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Tag Archives: supreme-court
Posted: August 29, 2016 at 7:47 am
Euthanasia is illegal in most of the United States. Physician aid in dying (PAD), or assisted suicide, is legal in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Vermont; its status is disputed in Montana. The key difference between euthanasia and PAD is who administers the lethal dose of medication: Euthanasia entails the physician or another third party administering the medication, whereas PAD requires the patient to self-administer the medication and to determine whether and when to do this. Attempts to legalize PAD resulted in ballot initiatives and “legislation bills” within the United States of America in the last 20 years. For example, the state of Washington voters saw Ballot Initiative 119 in 1991, the state of California placed Proposition 161 on the ballot in 1992, Oregon voters passed Measure 16 (Death with Dignity Act) in 1994, the state of Michigan included Proposal B in their ballot in 1998, and Washington’s Initiative 1000 passed in 2008. Vermont’s state legislature passed a bill making PAD legal in May 2013. However, on May 31, 2013, Maine rejected a similar bill within its state legislature (95-13).
Debates about the ethics of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide date from ancient Greece and Rome. After the development of ether, physicians began advocating the use of anesthetics to relieve the pain of death. In 1870, Samuel Williams first proposed using anesthetics and morphine to intentionally end a patient’s life. Over the next 35 years, debates about euthanasia raged in the United States which resulted in an Ohio bill to legalize euthanasia in 1906, a bill that was ultimately defeated.
Euthanasia advocacy in the U.S. peaked again during the 1930s and diminished significantly during and after World War II. Euthanasia efforts were revived during the 1960s and 1970s, under the right-to-die rubric, physician assisted death in liberal bioethics, and through advance directives and do not resuscitate orders.
Several major court cases advanced the legal rights of patients, or their guardians, to practice at least voluntary passive euthanasia (physician assisted death). These include the Karen Ann Quinlan (1976), Brophy and Nancy Cruzan cases. More recent years have seen policies fine-tuned and re-stated, as with Washington v. Glucksberg (1997) and the Terri Schiavo case. The numerous legislative rulings and legal precedents that were brought about in the wake of the Quinlan case had their ethical foundation in the famous 1983 report completed by the Presidents Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine, under the title “Deciding to Forgo Life-Sustaining Treatment” (Angell, Marcia. “How to Die in Massachusetts.” The New York Review of Books. 21 February 2013: 60.3. Web. 14 Jul. 2014.). The Commission sustained in its findings that it was morally acceptable to give up a life-supporting therapy and that withholding or withdrawing such a therapy is the same thing from an ethical stand-point, while artificial feeding and other life-supporting therapy are of the same importance for the patients and doctors. Before this report, to withdraw a medical therapy was regarded as much more serious decision than not to start a therapy at all, while artificial feeding was viewed as a special treatment. By 1990, barely a decade and a half after the New Jersey Supreme Courts historic decision, patients were well aware that they could decline any form of medical therapy if they simply choose to do that either directly or by expressing their wish via appointed representative.
In a 2004 article in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Brown University historian Jacob M. Appel documented extensive political debate over legislation to legalize physician-assisted suicide in both Iowa and Ohio in 1906. The driving force behind this movement was social activist Anna S. Hall. Canadian historian Ian Dowbiggen’s 2003 book, A Merciful End, revealed the role that leading public figures, including Clarence Darrow and Jack London, played in advocating for the legalization of euthanasia.
In the 1983 case of Barber v. Superior Court, two physicians had honored a family’s request to withdraw both respirator and intravenous feeding and hydration tubes from a comatose patient. The physicians were charged with murder, despite the fact that they were doing what the family wanted. The court held that all charges should be dropped because the treatments had all been ineffective and burdensome. Withdrawal of treatment, even if life-ending, is morally and legally permitted. Competent patients or their surrogates can decide to withdraw treatments, usually after the treatments are found ineffective, painful, or burdensome.
The California legislature passed a bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide in September 2015, and the bill was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 5, 2015.  The law went into effect in June 2016.
On May 31, 2013, the Maine state legislature rejected decriminalization of physician assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia (95-43).
On December 5, 2009, state District Court judge Dorothy McCarter ruled in favor of a terminally ill Billings resident who had filed a lawsuit with the assistance of Compassion & Choices, a patient rights group. The ruling states that competent, terminally ill patients have the right to self-administer lethal doses of medication as prescribed by a physician. Physicians who prescribe such medications will not face legal punishment. On December 31, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the case of Baxter v. Montana. The court held that there was “nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy,” although prosecutions under the state’s assisted suicide statute are still possible.
In the United States legal and ethical debates about euthanasia became more prominent in the case of Karen Ann Quinlan who went into a coma after allegedly mixing tranquilizers with alcohol, surviving biologically for 9 years in a “persistent vegetative state” even after the New Jersey Supreme Court approval to remove her from a respirator. This case caused a widespread public concern about “lives not worth living” and the possibility of at least voluntary euthanasia if it could be ascertained that the patient would not have wanted to live in this condition.
Measure 16 in 1994 established the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which legalizes physician-assisted dying with certain restrictions, making Oregon the first U.S. state and one of the first jurisdictions in the world to officially do so. The measure was approved in the 8 November 1994 general election in a tight race with the final tally showing 627,980 votes (51.3%) in favor, and 596,018 votes (48.7%) against. The law survived an attempted repeal in 1997, which was defeated at the ballot by a 60% vote. In 2005, after several attempts by lawmakers at both the state and federal level to overturn the Oregon law, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-3 to uphold the law after hearing arguments in the case of Gonzales v. Oregon.
In 1999, the state of Texas passed the Advance Directives Act. Under the law, in some situations, Texas hospitals and physicians have the right to withdraw life support measures, such as mechanical respiration, from terminally ill patients when such treatment is considered to be both futile and inappropriate. This is sometimes referred to as “passive euthanasia”.
In 2005, a six-month-old infant, Sun Hudson, with a uniformly fatal disease thanatophoric dysplasia, was the first patient in which “a United States court has allowed life-sustaining treatment to be withdrawn from a pediatric patient over the objections of the child’s parent.”
In 2008, the electorate of the state of Washington voted in favor of Initiative 1000 which made assisted suicide legal in the state through the Washington Death with Dignity Act.
On May 20, 2013, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a legislative bill making PAD legal in Vermont.
Attempts to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide resulted in ballot initiatives and legislation bills within the United States in the last 20 years. For example, Washington voters saw Ballot Initiative 119 in 1991, California placed Proposition 161 on the ballot in 1992, Oregon passed the Death with Dignity Act in 1994, and Michigan included Proposal B in their ballot in 1998. Despite the earlier failure, in November 2008 physician-assisted dying was approved in Washington by Initiative 1000.
In 2000, Maine voters defeated a referendum to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The proposal was defeated by a 51%-49% margin.
Reflecting the religious and cultural diversity of the United States, there is a wide range of public opinion about euthanasia and the right-to-die movement in the United States. During the past 30 years, public research shows that views on euthanasia tend to correlate with religious affiliation and culture, though not gender.
In one recent study dealing primarily with Christian denominations such as Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals and Catholics tended to be opposed to euthanasia. Moderate Protestants, (e.g., Lutherans and Methodists) showed mixed views concerning end of life decisions in general. Both of these groups showed less support than non-affiliates, but were less opposed to it than conservative Protestants. Respondents that did not affiliate with a religion were found to support euthanasia more than those who did. The liberal Protestants (including some Presbyterians and Episcopalians) were the most supportive. In general, liberal Protestants affiliate more loosely with religious institutions and their views were not similar to those of non-affiliates. Within all groups, religiosity (i.e., self-evaluation and frequency of church attendance) also correlated to opinions on euthanasia. Individuals who attended church regularly and more frequently and considered themselves more religious were found to be more opposed to euthanasia than to those who had a lower level of religiosity.
Recent studies have shown white Americans to be more accepting of euthanasia than black Americans. They are also more likely to have advance directives and to use other end-of-life measures. Black Americans are almost 3 times more likely to oppose euthanasia than white Americans. Some speculate that this discrepancy is due to the lower levels of trust in the medical establishment. Select researchers believe that historical medical abuses towards minorities (such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study) have made minority groups less trustful of the level of care they receive. One study also found that there are significant disparities in the medical treatment and pain management that white Americans and other Americans receive.
Among black Americans, education correlates to support for euthanasia. Black Americans without a four-year degree are twice as likely to oppose euthanasia than those with at least that much education. Level of education, however, does not significantly influence other racial groups in the US. Some researchers suggest that black Americans tend to be more religious, a claim that is difficult to substantiate and define. Only black and white Americans have been studied in extensive detail. Although it has been found that minority groups are less supportive of euthanasia than white Americans, there is still some ambiguity as to what degree this is true.
A recent Gallup Poll found that 84% of males supported euthanasia compared to 64% of females. Some cite the prior studies showing that women have a higher level of religiosity and moral conservatism as an explanation. Within both sexes, there are differences in attitudes towards euthanasia due to other influences. For example, one study found that black American women are 2.37 times more likely to oppose euthanasia than white American women. Black American men are 3.61 times more likely to oppose euthanasia than white American men.
In “Gender, Feminism, and Death: Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia” Susan M. Wolf warns of the gender disparities if euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide were legal. Wolf highlights four possible gender effects: higher incidence of women than men dying by physician-assisted suicide; more women seeking physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia for different reasons than men; physicians granting or refusing requests for assisted suicide or euthanasia because of the gender of the patient; gender affecting the broad public debate by envisioning a woman patient when considering the debate.
Posted: August 27, 2016 at 7:22 pm
Alternate Title: Republic of Seychelles
National anthem of Seychelles
Seychelles, island republic in the western Indian Ocean, comprising about 115 islands. The islands are home to lush tropical vegetation, beautiful beaches, and a wide variety of marine life. Situated between latitudes 4 and 11 S and longitudes 46 and 56 E, the major islands of Seychelles are located about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) east of Kenya and about 700 miles (1,100 km) northeast of Madagascar. The capital, Victoria, is situated on the island of Mah.
Seychelles, one of the worlds smallest countries, is composed of two main island groups: the Mah group of more than 40 central, mountainous granitic islands and a second group of more than 70 outer, flat, coralline islands. The islands of the Mah group are rocky and typically have a narrow coastal strip and a central range of hills. The overall aspect of those islands, with their lush tropical vegetation, is that of high hanging gardens overlooking silver-white beaches and clear lagoons. The highest point in Seychelles, Morne Seychellois (2,969 feet [905 metres]), situated on Mah, is located within this mountainous island group. The coralline islands, rising only a few feet above sea level, are flat with elevated coral reefs at different stages of formation. These islands are largely waterless, and very few have a resident population.
The climate is tropical oceanic, with little temperature variation during the year. Daily temperatures rise to the mid-80s F (low 30s C) in the afternoon and fall to the low 70s F (low 20s C) at night. Precipitation levels vary greatly from island to island; on Mah, annual precipitation ranges from 90 inches (2,300 mm) at sea level to 140 inches (3,560 mm) on the mountain slopes. Humidity is persistently high but is ameliorated somewhat in locations windward of the prevailing southeast trade winds.
