To Shutdown?

Since the shutdown is cherrypicking what little pieces they shutdown, how do they decide? My conclusion is they are simply jacking with us. Shutting down whatever creates the most inconvenience to the citizens. Closing parks. Making travel more difficult. **Not sending tax returns while continuing to collect taxes.

Meanwhile,  30 Democrats from the House and Senate are on travel to Puerto Rico. The claim is they are there to see first hand the damage from last year's hurricane. Yeah, maybe. Then again, here's the announcement of their plans. But whatever the truth of this trip, how did they pay for it? There couldn't have been any federal money available because the .gov is closed, amirite?

You want to shutdown? Fine. Shut all the way down. Stop collecting taxes. Send every federal employee home. Call it quits. Let the states declare nation status and move on. Otherwise, stop playing games.

**UPDATE: Unknown in the comments pointed out that the IRS has announced that they will be sending tax refunds.

Hey, anyone remember the last government shutdown?

Remember how Obama denied death benefits to Gold Star families?  The Internet remembers:
Within three days, the government was supposed to have fulfilled its promise to give $100,000 to these grieving families — a “death gratuity” that is supposed to help cover funeral costs, as well as immediate living expenses until survivor benefits kick in. According to USA Today, the money is also supposed to cover family travel expenses so that they’re able to meet their loved ones returning home for burial in flag-draped coffins at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Unfortunately, the government has been unable to fulfill this promise because of the shutdown, leaving the families high and dry during this vulnerable time.

In a media release Tuesday, the Pentagon confirmed that it has suspended death benefits to families of fallen troops.
But Donald Trump is literally Hitler.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Free Speech

Next up, having staked out my position on the right to self defense, is my right to free speech.

Once again, it's a libertarian absolutist position. Free speech is not to be limited. If I spout off with something you disagree with, offends you, insults your <#DEITY> or make your houseplants blush, so what? You can turn away, change the channel, go read some other blog, or start your own blog.

No limits. I'd like to get that guillotine clear. I have every right to let the world know what I think. The world is equally free to consider my ideas to be of no value, which is pretty much is what is happening in this brave new world. I type this as a digital form of hollering down a well, not because I think it will change any minds.

The way we are headed the person or group that is going to rule over the ruins is the most offended. Offended because someone used a word they found insensitive. Offended because someone created art they found blasphemous. Offended because they were referred to with the wrong pronoun. Because feelings.

In Israel, sometime in the last few days, there were riots because some people were butt hurt about a crucifix where the corpus had been replaced with Ronald McDonald. I had a quote picked out, but in this case, I'm going with a picture is worth a thousand words.

Thoughts on the shutdown

This is from one of the folks in our corner of the 'net:
I’ll tell y’all I’m affected by the shutdown. I’ve been “out-of-work” since Mon, Dec 24 (and who works Christmas Eve if they don’t need to?). Since I’m not a direct Federal employee, it’s doubtful I’ll get “back-pay”. Since the Dems have the House (and purse-strings), it wouldn’t surprise me that even Fed employees don’t get back pay. (“Take that, you meany orange guy!”)
I support the purpose of the shutdown. I accept that this issue is bigger than my pay. This was not unexpected nor announced out-of-the-blue; why didn’t people plan for this? It’s been coming since October.
Good luck to Quizikle during this period of extreme governmental FUBAR.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Joachim Raff - Symphony No. 11 in A minor "Der Wintrer"

Image von der Wik
Some decisions change everything.  In 1810, the German state of Württemberg had been conquered by Napoleon.  Forced to provide soldiers for his planned invasion of Russia, the prince implemented conscription.  One young man had no intention of going to Russia, and so fled to Switzerland.  That man ended up being Joachim Raff's father.  Since almost all of Napoleon's army came to an end in Russia, we owe a great deal of German romantic music to his father's quick wits.

