Friedman Made Right Call on Legalization

Friedman Made Right Call on Legalization
Posted by CN Staff on November 26, 2006 at 06:27:46 PT
By Robyn Blumner, Tribune Media Services
Source: Star-Tribune
USA -- The economist who died this month understood decades ago that drug prohibition was bad for public policy, the economy and society.In 1971, when Richard Nixon declared his "War on Drugs," calling for harsher penalties and stricter enforcement of drug laws, the renowned Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman had a John Lennon moment. He suggested we give peace a chance.
To Friedman, who died earlier this month at 94, drug prohibition was unsound public policy, economic insanity and inherently immoral. It wasn't the drug user who was immoral, as the political world asserted with so much vim and vinegar, the immorality stemmed from making users into criminals.In a Newsweek article Friedman wrote in 1972, he took a step outside his realm of monetary policy and free marketeering and laid out in clear, unequivocal terms what kind of social disaster we were buying with Nixon's drug war. Thirty years later, we know he couldn't have been more right.Friedman's views emanated from libertarianism. He resented the government's interference in an adult's free will. But the economist in him also recognized the inexorable market forces that drove the illicit drug trade. He understood that as long as there was demand there would be supply, and by making drugs illegal, those enriched by the drug trade would be a violent, corrupting element of society.In 1989, in a famous exchange he had on the pages of the Wall Street Journal with then-Drug Czar William Bennett, Friedman told Bennett that the prohibitionist's model was doomed to fail and would grind up freedom in the process."The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish."Bennett apparently didn't see the hypocrisy in cherishing his freedom to gamble, while waging war against the rights of others to engage in their own personal vices. "The Book of Virtues" author who reportedly lost millions in Atlantic City and Las Vegas (Bennett must equate "moral" with technically legal), was a drug warrior of the first order, dismissing Friedman's legalization prescription as "irresponsible and reckless."We've followed the Nixon/Bennett drug-war model for 30 years and what we have to show for it was predictable from Day One.Those who have gotten rich on the illicit drug trade are drug lords and their cartels who use violence to control their enterprise. The money that flows from the illegal sales corrupts everything it touches from the cops on the beat to entire countries like Colombia. Drug use has not been curbed, yet our prisons have filled up with low-level dealers and users.We have spent $1 trillion on the drug war since 1972 and we arrest 1.7 million people for nonviolent drug offenses every year. When you put a rapist in prison another one doesn't get recruited to take his place, but that is precisely what happens in drug dealing. Take one guy off the streets and that becomes a job opportunity for someone else in the neighborhood.And despite this huge interdiction, enforcement and imprisonment apparatus that we have shoveled money into over the last 30 years, illicit drugs have become cheaper and more available.Albert Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." We must really be nuts.Friedman wasn't the only brilliant economist to make the case for drug legalization. Nobel laureate Gary Becker wrote a column in Business Week in 2001 titled "It's Time to Give Up the War on Drugs."Then, in 2005, Dr. Jeffrey Miron, a visiting professor at Harvard, published a report which called for replacing marijuana prohibition with a taxation and regulation scheme. It was endorsed by more than 500 distinguished economists.Miron found that government could save between $10 billion and $14 billion annually if marijuana were legalized and taxed. As the Marijuana Policy Project noted, that would be enough to secure the former Soviet Union's "loose nukes" within three years. If safety and security is the goal, where would a yearly sum of $10 billion be better spent?Since his death, Friedman has been lovingly eulogized by the nation's premier conservative voices, but few have lauded his bold and visionary understanding of the drug war. Legalization of drugs is Friedman's best economic and moral thesis that has been left untried; and one day, when courage returns to politics and we take this sensible step, experience will bear that out. Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN) Author: Robyn Blumner, Tribune Media ServicesPublished: November 26, 2006Copyright: 2006 Star Tribune Contact: opinion Website: CannabisNews Justice Archives
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Comment #47 posted by FoM on November 28, 2006 at 06:41:47 PT
Thank you. I am so very sorry I didn't vote for Jimmy Carter and voted for Reagan back then. ( Reagan said he was for less interference in family issues then Just Say No came along ). Only if Carter had decriminalized marijuana like he said he would do Reagan wouldn't have been a second thought for me. I haven't met a Republican that has anything in common with me to this day. Even my sister is seeing how bad they are and she is a life long Republican. She voted for Democrats this time too.
