Tag: war on drugs

LSD-Fueled Innovation From Your Friends at Silicon Valley

Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Could the iPhone have been born from the depths of an LSD trip? Steve Jobs tripped on acid a lot in college. It very well could be possible. But pairing drugs with any sort of productivity often receives pushback. Open up a little bit, and let your conceptions be shaken. It may very well be the case that many modern silicon valley innovations may be coming from psychedelic microdosing.

Continue reading “LSD-Fueled Innovation From Your Friends at Silicon Valley”

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Joe Biden Has an Alarming Record on the War on Drugs

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

On Wednesday, Joe Biden received a family blessing: they support the former vice president entering the ring of presidential candidates. This brings Biden one step closer to making a critical decision about running, recently stating he is now “very close” to choosing.

But what would Biden be like if he ran and eventually won? Compared to most candidates in the fray, his record on the war on drugs is frankly alarming. In fact, he was one of the original framers of the drug war, and it appears that little has changed. Continue reading “Joe Biden Has an Alarming Record on the War on Drugs”

An Ultra-Conservative Libertarian is No Libertarian at All

By James Sweet III | United States

The libertarian movement is one that encompasses a wide variety of ideologies. Whether you believe in communal ownership of property or the virtue of selfishness, you can still advocate for the center of governance to be more local than it currently is. Yet, a select group of libertarians refuses to believe this, seeing libertarianism as an “inherently” right-wing ideology. This group often holds traditionalist values and sees any left-leaning libertarian as a walking contradiction. They may also see these “hypocrites” as degenerate due to not emphasizing morals and values over the will of humans. How can one claim to be a libertarian when their primary goal is not to free the people, but to encase them in a narrow mindset with no respect for opposing cultures and views?

What’s an Ultra-Conservative Libertarian?

An ultra-conservative “libertarian” differs from a libertarian with a conservative lifestyle in the aspect that an ultra-conservative “libertarian” sees their morals and policies as one and the same. A libertarian with a conservative lifestyle believes their lifestyle is preferable to others but does not allow it to get in the way of furthering the movement of letting an individual decide their own life. For example, an ultra-conservative “libertarian” sees drugs and pornography as degenerative and that a libertarian society could not exist without these things being discouraged. A libertarian with a conservative lifestyle would refrain from engaging in this degenerative society but sees a libertarian society possible if some of their fellow individuals still decide to engage in this behavior. This distinction is essential, as I see myself as a libertarian with a traditionalist-leaning lifestyle. In no way do I see morality as a negative thing to hold close. Rather, having a strong set of morals is a good way to define one’s self.

Does Left-Wing Libertarianism Exist?

A prominent criticism of organizations like the Libertarian Party is that they allow libertarian socialists to be a part of the party. Ultra-conservative “libertarians” criticize the existence of this group, seeing them as detrimental to the existence of both the party and the liberty movement as a whole. They criticize the “degenerative” aspects of libertarian socialism, despite these “degenerative” tendencies actually being rooted in immature behavior or the lack of formality. This can exist in any person and is not reserved for libertarian socialists. The stripping of James Weeks on the stage of the Libertarian Party National Convention is often cited as an example of this “degenerative libertarian socialist behavior.”

One can be a libertarian socialist, but to understand how, one must look beyond the ideological label. If one believes in the use of government force as a way to achieve libertarian socialism, then the likelihood of them truly being a libertarian has hit the floor. If one is a disciple of Noam Chomsky or other like-minded individuals and sees the tyranny of both the state and corporations as something that should be thrown away, then it is likely that you are a libertarian socialist. Noam Chomsky sees the views of Adam Smith as more egalitarian than what the typical American libertarian would believe. According to his interpretation of Adam Smith’s works (like The Wealth of Nations), a man should not subjugate himself to unjust authority in the form of the government and the corporations that exploit the value of a human. He argues that equality could exist under completely free markets and absolute liberty, but yet he differs from the typical laissez-faire capitalist. Chomsky argues that modern-day corporations go against libertarian values, as those in charge will hold on to their wealth and power similar to the way corrupt politicians do.

