Liberal Humboldt, CA

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Thought for the Day: “No on R” but “Yes on Z”?

To Rex Bohn and other conservatives who will be voting on Z but then work against wage increases for hard working people at the bottom of the pay scale – increases that all but surely would result in lower tax-payer supported safety net programs such as CalFresh, CashAid, and Medi-Cal.  MOLA 42 penned this brilliant thought that was amplified by Mitch! in the archives of Tuluwat.

Add our conservative daily(ish) Times Standard to the list of those opposing R.   Not sure if they’ve supported Z yet or if they will, we’ll see.

” I find it ironic that anti-minimum wage types warn of the economic destruction caused by higher wages and then turn around and support a sales tax. One may raise prices… the other surely will.”

                                                              -MOLA 42


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Shame On Whom Again? ….

…. Resources for a discussion on the ethics of money in politics with a focus on CA Senate Districts 14 and 34.

CA District 14 and 34 are the two races the HCDCC has chosen to contribute to (so far) heavily after having received large union donations.  A1 and John Fullerton have asked some pointed questions or have some made sharp accusations regarding HCDCC spending.  Here is the context before addressing their concerns.

First a basic primer about the California State Senate.  Here is a map of the Senate districts.  You will find in a little blurb in the legend of the map the fact that 2014 will be the first election post redistricting for the red or even districts.  This includes District 2, even though the election is all but certainly more of a ceremony rather than an election for Sonoma Supervisor Mike McGuire.

The races the HCDCC has contributed to are:

a)  Chavez (D) vs. Vidak (R) in Fresno’s California Senate District 14 .  In the last election in 2010 which was pre-redistricting there was a 47% Republican and 34% Democratic population.  This time District 14, which has moved significantly has 49% Democratic registration to 29% Republican as of 9/5/14.

and b) Solorio (D) vs. Nguyen (R) in Orange County’s District 34.  Pre and Post -re-districting took the voter registration in this district from 44% (D) to 33% (R) to 39% (D) to 34% (R) as of early September.

Below are the contributions as of early yesterday morning including all contributions above $1,000 after 9/30 and all contributions from 7/1/14 to 9/30/14.  As we know from our local election news, all contributions over $100 are itemized.  I’ve included excel spread sheets with all the reported contributions, and for those without access to a spreadsheet, this post ends with screen shots of the candidate’s top donors.

a) CA Sentate District 14:

Vidak for Senate 101514

$1,213,391.49 from 762 contributors.

Chavez for Senate 101614

$1,415,199.28 from 211 contributors.

b) CA Senate District 34

Solorio for Senate 101514

$1,445,804.48 in contributions from 539 contributors.

Nguyen for Senate 101514

$1,498,404 in contributions from 974 contributors.

John and A1, I’ve done most of the hard work for you, all you have to do is click the links so we can have an informed discussion about the ethics of money in politics and who should be pointing and crying “for shame” to whom.

I’d also like to frame the issue with this graph of income inequality (as always) and this graph below of declining worker compensation for increased productivity over the past 30 years (From the working class oriented Economic Policy Institute).  You of course are welcome to link or reference your own charts.

Productivity vs Wages

For those readers without a spreadsheet program (one of the major disadvantages of our push to mobile computing) here are screen shots of the top donors for each of the candidates mentioned above.

District 14:

Vidak (R)

Vidak's Top Contributors

Chavez (D)

Chavez's Top Contributors

District 34:

Nguyen (R)

Nguyen's Top Contributors

Solorio (D)

Solorio's Top Contributors


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Eureka’s Accepted Feudalism

This is a sadly low energy election season, I’ll be honest.  I have not been a part of any campaign although I really would have loved to, maybe if I had, I’d feel a different energy.