Young Joachim got a job as a school teacher in Zurich, and taught himself composition.  He sent a couple of his works to Felix Mendelssohn who recommended them to his publisher.  By 1850 he was an assistant to Franz List and his career was off to the races.  By his death in 1882 he was one of the best known German composers, although few have heard of him these days.  Interestingly, there's an entire web site devoted to him, at which we find an excellent description of this composition:
The Symphony No.11 in a op 214 Der Winter (The Winter) is both the last in a series of symphonies describing the four seasons and the last Symphony undertaken by Raff. Although composition commenced in the spring of 1876, the work remained unfinished at the time of Raff's death six years later. The task of completing the work was assumed by his long time friend and associate, the conductor Max Erdmannsdörfer (1848-1905), who published the score in the year after Raff's death. The symphony was premiered in February 1883 in Wiesbaden under the direction of Louis Lüstner. 
It would not be surprising when listening to this symphony if one would be reminded of the characteristics usually associated with Tchaikovsky, Raff's younger contemporary. Some comparison with the Russian's first symphony (op. 13 in g "Winter Dreams") might be made. Although composed some ten years prior to Raff's Winter Symphony, it was not performed until 1886 and it is quite unlikely that Raff had any knowledge of the work.
There's quite a lot there if you're interested, particularly on why he went from extreme popularity to obscurity.  It snowed here at Camp Borepatch last night and so the first movement of this symphony (Die erste Schnee - The first snow) seem particularly appropriate for today.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Interesting news in the world of motorcycling this week.

A riderless motorcycle:
At CES this week, BMW provided demonstrations of its self-riding motorcycle. First unveiled back in September, the motorcycle can start, slow down, turn, and stop by itself. All of this is accomplished via a suite of proprietary software housed in some hard pack cases mounted on the back of the bike — an otherwise stock-looking R 1200 GS, save for the inclusion of a tall radio antenna on the rear.
Ooooooh kaaaaaaay ....

In other news of the WTF, Harley unveils an electric motorcycle:
Let’s just get it out of the way first. The bike’s MSRP comes to $29,799. That is an expensive bike no matter which way you look at it. Do the specs justify the price? Read on to decide. 
The all-electric LiveWire will apparently hit 60 from a stop in 3.5 seconds. There is no clutch and no gear shifting, which will definitely make riding an extremely different experience. And riders will be able to slow down using the power regeneration mode in addition to the brakes.
So it's fast as hell off the start line, Harley expensive, and doesn't have a transmission.  Here's the kicker:
Then we get to the range. Harley estimates 110 miles of urban roads on a single charge, which... isn’t great. And you can expect that mileage only to drop on the highway, as motorcycles aren’t the most aerodynamic. 
One of the advantages of motorcycle ownership is their superior mileage over cars. You’re supposed to be able to fill up less frequently and go further. This bike is less than a Honda Rebel, which gets an estimated 200 miles between fill-ups.
It takes forever to charge - 13 minutes of range per hour of charging - unless you get a Harley expensive special charging station.  This means that you can ride it 50 miles before turning around to go home.  Not exactly going to replace a Road Glide.

Am I the only one who looks at all this "technology" and asks WTF?

UPDATE: Jalopnik finds some Harley electric concept things that it likes on display.  But even this ends with a pessimistic note:
Knowing Harley, however, they’ll be too expensive, too slow, and not offer enough range to compete with existing electric two-wheeled products.
Yeah, probably.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Clarification II

This is my fault. I focused on guns. Mea culpa.

I'll let Beans say it, as he did in the comments:

The 2nd Amendment isn't about guns. It is about the God-given right of self defense.

Take away or control guns, then it's just a step away to taking away common household items that can be used for self defense, like hammers, kitchen knives, baseball bats, golf clubs. Like, oh, say, what is happening in (formerly) Great Britain.

Guns are just the big ticket items. What about butterfly or switchblade knifes? Canes? Umbrellas with sharp ends (no, really, umbrellas used to come with a somewhat spike rather than the rather blunted ends)?

God-given right to self defense. With an F-84G fully armed with bombs and rockets, if necessary and I can afford it


In my last post I said:
The 2nd Amendment, and the underlying inalienable right to self defense, being what it is, gun control is unconstitutional. All of it. I would roll it all back past the 1934 Gun Control Act. No lists. No watchdogs. No limits on design or rate of fire.
I thought I was pretty clear. The comments seemed to suggest otherwise.

