The dream of many students is to spark up in school. A recent Washington state law just turned that dream into a reality. In Washington, a student who holds a medical marijuana card can now use marijuana products on school grounds.
Jack Shields | United States
I recently re-watched Black Panther, and it’s a solid 7/10. Good but not great. Someone had to say it. The Dark Knight is the best superhero movie ever, and that is a fact not an opinion. And anyone that says Black Panther is the best MCU movie desperately needs to rewatch Ironman, The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, and Infinity War. But besides being a good movie, Black Panther shows us the dangers of allowing a good man to have power; teaching us that we need to preserve our system of checks and balances despite our desires to have items on our own personal legislative agenda passed.
The movie begins with T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) becoming the king of Wakanda after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani) in Civil War. T’Chaka was a good king, and it appears T’Challa will follow in his footsteps. In fact, Wakanda has been blessed with an abundance of good kings. Through their wisdom and intelligence, and a fair bit of Adamantium, Wakanda has built itself into secluded paradise superior to all other countries with technology that makes Tony Stark’s suits seem crude and elementary. This paradise becomes disrupted by T’Chaka’s cousin, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who successfully challenges T’Chaka for the throne, becoming the new king of Wakanda. Overnight, Wakanda goes from a peaceful, isolationist nation to power-hungry nation preparing for war. Despite many powerful people such as General Okoye (Danai Gurira) wishing to stop Killmonger from pursuing his evil goals, they were not only helpless to do so but forced to comply. It wasn’t until T’Challa miraculously reappears after escaping death and taking back the mantle of the Black Panther that peace is restored. How could a country go from paradise to nightmare, to paradise so quickly? It had a weak system of government that gave the man in charge too much power. T’Challa was an absolute monarch. A tyrant. A benevolent tyrant, but a tyrant all the same. The system was foolishly designed to give the king absolute, unchecked power and pray he uses it wisely and mercifully. As soon as a king came into power with malicious intent, there was nothing that could be done. Because the mechanisms which were necessary to properly restrict liberty and impose tyranny were already in place.
Black Panther is, of course, a comic book movie, and it’s not likely as much time was spent making sure Wakanda’s government was designed to protect liberty as was spent making sure Black Panther looked awesome when he punched someone. But the lesson that we shouldn’t create mechanisms which can be used to impose tyranny when a good person is in power stands and is further supported upon examination of the most brutal dictatorships in human history, the most extreme example being Adolf Hitler. Germany under the Weimar Republic was not some free paradise which turned into a genocidal nightmare as soon as Hitler showed up. The mechanisms Hitler used were already there albeit used to a lesser extent. As reported by National Review’s Stephen P. Halbrook, “In 1931, Weimer authorities… authorized the registration of all firearms and the registration thereof, if required for ‘public safety.’” In 1933, Hitler and the Nazis took charge and promptly used this law to conduct mass searches and confiscations of the firearms of political dissidents and Jews. From there the Nazis were able to revoke the gun licenses for Social Democrats, ban independent gun clubs while arresting their leaders, and prohibit Jews from being given firearm permits, all without having to change a single law. Hitler was also able to gain absolute political power with the laws of his predecessors. As shown in Nazis Conspiracy and Aggression Vol. I, Ch. VII on February 28, 1933, the Nazis were able to use Article 48(2) of the German Constitution to suspend Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 which were the rights to personal freedom, inviolability of the home, protection of the secrecy of letters and other communications, freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and the right to private property respectively. From there the constitution was utilized to make the executive power infallible and uncheckable, and Germany became a one-party state. The stage was set for the horrors to come. This was all because the German people created a government with too much power and relied on the fact that their leaders would be too nice to use the power to its full potential.
In a less extreme example, this problem is relevant to how we as a nation are treating the Presidency. The President is becoming more and more powerful and is now seen by many as our great leader who will solve all our problems for us as we cede him more and more legislative power. Want tariffs, immigration reform, foreign agreements, or to attack a sovereign nation? Forget Congress, the President will do it! This has led to an epidemic of having an unstable quasi-monarch instead of a President. President Obama had “a pen and a phone” which was used to blow up Libya, create DACA, join the Paris Agreement, and create the Iran Deal. All while Republicans sat there horrified and Democrats cheered. But a legacy built by a pen and a phone can be torn down by a pen and a phone as we are seeing currently. President Trump has chosen to use his pen and phone to impose tariffs, blow up Syrian military bases, consider ending birthright citizenship, get out of the Paris Agreement, and get out of the Iran Deal. All while those once cheering Democrats sit horrified and the Republicans have their time to cheer. A system of instability has been built wherein major policies with huge implications are rewritten based on the opinions of one man every four to eight years, as they amass more and more power. A worst case scenario where the Presidency is growing more and more powerful, and instead of getting another Obama type or Trump type we get a Hitler type, who now already has the mechanisms at his disposal to successfully implement his desired tyranny.