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Comment #46 posted by afterburner on November 28, 2006 at 06:03:12 PT
FoM #33 
Lots of this economic disaster started with Reaganomics or the Trickle-Down theory, meaning that if business is given a free hand, the rich will have prosperity and they will spend money on things and services from the not-so-rich. Only problem is many of the rich hoard money and it doesn't *trickle-down*! Of course, as we drug war survivors know and the American public is starting to realize, the promised tax cuts and cuts to bureaucracy were dwarfed by the expenses of the perpetual wars (i.e., War on Drugs and War on Terror).Trickle Down by The Tragically HipLyrics:{
Old lion's dying, got left behind
Cut your teeth, lose your meat
And man it's just a matter of time
Key's to the cuffs, you might be king
That's it, that's all, that's everything
Skeletons come here to dance
Where barrooms beat their brothers
Into a bloody trance
What's the deal? What did I do?
Who cops all the cops is all I asked of youChorusLining up, waiting on the trickle down
Something's up, taking time to get around
Belly up, all the drinks are on the crown
It's just a matter of trickle downTwenty miles before the crash
That's the style for a while
And man I think it's gonna last
Hit the breaks is all you can say
Conductor says we'll save them
For another rainy dayChorusLining up, waiting on the trickle down
Something's up, taking time to get around
Belly up, all the drinks are on the crown
It's just a matter of trickle down
}Listen to Preview (MP3): topic (witty fun):"Dance Like A Monkey" by the New York Dolls
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Comment #45 posted by Hope on November 27, 2006 at 17:57:08 PT
Milton Friedman
helped create and bring us the withholding tax system. It was supposed to be temporary during World War II. I don't blame him for it. He did regret it, but it was harder to undo than it was to do, he basically said.
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Comment #44 posted by global_warming on November 27, 2006 at 15:49:26 PT
Sorry i forgot
all the dead heroesin this blessed worldHail
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Comment #43 posted by global_warming on November 27, 2006 at 15:45:16 PT
Wish i did not have to look
at all the dead niggars, all the dead jews, all the dead amarinds, i have hope that soon It is Time, to see.
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Comment #42 posted by Richard Zuckerman on November 27, 2006 at 15:33:49 PT:
Do you people vote for Libertarian Party candidates? If you are too young to vote, would you consider voting for Libertarian Party,, Why do Americans laud Milton Friedman while voting for our enemies of freedom, namely, Democrats and Republicans?? If they cared about our economy, they would legalize, regulate and tax "Marijuana", Paul Zuckerman, Post Office Box 159, Metuchen, N.J., 08840-0159, (Cell telephone number)(848) 250-8879,
Member of;;;
Subscriber to New Jersey Militia Newsletter, [in the spirit of 10 U.S.C. Section 311].
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Comment #41 posted by global_warming on November 27, 2006 at 15:23:33 PT
oops  did i mention
when they found them dead and poisoned Jews, that somehow climbed the mountain of the dead, gasping for that other breath, here in this place, they did not find any marijuana.
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Comment #40 posted by global_warming on November 27, 2006 at 15:15:22 PT
Economics  ?
Here I sit thinking that this place was about cannabis.Sometimes I dream, have bad dreams,Rev 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place.Have you an master?Have you noticed that human beings crave and need Freedom.When the sun rises, twinkle,It rises to this place, like every dieng Jew in the gas chambers, this life is the same, every last dieng breath is another Light.It is Time to see your place, it is time I see my placeIt is a painful birth, that son of man, can bring the strong hand justice and a handful of garlands..