Gun control is unconstitutional. All of it.


Nothing in the Constitution give the federal the power to make these laws. It is not within their purview. I don't care how bad the excesses are. The real danger is in the inevitable outcomes of the government consolidating power.

I would consider restrictions on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, but believe that any such restrictions would require a constitutional amendment to be valid.

Other than that, if you can afford it, and afford to feed it, all you need is a big enough range to practice safely.

"The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Gun Control

The 2nd Amendment, and the underlying inalienable right to self defense, being what it is, gun control is unconstitutional. All of it. I would roll it all back past the 1934 Gun Control Act. No lists. No watchdogs. No limits on design or rate of fire.

But what about the felons? What about mass murderers? What about *insert your favorite boogeyman here*?

Blink. Blink.

I am unmoved. The criminal behavior of others has no impact on my rights.They already have guns. They will continue to have guns. Either imprison them, execute them, or accept that they have guns. With enough gun control, the honest and the law abiding will disarm. Then there are two groups with guns. Criminals and the government agents.

The Dems, having taken some control, will be trotting out a big gun control bill. There will be a well orchestrated serendipitous coincidental mass shooting during the debate of this bill. The question of whether they have the Constitutional power to pass this law without an amendment will never come up. If it doesn't pass, they will try again. Like death and taxes, the one thing you can count on is more gun control.
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.... The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun."
- Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

Br friendly to Art


Will we miss Jerry Brown?

Via Samizdata, I had not known that Jerry Brown was actually the Grown Up in the room (at least for California government).  This makes him sound almost Milton Friedman-esque:
The Democratic constituencies want more money and more laws. I take a different view. We have too many damn laws. The coercive power of the state should be invoked sparingly.
Pay no attention to that High Speed Rail to Nowhere over there.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Joshua Tree National Park Fully Closed, Unlike The Gov't

Apparently, the actions of a few led to closing Joshua Tree until the full staff returns. Which leads to the comments on this action.

My favorites so far:
1. If the government is shut down, who is closing the park?
2. Wow, maybe they could build a wall!
Protip: As long as they are still collecting your money, they haven't shut down.

Tab clearing

Here's a grab bag of items that are only related by the fact that they're in this grab bag.

B alerts us to the fact that a huge amount of what is reported as "Science" is in fact a scam.  The Iron Law of Bureaucracy applies to Department Heads and University Presidents as much (or maybe more) as any bureaucrat.  I would go so far as to say that today's scientific bureaucracy essentially ensures that there will be a crisis of reproduceability.

I don't almost ever go on Facebook, because they're simply evil - they sell your data to anyone who will pony up.  So what, you say?  Here's what:
A lot of people probably don’t care if Netflix or Microsoft have access to their “private” messages. But technology companies aren’t the only kids on the block with big bucks. Do you really want your health insurance company having access to your “private” messages? That medical issue that grandma messaged you about may be hereditary and the fact that you might face it at some point may convince your health insurance company to up your premium. Would Facebook provide access to your “private” messages to health insurance companies? You have no way of knowing.
Related: this cannot be said often enough:

Reality is starting to catch up to (and overwhelm) the hype about self-driving cars.  It's about time, but this quote from the article is pretty pathetic:
"I've been seeing an increasing recognition from everybody—OEMs down to various startups—that this is all a lot tougher than anybody anticipated two or three years ago," industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid told Ars. "The farther along they get in the process, the more they learn how much they don't understand."
We have Top Men working on it.  Top.  Men.  They obviously don't read this blog because I've been talking about this for years.

Once again I must point out that the cyber security job market is red hot and you don't need a college degree to get in to it.  You can study on your own and take certification tests for small money (a few grand, max) and find yourself making big bucks without a huge amount of college debt - and without all the Snowflake indoctrination that goes with it.  Some companies even offer scholarships.  If you are (or know) a young man who's smart and has some get up and go, this might be their ticket.

