Iowa marijuana law makes criminals out of peaceful people.

I was disappointed to learn that, according to the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll,  67% of Iowa adults think is is best to continue to criminalize the personal use of marijuana.  People continue to be imprisoned, fined, and given permanent criminal records because they engaged in a voluntary peaceful activity.   Whether or not to legalize the recreational use of marijuana is not the correct question.  The correct question is whether or not to continue to make criminals out of adults who have done no harm to anyone else.  Many people have been greatly harmed because of our unjust marijuana prohibition laws.   We now have a situation where the remedy is worse than the disease.  The situation clearly conflicts with our state motto: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.

Don’t force measles vaccine.

The question is not, “Is the measles vaccine is safe and effective?” (I presume that it is.)  The question is, “What are the limits of government power?”   A person should not be forced to inject something into their body against their will.  Period.  Everyone else can take steps to defend themselves.  Maybe not perfectly, but that is a price we pay for freedom.  Neither government nor any majority should be able to use force against those who are peaceful and honest, and who don’t use any force or fraud against others.

 

Obama correct on Cuba policy.

President Obama should be commended for opening up diplomatic relations with Cuba.  It is clear that the 50 year old policy of embargo and isolation has not worked to end the communist dictatorship.  Yes, Raul Castro will try to use this change in U.S. policy to his advantage.  If only for practical reasons, the embargo should end and relations should be normalized.  As President Obama paraphrased, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  We need to do something different.
There are also important philosophical reasons why relations with Cuba should be normalized: people who act honestly and peacefully should not be prevented in their actions by the force of government.  Voluntary free trade, including tourism, is the best way to foster good will and build better friendships.  Allowing Cubans to interact more and more with U.S. citizens will ultimately change the opinions of the masses of Cubans. Hopefully, it will lead to a peaceful overthrow of the dictatorial regime similar to that of the U.S.S.R. and of East Germany.

Civil Asset Forfeiture is wrong!

Thanks to The Des Moines Register for exposing the unconstitutional and abusive use of civil asset forfeiture laws against U.S. citizens by the Iowa State Patrol, county attorneys, and the Iowa Attorney General.  Civil asset forfeiture laws  allow law enforcement agencies to take people’s cash (and other property) without charging them with a crime!   Then, citizens must prove they are innocent in order to get their money back.

Most amazing is the fact that the three law enforcement agencies that are involved get to split the money!  Whatever they can keep becomes a slush fund they can use to expand their budgets without legislative approval.  The conflict of interest is clear.  As a result, rather than arresting people and charging them with a crimes, our law enforcement officials make getting cash and other assets an end unto itself.

This is another example of how the failed drug wars have gotten out of control.  Our police have become militarized trying to fight the drug wars.  People who have never been violent or used any force against anyone have been made into criminals.  Then, because of their “criminal record”, they can’t get jobs and are prohibited from participating in benefits of our society.

We need to put a complete halt to civil asset forfeiture and we need to stop making criminals out of people who do no harm to others.  Ask candidates if they will help put an end to this travesty of justice.

Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2014/09/30/iowa-state-patrol-cash-seizure-illegal-gamblers-say/16511135/

Hobby Lobby decision correct.

A Supreme Court ruling today (6/30/2014) upheld our fundamental right to use our own private property in accordance with our own moral beliefs.  The ruling gives priority to natural religious and private property rights over the politically created guarantee that private business owners will provide employees with a health insurance benefit that covers certain birth control pills.

The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to the Obama Care legal requirement that they provide their employees with an insurance benefit that covered morning after “abortion” pills.  The law was in direct conflict with their sincerely held, honest and peaceful religious beliefs.  Hobby Lobby has never used force or fraud to get people to either work for or patronize their business.

Governments are the only organizations that can legally use force against peaceful people.  We created our government to use force, if necessary, to protect our fundamental right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.  Government force should not be used to make peaceful people act against their own religious beliefs – no matter how good the cause or the intentions.

By the way, I am a peaceful, honest, pro-choice, atheist, libertarian.

Our government is spying on us.

Should there be some limit to government spying on we citizens?  Remember, we the people created our government to protect our lives, our liberty, and our property.  We granted only limited powers to our government.  We retained for ourselves and the States all powers not specifically granted to the federal government in the Constitution.  We believe that people are innocent unless proven guilty and that there needs to be some “probable cause” before our government is allowed to search our property or intrude into our private lives.  A key question is: Should private data that is held by third parties be subject to search without any probable cause?  Specifically, should our government be able to “scoop up” data related to our phone calls, internet activity, or banking activity without a specific warrant based on probable cause.  Today, the answer appears to be yes, our government can do that to us.  I think the answer should be no.  I understand that if the answer is no, that it will be more difficult for our government to protect us from terrorists.  The price of freedom and liberty is not free.  Along with our freedom, including privacy, comes risks: risks from which our government may not be able to protect us.  At the same time, the history of humankind is littered with oppression of people by their governments.  That is why our founding fathers intentionally made it difficult for our government to expand its powers.