Of the roughly 200 plant species found in Seychelles, some 80 are unique to the islands, including screw pines (see pandanus), several varieties of jellyfish trees, latanier palms, the bois rouge, the bois de fer, Wrights gardenia, and the most famous, the coco de mer. The coco de merwhich is found on only two islandsproduces a fruit that is one of the largest and heaviest known and is valued by a number of Asian cultures for believed aphrodisiac, medicinal, mystic, and other properties. The Seychellois government closely monitors the quantity and status of the trees, and, although commerce is regulated to prevent overharvesting, poaching is a concern.
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Wildlife includes a remarkably diverse array of marine life, including more than 900 identified species of fish; green sea turtles and giant tortoises also inhabit the islands. Endemic species include birds such as Seychelles bulbuls and cave-dwelling Seychelles swiftlets; several species of local tree frogs, snails, and wormlike caecilians; Seychelles wolf snakes and house snakes; tiger chameleons; and others. Endemic mammals are few; both fruit bats (Pteropus seychellensis) and Seychelles sheath-tailed bats (Coleura seychellensis) are endemic to the islands. Indian mynahs, barn owls, and tenrecs (small shrewlike or hedgehoglike mammals introduced from Madagascar) are also found.
Considerable efforts have been made to preserve the islands marked biodiversity. Seychelles government has established several nature preserves and marine parks, including the Aldabra Islands and Valle de Mai National Park, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Aldabra Islands, a large atoll, are the site of a preserve inhabited by tens of thousands of giant tortoises, the worlds oldest living creatures, which government conservation efforts have helped rescue from the brink of extinction. Valle de Mai National Park is the only place where all six of the palm species endemic to Seychelles, including the coco de mer, may be found together. Cousin Island is home to a sanctuary for land birds, many endemic to the islands, including the Seychelles sunbird (a type of hummingbird) and the Seychelles brush warbler. The nearby Cousine Island is part private resort and part nature preserve, noted for its sea turtles, giant tortoises, and assorted land birds. Bird Island is the breeding ground for millions of terns, turtle doves, shearwaters, frigate birds, and other seabirds that flock there each year.
The original French colonists on the previously uninhabited islands, along with their black slaves, were joined in the 19th century by deportees from France. Asians from China, India, and Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) arrived later in smaller numbers. Widespread intermarriage has resulted in a population of mixed descent.
Creole, also called Seselwa, is the mother tongue of most Seychellois. Under the constitution, Creole, English, and French are recognized as national languages.
More than four-fifths of the population are Roman Catholics. There are also Anglicans, Christians of other denominations, Hindus, and Muslims.
More than four-fifths of the population live on Mah, many of them in the capital city, Victoria. The birth and death rates, as well as the annual population growth rate, are below the global average. Some one-fourth of the population are younger than age 15, and about one-half are under age 30. Life expectancy for both men and women is significantly higher than the global average.
Seychelles has a mixed, developing economy that is heavily dependent upon the service sector in general and the tourism industry in particular. Despite continued visible trade deficits, the economy has experienced steady growth. The gross domestic product (GDP) is growing more rapidly than the population. The gross national income (GNI) per capita is significantly higher than those found in most nearby continental African countries.
Agriculture accounts for only a fraction of the GDP and employs an equally modest proportion of the workforce. Arable land is limited and the soil is generally poorand the country remains dependent upon imported foodstuffsbut copra (from coconuts), cinnamon bark, vanilla, tea, limes, and essential oils are exported. Seychelles has a modern fishing industry that supplies both domestic and foreign markets; canned tuna is a particularly important product. The extraction of guano for export is also an established economic activity.
The countrys growing manufacturing sectorwhich has expanded to account for almost one-sixth of the total GDPis composed largely of food-processing plants; production of alcoholic beverages and of soft drinks is particularly significant. Animal feed, paint, and other goods are also produced.
Seychelles sizable trade deficit is offset by income from the tourism industry and from aid and investment. Although the countrys relative prosperity has not made it a preferred aid recipient, it does receive assistance from the World Bank, the European Union, the African Development Bank, and a variety of contributing countries, and aid obtained per capita is relatively high. The Central Bank of Seychelles, located in Victoria, issues the official currency, the Seychelles rupee.
Seychelles main imports are petroleum products, machinery, and foodstuffs. Canned tuna, copra, frozen fish, and cinnamon are the most important exports, together with the reexport of petroleum products. Significant trade partners include France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Germany.
The service sector accounts for nearly four-fifths of the GDP and employs the largest proportion of the workforce, almost three-fourths of all labourers. After the opening of an international airport on Mah in 1971, the tourism industry grew rapidly, and at the beginning of the 21st century it provided almost one-fourth of the total GDP. Each year Seychelles draws thousands of tourists, many attracted by the islands magnificent venues for scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, fishing, swimming, and sunbathing. The warm southeasterly trade winds offer ideal conditions for sailing, and the waters around Mah and the other islands are afloat with small boats.
The majority of Seychelles roadways are paved, most of which are on the islands of Mah and Praslin; there are no railroads. Ferry services operate between the islandsfor example, linking Victoria with destinations that include Praslin and La Digue. Air service is centred on Seychelles International Airport, located near Victoria on Mah, and the smaller airports and airstrips found on several islands. Seychelles has air connections with a number of foreign cities and direct flights to major centres that include London, Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, and Bangkok. Scheduled domestic flights, provided by Air Seychelles, chiefly offer service between Mah and Praslin, although chartered flights elsewhere are also available. The tsunami that reached Seychelles in 2004 damaged portions of the transportation infrastructure, including the road linking Victoria with the international airport.
Telecommunications infrastructure in Seychelles is quite developed. The country has a high rate of cellular telephone useamong the highest in sub-Saharan Africaand, at the beginning of the 21st century, the use of personal computers in Seychelles was several times the average for the region.
Under the 1993 constitution, Seychelles is a republic. The head of state and government is the president, who is directly elected by popular vote and may hold office for up to three consecutive five-year terms. Members of the National Assembly serve five-year terms. A majority of the available National Assembly seats are filled by direct election; a smaller portion are distributed on a proportional basis to those parties that win a minimum of one-tenth of the vote. The president appoints a Council of Ministers, which acts as an advisory body. The country is divided into more than 20 administrative divisions.
The Seychellois judiciary includes a Court of Appeal, a Supreme Court, and Magistrates Courts; the Constitutional Court is a branch of the Supreme Court.
Suffrage is universal; Seychellois are eligible to vote at age 17. Women participate actively in the government of the country and have held numerous posts, including positions in the cabinet and a proportion of seats in the National Assembly.
The Peoples Party (formerly the Seychelles Peoples Progressive Front) was the sole legal party from 1978 until 1991. It is still the countrys primary political party, but other parties are also active in Seychellois politics, including the New Democratic Party (formerly the Seychelles Democratic Party), the Seychelles National Party, and the Seychelles Movement for Democracy.
Seychelles defense forces are made up of an army, a coast guard (including naval and airborne wings), and a national guard. There is no conscription; military service is voluntary, and individuals are generally eligible at age 18 (although younger individuals may serve with parental consent).
In general, homes play a highly visible part in maintaining traditional Seychellois life. Many old colonial houses are well preserved, although corrugated iron roofs have generally replaced the indigenous palm thatch. Groups tend to gather on the verandahs of their houses, which are generally recognized as social centres.
The basis of the school system is a free, compulsory, 10-year public school education. Education standards have risen steadily, and nearly all children of primary-school age attend school. The countrys first university, the University of Seychelles, began accepting students in 2009. The literacy rate in Seychelles is significantly higher than the regional and global averages for both men and women.
Seychellois culture has been shaped by a combination of European, African, and Asian influences. The main European influence is French, recognizable in Seselwa, the Creole language that is the lingua franca of the islands, and in Seychellois food and religion; the French introduced Roman Catholicism, the religion of the majority of the islanders. African influence is revealed in local music and dance as well as in Seselwa. Asian elements are evident in the islands cuisine but are particularly dominant in business and trade.
Holidays observed in Seychelles include Liberation Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the 1977 coup, on June 5; National Day, June 18; Independence Day, June 29; the Feast of the Assumption, August 15; All Saints Day, November 1; the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8; and Christmas, December 25.
Because of the exorbitant expense of the large and lavish wedding receptions that are part of Seychellois tradition, many couples never marry; instead, they may choose to live en mnage, achieving a de facto union by cohabitating without marriage. There is little or no social stigma related to living en mnage, and the arrangement is recognized by the couples family and friends. The instance of couples living en mnage increases particularly among lower income groups.
Dance plays an important role in Seychellois society. Both the sga and the moutya, two of the most famous dances performed in Seychelles, mirror traditional African customs. The sensual dances blend religion and social relations, two elements central to African life. The complicated and compelling dance movements were traditionally carried out under moonlight to the beat of African drums. Dances were once regular events in village halls, but these have largely died out in recent years; now dances take place in modern nightclubs.
Seychellois enjoy participating in and watching several team sports. The national stadium, located in Victoria, offers a year-round program of events. Mens and womens volleyball are popular, and several Seychellois players and referees participate at the international level. Football (soccer) is also a favourite, and Seychellois teams frequently travel to East Africa and India to play in exhibition matches and tournaments. The Seychelles national Olympic committee was established in 1979 and was recognized that year by the International Olympic Committee. The country made its official Olympic debut at the 1980 Moscow Games, but its first Olympic athlete was Henri Dauban de Silhouette, who competed for Great Britain in the javelin throw at the 1924 Paris Games.
Much of the countrys radio, television, and print media is under government control. There are several independent publications, including Seychelles Weekly and Vizyon.
The islands were known by traders from the Persian Gulf centuries ago, but the first recorded landing on the uninhabited Seychelles was made in 1609 by an expedition of the British East India Company. The archipelago was explored by the Frenchman Lazare Picault in 1742 and 1744 and was formally annexed to France in 1756. The archipelago was named Schelles, later changed by the British to Seychelles. War between France and Britain led to the surrender of the archipelago to the British in 1810, and it was formally ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1814. The abolition of slavery in the 1830s deprived the islands European colonists of their labour force and compelled them to switch from raising cotton and grains to cultivating less-labour-intensive crops such as coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon. In 1903 Seychellesuntil that time administered as a dependency of Mauritiusbecame a separate British crown colony. A Legislative Council with elected members was introduced in 1948.
In 1963 the United States leased an area on the main island, Mah, and built an air force satellite tracking station there; this brought regular air travel to Seychelles for the first time, in the form of a weekly seaplane shuttle that operated from Mombasa, Kenya.