Philip emails in response to my post about Sidecarcross racing (Motocross with sidecars):
If you think dirt bike side car racing is as mad as a box of frogs, try looking at some Isle of Man TT side car road racing. 150 MPH at times on a flat platform with no hand holds and not strapped in is a bit too hirsute for me to do, methinks!
I'm with him 100%.  In my 20s I might have thought that Sidecarcross was cool enough to try out (heck I did dirt biking, so it's just a short step from that).  But even the 22 year old me would never have tried this - which as he says is indeed madder than a box of frogs:

Thoughts on Trump's address

It was short.  Presidential addresses typically run much longer - I guess they think that if they're going to barge into your living room they may as well make themselves at home.  Trump said his piece and got off the air.

It wasn't an elegant speech in the Reagan (or even Clinton) mold.  I think that this is a big part of why the establishment hates him - he does not follow their norms or aspire to their goals.

It was an effective speech.  It's said that Winston Churchill's most famous speeches ("We shall fight them on the beaches ...") used simple words.  Old words, dating back to Anglo-Saxon times.  Words that would resonate with the population.  I think that Trump's use of vocabulary is similarly chosen, and it works.  Not in the Acela Corridor, but in the places that voted for him.

Boy, did Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi look like they had swallowed something unpleasant.  It seems that Trump's speech wasn't published beforehand and so Check and Nancy had to think on their feet.  That's clearly not their strong suit and so they fell back on the usual pablum.

The address was a huge challenge to the Democrats.  It will be very interesting to see which way the polls break (assuming you trust the polls, that is).

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The world's first car

It's older than America.

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot invented this fardier à vapeur in 1770.  It was a three wheeled steam powered transport developed for the French Army, who was looking for something to haul cannons around.  While it had all sorts of drawbacks (you had to fill up its water tank every 15 minutes) it actually worked, and would go several miles per hour while loaded with a few tons of stuff.  He got a pension from King Louis XV for this.

What's cool is that in 2010 some students at ParisTech (yes, there is such a school although they likely have never gone to a Bowl Game) built a working model from original plans.  The public unveiling starts about 2 minutes into the video and while the music is more than a bit annoying the fardier itself is tres magnifique.

Nobel Prize Committee: Obama did not deserve Peace Prize

Reported in the BBC of all places:
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama in 2009 failed to achieve what the committee hoped it would, its ex-secretary has said. 
Geir Lundestad told the AP news agency that the committee hoped the award would strengthen Mr Obama. 
Instead, the decision was met with criticism in the US. Many argued he had not had any impact worthy of the award.
Ya think?

The last decade has really shown just how stupid the "elites" that run the world really are.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Kim Du Toit Needs A New Name For His Blog

He's been calling his blog Splendid Isolation. That won't do anymore, because...

He's gotten married to his teenage sweetheart from many year ago!


I wish you both many happy years together. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

An interesting objection to the War On Drugs

Lawrence posts an interesting and different view on the War On Drugs: that's it's unconstitutional.  I am not a lawyer but his is an interesting argument even if from a practical matter that ship has sailed.

But you can have my "two spaces after a period" when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.  I learned that in 8th grade typing class and that ship has sailed.  Please everybody, no flame wars on the Oxford Comma, either ...

Compliments To All

We didn't agree and it looks like we aren't going to, but we did pretty well staying on topic, keeping it civil, and airing out our points of view. All of us are looking for what seems the best way forward for the country, how to do the most good with the least damage.

I suspect there were similar discussions sitting around the fountains in Rome in last decades of the Republic.

At least for this blog, for now, I am moving on to something else.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

So they had this guy "buy back" in Missouri

And sumd00d made three crapy guns from scrap metal and sold them to the State.  Then he took the money and bought a real gun.

But sure, the Organs of the State are totes competent to win the War On Drugs.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Blitzkrieg, Anyone?

The argument I am hearing is that we aren't really trying. We have been having a slap war on drugs. That, in spite of spending $31 billion in 2017 on the war on drugs, double the amount we were spending a decade ago, we aren't giving it the full effort.