Reduce monopoly protection.

Patents are not natural property rights.  They are government created and enforced monopoly rights.  It is debatable whether patents encourage or hinder innovation and inventiveness. Even if patents promote inventiveness, there is no specific optimal number of years of protection.  In many instances, there is a good case to be made that no patent right,s or very limited patent rights, might spur more invention.  The case of pharmaceuticals and medical devices is more complicated because of government regulations that require much greater spending before a product is allowed on the market.  Even in those cases, we should err on the side of more limited monopoly rights and less use of government force and protection.  Humankind has made tremendous progress by being free to copy the ideas of one another.  What if fire, or the wheel, had been allowed to be patented?  Would that have spurred invention?  Our elected representatives should support shorter periods of time for monopoly patent protection.
Links to Register guest opinions:

Marijuana is legal.

Marijuana is now legal for recreational purposes in both Colorado and Washington.  It will be regulated like liquor.  This is a great step toward liberty and freedom.  Marijuana is mostly like alcohol, but its use is unjustly discriminated against by government.

What if police burst into your house and found a six pack of beer – and arrested you – and made you attend rehab classes – and your “criminal record” made it much more difficult for you to get a job?  Why is marijuana so different from alcohol?  The voters of two states said it is not that different.

It is a proper role of government to create and enforce regulations to reasonably protect the general safety of citizens.  Driving while intoxicated, whether by alcohol or marijuana, should be a crime.  But if an activity does no harm to others, it is not a proper role of government to prohibit that activity.

The new state laws will likely be tested in the Supreme Court.  I hope the Supreme Court finds it is not a proper role for the federal government to regulate the recreational use of marijuana.  Alcohol and tobacco are mostly regulated by the States.  Marijuana should be no different.

Liberty and happiness.

Randy Barnett, legal scholar, wrote this in the October issue of Reason magazine:

“… you can’t make your happiness contingent on getting a libertarian society. The struggle for liberty will never end because there are always going to be statists. There are always going to be people who enjoy security over liberty, because that’s another part of the natural instincts that people have. And so the best that we can ever accomplish is keeping liberty alive. And you can keep liberty alive just by being a libertarian yourself, and writing about it, and getting other people to be. Even if the society you live in is not, you can at least keep the idea of liberty alive, possibly liberty itself.”

Here is a link to the entire article: http://reason.com/archives/2012/09/18/we-won-in-our-effort-to-preserve-the-con/2

 

Minimum wage hurts low skill workers the most.

The Guest View , “Fix the minimum wage”, by Elizabeth Rose, published in Cityview on 9/6/2012, was emotionally appealing, but logically misguided. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply raise the minimum wage without any unseen negative effects.

What we see are those people who get and keep jobs at the new higher minimum wage. What we don’t see are those people who just don’t get jobs because they are not economically viable at the new higher wage. Some jobs are lost because customers will simply not pay higher prices, some are lost to automation because the new higher wage makes automation economical, and some are lost to offshore outsourcing. Typically, those with the least skill are the ones who can’t find jobs.

Many of the government laws and regulations regarding employment protect big, established businesses from competition by new, start-up competitors. Established businesses are often the ones who lobby for regulations that increase costs for would-be competitors. This is much the same as unions wanting government to require a high “prevailing wage” on construction contracts – to protect the union’s higher wages. These types of laws and regulations are primarily intended to protect existing vested interests.

As we continue to have downward pressure on wages and benefits because of international competition, it is possible that the cost of living will decline too. If wages dropped 10% but the cost of living dropped 15% what would be wrong with that? At the same time, our government is doing everything it can to increase the cost of housing (housing prices) – and then subsidizing those with low incomes. It would be better for those with low incomes if our government let housing prices fall to their natural level. Many cities don’t allow homeowners to take in borders – which could lower the cost for both the owner and the tenants.

Morally and philosophically, we should not allow our government to use its force to prohibit peaceful and honest people from voluntarily agreeing to employment terms. It would be considered immoral and illegal if you used force or fraud to make someone pay you a higher wage. The same thing done by a majority through government is still immoral. The purpose of government is not to create jobs. The proper role of government is to protect our lives, liberty and property against those who would use force or fraud to take those things from us.

And If you still feel that government and taxpayers must subsidize those who earn low wages, then the Earned Income Tax Credit, which already exists, is much better than an increase in the minimum wage.