There is much more to libertarian socialism than what I just described, and I will admit that I have not read libertarian socialist literature. Yet, from what Noam Chomsky has said, it is rational to infer that the difference between a libertarian socialist and a right-wing libertarian is the enemy they see in society. A right-wing libertarian sees the state as the most corrupt institution that exists and should be restrained as much as possible in an attempt to minimize its influence in the lives of the individual. A libertarian socialist might agree with this but believes the state is not alone in its faults. A libertarian socialist, for the reason stated previously, believes that the 21st-century corporation is at fault for many problems as well and that they should not be spared from criticism. Yet, both libertarian socialists and right-wing libertarians want to reduce the power of the state, and they split when it comes to what they do once the state is reduced or abolished. Do they rely on corporations, or do they rely on voluntary, communal sharing of goods under a free and equal market that is unobstructed by the corruption of suits and ties?

Libertarian socialists, like Noam Chomsky himself, can still oppose engaging in unnecessary foreign conflicts, as well as call for the end of the Federal Reserve, War on Drugs, and market regulations. They can even call themselves conservative, as Chomsky himself did. So why do ultra-conservative “libertarians” deny the legitimacy of this group despite not having an ideological split with them until far down the road, when the government is heavily reduced or flat out abolished?

The Tyranny of the Mind

The mind of a human is one’s greatest ally but can also serve as the silent, unknown enemy. We think with our mind, and our decisions arise from there. Ultra-conservative “libertarians”, whether knowingly or not, want to control the minds of others. This form of tyranny is worse than both the state and the corporations combined, as they wish to change the course of an individual’s life that was already chosen by themselves. The higher authority, the Big Brother, is not a man or woman, but rather the ideas that the ultra-conservative relies upon. By influencing the morality and attempting to control the actions of a conscious, is one not engaging in tyranny? Can one truly consent to have their beliefs and opinions changed by another man’s personal principles? Listening and deciding to change your ways through civil discussion is not what I am describing here. The constant ridicule and discrediting of opposing ideas by ultra-conservative “libertarians” is what I am arguing against, as breaking down another man’s brain and building it up with your own beliefs is not freedom. It is the most dangerous form of tyranny that has existed on this planet. A libertarian does not enforce their ideas on another person, whether through the state, corporations, or the breakdown of the mind.


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The Tyranny and Failure of Coercive Paternalism

By John Keller | United States

Coercive Paternalism can be defined as intervention in cases where people’s choices of the means to achieving their ultimate ends are confused. An argument of this nature, notably by Sarah Conly, rests on four main points: (1) Such a view promotes individuals actual goals. (2) Coercive Paternalism is effective. (3) The benefits are worth the cost. (4) Coercive Paternalism is efficient. Coercive Paternalism offers an ambiguous and unclear argument that ignores many of the complexities of the issues.

The Argument For Paternalism

A Coercive Paternalist would make an argument such as this: (1) People want to live long and healthy lives. (2) Eating processed foods and consuming drugs hinders people from living long and healthy lives. (3) Thus, the government must ban certain foods and drugs to promote the goal of the individual. Assuming the premise to be true, a rather noncontroversial claim, logically the next step is to examine the second step of the argument. Does consuming drugs hinder people from wanting to live long and healthy lives?

Examine, for instance, veteran suicide and veterans who deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Marijuana has been instrumental, if not vital, to veterans dealing with the mental complications involved with going into combat. By denying veterans drugs to promote the ‘individuals’ goals, they are actually exacerbating the mental complications of veterans and creating an environment in which veterans are forced to live shorter, mentally unhealthy lives as they tragically fall victim to the grip of suicide. Is this outcome the promotion of ‘long and healthy lives’? No, and thus Coercive Paternalism is unable to provide the needs of individual citizens.

The Failure of Coercive Paternalism

As it is unable to provide the needs of the individual citizens, it can not be effective. Paternalism itself is the idea in which the government must assume a role similar to that of your parent because the individual is inadequate to take of themselves and make good choices. Are any two individuals the same? Are any two children raised the same? Even siblings are often raised differently as a parent learns more, realizes mistakes, and adjust in real time to the needs of their children. The government, however, can not operate in this way on an individual level. Instead, they institute a policy under the basis of ‘one shoe fits all’. A clear example of this is common core education. With more money in the education system, improvement has been rare to come by. RealClear Education reports, “Between 2013 and 2017, only five jurisdictions logged improvements in 4th-grade math and just three in 8th-grade math.” As no two individuals develop the same, no government program can claim to be for the benefit of every citizen.

