Hemp is Back, Finally

If ever there was a lesson in why granting power to busy-bodies and petty-tyrants is a bad idea, it is the decades-long federal ban on hemp production. Allowing a small cadre of bureaucrats to rule over whole sections of the earth and its occupants has stunted economic growth by limiting production and employment opportunities. It has largely destroyed the intellectual capital that existed in the United States for hundreds of years and finally there is hope this will end.

Since the 1950s hemp has been considered a controlled substance – despite having negligible levels of THC – and thus farmers have been prohibited from growing hemp for industrial purposes. This hasn’t meant that it cannot be imported, as recent estimates put the annual sales of hemp-based products at roughly half a billion dollars in the United States. You see, hemp is too dangerous to be grown Montana, but it’s perfectly safe when produced in say, Alberta, Canada.

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‘We’re Actually in Charge’

This past month I had the great privilege of attending the Ludwig von Mises Institute‘s summer program, Mises University. The week-long seminar in Austrian economics featured some of the best minds in free market academia and the most dedicated proponents of individual liberty. Among the lectures was “The Economics of the Drug War,” taught by Mark Thornton.

Primarily a course on the economics of prohibition, he spent some time on the recent efforts of state nullification via medical marijuana, and on the recreational use of pot in Colorado and Washington last year. Dr. Thornton explains not only the method by which state legislatures refuse to comply with unconstitutional and inhuman federal meddling, but he also covers the ways an individual can exercise restraint on federal overreach through jury nullification.

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Why Local Matters

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce again presented a plan earlier this year that attempted to liberate grocers in the state to sell wine and liquor. Soon after, they presented a bill to the legislature, hoping to liberalize the state’s regulation of alcoholic beverages. This is a regular occurrence, although it’s entirely unnecessary, given the recent history of alcohol legislation in the state of Kansas. If all of this seems strange to you, allow me to provide a little context.

Kansas has a storied history of alcohol prohibition; it was the first state to enact such a government program. Voters first moved to prohibit alcohol in 1881, and such restrictions continued until 1948 when again, a majority of Kansans voted to lift some prohibitions. Of course the 21st Amendment was adopted fifteen years prior, but that was of no concern to the legislature, who never considered the amendment, and to this day has not ratified it.

Carrie Nation made a name for herself in Kansas, helping to start a chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement. She began with harassing saloon owners and consumers of alcohol and within a short period was destroying their property. Wielding a hatchet, she would march into a saloon and attack the bar, before smashing as much of the stock as she could, to prevent the consumption of alcohol. Nation claimed to have been called to do this, and during her career of “hatchetations,” as they came to be known, was arrested dozens of times.

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Left and Right Agree to Disagree

After an embittered presidential election, a never-ending kabuki on Washington finances, and now a fierce debate over property rights, many would be surprised to know that members from opposite sides of the political spectrum have found some common ground. Betsy Woodruf at National Review Online sure was. She was shocked to find agreement between the Republican Governor of Illinois, Mitch Daniels, and Tom Dickenson of Rolling Stone magazine regarding medical marijuana and federalism. Both, it seems, favor letting the states determine their own drug policy, even though they may not agree on what each state ultimately decides.

First, note that agreement between the two parties happens more often than not. In principle they all agree on war, debt, entitlements, taxation, police statism, drones, the central bank, socialistic healthcare, prohibition, and many other issues. Of course they disagree on just how much debt there should be; if the military ought to bomb the people of third-world countries or drop bombs and machine-gun them; and whether individuals should forfeit 35 percent of their income or only 33 percent. Some diversity of thought.

But what’s noteworthy about this particular case is that each can agree because neither is trying to force the other into submitting to a single policy. Here we see one of the great things about decentralized government: it tends to reduce conflict by allowing various groups to “live and let live.” This is isn’t possible when all policy decisions are made by one body, when a polity becomes too big.

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Making a Mockery of the Bill of Rights

If ever one needed a cogent example of why relying on the federal government to comply with the constitution and protect the liberties of the people is hopeless, the senate just gave one. Robert Wenzel reports over at his EconomicPolicyJournal that in a 79 to 12 vote, the senate rejected an amendment to the Foreign…

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Some Advice for Military Contractors (and other Government Employees)

Over at Red State, Eric Erickson has concluded that the law means nothing. This revelation is nothing new for Tenthers, who’ve long understood the futility of relying on the federal government to solve problems created and compounded by the federal government. Specifically, Erickson was writing on the cuts to military spending that sequestration is supposed to bring, should congress fail to arrive at some agreement to bilk the taxpayers a little but more come January, 2013.

This threat of cuts to the Sacred Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex, forever praise its name, has many on the Right foaming at the mouth about the need for fiscal restraint, but in the proper way. I mean, let’s get real, how could anyone seriously suggest any cut to the Pentagon? This subject truly is the third rail. At least we hear rhetoric about reforming social security or Medicare on occasion, but military spending is strictly off limits.

Never mind that many of these now-outraged Republicans voted for sequestration when they agreed to the debt ceiling compromise last fall. And so what if John Boehner said he liked 98% of what was in that bill; we cant be derailing the MICC’s gravy train; not now, not ever. Especially with unemployment being what it is, cutting military spending will surely force tens of thousands of more folks to seek unemployment benefits in the coming months.

