Pothead Nation USA

From the Nothing Can Stop A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come Dept.



by Jim Greenfield © August 25, 2014

Isn’t it ironic that the movement to legalize marijuana across the nation appears to have gained irresistible momentum just as new studies come out showing that marijuana causes chronic brain damage and long term reduction in iq among young people whose brains are still developing?  A recent Duke University study  shows a long term eight percent drop in i.q. among teenagers who use pot regularly.  Apparently this reduction in intelligence is not reversed even when young users stop abusing the drug.  A Northwestern University School of Medicine study published in the “Journal Of Neuroscience” found that marijuana use causes structural brain damage, corroborating an earlier study at Harvard Medical School.

Colorado and Washington states have already legalized marijuana and it is defacto legal in many other states where law enforcement against possession is virtually non-existent.  There is growing pressure to decriminalize pot at the federal level as well from advocates who apparently don’t believe the scientific evidence and claim  pot is harmless.  As a fallback position  they sometimes argue unconvincingly that  at least it’s not as bad as alcohol, a claim not supported by any evidence.  Evidence of the linkage between marijuana use and mental health problems such as depression, low self-esteem, loss of motivation, poor memory, and schizophrenia are ignored by the pro-pot crowd.  The rising popularity of legalization among the uninformed public has cowed politicians into either silence, or open support of legalization.

Proponents of pot legalization compare the so called “war on drugs” with prohibition in the 1920’s.  To which I say, “What war on drugs?”  Pot legalization heads claim prohibition doesn’t work.  Actually, prohibition does work.  When there were stiff prison terms for possession of all classes of drugs, such as in the 1950’s, drug abuse was almost non-existent, except limited use in a few big city slums .  It is illogical and naïve to believe that legalizing a dangerous substance will not result in a substantial increase in its use.

The clearest example of the effect of legalizing a behavior that was previously illegal is pornography.  Back in the days when pornography was illegal it was extremely rare and hard to come by – found only in secret sleazy back alley stores in sleazy back alley neighborhoods.  After the Supreme Court struck down anti-pornography laws in the 1970’s in the name of free speech, pornography proliferated at an exponential rate.  Today pornography is found everywhere, in stores that advertise openly throughout the country in otherwise respectable neighborhoods, on the internet, and on cable tv.  Could anyone argue that this proliferation would have occurred if pornography hadn’t been legalized?

This is not to take a position about whether pornography should be legal.  Clearly that genie ain’t going back in the bottle.  The point is rather that demand for any product that is illegal and illicit is depressed.  Legalizing any previously illegal product not only de-stigmatizes its use, but makes it commonplace and easy to obtain.  It also results in widespread marketing and advertising, and a huge expansion of the market for that product.    Pot stores are coming soon to a neighborhood near you.  And if you think legalizing pot won’t make it easier for your kids to get it and get addicted, dream on.

So what will be the impact on our nation of multiplying the use of a drug that has now been scientifically proven to make people stupid?  Duh.  There will be more stupid people.  In my opinion we already have an ample supply of stupid people and don’t need more.

And for my libertarian friends, think about this.  The unfortunate thing about potheads is that, like other stupid people, some of them vote.   And who do you think they vote for?  Libertarians?  I don’t think so.  They vote for Democrats.  They vote for demagogue politicians who promise to give them free handouts to support their addictions, debilitated life style of dysfunction, degradation, inability to hold a job, and chronic dependence on the welfare state, common bi-products of chronic drub abuse.  So, libertarians, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The libertarian argument for legalization goes something like this.  We believe in freedom.  (So do I).  Every adult should be free to engage in any conduct he chooses so long as it causes no harm to anyone else (the libertarian prime directive).  Ingesting marijuana, or any other drug, may harm you, but it causes no harm to anyone else.  Therefore, according to libertarian dogma, you should be free to use it.

The problem with the libertarian argument is that it’s simplistic, just as the libertarian formula which purports to provide the solution to all public policy questions is simplistic.  The problem, which is ignored by the libertarian creed, is figuring out where to draw the line between where self-destructive conduct harms only yourself and where it harms those around you.  Would anyone argue, for example, that the children of a drug addict aren’t harmed by their parent’s drug abuse?

