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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Gen Kelly, Head of DHS, Gets It on Marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana
Posted: 04/16/17 22:32

by Dave Mindeman

I found this somewhat interesting....

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is "not a factor" in the war on drugs and that solving the nation's drug problem does not involve "arresting a lot of users."

I have been convinced for some time now that marijuana is less of an abuse problem than alcohol and not a so-called gateway drug. At least Kelly seems to be moving in that direction.

We spend so much time and energy with marijuana law enforcement, its trafficking, and the incarceration of users that we failed to examine why we consider it illegal....and as near as I can tell, we no longer know why. I have long held the belief that if marijuana was simply legalized and law enforcement could spend their time and effort on more important things, and if we could keep purchasers from using illegal sources that place them in the illegal drug culture, then marijuana would virtually cease to be a "drug" problem.

In 2015, the number of arrests for drug law violation was 1,488,707. The number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation was 643,121. That is 44% of the total. And 89% of those 640,000, were for POSSESSION ONLY. In addition, the % of offenders who are black or Latino is 57%....even though use and sale are done at the same rate as whites.

Here are some other statistics of note....

Over 200,000 students have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction.

Number of states that allow the medical use of marijuana: 28 + District of Columbia.

Number of states that have approved legally taxing and regulating marijuana: 8 (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington)- as of 2015.

Tax revenue that drug legalization would yield annually, if currently-illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco: $46.7 billion.

The annual cost for the "war on drugs" in the US is $51 billion. And this is while drug treatment programs are being cut at the Federal level.

We have all of this so backwards. But at least Gen. Kelly has started to get the proper context. What he needs to do next is to convince our nation's police and law enforcement that it is in everybody's interest to end this useless war on drugs - especially when it comes to marijuana.

When Minnesota takes up marijuana law changes, it is police departments that put up the most strenuous objection. Maybe they should be learning what General Kelly is learning...because they need to change their mind. It will be of great benefit to their ability to do their job.
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Let's Be Completely Honest About Minnesota Transportation

Category: Transportation
Posted: 04/14/17 07:08, Edited: 04/14/17 07:08

by Dave Mindeman

I want to follow some logic here.

When it comes to transportation in Minnesota, what are the House Republicans looking for? What is the purpose of fighting against light rail transit tooth and nail?

Because here is what I can see. Light rail has long been a priority of the Federal government to promote mass transit in metro areas. They have a lot of earmarked money that will go to metro authorities that can prove the need and the proper planning - and a cooperative state funding mechanism which Minnesota has in a metro sales tax.

The state portion is mostly a good faith contribution. The bulk of funding comes from those Federal dollars. I won't say that the state portion is insignificant, but let's say it gets a good return on that investment.

Now the caveat to this is that those Federal funds cannot be changed to fund other projects. It is legally bound to be used only for rail transit - not roads and bridges. And if we cannot use it the way it is earmarked, it will then be offered to the next metro area that meets the guidelines.

The MN GOP House Republicans make a couple of false arguments. First, they insinuate that they are protecting rural Minnesota's roads and bridges. They have falsely stated that somehow light rail takes money away from those needed road and bridge repairs. Federal funds for light rail can go nowhere else - it is how the funding operates. Secondly, they make this fantasy argument that by rejecting light rail funding, that somehow they are giving some kind of windfall to the taxpayers of Minnesota. Not true. In fact, they are not saving taxpayer dollars here or anywhere. That money is appropriated for that purpose. It doesn't go back into the US treasury. It doesn't get rebated back to the state. It will simply go to another project in some other state. And Minnesota's portion of the tax payments go with it.

Rural Minnesota absolutely needs road and bridge repairs. But it is an issue that is separate from metro transit. It must be funded via the gas tax money or the general fund or some other statutory method. But the MN GOP is disingenuous to be making rail transit an us vs them false equivalency. It is an "alternative fact", and the GOP needs to be honest about what they are saying.

Minnesota has the 3rd largest state road system in the country. That requires enormous investment. But we are squandering our opportunities to fund this properly - and we are blaming the wrong things for not meeting those needs.

Frankly, going forward, the revenue we generate now will start to dwindle to a trickle when it comes to the gas tax and earmarked transportation money. Cars are using less gas - companies are using alternative fuels. But we will still need road and bridge repair.

Unless we begin to approach our transportation needs in an honest, straightforward, and non-political way, we are going to go back to the days of ever increasing budget deficits....year after year.

I don't want to do that again....do you?
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An Eye for an Eye Makes You Blind

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 04/13/17 19:58

by Alan Anderson

President Trump recently responded to the chemical attacks in Syria by bombing an airport, reportedly involved in the killings. The missiles used cost more than $100 million dollars and the total cost of the response is probably closer to $125 million. Several civilians were killed in the attack. Their killings were claimed to be justified by the horrific deaths of people, especially children, in the chemical attack.

Mr. Trump believes it is OK to kill others in retaliation for them doing the same to people they oppose. And Mr. Trump was especially moved by the painful deaths of the children. Thus, painful deaths are one of the ultimate causes for retaliation.

Thousands of years ago those who had military power, like the Romans, held similar views. They, and some of their colleagues, sought to kill people who threatened their rule or undermined their power and authority. They were especially bothered by some who spoke out about killing others as a sin and as something that was not the right thing to do. They fought those who spoke about helping people who needed support, such as having food and shelter and a chance to live a normal life. They decried those who spoke about the need for people in power to do good, to create harmony among all, and to help others to work together to achieve a society built on love and respect, rather than hate and anger.

One of the ways the Romans chose to kill their enemies was to hang them on a cross. Drive nails through their hands and feet and let them hang until their death. Certainly a painful and awful way to die, but they, like Mr. Trump, felt it was important to have a sign to others that they would meet a terrible fate if they continued on their current path. They believed horrible actions deserved horrible actions in response. Yes, if you injure my eye, I am justified in doing the same to you.

So, we struggle today with our lives and our future. As we celebrate Easter and the remembrance of Jesus and his message and life, we wonder what our future will be. We hope our leaders will have vision and empathy and love. We hope our leaders will seek peaceful means to end conflict and will refrain from choosing revenge and anger over thoughtful efforts to mobilize all people to use peaceful, powerful means to resolve conflict. Killing others, as was done in the past, is not a solution to bring peace and love to the world. It only breeds an eye for an eye mentality that allows killing your enemy as a valid approach. It makes you blind to human suffering and struggles and emboldens you to act in horrific ways.

So, observe Easter, Passover, or any other religious moment and tradition by advocating for harmony and celebration of life. To do otherwise is to continue the ways of the Romans and all the rulers of the world throughout history, who see the deaths of others as a good rather than the horror and tragedy it truly is.
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