There are 400,000 people in prison or jail in the U.S. right now for non-violent drug crimes. Not enough. Chain gangs, executions, destroying the countries that are growing or smuggling the drugs. In short, let's get serious.

The first issue would be passing the laws that would describe these new penalties.

Since we've already have civil forfeiture, we could just expand that program, taking the property and assets of more suspected drug sellers, users, their families without bothering to charge them or convict them. That's already in place. I'm sure no one is ever innocently a victim of an aggressive government policy.

With the new 3 strikes and you're executed laws, the communities that see the police as the enemy would have confirmation. Not everyone will cheer when their mother is summarily shot. Or their brother, sister, uncle, aunt, etc. Some might take umbrage. No problem, as you can shoot them too.

And you will have destroyed the last vestiges of the very thing you are fighting to save. Having turned the police into the Gestapo, the people become the suspects and the system serves the State.

Next, we could tackle declaring war, or at least getting Congressional approval, for the invasion and destruction of the offending foreign states. Then it's gloves off. We can make Mexico look like the charred remnants of a brush fire. Kill everyone in Panama and leave it to wildlife. That will stop the flow of drugs.


My idea isn't going to win the day. The United States isn't going to legalize drugs. It isn't going to decriminalize anything but pot anytime soon. The most I can hope for is some diversionary programs that keep non-violent drug users out of prisons. And I don't want to do that because I give a rat's ass about the users. I want to do it because it's expensive to house and feed them in prison. This isn't about empathy. It's about economics. The $31 billion we spent on this failed policy this year. The estimated $1 trillion we have spent since Nixon.

But the other idea isn't going to win the day either. The United States isn't going to burn Mexico or kill everyone in Panama. And they aren't going to put hundreds of thousands 24 million people in chain gangs or execute them. That's a fantasy.

哦 哇 所以 许多 失败

The War on Drugs and the persistence of pain

There's quite a discussion going on in the comments of the posts here and here.  A really good insight was left in this comment by Bill AKA waepnedmann:
I noticed that the three commenters, Aesop, Peter, and myself, who were relegated to the pro-war on drugs camp have their opinions formed by having been in the trenches on this so-called war. 
Aesop on the front lines in an ER 
I have a step-son who retired out as a paramedic in Richmond, CA. 
You literally cannot conceive of what medical personnel not only witness, but with which they live and wake up to in their dreams. 
PTSD is not only found in soldiers.  
Peter as a prison Chaplin. 
Myself: Twice my employment involved drug users and they damage they do: once as an MP in the Army (I was actually the NCOIC acting, for two months, at the maximum security cell bloc for an area confinement facility. Some of the troops returning stateside from The Land of Bad Things had drug problems and drug problems morphed into behavioral problems.
These guys speak passionately about their experiences dealing with people who are destroying their own lives, or the lives of others.  They speak passionately because of what they've seen.

I'm also going to speak passionately for a moment, about something that effects my life.  The Queen Of The World has had problems with her knees, problems that have been going on for a couple years now and which had her on crutches for months at a time.  Her doctors won't prescribe her pain medications because of the restrictions that they're under from the War On Drugs.

It's something to have to see the pain in her eyes day in and day out.  She's quite a trooper, but I can tell that it wears her down - the months and years of chronic pain take their toll.

To the people that think that the War on Drugs needs to get dialed up to 11, that there needs to be even more of what we've been doing - that we need to do it harder - well, she is the collateral damage from the stupid war.

Your point is a good one that people destroy their lives using drugs, but it's them who do it to themselves.  It's them that cause the aggravation and pain to their family and neighbors.  It's they who are not - and never will be - perfectible, or possibly improvable because they don't want to be.

But it's the government that is forcing the Queen Of The World and millions of others to remain in chronic, unrelieved pain for months or years at a time.  Remember, they say that government is just the things that we choose to do together.

