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American Drug War Economics – Vol.1

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Marijuana
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When I was a college kid in the 1970s, buying pot was easier than buying cigarettes (though, to be honest, I don’t remember ever buying either!)

Probably, it hasn’t changed. But here’s what has:  I didn’t know of one single person who’d gone to prison over it.  It’s a whole lot easier to end up in prison today.

Kids,  just like kids of my generation, act like kids.  But “get tough” laws are on the books now.  They rip kids’ futures away, and give them instead a bed in the most violent, gang-dominated, drug-permeated neighborhoods in America:  our prisons.

When they get out, they’re marked. Getting a job is tough.  Getting scholarships is nearly impossible (“get-tough” legislators having pre-wired the FAFSA to identify criminal records), so education is almost out of the question.  Careers that require certifications are mostly closed. The options they had planned for are gone.

Visitors entrance to Utah State Prison's Wasat...
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For all that, what have we, as a society, gained? Nada.

These horrific laws, easily passed and rarely opposed (what politician wants to be labeled “soft on drugs“?), which incarcerate many of our best and brightest and then leave them with few non-poverty options, have utterly failed to reduce drug use. And they have cost us a fortune.

Meanwhile, your legislators are looking for more billions to build more prisons because this juggernaut crushes kids by the thousands every single day.  No other nation imprisons as many of its own as we do in “the land of the free.”

It will continue until we stop it.  And, since lots of people make lots of money keeping things just the way they are, it won’t stop easily.

But here’s one place—of many—to begin.

American Drug War Economics – Volume 1
Ending drug prohibition and focusing on addiction as a sickness, like alcohol and prescription drugs, could save the U.S. economy and millions of lives. Please pass this video on to as many people as you can. We need your help to end the Drug War.http://www.americandrugwar.com, http://www.sacredcow.com, http://www.sacredcowstore.com; Produced by Kevin Booth and Ryan Kaye
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Let’s get started.


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Obama asks GOP for more than ‘Just say no’

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President Obama asks those in Congress who object to specific budget proposals to work on “problem solving” rather than “point-scoring,” in yesterday morning’s “Statement on the Budget:”
clipped from www.dailykos.com
The answers don’t have to be partisan, and I welcome and encourage proposals and improvements from both Democrats and Republicans in the coming days.

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But the one thing I will say is this:  With the magnitude of the challenges we face right now, what we need in Washington are not more political tactics — we need more good ideas.  We don’t need more point-scoring — we need more problem-solving.  So if there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive, alternative solutions.  If certain aspects of this budget people don’t think work, provide us some ideas in terms of what you do.  “Just say no” is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs.  It is not an acceptable response to whatever economic policy is proposed by the other party.

The American people sent us here to get things done
Let’s pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity.
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March 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Bush recession different in size and substance

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This recession is not only more serious than others of recent memory, but it affects different parts of the economy than previous ones have.  A couple of graphs show the former, and a few sentences, the latter:
clipped from www.dailykos.com

For the first time ever, more private-sector services [industry] jobs have been lost than goods-producing [manufacturing] jobs have been lost.
Many of those lost jobs were in retailing, which has seen its largest job losses since the data collection began in 1939
Some economists say many of those jobs will never come back as Americans wean themselves from the easy credit that’s fueled their consumption for the past 25 years.
“A lot of them are gone for good,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight, a major economic consulting firm. “The age of the U.S. and world economy being driven by the U.S. consumer may be in the past.”
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UPDATE:  This morning, GM announced layoffs of an additional 10,000 workers.

The President’s stimulus plan is, doubtless, far from perfect.  But it has the support of the most brilliant economists we have, including the Nobel laureate Robert Krugman (whose chief concern is that it is far too small).  Investing in the economy has the potential for paying the government back manyfold, even above the cost of borrowing.

And another ten thousand people will be bringing bad news home to their families.

Seems foolish to delay.


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Written by Monte

February 9, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Poverty impairs brain function like a stroke

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I wonder how many potential Einsteins—or Beethovens or Marie Curies or Mother Teresas or Mohandas Ghandis or Martin Luther Kings—struggle for survival, unable to follow the yearning of their hearts.  I wonder how many millions of good, productive, loving people—people who would bless their world—are locked into spending all their strength battling desperate personal conditions.

Are we not all poorer when one of us is poor? Is there anything that would improve us all as much as dragging poverty to its knees?

clipped from www.usatoday.com

Life Expectancy at birth (years) {{col-begin}}...
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A new study finds that certain brain functions of some low-income 9- and 10-year-olds pale in comparison with those of wealthy children and that the difference is almost equivalent to the damage from a stroke.

“It is a similar pattern to what’s seen in patients with strokes that have led to lesions in their prefrontal cortex,” which controls higher-order thinking and problem solving, says lead researcher Mark Kishiyama, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California-Berkeley. “It suggests that in these kids, prefrontal function is reduced or disrupted in some way.”

Research has shown that the neural systems of poor children develop differently from those of middle-class children, affecting language development and “executive function,” or the ability to plan, remember details and pay attention in school.
“It’s really important for neuroscientists to start to think about the effect[…] of people’s socioeconomic status […] on their brain function […]
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Why cutting rich folks’ taxes doesn’t stimulate the economy

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And what does.

Another fascinating post comes from the ever-excellent True Conservative.

Consider: In 2007, only 9% of privately-held U.S. businesses … cited a “shortage of long-term finance” as a constraint on expansion. “Shortage of skilled workers” is No. 1.

So how do you increase the number of skilled workers? Here’s the story:

clipped from trueconservative.typepad.com
Here’s the central tenet of supply-side/trickle-down/voodoo Reaganomics:
If rich people get (and keep) more money, they will invest it and promote economic growth, so everyone will prosper.
That would (perhaps) be true if a shortage of investment were an important constraint on businesses […]
But availability of investment money is the least important constraint […]
[I]t ranks dead last on the list of business constraints. […]
A shortage of skilled workers in now the #1 constraint […]

Constraint 2
[This is the] economic view so ably explicated by James Livingston, which I summarize and link to here […]
The fact is that wealthy people can’t find truly productive investments offering sufficient returns, so they turn instead to investments that don’t have anything to do with production or productivity. (Think: MBSes, CDOs, CDSes, etc.)[…]
Since the greatest constraint on growth is currently a shortage of skilled workers, the best path to prosperity seems to be taxing those unproductive dollars and investing them in the thing that … is prosperity-producing: education.
Making sure that wealthy people have plenty of money is not the way to produce prosperity. That’s a self-serving myth […]
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Provocative, eh?


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Written by Monte

November 21, 2008 at 10:50 pm