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Hold His Feet to the Fire? Please

Republicans have all but acknowledged that Mitt Romney is not a conservative, and that he is no different in substance than Barack Obama, and they have settled. Some, those still in denial, steadfastly hold on to his rhetoric, but most have accepted that their nominee is so zealous for political power that he has no qualms about playing either a progressive or conservative, so long as he wins an election. It seems then, that Romney will change his rhetorical tone just as quickly as he’ll spray tan for Univision on Wednesday, and scrub it all off for 60 Minutes on Sunday.

In a near-textbook case of denial, many on the Right have acknowledged all of this, but insist that voting for him is still the “lesser of two evils,” and what’s really important is “defeating Obama.” Their answer is to simply hold “Mitt Romney’s feet to the fire” once Obama’s gone.

But what is “holding his feet to the fire,” what does it look like (aside from the obvious connotation with torture, repression, and despotism)?

More to the point, how do activists hold a president’s feet to the fire? After all, he has the power to drone us all to death with the stroke of pen, and make us buy stuff, even if we don’t want to. I’ve given this some thought and have concluded that it can’t be done; you’d have to be living in some bizarro-world to think otherwise.

For instance, if they (the Republicans, Tea Partiers, and anyone else planning to vote Empty Suit 2012) think they’re going to hold his feet to the fire, why don’t they hold Obama’s feet to the fire now, what’s stopping them?

Oh, but you see, Obama’s too much of an ideologue, he’s too immersed in his Marxist-Socialist-Leninist ways, he can’t be persuaded to change his ways, they’d reply.

OK.

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Smash the Etch-A-Sketch, Nullify Obamacare!

This past weekend Mitt Romney said that “there are a number of things that I like in [Obamacare] that I’m going to put in place.” Such a revelation is yet another example of why relying on federal politicians -particularly of the Republican persuasion – to restore human liberty is foolish.

Throughout the primary season Romney assured Republican voters that he was against the Affordable Care Act and, if he was elected president, would put an end to it. In June of 2011 he told CNN’s Piers Morgan that “if I’m president I will repeal Obamacare.” (The entire clip is full of gems, and worth watching, if you have the stomach for such things). He continued this promise throughout the debates, and used it a number of times to parry attacks from Rick Santorum on the issue.

That he’s now reversing his rhetoric should come as no surprise. Such flip-flopping is standard fare with Mitt Romney, as virtually everyone is aware; his YouTube collections of contradictory statements and backpedaling are impressive, if not comical for their sheer numbers. Now, this is not to say that other politicians don’t also have similar montages, plenty do, but what’s striking about Romney’s are that some go on for twenty minutes.

No doubt some conservatives and right-leaning independents are surprised and disappointed by this shift,

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A Fork in the Revolutionary Road

[This essay was first published on the author’s personal blog]

Mitt Romney was officially made the GOP’s nominee last week and now the Ron Paul revolution is over. After nearly thirty years in public office the good doctor is gracefully retiring from politics, and while it’s not following a term in the oval office, he’s no-less started what may be the greatest mental brushfire in American history. And now with millions of people inspired by the message of liberty, the obvious question is “what’s next” for the remnant?

A number of writers and activists have weighed in on this topic and below is a collection of these valuable essays and commentaries with some of my own thoughts for the Paulbots and revolutionaries.

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of the indispensable Antiwar.com, had this to say regarding the true nature of the republican party and their rules:

As for the rules governing the political process – they can be changed at a moment’s notice, and bent any which way, in order to facilitate this seizure. Ron Paul’s supporters in the GOP learned that the hard way, as the Romneyites used their control of the party bureaucracy at the state and national levels to retroactively change the rules in order to unseat duly elected Paul delegates. In Maine, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Oregon, Oklahoma, and elsewhere, the party bosses have disenfranchised Paul voters – closing down party caucuses, rejecting as delegates anyone under 50, and calling the cops when all else failed.

This description of how the convention was governed – and the primaries leading up to it – is precisely how the state works in general. It’s evil and corrupting, and ultimately founded upon violence and coercion. The GOP’s rules are in essence no different from the “Pirate’s code,” which is “more what you call guidelines than actual rules,” to borrow from the famous movie line.

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The Freedom to Gamble

I don’t follow sports directly; they don’t interest me much. I do follow sports indirectly though, because I follow politics. And anymore nothing is sacred.  So government gets involved in that too. Everything’s been perverted by government involvement. I wrote some time ago about the prospect of a few states bucking the Feds and allowing sports gambling, among them was New Jersey, and the inevitable push-back is underway.

NBC Sports is reporting that a confederacy of professional sports leagues and the NCAA have filed suit against New Jersey, in attempt to prevent the people of the state from gambling there legally. This is a clear example of a concept that Frédéric Bastiat described in The Law, in which one group engineers the legal code for its own benefit.

They, of course, do it under the guise of protecting the sport, but their motive is irrelevant, given that their means relies on State violence to achieve their ends. It’s immoral to coerce non-violent individuals into behaving in one way or another, and coercion is at the heart of every government action.

Of course this confederacy is able to use the government because the law, in Bastiat’s words, has been “diverted from its true mission,” which is protecting property rights, and now “it may violate property instead of securing it.”

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