The truth is that, like libertarians, I have no desire to interfere with people who want to harm themselves unless, and here’s the problem, their self-destructive behavior harms me as well, which in fact, it does.  If you want to go out in the Mohave dessert and shoot up on meth or heroin, go ahead.  Have at it.  But if you’re living next door to me, or working in my company, or your kids play with my kids, sorry pal, don’t tell me your drug abuse does me no harm.

And another thing.  Libertarians believe in freedom, right?  So do I.  But would you argue that widespread drug abuse increases freedom?  What a superficial conception of freedom!  Do you define freedom mechanistically to mean soley the physical ability to move your body around and do what you like with it, like for example the “right” to put brain destroying chemicals in your body?  How about a subtler and more profound notion of freedom?  In vedic philosophy the Sanskrit word “moksha” means liberation, not physical freedom to do what you choose with your body, or even political liberation, but liberation of the mind from ignorance and suffering, i.e. “enlightenment.”  As the Beatles said, “You better free your mind instead.”  Does allowing drug abusers the “freedom” to become enslaved to their addiction truly promote the cause of liberty in any meaningful sense?  Maybe there are some things we don’t need to be free to do because we know how it ends.

It makes perfect sense for Democrats to support marijuana legalization because most stupid people vote Democrat.  But for Republicans it is stupid to be pro-pot, and would make more sense to advocate re-criminalization rather than de-criminalization.  Let’s not throw in the towel, but get our young people off the drugs, and into the work place where they can start paying taxes, and hopefully figure out that the government is not their friend, so they wake up and start voting Republican or Libertarian.

The more philosophical point is this.  Freedom is rather a rare and delicate commodity.  Most men throughout history have lived under one form or another of despotism.  To remain free, a people must be capable of clear, intelligent thought.  If we permit our population to be further dumbed down and degraded, dysfunctional, dependent, and addicted to brain-addling substances, the demands to expand the welfare state even more will be irresistible.  If you want to understand the connection between a compliant, brain dead population and mass subservience to centralized authority, go back and re-read Aldous Huxley’s classic, “Brave New World.”   If  the trend of expanding drug abuse accelerates,  the citizens of this pothead nation, even those of us who don’t use drugs, will lose what’s left of our freedom.

Serving all humanity, but mainly serving myself, this is Jim Greenfield.


2012 study from Duke University. Researchers studied nearly every child born in a small town in New Zealand since the 1970s. They gave them I.Q. tests as teenagers then another later in life. They asked about their marijuana, alcohol and other drug use. The study concluded that those who regularly smoked marijuana did lose, on average, eight I.Q. points.



The Bogus Shutdown/Debt Crisis

by Jim Greenfield 10/24/13

The crisis isn’t failing to raise the debt ceiling; the crisis is the debt.”   Peter Schiff

The majority is almost always wrong.”    Henrik Ibsen

I’ve been studying public policy and politics for 50 years. Never have I seen such an onslaught of misinformation, disinformation, confusion, and sheer ignorance as the coverage of the recent government shutdown/debt ceiling debacle. If the public is confused, which, according to opinion polls, the public surely is, it is because a cabal of journalists, pundits, and politicians have done everything possible to make them confused. I’m not shocked by demagoguery by politicians, nor by bias in the media. What was unusual was the extraordinary amplification by the media of manipulative messages of particular politicians to create public hysteria, that was so beneficial to one political faction while so damaging to the other.

It’s human nature to panic over imaginary threats, while remaining oblivious to real threats. Remember the existential danger believed to be posed to civilization in 1999 by Y2K? Remember Y2K? Imaginary threat. Or, on the other hand, the real threat posed by Hitler in the 1930’s as he was building the greatest war machine in history and, other than Winston Churchill, nobody noticed.

Myth #1. Who was to “blame” for the government “shutdown?”