In 1970 Seychelles obtained a new constitution, universal adult suffrage, and a governing council with an elected majority. Self-government was granted in 1975 and independence in 1976, within the Commonwealth of Nations. In 1975 a coalition government was formed with James R. Mancham as president and France-Albert Ren as prime minister. In 1977, while Mancham was abroad, Ren became president in a coup dtat led by the Seychelles Peoples United Party (later restyled the Seychelles Peoples Progressive Front [SPPF], from 2009 the Peoples Party [Parti Lepep]).
In 1979 a new constitution transformed Seychelles into a one-party socialist state, with Rens SPPF designated the only legal party. This change was not popular with many Seychellois, and during the 1980s there were several coup attempts. Faced with mounting pressure from the countrys primary sources of foreign aid, Rens administration began moving toward more democratic rule in the early 1990s, with the return of multiparty politics and the promulgation of a new constitution. The country also gradually abandoned its socialist economy and began to follow market-based economic strategies by privatizing most parastatal companies, encouraging foreign investment, and focusing efforts on marketing Seychelles as an offshore business and financial hub. As Seychelles entered the 21st century, the SPPF continued to dominate the political scene. After the return of multiparty elections, Ren was reelected three times before eventually resigning in April 2004 to allow Vice Pres. James Michel to succeed him as president.
In late 2004 some of the islands were hit by a tsunami, which severely damaged the environment and the countrys economy. The economy was an important topic in the campaigning leading up to the presidential election of 2006, in which Michel emerged with a narrow victory to win his first elected term. He was reelected in 2011. One of Michels ongoing concerns was piracy in the Indian Ocean, which had surged since 2009 and threatened the countrys fishing and tourism industries. To that end, the Seychellois government worked with several other countries and international organizations to curb the illegal activity.
In October 2015 Michel called for an early presidential election, rather than wait until it was due in 2016. Michel was standing for his third term, again representing the Peoples Party. The election was held December 35, 2015. For the first time since the return of multiparty politics in 1993, the Peoples Partys candidate did not win outright in the first round of voting. Michel garnered 47.76 percent of the vote; his nearest challenger was Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles National Party (SNP), who took 33.93 percent. Ramkalawan was an Anglican priest who was the leader of the SNP and had run for president in previous elections. The runoff election was held December 1618. On December 19 Michel was declared the winner by a very narrow margin, taking 50.15 percent of the vote, with only 193 votes between him and Ramkalawan. Michel was quickly sworn in the next day for his third term. Ramkalawan voiced allegations of voting irregularities and asked for a recount.
Posted: August 23, 2016 at 9:21 am
I genuinely want to be done with defending the Second Amendment from theregular barrage of its historically illiterate and inept detractorsthe people who say this amendment protects only the right of the militia to own weapons.
One friend and fellow gun rights activist said its best to just ignore such people, in the same way that you might ignore people who say triangles have four sides or that the Sun orbits the Earth. It is tempting to just stop engaging the dopeswho simply refuse to consider basic, objective historical facts.
But I actually think this might be a bad strategy, as it may allow the debunked and nonsensical militia reading of the Second Amendment to gain ground. With a Hillary Clinton presidency and Supreme Court on the way, we need an American population that is historically knowledgeable. That means fighting back against the corruption of American knowledge.
Anti-gun folks will cheerfully exploit (and in many cases encourage) the ignorance of the American body politic to get what they want. It is important to push back against that wherever and whenever possible. By way of example: at the Huffington Post this week, Daryl Sneath, a recreational grammarian, is trying very hard totake advantage of American historical ignorance:
One of those things [the Framers]knew about is the comma, the only purpose of which is clarity. Doubtless the writers were acutely aware of this grammatical truism (despite their apparent affinity for complex diction) when they drew their collective stylus southward (certainly aware too of that symbolic direction) making the little mark immediately following the phrasethe right of the people to keep and bear arms. As such, the subject of the predicateshall not be infringedis clearly notthe right of the people. No subject is ever separated from its predicate by a comma alone. Put more plainly, the principal clause (or declaration) of the whole amendment is this:A well regulated militia shall not be infringed.The middle bit modifies the main.
Leaving aside the dubious grammatical reading, as well as the utter travesty of ahistorical non-engagement with contemporaneous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century primary sources, just marvel at this: A well regulated militia shall not be infringed. What would such a right evenmeanin the context of extant constitutional structure and precedent? It would actually meannothing.
Sneath seems to suggest that the Second Amendment provides some sort of bulwark to protect state militias against congressional infringement. But this is objectively, factually false: Congress hascompletecontrol over state militiasthe federal governmentcan organize and abolish the militiawhenever itfeels like it, and for whatever reasonand no serious historical scholar has ever suggested that the Second Amendment somehow circumscribes this congressional power in any way. Put another way: Sneath is implying that the Second Amendment prohibits Congress from doingthe very thing Congress is fully empowered to do.
I am genuinely curious: is there any other constitutional right, or any other constitutional amendment, that is so consistently and so aggressively handled with such base and inexcusable stupidity, on so regular a basis, and on such an industrial scale?I am not sure. You dont usually see arguments of this idiotic magnitude when it comes to, say, the Fourth Amendment, or the Sixth. You certainly see dumb interpretations of the First Amendment, but thats usually a matter ofdegree, notkind:you will have people arguing that the First Amendment doesnt protect hate speech, for instance, but nobody ever argues that the First Amendment only applies to state governments, say, rather than to individual members of the body politic.
Only the Second Amendment is subject to such illiterate and ahistorical analyses. Onceyou realizethat, you can fully graspwhy: many people simply do not like guns, and they will lieor else keep themselves deliberately ignorantto prevent other people from having them.
This is not an isolated incident: anti-gun folks are very happy to resort to falsehoods to advance their cause. Recently the National Rifle Association put out an ad that claims Hillary Clinton doesnt believe in your right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. This is entirely true, but Glenn Kessler over at the Washington Post calls it false:
Clinton has said that she disagreed with the Supreme Courts decision inHeller, but she has made no proposals that would strip Americans of the right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. Clinton is certainly in favor of more gun regulations and tougher background checks, and a more nuanced ad could have made this case.Conjuring up a hypothetical Supreme Court justice ruling in a hypothetical case is simply not enough for such a sweeping claim.That tips the ads claim into the Four-Pinocchio category.
This is just a shameless mess.As I have argued before, Clintons disagreement with the Supreme Courts ruling inHelleris anunequivocal rejection of the right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.That is the very rightHellerdecided in favor of!To be againstHelleris to be against the individual right to own firearms. This is not up for debate.
Now, Clinton claims she merely disagrees withHellerinsofar as she believes cities and states should have the power to craft common-sense laws to keep their residents safe. But this is nonsense:Hellernot onlyallows for such laws, itexplicitly authorizes them.Given that Hillarys justification for opposingHelleris meaningless, we must assume she opposes it for its core substancenamely, that it affirms the individual right codified in the Second Amendment.
In other words, Hillary Clinton wants to take your guns away. Shes been honest about it; why cant our fact checkers?
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Second Amendment: How Does It Work? Left Has No Idea
Posted: August 19, 2016 at 4:08 am
Donald Trump keeps saying that Hillary Clinton wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment. But the media fact checkers are having none of it. Last week, CNN called his accusation persistent and false. At the same time, a Washington Post editorial also called the claim absurd.
In his analysis for CNN, Eric Bradner acknowledges Clintons support for many different types of gun control — a 25 percent tax on handguns, an assault weapons ban, repeal of laws allowing permitted concealed handguns, and background checks on the private transfer of guns. Clinton also has supported increased fees and a variety of regulations that her husband imposed. Thanks to Bill Clintons regulations, the number of licensed firearms dealers from 248,155 in 1992 to 67,479 in 2000 — a 73 percent reduction.
The media picks and chooses when to take Clinton at her word. CNN pointed to a recent Fox News Sunday appearance where Hillary Clinton claimed: “I’m not looking to repeal the Second Amendment. I’m not looking to take people’s guns away.” The Washington Post noted a statement from her campaign website about how gun ownership is part of the fabric of many law-abiding communities.
But in June, ABCs George Stephanopoulos pushed Clinton twice on whether people have a right to own guns. But that’s not what I asked. I said do you believe that their conclusion that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right? Clinton could only say: If it is a constitutional right . . . .
Similarly, in New York Cityin the fall, she told donors: The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment, and I am going to make that case every chance that I get. In Maryland in April, Chelsea Clinton promised that her mom would appoint to the Supreme Court justices who would overturn past decisions that struck down gun-control measures. But the only lawsthat the Supreme Court evaluated were complete gun bans and a law that made it a crime to use a gun.
Washington, D.C., had a complete handgun ban in place until 2008. It was also a felony, punishable by five years in prison, to put a bullet in the chamber of a gun. This amounted to a complete gun ban on using guns for self-defense. The U.S. Supreme Courts ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller struck down that ban.
Clinton told Stephanopoulos her opinion of this ruling: I think that for most of our history, there was a nuanced reading of the Second Amendment until the decision by the late Justice Scalia. She continued, There was no argument until then that localities and states and the federal government had a right, as we do with every amendment, to impose reasonable regulation.
Clinton went on to talk about her push for expanded background checks, an issue that was irrelevant to Scalias decision in Heller. Instead, the question is why was D.C.s local gun ban a reasonable regulation. Why should people be imprisoned for five years for defending their families?
In McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent: “I can find nothing in the Second Amendments text, history, or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as fundamental insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor signed on to Breyers opinion.
Breyer and Ginsburg were both appointed by President Bill Clinton. Sotomayor was Obamas first nominee to the Supreme Court. Obamas second nominee, Elana Kagan, would clearly have voted the same way had she been on the court at the time of McDonald. Indeed, Kagan served in Bill Clintons administration and helped lead the Presidents gun control initiatives.
The Washington Post dismisses all this talk about the Supreme Court by saying that appointing Justices to the court would not be anything like abolishing an amendment, which no court can do. And it is true that the court cant simply remove the amendment from the Constitution. But the media is appearing to be deliberately obtuse. If the court reverses Heller and McDonald and changes its interpretation of the Second Amendment as Hillary promises, what will really be left of the Second Amendment?
The media might not like to admit it, but The War on Guns is real. If Hillary wins in November, she will appoint Scalias successor and the Supreme Court will overturn the Heller and McDonald decisions. Make no mistake about it, the government will again be able to ban guns. Her claim that she isn’t looking to take people’s guns away is not consistent with her promise to overturn existing Supreme Court decisions.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist forFoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of nine books including “More Guns, Less Crime.” His latest book is “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies (August 1, 2016). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.
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Trump foes miss the mark on Clinton’s Second Amendment …
Posted: August 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
And yet, for years, those 27 brief words have been the source of contentious debate — seen by some as an inalienable protection against tyranny; by others as a dangerous anachronism.
Here’s a look at the Second Amendment, its phrases parsed and placed in legal and historical context.
Our guides will be Constitutional experts Jeffrey Rosen and Jack Rakove.
What is a militia?
At the time of the American Revolutionary War, militias were groups of able-bodied men who protected their towns, colonies, and eventually states. “[When the Constitution was drafted], the militia was a state-based institution,” says Rakove. “States were responsible for organizing this.”