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Comment #39 posted by Toker00 on November 27, 2006 at 14:48:38 PT
Wow! I would have enjoyed that, too! Thanks! :)Tree up. Every body's gotta learn sometime playing, no sound. LWW on. Dixie Chicks next. Maybe not. Maybe The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers. Yeah. PPHHFFFFFFTTTT! PEACE.Toke.
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Comment #38 posted by Hope on November 27, 2006 at 14:10:15 PT
Lol! Goneposthole!
You freaked me out! Probably will, Toker, too.
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Comment #37 posted by Hope on November 27, 2006 at 14:08:58 PT
So true, FoM.
"It is immoral to put people in jail for marijuana." 
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Comment #36 posted by goneposthole on November 27, 2006 at 12:57:15 PT
Toker 00
Don't worry about it, everybody makes mistakes. I sent you a pound of skunk not that long ago, but it was returned to me. I had the wrong address. Sorry.Just kidding, you know.
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Comment #35 posted by whig on November 27, 2006 at 09:12:47 PT
I'm mostly on the side of Henry George, who also lived and wrote in San Francisco. It must be something in the air.
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Comment #34 posted by FoM on November 27, 2006 at 09:03:03 PT
One More Thing
The drug war keeps lots of police working. If and when we have to lock down people in cities for whatever reason as long as there is a drug war we will have the police to help keep them locked in the city or cities. I am looking at reality with my eyes wide opened.
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Comment #33 posted by FoM on November 27, 2006 at 08:59:29 PT
I guess I will never really understand economics. I know that when people make lots of money corruption becomes embedded in it. Money and being moral just don't seem to go hand in hand. It is immoral to put people in jail for marijuana. I understand that. Money I just don't get. It's way more profitable to keep the drug war going because of the economics.
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Comment #32 posted by kaptinemo on November 27, 2006 at 08:38:30 PT:
FoM, my interpretation
Milton Friedman was 'da Godfahthuh' of the idea that if you deregulate all commerce, then we would have (or so the thinking went) an explosion of new services, products, etc. courtesy of the 'dead hand' of governmental commercial regulation being removed from the neck of industry.Had all businessmen been ethical, the rosy future pictured by Friedman and others would have been justified. But as Afterburner has pointed out, there's been a dark side to deregulation. The idea that the market would police itself (like cops policing themselves?) has proven to be a false hope. And as much as it pains this old Libber, I have to admit he was right. Those regulations were proven necessary recently (thanks to events like the ENRON meltdown) due to what had happened back before the Great Depression (businessmen engaging in wild speculation caused the financial collapse then as much as anything else); it was why they were developed in the first place.But with regards to what has happened economically regarding the DrugWar, Friedman was bang-on target. As usual, anybody who does any thinking on this matter, anyone whose meal-ticket isn't being punched by participating in this idiocy, comes to the same conclusion he did long ago. But also, as usual, few people listen to those 'voices in the wilderness', because they are blind-sided by the propaganda.
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Comment #31 posted by FoM on November 27, 2006 at 07:54:05 PT
A Serious Question
When Friedman died I wondered why he was important. I have seen his name in articles in the past though. He was very old so why is he so important to people and groups like MPP? I'm serious in asking this question. I don't get it. 