Throughout the shutdown fiasco, the media obsessed on the question who was to “blame,” and conveniently provided a simple answer: the Republicans. But the question contains two false premises. First, the assumption that shutting the government is a negative for which someone ought to be blamed. Second, the factually incorrect premise that the government was shut down. The government was not shut down; it continued to function throughout this manufactured crisis. Soldiers continued fighting. The IRS continued collecting taxes. The NSA continued spying and gathering data on us all. The government continued giving out money with abandon to everyone to whom the government routinely gives out money with abandon.

A few functions of government were shut down, functions handpicked by the Obama administration to inflict the maximum pain on the maximum number of people, a slight perversion of the old utilitarian maxim about pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number. Obama’s shut-down targets were optically selected to get the most bang for the shut-down buck – the Washington Monument, Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Canyon, to name a few. Shutting down the Grand Canyon required a really big canopy.

“Essential” government personnel continued to work. “Non-essential” personnel were given paid holidays. Astonishingly, some furloughed government workers managed to “double-dip” by wangling unemployment benefits on top of the pay they received retroactively for not working. Not a bad deal.

The Obama administration coldly decided that the people in charge of keeping parks and monuments open were non-essential, but the people in charge of closing them were essential. Threatening the citizenry with arrest to keep the parks closed is rotten work, but somebody has to do it. This strategy was manifestly chosen in order, with the complicity of the mainstream media, to convey the compelling message that Republicans are dirty, rotten, scoundrels. Never mind that the House Republicans had passed several bills to fund not only the parks and monuments, but all other government functions except Obamacare. It was the Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, who blocked this legislation. These inconvenient facts were not permitted to interfere with the Democratic party/media narrative that it was right wing Republican extremists (i.e those who, like the majority of Americans, oppose Obamacare) who had shut down the government.

This false reporting exacerbated ambivalence and confusion in public attitudes toward government. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 64% of Americans say big government is the biggest threat to the country. If the public is worried about big government, why were they also worried by a reduction in peripheral government functions? These conflicting attitudes are self-contradictory. If the public doesn’t like big government, why wasn’t the debate about who gets the credit for shutting down the government instead of who gets the blame? Why did the public see the modest shutdown in non-essential functions as a crisis? Answer: because the media told them it was a crisis. And if it was the Democrats who refused to vote on measures to keep the government open, why did the public think it was Republicans? Answer: because the media told them it was Republicans.

Myth #2. The government shutdown harmed Americans and caused severe damage to the economy.

President Obama said that the shutdown and threat of national default had inflicted “completely unnecessary damage on our economy.” It’s an article of faith among liberal governmentalists that reducing government spending damages the economy. In one sense, they are correct, but only because of the peculiar way gross domestic product (gdp) is measured. In accord with the dictates of Keynesian ideology, the official definition is: GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports −imports). In other words, the definition of gdp includes government spending. Hence, any reduction in government spending, by definition, reduces gdp. This is putting the rabbit in the hat. Any government can create the illusion of economic growth by simply printing money and spending it, and many, including Barack Obama, have done just that. In the short run, such “stimulative” policies appear to increase gdp. In the long run they are disastrous because they conflate growing government bureaucracy with real economic expansion. Real wealth is created by the private sector making stuff, not by government bureaucrats handing out cash to favored constituents. The historical record shows that reduced government activity is a long term economic boon.

Remember also that just last year the Obamanistas made the same scare-tactic argument that the sequester budget cuts would cause untold damage to the economy. But the horrors Obama and his supporters gloomily prophesied would result from the sequester never materialized. The same arguments and scare-tactic forecasts were also made when the government was shut down in 1995, during a similar confrontation between the Republican-controlled House, and the Clinton Administration. In fact, the 1995 shutdown, and budget trimming measures that followed, produced four straight years of balanced budgets and an economic boom that lasted five years.

Myth #3. By refusing to raise the debt ceiling the Republicans would cause the U.S. government to default on its debt and create a world-wide financial crisis.

Let me break this down. The word “default” has been even more misused and abused than the word “literally,” which, in recent years, “educated” people in the media have been using to mean the exact opposite of what the word actually means. Recent example from Fox Business channel: “These policies will cause the economy to literally flush down the toilet!” For those who don’t know what the word “literally” means, let me put your mind at ease. It’s not possible for the economy to literally flush down the toilet because the toilet isn’t big enough for that to happen.