Any system, no matter how poorly designed, can survive and quite possibly thrive under a Washington, Lincoln, or T’Challa. But when designing a system of government we ought to strive to create one that can endure a Hitler, Stalin, or Killmonger. We have a natural urge to get things which are important to us done, and if we like the guy in power we are willing to give him the power necessary to do just that. But the positive consequences of a good man wielding absolute power are clearly outweighed by the negative consequences of a bad man with such power. Those Republicans and Democrats who cheer when their guy does something they like should think more long-term and realize that eventually the other guy is going to be in power and will also be able to wield that power- and they aren’t going to like how he uses it. When wondering if a leader you like should have more power, consider their rival, and if you would not be comfortable with both of them having such power, don’t give it to them. Keep the President only having the powers absolutely necessary to run the executive and nothing more and you keep your freedom. Because you’re not giving the power to Trump, you’re giving it to the Office of the Presidency, and you may not always like the President and he may not always like you. Learn to love the gridlock. Love checks and balances. We have been blessed with the greatest system of government ever devised which has kept tyranny at bay. Let’s keep it that way.
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By Kenneth Casey | United States
2:36 EST: Although a lot of time has passed, not much has changed since the last update. 68% of the vote is in with Dino Rossi sitting at 43% and the two Democrats who are completely amongst each other for the opportunity to face Rossi in the general election sit are still neck-neck, with Scrier at 18.8% and Rittereiser at 17.6%.
11:54 EST: At 64% of the vote in, all eyes are on the two Democrats. With Dino Rossi securing a spot in the general election, the race is now between Kim Scrier and Jim Rittereiser over who’ll be the Democrat to challenge him in the general election. So far, Scrier is sitting at 18.9% of the vote and Rittereiser is at 17.5%. Still too early to call.
11:25 EST: At 40% precincts reporting, Dino Rossi is safely at the top with 41% of the vote and will easily advance to the general election. It’s still too early to decide whether Democrat Kim Scrier (20% of the vote) or Jim Rittereiser (17% of the vote) will advance to the general election to take on Rossi. Stay tuned.
11:19 EST: More votes have come in. With 29% of precincts reporting, the top two candidates so far are Dino Rossi with 42.5% of the vote and Kim Schrier with 19.6% of the vote. Jason Rittereiser is slightly behind with 16.9%.
11:13 EST: The first results are in. With 22% precincts reporting, Republican Dino Rossi is leading the way with 40.8% of the vote with Democrat Kim Schrier placing 2nd so far with 20.5% of the vote. Democrats Jason Rittereiser and Shannon Hader trail behind with 17.6% and 13.6% of the vote, respectively.
10:43 EST: Results are scheduled to start coming in at 11:08 EST. Stay tuned for updates.
One of the most interesting House races in the country is the upcoming race in Washington’s 8th Congressional District. Although Dave Reichert, the Republican incumbent in the seat, won his election by 20 points in 2016, the Democratic nominee for President has carried the district in the past three presidential elections. With Reichert retiring, however, this race will likely be more competitive.
Washington has a Jungle Primary. Instead of separate Republican and Democratic Primaries, all of the candidates run in the same primary. Then, the top two candidates with the most votes move on to face each other in the general election.
Many expect Republican State Senator Dina Rossi to move on to the general election in November. However, the 2nd candidate is unclear. Democrats are running 3 valid candidates: Pediatrician Kim Schrier, Prosecutor Jason Rittereiser, and CDC Official Shannon Hader, and the Democratic Party of Washington have stayed out of the race. Results will likely start to come in around 11:00 EST.
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By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars | United States of America
“The long experiment with professional politicians and professional government is over, and it failed.” -Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.