What did it mean to be well regulated?
One of the biggest challenges in interpreting a centuries-old document is that the meanings of words change or diverge.
“Well-regulated in the 18th century tended to be something like well-organized, well-armed, well-disciplined,” says Rakove. “It didn’t mean ‘regulation’ in the sense that we use it now, in that it’s not about the regulatory state. There’s been nuance there. It means the militia was in an effective shape to fight.”
In other words, it didn’t mean the state was controlling the militia in a certain way, but rather that the militia was prepared to do its duty.
What type of security was referred to here?
To get to that, consider the climate of the United States at the time. The country had just fought a war, won its independence and was expanding west. There were plenty of reasons to feel unsafe, and so “security” had a very palpable meaning.
“You have an expanding country, and the principle defense use of the militia would be to protect local residents from attack and invasion,” Rakove says.
It also meant physical protection from government overreach.
“The idea of a state militia would also be attractive because it serves as a deterrent against national tyranny,” says Rakove. “At the time, if government forces tried to take over land or overstep their boundaries, you’d have an institution in place — the militia — that would outnumber any army.”
Of course, with the size and scope of the modern United States military, and the fact that militias as we know it no longer exist, that notion is hard to imagine today.
In the debate over the Second Amendment, this phrase, “a well regulated militia,” remains one of the most cited and argued parts of the sentence.
What did a free state mean?
It may seem obvious, but Rosen and Rakove agree the Constitution bore a lot of contemporary moralism and not every word is well-defined.
In this case, the meaning of “state” is what it appears to be.
“This is referring immediately to ‘state’ as in one of the states of the original colonies,” Rosen says. “James Madison had the 1777 Virginia Declaration of Rights by his side when he wrote the Bill of Rights and he essentially copied and pasted language from it.”
But it could also speak to a larger understanding of liberty.
“So here,” Rosen continues, “George Mason (the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights) is talking about not only the free state of Virginia.” He is also talking about a broader state of freedom.
What kind of rights?
This is another highly-contested area where it helps to know more about how the framers of the Constitution thought about complex ideas like “rights.”
“When we think about ‘rights,’ we think of them as regulations and exemptions,” Rakove says. “Back at the birth of our nation, they had a different quality. They were more moralistic.”
Rosen says this viewpoint is reflected in the Declaration of Independence:
“The framers definitely believed in natural rights — that they are endowed by a creator,” Rosen says. “They believed we are born into a state of nature before we form governments, and that we are endowed with certain fundamental rights.”
These natural rights included the right to religious expression, free speech, property and more. But they did not, Rosen says, specifically include the tenets of the Second Amendment.
“The framers did not talk about the right to bear arms as one of the set of natural rights,” he says. “But it is fair to say that the right to alter and abolish government — to the degree that modern people claim they have that right — the framers certainly believe it.”
“In that sense, it is historically accurate to say that the framers did recognize a natural right of self-defense.”
Who are the people?
Even the term “people” — the most basic catch-all — has limitations.
“You say people, you mean individual persons,” says Rakove. “But, if you go to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, it says the House of Representatives will be chosen by the people — who are the persons? Who are entitled to exercise that suffrage? You see, you can use the term ‘people’ to imply a collective mass, but there are some categories of people that can be excluded.”
After all, when the Constitution was written, slaves were considered property and women were not allowed to vote.
In addition, there is a more basic question of semantics: By “the people,” is the Second Amendment referring to people as private entities, or as participants in the militia?
The legal consensus is that the Second Amendment applies to individual rights, within reasonable regulations. More on that below.
What are Arms in this context, and what is the scope of bearing Arms?
The decision struck down the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which heavily regulated owning and keeping firearms in the District of Columbia.
In the above excerpt, we can see the Court considered the awkward phrasing of the Amendment. The Justices divided the Amendment into an operative clause: “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and a prefatory clause: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” The court determined the relationship between these phrases, as well as the historical context of the Constutition’s creation, clearly provided an individual right.
The term “arms” is also an ever-changing one, and there are ongoing debates about assault weapons and emerging firearm technologies.
“One thing people disagree about is whether assault weapons bans are constitutional,” says Rosen. “They also disagree about how we should interpret the constitution in terms of history or in light of new technologies.”
What does it all mean?
“It’s really striking that since these Supreme Court decisions… lower courts have upheld almost all of the gun regulations they have asked to review,” he says.
Rakove thinks the framers of the Constitution would be surprised at the conversations we are having today.
“While there is a common law right to self-defense, most historians think that it would be remarkable news to the framers of the Second Amendment that they were actually constitutionalizing a personal right to self-defense as opposed to trying to say something significant about the militia,” he says.
Words like “militia” and “rights” are loaded with historical context and nuance that can act as a Rorschach test, leading even the best-intentioned interpreters to different conclusions. If there were any clear answers, these 27 words wouldn’t be so incendiary.
Jack Rakove is the William Robertson Coe Professor of History at Stanford University. His book “Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution” won a Pulitzer Prize in History.
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Deconstructing the Second Amendment – cnn.com
Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:08 pm
Rather is talking about Donald Trump’s remark that “Second Amendment people” might be able to stop Hillary Clinton’s appointment of Supreme Court justices.
The comment raised the specter of political violence and earned widespread condemnation, though Trump supporters denied that he was encouraging violence.
“To anyone who still pretends this is a normal election of Republican against Democrat, history is watching. And I suspect its verdict will be harsh,” Rather wrote on Facebook shortly after it happened on Tuesday afternoon.
Related: New York Daily News calls for Trump to end his campaign
Rather — who covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas — called Trump’s “Second Amendment people” remark “a new low,” unprecedented “in the history of American presidential politics.”
Writing about political figures who have reluctantly endorsed Trump, he said, “Many have tried to do a side-shuffle and issue statements saying they strongly disagree with his rhetoric but still support the candidate. That is becoming woefully insufficient. The rhetoric is the candidate.”
Fellow journalists were the other audience for his Facebook post.
“We will see whether major newscasts explain how grave and unprecedented this is and whether the headlines in tomorrow’s newspapers do it justice,” he wrote. “We will soon know whether anyone who has publicly supported Trump explains how they can continue to do.”
Rather was the anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” for more than 20 years. He now hosts an interview series on AXS TV and runs a production company.
Related: Clinton challenges Trump by saying she’ll attend all three debates
Several of his Facebook essays have gone viral in recent months, picking up hundreds of thousands of shares and comments. His latest one was a top trend on Facebook by Wednesday morning.
Rather seemed to be agreeing with what a number of media critics have argued recently: That Trump cannot be covered and treated like a “normal” Republican or Democratic candidate for president.
Earlier this week, reacting to a “Reliable Sources” segment about Trump, Rather wrote that “This is perhaps the most important time in election history for the media. It’s time for some reporters, especially those that often interview Donald Trump, to get a spine. Tough questions are our job.”
CNNMoney (New York) First published August 10, 2016: 9:01 AM ET
Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:19 am
America is at war. We have been fighting drug abuse for almost a century. Four Presidents have personally waged war on drugs. Unfortunately, it is a war that we are losing. Drug abusers continue to fill our courts, hospitals, and prisons. The drug trade causes violent crime that ravages our neighborhoods. Children of drug abusers are neglected, abused, and even abandoned. The only beneficiaries of this war are organized crime members and drug dealers.
The United States has focused its efforts on the criminalization of drug use. The government has, to no avail, spent countless billions of dollars in efforts to eradicate the supply of drugs. Efforts of interdiction and law enforcement have not been met with decreases in the availability of drugs in America. Apart from being highly costly, drug law enforcement has been counterproductive. Current drug laws need to be relaxed. The United States needs to shift spending from law enforcement and penalization to education, treatment, and prevention.
History of U S Drug Policy
Drugs first surfaced in the United States in the 1800s. Opium became very popular after the American Civil War. Cocaine followed in the 1880s. Coca was popularly used in health drinks and remedies. Morphine was discovered in 1906 and used for medicinal purposes. Heroin was used to treat respiratory illness, cocaine was used in Coca-Cola, and morphine was regularly prescribed by doctors as a pain reliever.
The turn of the century witnessed a heightened awareness that psychotropic drugs have a great potential for causing addiction. The abuse of opium and cocaine at the end of the 19th century reached epidemic proportions. Local governments began prohibiting opium dens and opium importation. In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act required all physicians to accurately label their medicines. Drugs were no longer seen as harmless remedies for aches and pains.
The Harrison Narcotics Act, passed in 1914, was the United States first federal drug policy. The act restricted the manufacture and sale of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and morphine. The act was aggressively enforced. Physicians, who were prescribing drugs to addicts on maintenance programs were harshly punished. Between 1915 and 1938, more than 5,000 physicians were convicted and fined or jailed (Trebach, 1982, p. 125.) In 1919, The Supreme Court ruled against the maintenance of addicts as a legitimate form of treatment in Webb et al. v. United States. Americas first federal drug policy targeted physicians and pharmacists.
In 1930, the Treasury Department created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Harry J. Anslinger headed the agency until 1962 and molded Americas drug policy. Under his tenure, drugs were increasingly criminalized. The Boggs Act of 1951 drastically increased the penalties for marijuana use. The Narcotics Control Act of 1956 created the most punitive and repressive anti-narcotics legislation ever adopted by Congress. All discretion to suspend sentences or permit probation was eliminated. Parole was allowed only for first offenders convicted of possession, and the death penalty could be invoked for anyone who sold heroin to a minor (McWilliams, 1990, p.116). Anslinger was critical of judges for being too easy on drug dealers and called for longer minimum sentences. He established a punitive drug policy with a focus on drug law enforcement.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics also used propaganda as a preventative measure. They created myths and horror stories about drugs. Marijuana was blamed for bizarre cases of insanity, murder, and sex crimes. Anslinger said that marijuana caused some people to fly into a delirious rage and many commit violent crimes (McWilliams, 1990, P. 70). It is puzzling that Anslinger and the FBN fabricated such tales, while there existed less dramatic, but true horror stories connected to drug abuse. The propaganda of the 1940s and 1950s was often so far fetched that people simply didnt believe the governments warnings about drugs.
The 1960s gave birth to a rebellious movement that popularized drug use. The counterculture made marijuana fashionable on college campuses. Other hippies sought to expand their minds with the use of hallucinogens like LSD. Many soldiers returned from the Vietnam War with marijuana and heroin habits. In short, the demand for drugs in America skyrocketed in the 1960s.
The Johnson Administration, in reaction to a sharp rise in drug abuse, passed the Narcotics Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1966. The act specified that narcotic addiction was a mental illness. The law recognized that the disease concept of alcoholism also applied to drug addiction. Drug use, however, was still considered a crime. The act did not have a major impact because the small amount of funding that was appropriated for treatment couldnt meet the increasing demand for drugs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The act did pave the road for federal expenditures on drug abuse treatment.