This is personal to me.  Come up with a way to fight the War on Drugs that doesn't burn down the village to save it, or declare victory and go home.  I don't think that there's a way to win without massive collateral damage because the people using drugs want to use them, they don't want to stop, and they won't cooperate with efforts to improve/perfect/save them.

Out of the crooked timber that is Man nothing straight was ever built, and all that.

But it's not cool to keep the Queen Of The World and all the legions like her in constant pain.  It's not cool for local police departments to get all ninja'ed up.  It's not cool for no-knock drug raids to go into the wrong house by mistake.  It's not cool for law enforcement to get corrupted by bribes (or intimidation) from the cartels.

But there's no reforming a system this big.  Bureaucracies gonna bureaucracy and while the people in the system mean well, the system is lousy and getting lousier.  Out of the crooked timber that is Man nothing straight was ever built, and all that.

I do not believe in the perfectibility of mankind, and I sure as hell don't believe in the perfectibility of large organizations.  To win the War on Drugs you need both.  Or you need the organizations so strong and brutal that the population is cowed into acting like they have been perfected.

No thanks.  The Queen Of The World doesn't deserve this: she's the nicest person I know.  The millions of other people that the government keeps in pain don't deserve it either.  The human cost of the War On Drugs is not sustainable, it's not justified, and it needs to end.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Similarities between the War on Drugs and Gun Control

There's a big discussion in our corner of the 'net, bigger than I remember seeing in quite a while.  It's about the War on Drugs, and there are two distinct camps (for shorthand, let's call them the anti-drug camp and the anti-war camp).  Both sides are arguing intelligently and passionately, and making excellent points.  But it seems to me that both camps are speaking past each other.

As background, here are some links you should go and read before you go any further here.  Read the comments, too, which are packed full o' Smart.

I may have kicked over the anthill here.

Aesop replied in the comments, and then posted about it at his place.

Co-blogger ASM826 commented on both posts, and then left a clarification.

Peter stepped in with some examples from his history dealing with prison inmates.  You really should read this.

Reader Bill emailed with what I was going to put up as a guest post on the subject but I wanted to jump in with an idea that might clarify my (and I expect ASM826's) position.  I'll put it up later today, but for now we can put him in the same camp as Aesop and Peter.  Basically their position is that drugs have metastasized in the underclass and that not only destroys the lives of drug users (problem the lesser) but leads to a lot of crime against the wider society (problem the greater).

All of them are precisely correct with all of this.  While Thomas Hobbes was pretty pessimistic when he wrote that Man's life is "nasty, brutish, and short" that's the song you hear when you look upon the drug culture in the underclass.  Lots of death, misery, and criminal predation on the general population.  Essentially their point is that this is a huge problem that effects far more than just the addicts and we as a society should do something about it.

ASM826 and I point out that the "War On Drugs" has been a fifty year failure.  I don't really see how any reasonable person can argue with this.  We've spent north of a Trillion (with a "T") dollars, we've seen the local police militarize to the point that they all get Ninja'ed up and form a stick for no-knock raids that just might be at the right address, and we see the local governments "arrest" assets without convicting (or even charging) citizens.  There's also been an explosion of the prison population (which I'm less concerned about since these are not exactly choir boys).  With all that, drugs are for sale on every street corner in the land and overdose deaths are skyrocketing.  ASM826 and I are basically taking the position that half a century of trying has been a disaster, and we should stop banging our heads against this wall.

Both sides are right about where we are as a society right now.  The difference in opinion is about what to do.  This is where the similarity to gun control comes in, at least as I've been yacking about it.  I have proposed two questions to ask gun controllers about their proposed "solutions".  The questions are designed to make people clarify their thinking.  The questions are:
Rule #1.  Can the person proposing the law state what they think the law will accomplish?  Most of the time it seems that they can't.  For example, what good would banning bump stocks do?  They were (maybe) used in one crime in the Republic's history.  Is the goal really to prevent something that has only happened once?  Really?