In 1947, Congress proposed the 22nd amendment to the US Constitution: an act to place term limits on the President. Specifically, it forbid a president from serving more than two full terms, or a maximum of ten years. This came shortly after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt served four consecutive terms in office.The reasoning behind this piece of legislation was to keep the head member of the executive branch of government from becoming corrupt, or sustaining corruption. For, as we escaped from in 1776 with the British Monarchy, if one person stays in power for too long, it gets to their heads.
In an experiment by student Andy Yap of Columbia University, over 100 people were shown pictures of others surveyed. Yap was able to get them to believe the 99 people seen in pictures were shorter than themselves (for the most part). There is in fact a correlation between a taller height and a higher position of power as seen in the Fortune 500 CEO’s, where the average height is 6 ft, 2 in. This figure is 4.5 inches taller than the average US men’s height (5’9½”). Point is, that there is a trend of people who may actually have power, or perceive that they have power, with a taller height. The fact that the people thought they were taller than the others after being persuaded into a position of power, shows that power corrupts the brain.
Staying in power for too long has proven to change the mindset of the person in question, and will do it again in the future, given the opportunity. Thus, 76% of America, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, is asking an important question. Why have we not implemented legislative term limits? It seems rather foolish to limit the President, but allow Congress to serve endless terms.
This past year, citizens of Michigan’s thirteenth district were surprised when Rep. John Conyers announced his immediate retirement. He was 88 years old, and served for 52 years on Capitol Hill without term limits. To give you a bit of perspective, in 1966, when he took office for his first term, Startrek was just debuting, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys was released, and the US was one year deep into their mission in Vietnam.
With only a 15% approval rating, our congressmen and congresswomen have proven to do next to nothing with their time in their positions. These people sign themselves into their own salaries, their own day-to-day agendas, and eventually, if the legislation were to make it that far, they’d be voting on limiting their own power. It’s ludicrous to think that these people would restrict how long they could make empty promises to their supporters, and put on a bright, big smile for the cameras.
“It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.” -PJ O’Rourke, political satirist and journalist, CATO institute.
There are, however, a few lawmakers with our best interests in mind. People like the Florida chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus, Ben Sasse (R- NE), Thom Tillis (R- NC), David Perdue (R- GA), and many more advocate for term limits. Though they may not get the press that other people in Washington may get, I encourage you to read more up on them, to support them to bringing progress back to Congress.
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By Craig Axford | United States
The UN’s special rapporteur on poverty, Philip Alston, has just issued a blistering report on poverty in the United States. He’s hardly the first to draw attention to this ongoing crisis. Given the lack of political will to do anything about it, he certainly won’t be the last.
Philip Alston’s findings follow a visit he made to the US in December of last year to assess what can only be described as a slow-motion social train wreck that threatens America’s long-term political stability. Included among his findings are some staggering statistics. For example, “the share of households that, while having earnings, also receive nutrition assistance rose from 19.6 percent in 1989 to 31.8 percent in 2015.”
The UN report is relatively short but attempts to use its 20 pages to describe some of the people and places behind the statistics it relies upon. Such efforts to humanize the data have become sadly uncommon within government publications in recent decades.
While we hear a lot about multimillion dollar bonuses and what percentage of wealth the top 1% control, personal stories about the poor and images of their unnecessary suffering are rare. Inequality is often substituted for the word poverty these days, with most of the attention drawn to data that shows how much the wealthy have as opposed to how little the poor are forced to make do with. As a result, it often sounds as though envy rather than justice is the motivation behind calls for change.
But extreme inequality is about far more than just you having more than me or vice versa. “If the only advantage of affluence were the ability to buy yachts, sports cars, and fancy vacations,” the Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel writes in the opening pages of What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, “inequalities of income and wealth would not matter very much. But,” Sandel continues, “as money comes to buy more and more — political influence, good medical care, a home in a safe neighborhood rather than a crime-ridden one, access to elite schools rather than failing ones — the distribution of income and wealth looms larger and larger.”
While more and more Americans go to work every day and require public help like Medicaid or nutrition assistance, those with the means to provide for themselves now increasing claim taxes are confiscation. The notion that taxes are a species of theft rather than the price to be paid for a politically stable society that fairly distributes opportunity to the greatest extent practicable is now orthodoxy among conservatives.
Progressives have inadvertently lent credence to the confiscatory view of taxation by focusing so much attention on the top 1% and what their tax rate should be, instead of speaking directly about the struggles so many Americans are experiencing. Indeed, US politicians from across the political spectrum speak relatively rarely about poverty directly, a fact which did not go unnoticed in Philip Alston’s UN report. “One politician remarked to the Special Rapporteur [Alston] on how few campaign appearances most politicians bother to make in overwhelmingly poor districts, which reflects the broader absence of party representation for low-income and working-class voters.”
