What Romney and Obama Need to Legalize

America's Denial:  Demand for Immigration and Marijuana vs. Modern Prohibition

Zarakia and Bloomberg are correct about immigration.  Immigrants create jobs.  They have taxes withheld which they never recover.  Stopping immigration puts the USA on the path that stifled Europe a century ago, drawing lines and language barriers which defy our past success.  Legalize Immigration.

At the same time, Arizona is also right.  My friends in Vermont attribute the anti-immigration, anti-Mexico laws there to racial fear  Certainly the racists would support those laws.  But there is a very scary, very violent bunch of drug gangs who have invaded Phoenix.  I'm very pro-immigration, but I have also heard gunshots in the background when talking to my employees in Arizona, and understand that people turn to Sheriffs in Maricopa for a reason.  Protect our children.

Why are the drug gangs coming into Arizona?  Arizona, once again, is subject to the winds of California law.   California is practically de-criminalizing marijuana.   De-criminalization has been called "the worst of both worlds" in that it allows (encourages) consumption but does not allow the development of clean and legal channels to produce the marijuana consumed.

California, of course, is also right.  The cost of imprisoning people who smoke pot is ridiculous, and people are going to keep smoking it.  Creating a "medical exception" to cheat through is better than cheating in other ways.   Criminalizing marijuana is not a solution.  Marijuana, which I have smoked but do not smoke now, is nowhere nearly as dangerous as alcohol, which I do consume, and which has taken the lives of people close to me.   Marijuana is not a "gateway" drug, any more or less than underage drinking is a "gateway".... the gate is law violation, moving the gate to eliminate the gateway has been tried in both directions, permissive Amsterdam 1990s and prohibition Chicago 1920s... moving the gate does not stop the supply and demand.

The cost of arresting, detaining and deporting immigrants from Latin America is estimated by ICE at $122,000 per defendant, approximately the same as the cost of imprisoning a pot smoker in California.  Just as California created an escape hatch for smokers to avoid prison costs, ICE has come up with a way to reduce the cost of deportation (or to create "self deportation).

Today ICE focuses on employers, to reduce the supply of paychecks.   It will not increase the number of Vermonters (at 4.8% unemployment) who will milk cows or perform cleaning services (or recycling work).   But it will make it less attractive for Latinos to come work here.  It's less expensive to frighten 10 employers into terminating 5 employees each than it is to arrest, detain, and deport a tenth as many.  And ICE doesn't get its hands dirty.

Outcome?  In Arizona, the outcome is that fewer people cross the border to pick fruit, clean metals, repair cars, or do any of the other "list of jobs beneath white people".   Those jobs aren't worth it.   However, the California illegal marijuana market remains, and remains very lucrative.   Statistical Outcome? The Latinos who do come up are more likely to be drug gangsters and less likely to be milkers and apple pickers.   The net migration from Mexico is down, but the type of Mexicans taking residence in Arizona is more scary than it was 30 years ago.

Pat Robertson at the National Press Club February 15, 2005 in Washington, DC.This plays well to our innate "think of the children" and "separate the colors" fears and phobias, and playing to fear and phobia takes up 18 months every 4 years - during the election campaign.  So families in Arizona who are legitimately afraid of gunshots in their school districts vote for tougher immigration, even as immigration declines as a percentage.  Cost of car repair, fruit picking, milking, goes up, which puts more pressure on the jobless.   This makes creating jobs for the jobless a political issue, even though they are only 4.8% of Vermonters... including some of them who may be (illegal) pot smokers and (legal) drunks and have trouble keeping jobs for other reasons than competition with Mexicans and Central Americans.

There is one solution.  Legalize Marijuana.

Legalize marijuana at the federal level.  Not because I want to use it or intend to use it, nor will I advise my kids to use it (except as a social alternative to binge drinking).  But we need the tax revenues from marijuana, and we need to spend less money enforcing and imprisoning Californians, and when the drug cartels lose the business, we will have fewer gangs, and Arizona residents will stop being obsessed with immigration.

Everyone will get a unicorn.  (Or at least the opportunity to imagine they see one.)

This is the truth darn it and the republicans and democrats all know it, they are just emphasizing disagreement at all possibly junctures because they do not care as much about the deaths and lost lives in prisons and deportations of cow milkers and apple pickers, or the jobs (as Fareed will talk about) which are created by the immigrants who want to do great things in America.

Productivity and invention and intelligence creates jobs, and this is a very nasty political funk America has gotten itself into and I'm shocked by the cowardice of both the politicians and the electorate.  Immigration needs to be legalized, and for that to be politically acceptable, we have to end the "drug war" if we have decriminalized the demand side.   Marijuana needs to be completely legalized and grown domestically, and taxed, and free our law enforcement officers from chasing down hard working immigrants and Californian smokers, empty our jails, and get our budgets balanced.

Maybe if it becomes a health care law or social security tax revenue issue...   Shoot the meth dealers and let the marijuana dealers buy licenses and be regulated like liquor stores.  Pat Robertson has my vote on this issue.

[Postscript:  More graphic detail on cannabis at TheEconomist 2012/06 "BongoLand"  USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand represent X% of consumption... They need to form a "Fair Trade Marijuana" consortium.  Time to get motivated tomorrow.]

Taking positions like this probably isn't good for my business, as this is apparently controversial.  But if Pat Robertson is saying it and Robin Ingenthron is saying it, maybe we can get Mitt and Obama to say it and stop this stupid, stupid decades of funk we find ourselves in.

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