Rule #2.  Can the person proposing the law state how likely the law is to accomplish the goal from Rule #1?  Considering that you can make a bump stock from a string and a key ring, is it rational to ban bump stocks? 
I try to take a practical view of things, and so anything that provides reasonable answers to both questions sounds, well, reasonable.  This applies to both guns and drugs: if someone actually could come up with a gun control proposal that had reasonable answers to both of these you wouldn't get any "Muh Second Amendment" from me.  Of course, I can't think of any gun laws that answer both of these in a reasonable manner, so that's all theoretical.

But in the interest of putting my pixels where my mouth is, let me take a stab at providing answers to these questions from the "we should declare victory in the War on Drugs and go home" perspective.  The proposal is that most or perhaps all drugs be decriminalized, offered for sale, and taxed.

Rule #1.  Can the person proposing the law state what they think the law will accomplish?  This is intended to accomplish five specific things: 

  1. Remove the perceived need to militarization of the police forces, no-knock raids, asset forfeiture, controls on how much you can deposit at your bank, etc.  It's caustic for the Republic and it costs us a lot of money.  It's an anti-tyranny goal.
  2. Improve the purity of the drugs on the market which will reduce overdose deaths.  Food and Drug purity laws would apply and so the heroin that Joe Junkie buys at the local Alcohol Beverage and Drug Emporium wouldn't be the equivalent of bathtub gin.  His gin isn't adulterated (like it was during the Prohibition days) and his smack shouldn't be either.
  3. Lower the price of drugs, by eliminating the risk premium that must exist to cover expected loss from seizure, arrest, etc.  
  4. Eliminate the massive profits that are flowing to drug cartels, which fund a bunch (admittedly not all) of the violence associated with illegal drug use.
  5. Generate a tax revenue stream that can be targeted towards providing detox centers for drug users who want to fight their addiction.

Laws about theft, driving under the influence, etc would fully apply to junkies who commit these crimes, just as they do today.  Peter, Aesop, and Bill are entirely correct that today these are not "victimless" crimes.

Rule #2.  Can the person proposing the law state how likely the law is to accomplish the goal from Rule #1?  Let's break these down by the five points above.

  1. No doubt some agencies will resist this - police unions, prison guard unions, the DEA, etc will rightly see the reduction of public funding as a threat to them.  However, this is more of a hinderance to getting decriminalization passed in Congress than in implementation.  In any case, I don't see any fundamental disagreement between the two camps in this as a goal.
  2. This seems a no-brainer, as the illegal drug market is replaced by a legal one.  It will be safer for both sellers and users, and legalization will probably attract big corporations who know how to mass produce pure products.  I'm not sure you'll see Superbowl advertisements for "The Champagne of heroin" but I don't think you need to for success here.
  3. This seems like an absolute no-brainer.  You are eliminating some very costly parts of the supply chain (machine guns, private armies, etc).  Not sure how big this is but it sure isn't zero.
  4. We saw this with the end of Prohibition.  Today's Al Capones are drug king pins.
  5. Tax money is notoriously fungible and is often diverted by politicians, but we see tax revenue streams from legal pot in places where it was legalized (e.g. Colorado).

So there you have it.  I may be wrong here, but at least I've shown my work (in admittedly excessive detail).  I'd like to see the same analysis from the other camp on what specifically they would do, and whether they expect it would work.


In the comments of an earlier post, I expressed the view that the War on Drugs is a total failure. I said I think that recreational drugs should be decriminalized, as they have been in Portugal.

My exact opening words in my first comment: "...My thoughts on pot are similar to my thoughts on guns and liquor. Passing laws and creating an illegal subculture is the problem. Would it be better if people did not smoke pot? Yes. Would it be better if people didn't drink alcohol? Yes. However, prohibition fails. It failed with booze the same way it has failed again. It creates an artificial market, high prices, organized crime, etc. How many murders happened during Prohibition, for money or alcohol? Untaxed alcohol, moonshine, is still a problem where I live. Why? Because high taxes create a market for the homemade stuff. And we all could go on all day about the effects of gun laws." 

 I was met with this reply:
"ASM826 has pegged the meter and will win the 2018 Unintended Irony Award in a walkaway, just about the time he realizes he has made the perfect rational and logical argument for getting rid of laws against murder.
Because prohibition never works.