Innumerable Democratic party politicians, reporters, and media commentators repeated over and over and over again that if the Republicans didn’t vote to increase the debt ceiling, the United States government, for the first time in history, would “default” on its debt. This assertion is a prevarication and a lie! It’s the biggest and most frequently repeated lie since many of the same people were telling us in the last decade that George Bush’s tax cuts were only for the rich. Like the lie about the Bush tax cuts, the “default” lie was repeated so often that most Americans came to believe it.

This “crisis” was manufactured to create fear and dread in the populace for the purpose of driving a particular agenda. Even the President of the United States himself did his best to talk down the economy and spook financial markets. I’ve never before seen a President engage in such tactics, laying the foundation to blame Republicans for the ongoing failure of his economic policies.

So what are the facts that refute the “default” lie? The Democrats and the media conflated not raising the debt ceiling with defaulting on the debt. These are two completely different things. If Republicans had followed through on the threat to not raise the debt ceiling, would that have meant that the government would default, i.e. not pay interest on its debt? No. All it would have meant is that the government could not go even deeper into debt.

By way of analogy, suppose you are $200,000 in debt, and you want to get a loan to go even deeper into debt. The bank says your wife has to co-sign, but your wife, wisely, refuses to “raise your debt limit.” Does that mean you default on your existing debt? No. You can continue to make payments on your existing debt out of your income. In fact, by refusing to co-sign, your wife actually reduces the risk that you’ll default by restraining you from going deeper into debt.

Similarly, if the Republicans in Congress had stuck to their guns and refused to raise the debt ceiling, it would not have caused a default on U.S. government debt. To the contrary, it would have produced an instant balanced budget that would have prevented the President from leading the United States even deeper into debt.

But Democratic politicians, including the President, and many in the media, either through ignorance or malfeasance, told the public that if the Republicans didn’t vote to raise the debt ceiling the U.S. government would default on its debt. As shown by opinion polls, the public believed this patent nonsense. Those who made this argument are ignorant of the simple arithmetic. Here are the numbers. The United States government takes in approximately $3 trillion a year in tax revenues. It spends approximately $235 billion a year on interest on the national debt. In other words, only 1/12th of government revenue is spent paying interest on the debt. So even without raising the debt ceiling, there is virtually zero chance that the government would default on its debt.

Now it’s true that the government would have had to cut spending if the Republicans had refused to raise the debt ceiling. They would have had to cut about $700 billion from the $3.7 trillion budget, i.e. a reduction of about 19 percent.

Who would have decided which spending to cut? President Obama. Would President Obama have chosen to cut spending by defaulting on the debt of the United States? Unlikely. If he had made such a choice, it truly would have created a world-wide economic crisis. But not even Barack Obama would have done anything so reckless and destructive. And if he had, Alexander Hamilton would surely have risen from his grave, and demanded that the President pay the debts of the United States.

To extend the above analogy, suppose, after your wife refuses to increase your debt limit, you have to choose how to spend your limited income. If you choose going to fancy restaurants over paying your mortgage, you’ll default. If you choose to pay the mortgage, you have less money for restaurants, but this isn’t a default. Similarly, if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, the president has to choose what expenditures to cut. Only if he’s a total douche bag would he choose to default on the nation’s debt.

The real risk that the government might have defaulted can be handicapped by looking at prices on short term government bonds during the crisis. According to a report on NPR, the price of $1,000 treasury bonds that came due just after October 17, the deadline for raising the debt ceiling was discounted by only a few cents. This tiny discount demonstrates that bond investors, the most savvy financial experts, were not spooked by the political turmoil; they knew the government would never default on its debt.

Despite the best efforts of Obama and his loyal followers in the press, bond and stock investors never panicked during this fabricated crisis. Now on to the next crisis. Let’s see how the Democrats and media figure out a way to blame the looming Obamacare catastrophe on the Republicans. As long as it’s called “Obamacare” this could prove difficult. Maybe they should rename it “Cruzcare.”