The theorized benefits of paternalism, that cannot apply to every citizen due to the nature of individuality, are not worth the cost. From 2013-2017, a total of $375,577,635,000 was spent federally, with an additional $840,757,185,970 spent in the same time frame by the states. In 2013, roughly 62,146,000 children went to school. That means that between 2013-2017, a total of $1,216,334,820,000 was spent on 62,146,000 school age children, or roughly $19,572.21 per student. As a result of paternalism, $1.2 trillion was spent to see only eight jurisdictions see an increase in math skills of America’s youth.

With the cost not being worth the near invisible benefits, Coercive Paternalism fails to also be effective. While it is not effective, it also fails to be efficient. Prohibition has historically failed to be efficient. The Eighth Amendment, passed in 1917 and ratified in 1919, was passed to prohibit the sales, transportation, importation, and exportation of “intoxicating liquors”, also known, more commonly, as alcohol. During the Prohibition Era, drinking remained constant. It is very likely that it not only stayed at the pre-prohibition levels but that drinking increased following the prohibition. When the government stopped sanctioning the legality of the alcohol industry and its services, it was forced to go into an underground state, run by speakeasies throughout the nation. The people reverted to the black market to get the products they desired, proving government regulation of the market to be inefficient. Furthermore, the government prohibition on the use of marijuana proved again to be a failure for the U.S government. Historically speaking, prohibition has always been ineffective.

Coercive Paternalism fails to promote the individual’s actual goals, is not effective, and is not worth the cost. The theory of Coercive Paternalism offers a simple answer to the complexities of society that fails to respect an individuals rights, needs, and the pursuit of happiness.


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The First Step Act: A True First Step in Criminal Justice Reform

By TJ Robers | United States

Last night, the United States Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill that President Trump has pledged to sign. The bill makes massive strides in improving America’s justice system, but we must not get carried away. While every reform in this bill ultimately makes America’s justice system better, the First Step Act must not be the end. It must be the beginning because criminal justice in America still has a plethora of flaws that we must address if we are to be truly free.

What the First Step Act Does

“Criminal Justice Reform” is a god-term, meaning it invokes an immediate, positive, and powerful response from a listener. Fortunately, the First Step Act does not fall into the trap that laws like the PATRIOT Act fell into, in which a law destroys freedom despite the connotation that the name has. This bill actually takes steps in the right direction.

The First Step Act Reduces Crack Sentences

Crack and Cocaine are ultimately the same things. Despite this, crack carries a much more severe sentence. This has had a devastating effect on minority communities since the 1980s. The First Step Act takes measures to make crack and cocaine equal in terms of sentencing by lowering the sentences one would receive for possession of crack.

The First Step Act Reduces Mandatory Minimums

Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill included a three strikes rule in which someone convicted of their third felony will receive an automatic life sentence. The First Step Act converts this to a 25-year sentence. In addition, federal judges will have a “safety valve” that will allow them to subvert mandatory minimums. This will help 2000 people avoid mandatory minimums.

The First Step Act is Not Enough

It is a good thing that crack sentences are being reduced and that nonviolent offenders are avoiding mandatory minimums. What is a bad thing, however, is that any nonviolent individual is behind bars. Right now, America makes up 5% of the world’s population but holds 25% of the world’s prison population. Many of these inmates are nonviolent offenders who did nothing more but sell or smoke a plant the government does not like.

This is not to be critical of the First Step Act; it is a step in the right direction. But that is all it is. Let us not pretend that the justice system has been fixed in the United States because it hasn’t been. We ought to be thankful that this legislation is making progress. We must, however, ensure that a chilling effect does not set in, because the people who have been victimized by America’s criminal justice system need far more than this bill offers.

You own yourself. You should not be in prison for using a drug. The only person you are harming by doing so is yourself. That should be your choice, and I do not have the right to forcefully stop you from making that choice.

Perhaps a more sweeping fix would be to declare the drug war as what it is: a trillion dollar failure that has devastated the lives of millions, especially in our poor and minority communities. Every individual who is incarcerated but never created a victim should be free. Mandatory minimums should be eliminated. Crime is an individual phenomenon. Sentencing should be treated as such.

In other words, The First Step Act is a first step that will help a lot of people, but it is not enough. To truly have a free society, we must push for freedom for all people; this means fighting the prison industrial complex.


This article was originally published in LIFE.

71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!