Posts from January 2010

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday

It’s Sunday Sunday Sunday. Time to get Shameless Shameless Shameless.

What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

Friday Lazy Linking

Wednesday Lazy Linking

  • Walking While Black in America Today... Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality with a Ten-Foot-Long Flexible Trunk (2010-01-25). Ta-Nehisi Coates: Ta-Nehisi Coates: Fear, Parenting, and the Police: We talked some, last week, about how fear drives black parents. I think this is the sort of case that I was thinking about: The photos taken by Jordan Miles' mother show his face covered with raw, red bruises, his cheek... (Linked Wednesday 2010-01-27.)

  • Populism. Ezra Klein (2010-01-27). Stopped clocks and all that, I guess. The rest of Brooks's column is, in fact, nonsense; but this is spot-on: "Populism is popular with the ruling class. Ever since I started covering politics, the Democratic ruling class has been driven by one fantasy: that voters will get so furious at people with M.B.A.’s that they will hand power to people with Ph.D.’s. The Republican ruling class has been driven by the fantasy that voters will get so furious at people with Ph.D.’s that they will hand power to people with M.B.A.’s. Members of the ruling class love populism because they think it will help their section of the elite gain power."

    Of course, the reason that the rest of Brooks's column is nonsense is because Brooks identifies this as a problem with "populism." It's not. It's a problem with populism as filtered through electoral politics. Or, to get to the heart of it, it's a problem with electoral politics. Which is always based around zero-sum power plays and consists more or less entirely in only nominally opposed power-elite factions playing off fear of one another in order to secure support from a captive voter base. (Linked Wednesday 2010-01-27.)

The State of the Debate #2: Against legalization

From Washington state:

On Wednesday, the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee voted against two pieces of legislation, one of which called for the legalization of marijuana, and would, among other things, make it available for sale — heavily taxed — at state liquor stores. The other would have reduced possession of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil one.

The legalization bill (HB 2401) was voted down 6-2. For a moment, HB 1177, which would have decriminalized marijuana, looked as though it might have a chance, but it too died, with a final vote of 5-3.

In his opening remarks to the committee, Chairman Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said he found merit in all of the arguments, pro and con, but that it came down to the question of whether the federal government or the states should be in the business of regulating marijuana. Although he favors state regulation, Hurst said, he could not in good conscience vote for a bill that conflicted with federal law.

… Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, argued that legalization would allow the state to regulate a product that has potential hazardous consequences. A vote yes, he told his fellow committee members, is a vote for control. A vote no is a vote for continued chaos.

— Lillian Tucker, The Seattle Times (2010-01-20): Pot bills go up in smoke as House panel stops both

… And that’s why I’m against legalization schemes. For decriminalization, yes, of course; but against this kind of cockamamie tax-and-regulate license-monopoly scheme, carried out in the name of exposing yet another good to government control.

It’s also why I’m against relying on electoral politics as a means of social change. When the political debate is constrained to the one side, who argue for arresting harmless potheads and locking them in cages, even though they think it is a bad idea, simply because their conscience demands absolute submission to the will of the United States federal government; and the other side, who think that marijuana ought to be legalized so that the government can use a tax-stamp scheme to more fully control people’s access to it — when, that is, the debate consists of two sides, each jockeying for position against the other to see which of them can package its policy proposals in the most authoritarian terms — when, I say, the political debate is constrained to those kind of options, it’s time to start looking for a new forum.

There’s no sense in trying to win at a rigged game; sooner or later, you need to just walk away. Go counter-economic — direct action gets the goods.

See also:

Monday Lazy Linking