The Modern Drug War
In 1971 President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs. He proclaimed, Americas public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive(Sharp, 1994, p.1). Nixon fought drug abuse on both the supply and demand fronts. Nixons drug policies reflect both the temperance view and disease view of addiction.
Nixon initiated the first significant federal funding of treatment programs in. In 1971, the government funded the then experimental and enormously controversial methadone maintenance program. In June 1971, Nixon addressed Congress and declared, as long as there is a demand, there will be those willing to take the risks of meeting the demand (Sharp, 1994, p.27). In this statement he publicly proclaimed that all efforts of interdiction and eradication are destined to fail.
Unfortunately, Nixon failed to listen to his own advice. Nixon launched a massive interdiction effort in Mexico. The Drug Enforcement Agency was created in 1973. They initiated Operation Intercept, which pressured Mexico to regulate its marijuana growers. The U S government spent hundreds of millions of dollars closing up the border. Trade between Mexico and the U S came to a virtual standstill. Mass amounts of Mexican crops headed for the U S rotted, while waiting in line at the border. In the end, Nixon achieved his goal of curtailing the supply of Mexican marijuana in America. Columbia, however, was quick to replace Mexico as Americas marijuana supplier.
The interdiction of Mexican marijuana was the governments first lesson in the iron law of drug economics (Rosenberger, 1996, p.22). Every effort the U S government has made at interdiction since Operation Intercept has at most resulted in a reorganization of the international drug trade. Heavily monitored drug routes have been rerouted. Drugs enter the United States through land, sea, and air. Closing our borders to drug smugglers is an impossibility as long as the demand exists.
In 1977 President Carter called for the decriminalization of marijuana. In a speech to Congress he said, penalties against possession of the drug should not be more damaging than the drug itself (Rosenberger, 1996, p25). Although Carter endorsed lenient laws towards marijuana use, he was against legalization. Carters drug policy was focused on the supply front, with most funding going to interdiction and eradication programs.
Marijuana decriminalization did not fail, but failed to be realized. Carters presidency witnessed a sharp increase in cocaine use. From 1978 to 1984, cocaine consumption in America increased from between 19 and 25 tons to between 71 and 137 tons. The demand for cocaine increased as much as 700 percent in just six years (Collett, 1989, p. 35). Marijuana was widely connected to cocaine as a feeder drug. Thus, the federal and state governments moved away from marijuana decriminalization.
In 1981, President Reagan gave a speech mirroring Nixons admission that fighting the supply side of the drug war was a losing proposition. He said, Its far more effective if you take the customers away than if you try to take the drugs away from those who want to be customers. Reagan, like Nixon did not heed is own advice. The average annual amount of funding for eradication and interdiction programs increased from an annual average of $437 million during Carters presidency to $1.4 billion during Reagans first term. The funding for programs of education, prevention, and rehabilitation were cut from an annual average of $386 million to $362 million (Rosenberger, 1996, p. 26).
Reagans demand side initiatives focused on getting tough on drugs. The program became known as the zero tolerance program, where punitive measures against users were emphasized. The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse gave the drug user full accountability. Drug users were to be prosecuted for possession and accordingly penalized. Although some block grants were given for drug treatment, the rehabilitative efforts were insufficient to meet the overwhelming amount of drug abuse. Reagans demand side drug policy largely reflects the colonial, or moralist view of addiction.
Despite headlining innovative drug policies, Clinton has largely continued the Republicans supply sided drug policy. In the 1995 budget, Clinton earmarked an extra $1 billion for both the demand and supply fronts of the governments drug policy. Clinton attracted the medias attention when he doubled the spending for rehabilitation and prevention programs. However, more substantial increases were made for eradication programs and law enforcement. The 1995 budget included $13.2 billion for drug policy. $7.8 billion was spent on supply sided efforts, while only $5.4 billion was spent on education, prevention, and rehabilitation. Although Clinton did increase the percentage spent on the demand front of the drug war, his policy clearly reflects supply sided tactics (Rosenberger, 1996, p. 51).
It is important to note that Congress has a significant influence on shaping Americas drug policy. The Republican 104th Congress successfully killed many of Clintons attempts to spend more on the demand side. Even the Democratic 103rd Congress of the early 1990s fought shifting the drug policy towards prevention and rehabilitation. Both Democratic and Republic Congresses overwhelmingly favored continuing with supply sided efforts.
Although Clinton didnt significantly change the direction of U S drug policy he presented some innovative proposals. Clinton encouraged Community Action Programs and grass roots organizations to participate in the demand side of the drug war. However, of the $1 billion given to the Community Empowerment Program only $50 million was allocated to drug education, prevention, and treatment (Rosenberger, 1996, p. 63). Thus, the potential of the programs was never realized.
The Drug Debate
The proponents of drug policy cant be classified as Liberal, Conservative, Left, Right, Democratic, or Republican. Many Liberals and Democrats, such as the 103rd Congress favor drug criminalization and supply sided efforts, while some Conservatives, such as Milton Friedman and William Buckley favor drug legalization. There are, however, three prevailing views on addiction in America, which have derived from Americas views of alcoholism.
The Colonial or Moralist view considers the drug user to be sinful and morally defective. The drug itself is not the problem. The moralists drug policy entails punitive measures for users. Drug use is a crime. Reagans zero tolerance policy on drug use is an excellent example of a moralist drug policy.
Second, the Temperance view considers the drug itself, as an addictive substance and the cause of addiction. The supply of drugs is a public hazard. According to the temperance view, drug policy should focus on drug smugglers and drug dealers as the root of drug addiction. U S drug policy has largely been influenced by the temperance view of addiction.
Third, the disease concept views addiction as being a treatable disease. Neither the drug user, nor the drug supplier is responsible drug addiction. The disease concept calls for a drug policy that focuses on drug treatment and rehabilitation. Clinton, for example embraced the disease concept and increased funding for treatment programs.
There has been continuous and widespread debate about drug policy since Nixon waged Americas first war on drugs. Remarkably, the issues have changed very little. In fact, U S drug policy hasnt had many significant changes over the last 30 years. The U S has long endorsed a supply sided drug policy. Most of the funding has gone to interdiction and eradication efforts. These measures have failed and continue to fail. The United States needs to significantly shift its funding towards education, prevention, and treatment. Thus, America needs to decriminalize drug use.
Firstly, decriminalization does not imply drug legalization. Drug trafficking and drug dealing need to remain criminal activities. Punitive drug laws on drug users need to be relaxed. Of the 750,000 drug law offenses in 1995, 75% of them were merely for use (Nadelmann, 1991, p. 20). Habitual drug use offenders, who are usually addicts face heavy fines and long prison sentences. Drug law enforcement and incarceration are extremely costly and counterproductive. Addicts have the potential to be treated. The appropriate response is rehabilitation.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that in 1993 as many as 2.5 million drug-users could have benefited from treatment. Only about 1.4 million users were treated in 1993. Almost half of the nations addicts were ignored. The government spent only $2.5 billion on treatment programs compared to $7.8 billion on drug law enforcement. The government needs to shift its funding from costly, unproductive drug eradication programs to meet treatment demands.
Decriminalization does not imply opening up our borders to drug suppliers and tolerating violent drug syndicates. The supply side of the drug war should be reduced, not ignored. Violent drug gangs and large-scale drug suppliers should be targeted instead of the drug user and the small time dealer. Although spending less on interdiction will inevitably make it easier to smuggle drugs into the U S, there is no evidence that the demand for drugs will significantly rise.
There have been some victories in the drug war. Every addict who through federally funded treatment programs and rehabilitation becomes sober is a victory. The benefits are endless. Addicts, who treat their disease often reenter society and become productive workers. Recovering addicts are able to parent their children and are positive and powerful examples in their community.
In order to decriminalize drugs, society has to abandon the puritanical idea that drug users are morally defective. The government, which has already publicly acknowledged the disease concept of addiction, needs to focus its drug policies on the demand side. The U S government can only relieve drug abuse by treating our addicts through rehabilitation and preventing the use of drugs through education.
The War on Drugs: Is it a War Worth Fighting?
The United States has been engaged in a war for nearly 25 years. A war in which there is a great deal of confusion as to why we are engaged in it, and if we are in the war for the right reasons. The resolution of the war is curtailed by varying opinions and subjective statistical proof. The war which has been a continuing struggle, is the war on drugs At the heart of this war is a fundamental question: Is this a battle the United States can win? It is likely everyone will agree drugs are harmful, they have serious medical side-effects. Drugs are addictive; can ruin a family, a job, a life. I agree that drugs have very negative side effects, but is the solution to fight a very costly and ineffective battle to eradicate drugs entirely? Is this even a possibility? I am not so sure, and this paper will show that the war on drugs has likely caused much more harm than good. Further, it will explain why not all drugs are the same, explore some options, and look at the future of the United States, and of the world
We spend $50 billion per year trying to eradicate drugs from this country. According to DEA estimates we capture less than 10 percent of all illicit drugs. In this regard, I have a two part question 1) How much do you think it will cost to stop the other ninety percent? Too much. 2) Does $50 billion a year for a 90% failure rate seem like a good investment to you? I am sure the answer is no. Has the cost of the War on Drugs in terms of billions of dollars, blighted lives, jammed prisons, intensified racism, needless deaths, loss of freedom etc., produced any significant change in drug availability or perceived patterns of drug use? Unfortunately not. Abraham Lincoln said “Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and make crime out of things that are not crimes.” It is estimated that 45 million U.S. citizens have tried an illicit drug at least once. How many of the 45 million drug users do you feel we must incarcerate in order to win the war on drugs? Why does the FDA stand up for the right of adults to smoke tobacco, which is highly addictive and causes over 400,000 deaths per year, while decreeing that adults have no right to smoke marijuana, which is non-addictive and kills no one? Alcohol costs thousands of lives, and alcoholism is an accredited disease, but anyone age 21 or older can go to the liquor store and buy alcohol. Drug use is an acknowledged fact of life in every prison in the country. If we can’t stop prisoner use of drugs, how can we rationally expect to stop average free citizens from using them? Despite signatures from 85 prominent groups and individuals, why has the Hoover Resolution (a call for an independent panel to revue existing drug policies) not been considered, accepted, or initiated? What lessons from alcohol prohibition lead you to believe that the current drug war will end in victory? At a time when working people are being asked to tighten our belts in order to help balance the budget, how do you justify increasing the funding to the drug law enforcement bureaucracy? Explain why supporting a failed policy of drug law enforcement has a greater priority than student loans or drug education programs. There are so many questions, with so few answers. Now we must consider the solutions. First one must understand what we are dealing with.