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Comment #30 posted by Celaya on November 27, 2006 at 06:18:34 PT
"Did I tell you the name of the game? It's called Riding The Gravy Train." ~ Pink Floyd
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Comment #29 posted by kaptinemo on November 27, 2006 at 05:02:59 PT:
Rchandar, there's another phrase for it
Bureaucratic inertia.I worked for a Fed bureaucracy (yeah, I was a paper-pusher, which I admit to my shame) for years and know the nature of the beast from the inside out. Patterns of behavior get set, often without the slightest shred of reason, and become policy. Those who make their bread-and-butter from that carrying out that policy come up with all manner of justifications - rationalizations, really - after the fact to maintain it. (Wincing at memory) A civil servant who questions the rationale for the policy usually nets the a scolding at the very least for daring to challenge the bureaucratic 'orthodoxy'. So, until circumstances force change and a re-examination of the reason for the policy in the first place, it trundles merrily along. If that policy destroys people's lives in the process, well, the 'thinking' (rationalization, again) usually goes that it is doing so because they somehow deserve that destruction. Needless to say, that's the quick-and-dirty foundation of the present DrugWar. Most DrugWarriors can't begin to tell you how the first laws got started (racial bigotry married to economic and bureacratic self-interest) or how long it's actually gone on (92 effin' years!) and would vehemently disagree with you as to it's value (Superhero echo voice: "We're sav-ing The Cheeul-drunnnnnnnnnnn!") for exactly those reasons given. So we can expect even more names added to this list at Pete Guither's site . This is why I place such a premium on forcing these DrugWarriors into a debate; the public is clueless as to all the damage that's going on behind their backs, right under their noses...and on their dime and their time. Drag this into the open, point out how much of an expensive fraud it is, and you'll see the long awaited re-examination take place. (I have long since given up on convincing the public of the basic immorality of the DrugWar, as it hasn't really registered on the American public's radar screen, but talk money, and watch the eyes open and the mental gears turn. Sad, but true...) This is why when you whisper the word 'debate' in their ears, the DrugWarriors run like scalded dogs, and make brave noises as they move bass-ackwards towards the nearest exit. They know they'd lose, and in the losing, their whole gravy train would come under the scrutiny it should have received long ago, and would have had the DrugWarriors not been able to use kids as bureaucratic human shields to protect their gravy train. Oh, yes, they know it all right...
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Comment #28 posted by afterburner on November 26, 2006 at 22:16:10 PT
On Fed's Blindness (apologies to another Milton)
The U.S. Federal government didn't have any problem embracing Milton Friedman's ideas on free markets (NAFTA & others, WTO, etc.) and floating exchange rates (which have destabilized many national economies). However, the Feds are reluctant to follow his sage advice regarding the folly of the drug war and its encouragement of violent crime.Free markets and floating exchange rates for all their benefits have been exploited by big business. Free markets have victimized the North American office class and the working class by forcing them to compete globally with third world economies. Floating exchange rates have benefited investor speculators and international banks at the expense of national economic management.Yet, regulation and taxation of cannabis has been one of his ideas that the timid mandarins of Federal government have so far resisted because they want the overreaching control of the populace more than they want to follow that "G- d- piece of paper" to which they swore allegiance when they assumed office.
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Comment #27 posted by Hope on November 26, 2006 at 21:17:05 PT
The War on Drugs takes victims left and right.
Gaworski supported the War on Drugs. Does seeing his daughter made an innocent victim of the War on Drugs hurt him any more than it has hurt others down through the years? I don't know. But I know it hurts him now. The pet snake (The War on Drugs) he kept and nourished wouldn't hurt him...or his loved ones. Surely.But it did, didn't it?It's time to put the War on Drugs...and especially, the war on cannabis, out of our misery.
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Comment #26 posted by Hope on November 26, 2006 at 21:08:44 PT
OverwhelmSam comment 23
Perhaps Officer Gaworski needs to consider the merits of joining Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.He really should. So should many others. They know they should.
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Comment #25 posted by whig on November 26, 2006 at 20:26:15 PT
The Germans don't admit the Holocaust was wrong???
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Comment #24 posted by rchandar on November 26, 2006 at 20:18:08 PT:
politicians, authority figures, those that have the money, just have a tough time saying "I'm sorry. We were wrong."Took the Puritans 80 years to admit that killing "witches" was against God's will. The Germans still don't admit the Holocaust was wrong. Those who have authority, have the power to coerce others, have a tough time admitting THEY are the ones in the wrong. Look at this year's elections, they had a hard time coming clean about their breaches of conduct.Lately I've been getting this feeling. Most Americans obey ONE law, the one prohibiting drugs, and disobey literally every other one. By obeying the War on Drugs, Americans believe--sincerely believe--they are morally sound and eternally justified.No it doesn't make any sense.