Well-played, sir!
That's quite a Brave New World for which you've inadvertently advocated.

The crowd will now watch as you extricate yourself from this predicament."

My response, in full: "Laws against murder don't prevent murder. They just provide penalties if you get caught. You, me, anyone, can commit one murder. What stops us isn't any law, what stops us is our personal morality. Our sense of what constitutes decent behavior, based on our upbringing and beliefs, is the check on most of our behavior. It is why we don't commit assaults, robberies, littering, and as you mention, murder.

Anyway, "prohibition" as commonly understood refers to laws on personal behavior usually related to pleasure or entertainment. Drinking alcohol, doing drugs, sexual behavior, for example. Those laws make the goods or services more difficult to acquire. This never results in an elimination of the activity, it just raises the price.

Scarcity of goods or services by any means always has that effect in the marketplace. If heroin was legalized and freely available, the price would plummet. Whether the outcome would good or bad is immaterial to this effect. Current prices are a result of artificial constraints on the market.

Government intervention in the form of law and law enforcement raises prices, make selling more profitable, brings in criminals willing to take the associated risks (Al Capone being one example), but never succeeds in eliminating the activity. This creates a larger law enforcement presence, sometimes higher penalties, and a greater burden on the citizens paying the taxes to support the ongoing efforts.

We are not winning the "War on Drugs". It would make more sense to legalize it and give it away to anyone that wanted it. Property theft and strong arm robbery would drop because most of that is related to drug seekers trying to get money to make purchases. Some people would die from increased use, but most would continue to use at whatever level provided them with the kick they seek. Nothing about the drug use would change except the ongoing cost of police, courts, and jails would be removed.

This isn't even a theoretical argument. Portugal did this 16 years ago and there is statistical data available. They decriminalized everything from pot to heroin. Drug use has dropped, HIV infection rates are way down, and deaths from overdoses are rare. The expected result of skyrocketing drug use and resulting deaths did not occur.

This not an argument that drug use is a good thing. Alcohol when abused has lot of very destructive side effects. Long term sustained drinking will kill. Tobacco still causes the premature death of tens of thousands every year. Pot makes people lethargic and may, as mentioned in the previous comments, may be far worse to smoke than tobacco. Opioids, amphetamines, and barbiturates all can destroy the users lives, ruining their productivity, their relationships, and their health.

My argument is simply that laws against their use have failed to effect usage rates and effectively result in the militarization of the police, increased incarceration rates, additional tax burdens, and higher crime rates.

This went on

The commenter replied, "So, to be absolutely clear, you're against government going after Al Capone or Pablo Escobar for wantonly violating laws enacted by the directly-elected representatives of the people in a republic, including murder, because that militarizes the police, but you're in favor of using the IRS to demand, at gunpoint if necessary, and on pain of prison or death, that I pay taxes to provide unlimited drugs to whomever should wish them, from out of the fruits of my labor?"

He sets up a straw man, something I did not say. Did not mean. DO NOT BELIEVE. Then he knocks it down. I don't know why.

Here, cut and pasted, one more time, is what I said, while talking about why the Volstead act was a failure, "Government intervention in the form of law and law enforcement raises prices, make selling more profitable, brings in criminals willing to take the associated risks (Al Capone being one example), but never succeeds in eliminating the activity. This creates a larger law enforcement presence, sometimes higher penalties, and a greater burden on the citizens paying the taxes to support the ongoing efforts."

I believe that. If you put out bird feeders, you get birds. I believe our efforts to stem the tide of recreational drug use is such a failure that we should do something else. We create the conditions that allow ruthless criminals to make huge profits and accrue power. The cartels in Mexico have made things worse. South America is worse. The U.S. inner cites are worse.

I know my view is a minority among conservatives, I do not expect anyone to agree with me, I do not expect the laws to change, but I do not want to be misquoted and misunderstood. Be polite and fair in the comments, this time I will delete efforts to twist my words.