Certain drugs are much more serious than others. LSD was originally produced as an elephant tranquilizer and can obviously cause very violent and serious effects. There have been incidents of people, high on LSD, ripping their hands out of hand-cuffs, by breaking every bone in their hands. The scary things is these people didnt even feel it. Cocaine and crack are much more prevalent, very addictive, and can kill you the very first time you try them. Many will remember the great promise of basketball player Len Bias, whose life was taken after one night of experimentation with Cocaine. Heroine use is very addictive, leaves its users feeling and looking empty, and the spread of AIDS is proliferated by the sharing of needles for this drug. So all these drugs can be lumped into the very serious/addictive category, with obvious varying extremes. Should Marijuana fit into this category? A scientific study funded by the White House says no. The study showed, Marijuanas active ingredients seem to have many medical benefits including pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation (Rolling Stone, pg.32). The study also rejected the notion that marijuana is a gateway drug. Many experts believed that using Marijuana is a stepping stone and once people cant get a high from pot, they will move on to more serious drugs. The study gave no proof that this gateway phenomenon existed, and seemed to point in the direction of at least reconsidering our current position on Marijuana. It is clear to me that Marijuana does not belong in the same category as the other drugs, and the proposition of legalization should be seriously considered.
What do we have to enjoy from legalizing Marijuana, and possibly other drugs, or at least regulating there use? Consider the experiences of Holland–a country where drugs fall under the jurisdiction of health agencies, not law enforcement, which has seen a decline in chronic use of hard drugs and casual use of soft drugs since decriminalization. If illegal drugs are so obviously harmful to people’s health, why is it necessary to put so many American adults in prison to prevent them from using these drugs? If people want to take drugs, people are going to find a way to get drugs. The problem is the war on drugs is not attacking the right people. The people being hurt are the recreational users who get busted for having $50 worth of pot or cocaine in their pockets. These people arent drug dealers, they arent gang-bangers, they are people with families, that use drugs, and are put away for decades. Consider some simple figures: The number of federal prisoners who are drug offenders is 55, 624, 50% of whom are non-violent first time offenders. 59% of federal prisoners are incarcerated for drug chargers, compared to only 2.5% incarcerated for violent crimes. 717, 720 Americans were arrested in 1997 for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault (combined), while 695,200 were arrested for marijuana offenses alone (Playboy, pg. 47). I feel the last figures are the most telling. It just seems like the purpose of the war on drugs has been lost, and as a result of the powers that be not accepting an alternative, other battles are being lost as well. Jimmy Carter once said, Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself (Playboy, pg. 47). Currently this is not the case, and this is just another example of a need for change.
Another major problem with our current situation is money. Not only is it expensive to prosecute drug offenders, it is expensive to detain them. Currently, more money is being put into building prisons than into building schools. In 1998, 16 billion dollars were spent in federal funding for the war on drugs. That is an astronomical number, and it seems as if the results dont go along with the effort. If all this time and money is being spent on education, and prevention, and treatment, and the numbers continue to rise, then an alternative must be sought. As immoral and ridiculous as legalization may seem to some, all the facts seem to show that it, at the very least, deserves consideration. Without a solution to the current situation, the U.S. will remain in a vicious circle with no hope of coming out of it.
Where do we go from here? Clearly major steps need to be taken. I believe the first step is an admission by the administration that our current system doesnt work. The next step must be to find out what the opinion is on the streets and in the schools. Do the education and awareness efforts work? What makes someone decide to try drugs? What is the biggest influence on the child? Maybe by taking note of what other countries have done, for example Holland which was mentioned earlier, the U.S. can get ideas for some sort of compromise. It seems to me that the U.S. is set in its ways that drugs will not be tolerated and that this is a battle we must win. What must be realized is that changing our policies is not an admission of defeat. This shouldnt be a matter of egos or overly conservative opinions. The bottom line is that drug use needs to be reduced, the murders must be brought down, and the number of people incarcerated must be decreased.
The modern drug war began in the 1960s, and for thirty five years it has failed to produce and real success. Which is better for America during the next 35 years, prohibition with the continuing costs and ineffectiveness, or reform policies that approach the problem from a different angle. Instead of spending so much money on imprisoning drug offenders and preaching why drugs are bad, why not spend the money on schools, and school programs? The idea is to keep kids from using drugs, and this will in turn reduce the numbers of adults that use drugs. The same goal is present in alcohol and cigarettes, and it is handled much differently. Why not treat at least Marijuana just like cigarettes and alcohol. Dont make it illegal, just take steps to discourage people from using it. Education is a must, but prosecuting small time offenders is pointless. The facts just dont do much to support the war on drugs. Consider some facts and costs that this country has undertaken as a result of attempting to make drug use illegal.
I will end this report with some outlined problems with keeping drugs illegal. There is a need for change, and this must be realized soon:
The war on drugs has failed. By making drugs illegal, this country has:
1) Put half a million people in prison : $10 Billion a year
2) Spent billions annually for expanded law enforcement
3) Fomented violence and death (in gang turf wars, overdoses from uncontrolled drug potency & shared needles/AIDS)
4) Eroded civil rights (property can be confiscated from you BEFORE you are found guilty; search and wiretap authority has expanded.)
5) Enriched criminal organizations.
The street price of a single ounce of pure cocaine is several thousands of dollars, yet the cost to produce the drug is less than $20. The difference is the amount we are willing to pay to criminals for the privilege of keeping the drug illegal. Not only that, but such a high markup is strong incentive for people to enter into the sales and trafficking of these drugs. The stiff penalties we assess against drug dealers only makes the price higher and the criminals more desperate to escape capture, more determined to protect their market from encroachment. If drugs were legalized, the price would drop by to a tiny fraction of their current street values and the incentive to push drugs would vanish.
Recall that during prohibition, bootleggers and police used to shoot it out over black market ‘shine. Illegal speakeasies did a booming trade, the profits of which went to organized crime. With the end of prohibition, alcohol has been taxed and provides a revenue stream to the State. Would drug use go up? Maybe. But it might well go down, since there would be no profit in getting new users to try drugs.
Protecting drug users against themselves costs the rest of us too much: in dollars, in safety and in freedom.
The Final thought is simply this: The drug war is not working, and if alternatives are not considered now, a solution may never be possible.
Collett, Merril. 1989. The Cocaine Connection: Drug Trafficking, and Inter-American
Relations. New York, NY: Foreign Policy Assoc. Series
McWilliams, John C. 1990. The Protectors: Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau
Of Narcotics, 1930-1962. Newark: University of Delaware Press
Nadelmann, Ethan. (1991). The Case for Legalization, in James Inciardi, ed., The
Drug Legalization Debate. (pp.19-20). Newbury Park, CA: Sage
Rosenberger, Leif R. 1996. Americas Drug War Debacle. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate
Sharp, Elaine B. 1994. The Dilemma of Drug Policy in the United States. New York,
NY: HarperCollins College Publishers
Trebach, Arnold. 1982. The Heroin Solution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Wisotsky, Steven. 1990. Beyond the War on Drugs. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books
Read the original here:
Posted: July 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm
His disgusting politics are well known, but the many other ways he is disgusting have always been a matter of speculation. Until now.
Here is Bernie endorsing Hillary and Hillarys speech immediately after (which was one of her better speeches this campaign). It was as if I had written the endorsement speech myself, and I give much credit to the Senator for writing and delivering it. Yes, I have, in Danas words, trashed the Senator throughout the campaign, much as Dana and others have trashed Hillary. But it is time to move on, to let it go (cue Frozen soundtrack), and to come together. And thanks to Hillary and Bernies combined efforts in reaching agreement on the platform, we have the beginnings of a Democratic juggernaut that shall obliterate all Republicans.
Dont you just hate it when youre a Democratic candidate for US Congress from Delaware, and something like this happens?:
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has ramped up her criticism of Donald Trump in recent days, going so far as to say late Monday that the businessman is a faker who must release his tax returns. He is a faker, Ginsburg said in an interview with CNN. He has no consistency about him. He 
The News Journal released the results of their poll last night, which shows the race being much closer than the common wisdom (including mine) would have suggested. Heres the numbers:
Kevin Kelly 18% Mike Purzycki 14% Dennis Williams 13% Theo Gregory 11% Eugene Young 9% Norm Griffiths 8% Robert Marshall 2% Maria Cabrera 2% Undecided 21%
The margin of error on this poll is 5.8 and reached landlines only. This surveyed likely Democratic voters. This polly also asked about registration and primary practices where we find that this group of likely Democratic voters think that it should be easier to switch parties to vote and that primaries should be open.
I may return to my old haunt just to see this:
Progressive Democrats for Delaware Democratic Primary Candidate Forum New Castle County 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 3rd 19 E. Commons Blvd, 2nd Fl. New Castle DE 19720
For NCC Executive: Tom Gordon and Matt Meyer.
NCC Council President: Penrose Hollins, Dave Roberts and Karen Hartley-Nagle.
Come out and bring your questions for county government!
Mark your calendars!
I remember saying this some weeks ago and being laughed at by the Sanderistas here. Now that Bernie agrees with me that the Democratic Party has the most progressive platform ever, who is laughing now? Hell, even Jeff Weaver is on board.
Here is more on just how liberal and progressive the Democratic platform is, and that we do have Bernie to thank for it. His campaign, in the end, did exactly what I wanted it to do: keep Hillary on the left by giving her the incentive to stay there. Without Sanders or any serious challenge from progressive quarters, I am not sure Hillary would have moved dramatically to the center or right because American politics doesnt work like that anymore. There are no moderates to win over in that middle ground. Everyone is polarized and turning out your own base is the way to win. But the Sanders challenge helped Hillary shed the last vestiges of 90s caution and to be vocal about her progressive positions.
Carney inexplicably STILL wants to cut the state budget, not grow it. In spite of all of the evidence to the contrary, he still views debt as an anathema, and growth killing austerity as a virtue. He basically still believes in the utter failed Republican economics of trickle down. It makes no sense, and in the era of very cheap borrowing, it is the exact opposite of what we should actually be doing.
And whats worse, the markets have taken notice.[See Swiss Negative Yield Bonds] Smart money is beginning to adjust to the new normal and accept the fact that deficit hawks and austerity evangelists like Carney are determined to strangle economic growth with their wrongheadedness which would be simply goofy at this point, were it not so pernicious. Here is Paul Krugman on the topic:
I dont think Im reading between the lines to say that Carneys plan is more of the same giveaways (both monetary and regulatory) to large corporations: John understands that the role of government in promoting a strong economy is to create an environment where businesses can thrive and invest in Delaware. That means moving faster 
He had a poll done by Public Policy Polling and the result (as reported in the NJ) is at Gordon 33%, Meyer at 30%, Undecided at 38? This is a statistical tie.
The filing deadline is this Tuesday, July 12 at 12 noon. After Tuesday, parties may file candidates, but individuals cannot file on their own separate from the party. The deadline for withdrawing ones candidacy and getting ones filing fee returned is this Friday, July 15 at 4:30 pm. Friday is also the deadline for candidates to switch from one race to another. Ill likely be out campaigning for the candidate of my choice (Bryan Townsend) at the Tuesday deadline, so please keep us posted on any last minute developments.
Dallas police were doing everything right and then the shooting started
The Dallas PD have been doing the hard work to engage their communities, to up the training for officers (especially in de-escalation skills), be more open and less of an occupying army:
As the Dallas Morning News reported last year, Dallas police have shifted to a stronger focus on deescalation techniques since David Brown became police chief in 2010, with dramatic results. In 2009, there were 147 excessive force complaints against police officers; by 2014, those complaints dropped by 64 percent. And as of November, when the article was published, there had been just 13 such complaints in 2015.