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Comment #23 posted by OverwhelmSam on November 26, 2006 at 18:28:35 PT
Really Sucks, Doesn't it Officer
Her father is a 19-year police officer with the North Richland Hills Police Department. He said he comes into contact with marijuana regularly in the course of his job and says it is likely that he somehow accidentally put the drug traces in the car, which is usually driven by his daughter. "We agree with safe schools, but feel common sense should be considered when discipline is applied," Gaworski wrote in a written appeal of his daughter's punishment. Gaworski also stated in the appeal that the amount of marijuana found in the girl's car was "minuscule and unusable." "We have an innocent child who has been removed from her honor classes and placed into an environment that could delay her educational goals," he wrote. "She is embarrassed, humiliated, scared and just wants to disappear. One week ago she was full of energy and excitement about her future. Now she wants to drop out of school and get her GED.
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Comment #22 posted by Toker00 on November 26, 2006 at 17:26:06 PT
My sincere apologies! Toke.
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Comment #21 posted by Toker00 on November 26, 2006 at 17:25:01 PT
Gonepostal, if "It Will Not End", 
on Their part, then "We Will End It" must be Our motto, whether it be ending The War on Some Drugs, or The War of Tyranny, or The New War Order. We know it is the Lie Enforcers who do the real fighting in these Wars, and we must counter them with Truth Enforcers. That would be you. And me. And the rest of us who know. We will prevail. It is only Natural.Screw the Stock Market. It is going to fall, no matter what we do. There is no other way for our Government to change, than for the People to change it. Since WWII, they have been doing all the changing, and we have been doing all the accepting of these changes. Or not. But we have not Resisted to any degree of success. Now, we are burdened, since 9-11, with KEEPING our Constitutional Republic. And, with the destruction of the middle class, we have to do this by resisting this two class society, the Profiteers, and the Producteers. Or, to be more precise, The Haves (Not Working but Profiting from Control of Wealth) and the Have Nots (Working but not Profiting according to their work). I'm ordering a V costume. I think a few thousand of us wearing them up Pennsylvania Avenue would be very Inspiring for the rest of us to get off our asses and DO something.Wage Peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!   
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Comment #20 posted by Dankhank on November 26, 2006 at 16:21:15 PT
Zappa ...
If any don't know the Zappa ... learn!!He knew much about the lies and deceit ...
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Comment #19 posted by goneposthole on November 26, 2006 at 15:33:58 PT
It will not end
The drug war finances the stock market to the tune of some twenty percent of the value.It is a market mover. The drug war will not end; the 'powers that be' need it for their financial benefit.There has been a great deal of body counting in Iraq. The tune has changed since General Franks crowed, "We don't do body counts."Doing the right thing costs too much money. Expect the all of the wrong choices being made to continue as such.
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Comment #18 posted by Celaya on November 26, 2006 at 15:18:28 PT
Just for clarity
Sometimes extraneous comments confuse, as perhaps in my last post.After reading the article, I just kept thinking of Frank Zappa's song, "Help, I'm A Rock!" - with its included variation of "Help, I'm A Cop!" - denoting what a monstrous thing it is to be a part of the oppressive police state. hope I didn't over-explain. 8^)
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Comment #17 posted by Celaya on November 26, 2006 at 15:04:13 PT
Police State Excess - Where Will It End?
"Help, I'm a cop!"
Police kill groom on the day of his wedding.
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Comment #16 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 14:30:25 PT
That Sunny Day
When I looked aroundLooked up and almost diedcould not believethe filth and disgraceis this my place at the table?Knockin On Heavens Door
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Comment #15 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 14:25:25 PT
Have You Ever Seen The Rain
Coming Down A Sunny Day
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Comment #14 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 14:08:13 PT
Sacred to the HighestDawn arises and good people everywhereRise and Breathe
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Comment #13 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 13:49:08 PT
Re: Rednecks
I can say about Jesus and MosesWhen it comes to redneck monkeysI gather my pity with comfortIt Is TimeTo Gather and receive "new ordersIt Is Time to cleanup
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Comment #12 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 13:40:11 PT
I read somewhere
in this worldthat 'PRISONERSAccessed the InternetThat Information HighwayForget NotTo Press The Button
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Comment #11 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 13:33:20 PT
Have You Seen
This filth and destruction?