Obviously, there’s going to be a very strong connection between a society’s priorities and its tax code. But by focusing so much on the gap between the rich and the poor and largely ignoring the actual conditions the poor endure, poverty is distorted into an abstraction. It’s almost as though many politicians think families care more about Bill Gates net worth than they do about putting food on the table and being able to go to the doctor without having to think about bankruptcy.
These days Democrats, in particular, tend to talk as though it’s self-evident that income inequality is the source of most of our greatest social ills, and that a simple adjustment to the minimum wage or increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit will do the trick. But it isn’t obvious to those living in gated communities, nor is solving the systemic problems that give rise to poverty that simple.
The wealthy no longer see poverty directly. Indeed, they’ve intentionally shielded themselves from it. When they do read or hear about the poor the message is often delivered through an ideological filter that casts them as lazy, drug-addled, and criminal. Until the elite are again connected to their communities, any steps taken to close the gap between them and the working class will be grudging and temporary.
The anthropologist Jared Diamond has pointed out that one of the most consistent characteristics found within societies that have experienced collapse has been the segregation of the wealthy from the communities that surround them. He laments the fact that history is by all appearances repeating itself. Writing for ABCScience in 2003, Diamond states that “In much of the rest of the world, rich people live in gated communities and drink bottled water. That’s increasingly the case in Los Angeles where I come from.” Diamond concludes that as a result “wealthy people in much of the world are insulated from the consequences of their actions.”
We’re not going to get the rich or the decision-makers over whom they have so much sway to see the light by reminding them endlessly that they make many times more than the poor. They know that already, and from their current perspective, it looks to them as though they’ve earned every penny.
Those with power and means need to be reminded regularly and directly what the day-to-day lives of people living in poverty are like. We must not be shy about asking those sheltered behind gilded gates what choices they would make on a minimum wage budget. We must insist at every opportunity that they put themselves in the shoes of the people they spend a lot of resources hiding from.
It was precisely this kind of invitation that led Senator Robert Kennedy to leave the safe confines of a Senate hearing room for his 1967 poverty tour. According to University of Mississippi journalism professor Ellen Meacham, “Senator Bobby Kennedy was on the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Labor, and Poverty, tasked with assessing President Johnson’s policies.” During those hearings “Marian Wright, a 27-year old NAACP lawyer and the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar testified before the committee on behalf of Head Start — a program that had nearly lost its funding. During the hearing, she went off topic and discussed the overwhelming poverty plaguing the South — and invited the senators to it see for themselves.” RFK took her up on that invitation and the rest is history.
We no longer insist our elected officials, let alone the wealthy, visit the homeless to hear their stories. We don’t demand that those charged with making policy visit poor inner city clinics or struggling rural schools. Even philanthropists usually decide where to send their money by reading grant proposals instead of visiting the people their money is supposedly meant to help. We talk like policy wonks and argue as though if only the top 1% took a pay cut poverty would vanish. Most of us may not live in gated communities, but our rhetoric about poverty has become guarded and sterile.
Across both the political and the class divide poverty is now a faceless phenomenon addressed through platitudes, if it is discussed at all. We debate raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, offering additional tax credits, and perhaps closing a few small loopholes without ever looking anyone in the eyes. We either demonize the wealthy or stereotype the poor because its easier for a culture to cope when responsibility can be shared by villains twirling their mustaches and lazy victims who refuse to get a job.
In any case, both the left and right have assuaged their guilty consciences by turning away. That they’ve turned in different directions is of little moral consequence. No one talks of “compassionate conservatism” anymore. There are no longer any Eleanor Roosevelts or RFKs doing tours of poor communities.
Even good policy decisions won’t endure within a culture that refuses to look poverty in the face. Inequality isn’t an injustice because some have too much. It’s an injustice because so many have too little in a land that has enough for everyone with lots to spare. Those people have names, and they know the elite have forgotten what they are.
Other stories by Craig that you might like:
- Who Are The Undeserving Poor? When I Meet One I’ll Let You Know
- Donald Trump’s Monumental Mistake
- Cambridge Analytica: A Case Study In Behaviorism Run Amok
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