Ive been too depressed to read much, but this is so worth it. (Thanks to Dorian Gray for the link) And yet, two pieces of writing published on conservative news sites on Friday morning, as well as an extraordinary Facebook Live chat with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, suggest that the combination of Thursday nights 
This was all prepared in advance, but it shrinks and fades into specs of trivia and meaningless gossip in view of our ongoing inhumanity toward each other. I ask myself what I can do to try and stand up against a world that seems on a trajectory toward less decency and less humanity, and I come up empty.
John Daniellos bulk mail form letter was the kind of move one would expect an 84 year old man to make. He may have been the winningest, most effective, most Republican-hating Chair in the world, but it is time to move on. According to Mike Matthews (via FB) it has been time for him to 
See the original post here:
Posted: at 4:17 pm
Trevor Burrus: Welcome to Free Thoughts from Libertarianism.org and the Cato Institute. Im Trevor Burrus.
Tom Clougherty: And Im Tom Clougherty.
Trevor Burrus: Joining us today is Randal OToole, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, specializing in urban growth, public land and transportation issues. Welcome to Free Thoughts, Randal.
Randal OToole: Hey, Im glad to be here.
Trevor Burrus: So the first question is the big one as we often do on Free Thoughts. How is transportation important to human freedom and flourishing?
Randal OToole: Well mobility is really important because mobility gives people access to more economic resources, more social resources, more recreation opportunities. Mobility of course has completely transformed in the 20th century. Before 1800, hardly anybody in the world had ever traveled faster than a horse could run and lived to tell about it. Although during the
Trevor Burrus: Lived to tell about it, its like people who fell out of hot air balloons and
Randal OToole: Or off a cliff.
Trevor Burrus: So they got a quick moment of OK.
Randal OToole: Yeah. So by 1900, we had developed steam trains and bicycles and streetcars and cable cars and those things accelerated the pace of life for many people and yet by 1910, most Americans were no more mobile than they had been in 1800 because frankly streetcars and steam trains and things like that were more expensive than the average American could afford.
Most Americans still lived in rural areas and they didnt have access to those, to streetcars or bicycles. Even Americans in urban areas, only middle class people could afford streetcars. Pretty much working class people had to walk to work. It was only when Henry Ford developed a moving assembly line that allowed him to both double worker pay and cut the cost of his cars in half, which made automobiles affordable to the working class that suddenly mobility was democratized and suddenly travel speed is accelerated from an average of 3 miles an hour to an average of 30 miles an hour or more.
That gave people access to far more jobs. If you were producing something, it gave you access to a far bigger consumer market. If you wanted to socialize with people who were like you, you didnt have to live right next door to them. You could get into your car and be near them. You have access to recreation opportunities. Things like national parks became popular only after the car became popular. Before cars the number of people visiting Yellowstone and people like places like that were numbered in the hundreds or low thousands each year. Now its the millions.
Trevor Burrus: Now you certainly have no Disneyland without people being able to drive to it and
Randal OToole: You dont have Costco. You dont have supermarkets. You dont have Wal-marts. You dont have a lot of things that we take for granted today. Shopping malls, a lot of things. So the auto mobility transform lives for many people. For example, the only way blacks were able to boycott buses in Montgomery, Alabama after Rosa Louise Parks refused to get walk to the back of the bus was because they had enough cars that they could transport each other to work.
So cars were called by Blacks freedom vehicles. Cars play a huge role in womens liberation. It was only when families became two-car families and both the husband and the wife could own it, could have a car and become wage or salary earners that womens liberation became truly an important change in our lives.
So cars have transformed everybodys lives. Cars have transformed farming for example. Before cars, at least a quarter, perhaps a third of all of our farmland was dedicated to pasture for the horses and other livestock needed to power the farms.
By releasing that land, we ended up getting 100 million acres of forest lands, 100 million acres of crop lands. We have far more lands available for growing crops than we had before because of the internal combustion engine, powering tractors and trucks and other farm vehicles.
Trevor Burrus: Well, if you talk to people now though, its kind of I mean it is this mind-blowing thing when you start thinking about the effect that the car had on American life. But now a lot of people want to say that cars are bad for a variety of reasons, not seeming to understand the effect on this and a lot of the kind of urban planning and ideas of what a city should look like, it seems to be kind of anti-car in some basic level.
Randal OToole: Thats absolutely right. Theres a huge anti-automobile mentality out there, especially among urban planners and curiously, every city in the country has urban planners on their staff because they think theyre the experts. But its actually because the Supreme Court has made decisions that have said that the property rights clause or the Fifth Amendment of the constitution can be amended if you have an urban can be ignored if you have an urban planner on your staff. Basically, you dont have to worry about that if you have an urban planner who has written an urban plan for your city.
Trevor Burrus: This is like Kelo pursuant
Randal OToole: Every single Supreme Court decision that has taken away peoples property rights has mentioned in that decision that the city or other entity that wanted to take away peoples property rights had written an urban plan. So if you have an urban planner on your staff, you can ignore property rights. You can take land by eminent domain. You can regulate land without compensation if you have an urban planner on your staff.
So they all have urban planners and urban planners all go to the same schools and most of these schools are architecture schools where they learn that we shape our buildings and our buildings shape up.
So if we want to shape society, we have to design our cities in a way to shape the way people live. Well, it has been proven over and over again that it doesnt work. It doesnt get people out of their cars, to force people to live in high densities.
San Francisco for example, the San Francisco Bay area increases population density by two-thirds between 1980 and 2010 and per capita driving increased. Per capita transit ridership declined by a third. It didnt change anything at all except for it made a lot more congestion.
So theres an anti-automobile mentality and the reality is most of the virtually all of the problems with automobiles can be solved by treating the problem, not by treating the automobile.
Trevor Burrus: Like congestion you mean.
Randal OToole: Well, congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gases, energy, traffic accidents, whatever. In 1970, people drove about 40 percent as much as they do today and we had 55,000 people killed per year. So today were driving 150 percent more and we only had 33,000 people killed last year. So fatalities are going down because they made both automobiles and highways safer. Thats only going to increase.
In 1970, many of our cities were polluted. You had a mile of visibility or less. In Portland, you couldnt see Mount Hood. In Seattle, you couldnt see Mount Rainier because the pollution is so bad. So we created the Environmental Protection Agency to solve the problem and they said lets do two things. Lets put pollution control requirements on new cars but lets also encourage cities to discourage driving by spending more on transit and increasing densities to encourage people to live closer to work.
Well, they did both things and today, pollution has gone down by more than 90 percent. Total pollution has decreased by more than 90 percent from what it was in 1970 and 105 percent of that decline is due to the pollution controls they put on cars. Negative 105 because
Trevor Burrus: More than 100 percent.
Randal OToole: Right, because the other thing they did that investing in transit and increasing densities to get people out of their cars failed. Instead what that did is it increased traffic congestion and cars pollute more in congested traffic than they do in free flowing traffic. So we ended up having more pollution thanks to the policy of trying to get people out of their cars. It failed miserably and yet were still pursuing that policy in many places supposedly to reduce greenhouse gases, to save energy and so on. It wont work but were doing it anyway.
Tom Clougherty: So I think one of the interesting, maybe disturbing things about transportation policy is that you have an obvious problem in congestion, a problem which is very costly. You also have a solution that virtually every economist is going to agree on and thats congestion pricing.
You also have on top of that a widespread perception that its politically impossible, that it will never happen. So therefore we have to go into a lot of these other things, which as youve pointed out may not be effective.
Do you see any future for congestion pricing? Could you maybe elaborate on that principle a little bit?
Randal OToole: Well, there are two things that are going to happen in the next 10 years. First of all, a lot of cars are going to become self-driving cars and thats going to be a very rapid transformation because starting in about 2020, you will be able to buy a car that will be able to drive itself on the vast majority of American streets and roads without your input at all.
Pretty soon you will be able to drive a car buy a car that will drive itself everywhere and they wont even have steering wheels. Well, a lot of congestion happens because of slow human reflexes and as soon as we get self-driving cars which have much faster reflexes, the capacity of roads is going to increase tremendously. Its typical that an urban freeway lane can move about 2000 vehicles an hour at speed.
With self-driving cars, we will be able to increase that to 6000 or more vehicles an hour. So thats going to take care a lot of the congestion problem right there. The other parallel development is that were moving away from gas guzzlers.
Cars that burn gas are burning less and less gas all the time and a lot of cars are not burning gasoline. That means that gas taxes which have paid for our roads have really paid for 80 percent of all the roads weve built and 100 percent of all the state highways that have been built in the country and interstate roads.
Those gas taxes arent going to be around anymore. So were going to have to find a new way of paying for roads. My home state of Oregon was the first state to have a gas tax to pay for roads in 1919 and today my home state of Oregon is experimenting with mileage-based user fees. Its the first state to experiment with them and what theyve done is theyve asked people to volunteer to pay a mileage-based user fee rather than a gas tax and I was one of the first people to volunteer.
They opened up volunteers at midnight on July 1st and at 12:01, I sent in my application and they sent me a little device that I plug into my car and now it keeps track of how many miles I drive and if I leave the state, I dont pay anything. In the state I pay a penny and a half per mile and they refund me all my gas taxes that I pay when I buy gas.
So the intention is to phase this in over time. So if you buy an electric car, you will have to get a mileage-based user fee device. If you buy a gasoline-powered car, you will be encouraged to do it and over time, we will transition from all gasoline or all gas taxes to all mileage-based user fees.
Well, with mileage-based user fees, it will be real, real easy to make a congestion fee, to make it a variable fee. Presumably the device you plug into your car when you say I want to go to work, you will tell your car take me on this to this address. The car will say, well, here are three different routes. If you go this way, youre going to have to pay this fee. If you go this way, you will have to pay this fee and it will take you five minutes longer. If you go this way, you will have to pay a lower fee and it will take you 10 minutes longer or whatever. You will have a choice of which route, which fee you pay and you will make that choice and that will encourage people to avoid congested routes and eventually solve that $200 billion congestion problem.
Trevor Burrus: This is interesting because you see all these technologies which werent even thought about a few years ago, whether its the device to measure how much your car is driving or a driverless car.
It kind of reminds me were talking about urban planners and who these people are and were and to sort of whether or not any urban planners in 1980 thought about driverless cars or the possibility of having something to measure how much youre driving and that and they probably did and so
Randal OToole: Well, the real question is are any urban planners in 2016 thinking about
Trevor Burrus: Yeah, so thats a better at the Car History Museum, I know you at one point were in Denver for the light rail fight. In the car museum, they have a Denver urban plan from 1955 or something like that. Its a 50-year urban plan. So this was what Denver looked like in 2005, which is just ludicrous. I mean it seems absolutely ludicrous.