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Comment #10 posted by charmed quark on November 26, 2006 at 13:13:44 PT
Re; Woman may be jailed for pot use
We had a discussion a while back about whether the police still tried to jail people with small amounts of pot who weren't trying to "rock the boat". Well, I think this story strongly answers that. 
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Comment #9 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 13:10:20 PT
Feel Free
To place your hatHere and in every LandHave you a gentle handA careful eyeHave you seen this filth and destruction?
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Comment #8 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 12:55:17 PT
Hey Rock n Rollers
Can't Stop Falling Into LoveMaybe some man in a suit has my' medication,Then I can wonder, what the fuck has happened?
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Comment #7 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 12:36:03 PT
Regarding that 18 year old girl, can only wonder about the mind and soul of the arresting officer, who followed orders, did he see that deep pit?That crack that every wise person avoids falling into, dogs come around and sniff and steer clear of that black hole.There is a campfire in the US, where you can lay your head down and sleep and dream, where you can say what troubles your soul, There Is One God, and he rules the stars, and we' are all his children.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on November 26, 2006 at 12:25:44 PT
Glad you liked the joke. I thought it was funny too.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on November 26, 2006 at 12:24:55 PT
Pot Advocate Envisions Record with 3-Foot Joint
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Comment #4 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 12:10:02 PT
In That MEANTime
Woman may be jailed for pot use California medical marijuana card will not protect a Hayward woman from going to jail for a marijuana charge in Washington state, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.and here I thought that it was the Sunni and Shiite who were not getting along... Police charge teen with drug possession An 18-year-old woman faces three drug charges after police arrested her Friday night after finding marijuana in her vehicle...Her bail has been set at $5,000 cash, and she will answer to all three charges in court Monday.Glory Glory Hallelujah may Milton Friedman rest in peace.
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Comment #3 posted by global_warming on November 26, 2006 at 11:56:08 PT
Thanks Kapt
For the Kipling link, the man was a genius.I see that even in Kiplings Days, people could see. that is one very funny joke fomme, splitting firewood 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 26, 2006 at 08:23:09 PT
A Little Christmas Humor
Rednecks Are Smart***"Hello, is this the FBI?" "Yes. What do you want?" "I'm calling to report about my neighbor Billy Bob Smith! He is hiding marijuana inside his firewood." "Thank you very much for the call, sir." The next day, the FBI agents descend on Billy Bob's house. They search the shed where the firewood is kept. Using axes, they bust open every piece of wood, but find no marijuana. They swore at Billy Bob and left. The phone rings at Billy Bob's house. "Hey, Billy Bob! Did the FBI come?" "Yeah!" "Did they chop your firewood?" "Yep." "Merry Christmas Buddy."
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on November 26, 2006 at 07:03:52 PT:
Winston Churchill said it best
"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."Well, we've ...tried everything else. We've tried claiming to be moral exemplars to the world, by prohibiting alcohol and other drugs. We ended up with corrupt law enforcement, rich gangsters and a laughing-stock of an international reputation. It's only gotten worse with illicti drugs. Much worse. When an American politician gets on his soapbox, it's only the US citizen who listens, anymore; the rest of the world is laughing up it's sleeves when they aren't dodging our cruise missiles and bombs being dropped on them in an attempt to bring them 'enlightenment' and 'democracy'. 21st Century America's version of the 19th Century's "White Man's Burden" , I suppose. (See:'s_Burden )Friedman knew way back when just how ruinous this would be to both our economy and to our freedoms, but amoral, cynical, power-grasping pols will be with us always, and will be happy to cheerlead the forces of ignorance into any 'children's crusade' that's illicit drugs. Voices like Friedman, Arnold Trabach, Rufus King, etc. were the prototypical 'voices crying in the wilderness', warning us of the obviously (but politically gauche to say in public) doomed-to-fail DrugWar. I repeat, we've tried everything else. There's only one thing left to do...and everyone but the pols seem to acknowledge that.
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