Tom Clougherty: You mean they didnt get it right?
Randal OToole: In 1950, nobody had ever taken a commercial jet airline flight. Nobody had ever direct dialed a long distance phone call. To make a long distance call, you had to call the operator and have them dial it for you. Of course almost nobody had ever programmed a computer. There was certainly no internet. Nobody could predict in 1950 what was going to happen in 2000.
Well today we can see driverless cars on the horizon but nobody can predict what is going to happen. Is everybody going to use an Uber-like car or are we going to own our own cars? Is it going to make people drive more because more people are going to be driving? Because you can be nine years old and drive a driverless car. I can put my dogs in the car and send them to the vet. I dont need to go with them.
Trevor Burrus: Thats going to be a service. It could be like Bark Car and they just put them in there and it drives them to the vet, yeah.
Randal OToole: Or is it going to lead to less driving because everybody is going to be not owning a car but Uber-ing their car? The thing about that is when if you own a car, when you say Im going to go to the store now, you figure Im going to pay the marginal cost to driving, the cost of gasoline. But if youre renting a car, you have to pay the average cost which is a much higher per mile cost. So thats going to change the calculus. Those people who decide not to own a car will probably travel less themselves than they would have traveled if they had owned a car because of that.
So is it going to lead to more or less driving? Nobody knows the answers to these questions. Urban planners, they know they dont know the answers to these questions. So their solution is to ignore the problem, to ignore the issue, design for the past because they know the past. So they design for streetcars. They design for light rail because those are the past forms of travel. They know how people lived when those were the forms of travel that people used.
So they designed cities to be streetcar cities. Thats really the urban planning fad today is to design cities to be like they were in the 1920s when the people who got around not on foot took streetcars.
Of course there were still a lot of people who got around on foot because they couldnt afford the streetcars and that of course is going to be a complete failure. Its not going to work. Its going to impose huge costs on those cities because theyre going to be designing for the wrong thing. Its going to put a huge cost on the people in those cities but theyre doing it anyway because thats the urban planning fad.
Trevor Burrus: So theyre thinking of sort of high density urban development with a lot of public transportation like streetcars and light rail and things like this, which is odd but it kind of makes you wonder if the entire concept of urban planning is just kind of silly. Are you kind of saying that?
Randal OToole: It doesnt make me wonder that. Its not kind of saying. Urban planning is a profession that doesnt deserve to exist. Thats why I call myself the antiplanner and I have a blog called The Antiplanner. Look up antiplanner and Im the first thing on the list. I write about this every day.
Urban planning always fails. They cant predict the future. So instead of predicting it, they try to envision it and they envision a past that they understand. Then they try to impose that on the future by passing all kinds of regulations and all kinds of laws.
Trevor Burrus: As I went to Tom being British, a town called Milton Keynes in or Keynes I think is how they say it.
Tom Clougherty: Milton Keynes. Its a must-see.
Trevor Burrus: In England, which is one of these post-war, fully-planned towns. I mean down to especially in England. They were really big on this. Have urban planners become less hubristic? I mean in England, they were just planning entire towns, entire blocks, trying to figure out everything that people wanted. Have they become less hubristic and a little bit more respectful of human freedom or are they just as planning as ever?
Randal OToole: Absolutely not. They have not become less hubristic and a lot of places a lot of private developers have built what are called master plan communities. The private developers did the planning and they were planning for the market. They were trying to figure out what do people want to live in and will build them a community like they want to live in.
They figure out, well, they want to be somewhat close to stores. So they have to have as many enough people in their community to convince a supermarket to open up a store, to come into Costco or something like that, to open up a store. They like to be near some nice restaurants. But they also like to have a yard. They also like to have wide streets to drive on.
So they plan for what people want. The urban planners that Im talking about are government planners and they plan for what they think people should have. They plan for what they think people should want, not what they do want. They think people should want to live in higher densities, that they should want to get around on transit, rather than driving, and so thats what they planned for even though nationwide only about two percent of travel is by well, one percent of travel and about two percent of commuting is by mass transit. Its insignificant outside of New York City, Washington and about four other urban areas. Transit is irrelevant really.
Tom Clougherty: Yeah. I mean its interesting that youre talking a lot about how contemporary urban planning is certainly anti-car, anti-automobility and yet I wonder whether the darkest era of urban planning was excessively pro-car. If you think of a lot of post-war development, the interstate highway system often driving major roads through established neighborhoods. Really trying to change peoples lives and the whole way they lived in the opposite direction of what theyre trying to do now. Is what we have now in urban planning almost a reaction to some of the mistakes of the past?
Randal OToole: No. I think what you have to whats consistent about urban planning is that its pro-middle class and anti-working class, anti-low income people. They call working class neighborhoods slums. This has been the trend for 125 years. Working class neighborhoods are slums. So we have to clear out those slums as if if we move the people out so that we dont have to look at them, they dont exist anymore.
Urban renewal in the 1950s was called by some negro removal because a million people were displaced by the urban renewal movement and most of them were Blacks, so 80 percent of them were Blacks.
They had to move from places that they could afford to places that were less affordable because they werent slums anymore. So the problem that urban that cities had in the 1940s and 50s that they saw they had is that the middle class people had moved to the suburbs and the people who were left were had lower incomes and they said, OK, these are slums. We have to get them out of here. You get the middle class people back into the cities and they looked at the interstates as a way of doing it.
The original interstate highway system as planned by the transportation engineers was going to bypass all the cities, was not going to enter the cities. They brought this proposal before congress and the cities went to congress and said, No, we want our share of the interstate money.
So they rewrote the system. They added 10 percent more miles all of which were in the inner cities and came back to congress in 56 and congress passed it with the endorsement of the urban mayors because the mayors wanted to use interstate highways as a vehicle for slum clearance.
They were to clear out the slums that the highways were built on. They would clear out the neighborhoods around those highways with eminent domain. That was all approved by the Supreme Court in the famous 1952 case here in Washington DC. Yeah.
And forced the people out and then build nice middle class neighborhoods. Today its the same thing. The whole complaint about urban sprawl is not a complaint about wealthy people moving in suburbs. Wealthy people started moving to the suburbs in the 1830s and nobody complained about urban sprawl then.
Middle class people started moving to the suburbs in the 1890s and nobody complained about it then. Weve had suburban sprawl for almost 200 years.
It was only when middle class people or simply when working class people started moving to the suburbs in the 1920s because they were able to buy Henry Fords affordable cars that people started complaining about urban sprawl.
The early complaints about urban sprawl were very class-oriented. You have these inelegant people out there in all stages of dress playing this ridiculous music on their Victor-Victrolaphones and dancing wildly and gesticulating and eating weird food.
Trevor Burrus: Showing their ankles.
Randal OToole: Doing all kinds of things that were horrible and it was very class-oriented and their prescription Im reading to you from a book called the Town and Country Plan. It was written by a British author and the prescription was we will pen all those people up in high-rises in the cities and in 1947, Britain passed the parliament passed a Town and Country Planning Act that put greenbelts around the cities for bidding development and then put high-rises in the cities that people lived in for a few years but was really only acceptable because a lot of housing had been palmed out. But as soon as people lived in it for more than 10 years, they realized we dont want to live like this. These are awful places to live in. So they revolted but
Trevor Burrus: This racial class part of the story seems to be I mean its you cannot separate it from the whole history of urban planning. Its about class and race and we have red lining. We have zoning. We have all these different things and its about the powerful who happen to be politically powerful in a given time trying to impose their view upon their fellow citizens and what the kind of city that they would like to live in which may not include you and your kind at least in my neighborhood.
Randal OToole: Well, I have a friend in California named Joseph Perkins whos a black radio talk show host and he says that he looks at urban planning smart growth as the new Jim Crow. He says the Sierra Club is the new KKK because theyre promoting these ideas and he goes to some place like Marin County, California which is just north of San Francisco and has very strict urban growth boundaries and low density zoning and he says he goes there and they he goes to these hearings and people are saying, We want to keep those people out.
He said, Well those people are people like me. But it isnt just people of color. Its a class thing. They want to keep the working class out. We dont like to talk about class in this country much but there definitely is a class structure.
You look at the progressives. They say, Well, we care about the working class. Well you might care about the working class but you dont like their values. They play country Western music which you hate. They drive around in big pick-ups.
Trevor Burrus: They drink soda.
Randal OToole: Yeah, they drink soda.
Trevor Burrus: They smoke cigarettes.
Randal OToole: They smoke cigarettes. They drink beer, not wine.
Trevor Burrus: Budweiser
Randal OToole: And they support Donald Trump and they oppose abortion and they do all the things that you say you care about them and yet your actual attitude is one of seething contempt.
Really zoning has always been about keeping working class people out of middle class neighborhoods and the whole planning today is about OK, were going to design transportation systems for the working class that will take them to work so that they can serve us and then take them home to places different from where we live and they can live a nice lifestyle in their high density apartment and walk down the stairs and go shopping so they dont have to shop in the same stores that we drive to. It sounds very idyllic if you
Trevor Burrus: Can afford it.
Randal OToole: No. If you can afford to not live that way, if youre a middle class person. But its not idyllic for the working class.
Trevor Burrus: So lets talk about some of these public transportation issues because I have this great classic Onion article because its tied in with all these ideas that public transportation is something that well, the headline is Report: 98 Percent Of US Commuters Favor Public Transportation for Others and weve had a spate of light rail, weve had streetcars and all these things have come up which it seems like the people who make them are not really theyre not using them. I expected them to probably not use them. They think other people should be using them. That seems to be a big story of public transportation.
Randal OToole: Well, theres a recent story that unfortunately it wasnt in the Onion but it was an authentic story in the Los Angeles Times that said despite the fact that were spending billions of dollars on transit, transit ridership is declining and thats true here in Washington DC as well. Transit ridership seems to have peaked about just before the financial crash and its not really recovering since the financial crash.
Really transit has been on a downhill since 1960 or 1950, the end of World War Two. What were seeing is people plowing more and more money into it and productivity is going down. The number of transit riders carried per transit worker is steadily declining.
The amount of money we spend to get one person out of their car has gone from a dollar in 1960 to $25 or more today just to get one person out of their car for one trip. We build transit lines that are so expensive that it would have been cheaper to give every single daily round trip rider on that transit line a new Toyota Prius every single year for the rest of their lives than to keep running that
Trevor Burrus: Im laughing and crying at the same time.
Randal OToole: And there are a lot of forces at work here. It started out in the 1970s. Congress had given cities the incentive to take over private transit. In 1965, almost all transit in America was private. By 1975, it was almost all public. Congress had said to cities you take over transit. We will pay for your new buses. We will pay for your capital costs. You just have to pay the operating costs.
So cities took them over and then in 1973, congress said, Oh by the way, if you have an interstate freeway thats planned in your city and you decide to cancel it, you can take the capital cost of that freeway and use it for transit capital investments. Well, cities thought that was great except for buses are so cheap that they couldnt afford to operate all the buses that you could buy for the cost of an interstate freeway.