What I feel in our politics is lethargy and apathy and a media that has thrown in the towel.  The lone debate I’ve heard of is the debate at the conservative businessperson’s Elks Club where questions, even after filtered by the League of Women Voters can be framed like this Measure R may send businesses out of town, what will you do?” (notes from Richard Marks a stated but very quiet friend of Measure R)

KEET will have a series of upcoming debates (Thank you Tom Sebourn – one hour for both Eureka races and another hour for the issue most in the working class could (or should) care less about – Measure P regarding the local banning of genetically modified organisms.

What is missing from KEET’s schedule is the fairly revolutionary (no pun intended)  idea of a $3 raise in the minimum wage.  A measure for Eureka to begin to add some fairness to those doing the economically thankless jobs serving our community.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that the dividing political lines are clear again now that the environment is off the table this election leaving the politics of economics – the ultimate characteristic distinguishing left and right – as the dividing issue.

Supervisor Bass is now happily supporting conservative and Tea Party liking Chet Albin on radio ads and Matthew Owen is happily able to speak out loud and clear against Measure R.   Democrats have endorsed and will vote for Natalie Arroyo, Kim Bergel, and Measure R.  Conservatives like Virginia, Charlie Bean, John Fullerton, Jaison Chand and Fred Sundquist,  Debbie Provolt, The Harbor Bay Working Group…(more to come)

This is our group of local Chamber of Commerce conservatives.  Outside of Frank Jager and John Fullerton they all realize that the “R” is too heavy a burden to carry into an election, but they want to keep the ideology.  This is an ideology that believes business knows best for our community’s future.  Government is really about serving the needs of the “Job Creators”.  This sounds great.  It sounds efficient, low friction, low conflict, nice.

The problem is it disallows the public.  We know this to be true and we’ve learned to accept things like a internet presence of entities and candidates like The Chamber of Commerce, Chet Albin, Mike Newman (15 questions 0 answered).  Oh yeah and don’t forget Ryan Sundberg and Virginia Bass (24 questions total, 0 answered).  We’ve come to accept that messages are best made in 30 second radio ads, 30 second TV ads, and the positioning and quantity of signs as somehow significant.  Somehow, we’ve accepted what is necessary for those running for office have 1 million, 5 million or 300 million constituents with those that have 2,000.

Let’s stop accepting this.  Let’s register (please – I will beg – less than a week left).  And lets vote for measures and people that can talk to us about what they really believe.  People like Natalie Arroyo, Kim Bergel, and Measures like R (18 questions/15 answered).

Being able to speak about what you believe – especially when confronted with opposing ideas – matters.  It means you have thought about your vision for our future and not just accepted the vision of those who support you.  Let’s demand our leaders to be accountable.  This means for starters our leaders have to talk to us on the record, even those that may disagree with them, and not simply stand behind anonymous money to get themselves elected (and their chosen measures passed or not).

Eureka’s past and present feudalistic tendencies don’t have to be a part of our future if we the public so chose.


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Announcement. Workers: City Cab Is Sympathetic.

…just not enough to advocate to pay you closer to a living wage.

Jaison Chand (full disclosure – a former boss) wants you to know that he is sympathetic to you minimum wage worker (see Sunday’s TS add below).  His advise – live in a back room of a body shop – work multiple jobs – and stick with the one that makes it.

Like many others, Jaison had to make it through difficult times and struggle to make it where he is today.  Sincere kudos Mr. Chand.  You are another HumCo success story.  May there be many others.

Of course this apology for City Cab which is basically announcing a $1.50 cab fare raise or reduced services to the elderly and disabled if you choose to vote to give Eureka workers a living wage.

Unfortunately, as many who has had meetings with Jaison may have experienced, this is not all of the truth.  Here are some portions of his piece I would dispute.

  • Your boss, Fred, is not a greedy fat cat – no one is saying from Yes On R.  But Fred Sunquist did not have to live the hard-scrabble life you did.  His family’s wealth gave him and his siblings a little head start to be the revered job creator and community booster he is today.  This is definitively not about envy, but it is about the two Americas John Edwards was speaking about.  I do not wish for myself or my community members for the status symbol cars or homes or property or wealth – what I do wish for all of us – including you, Fred and your families is an ability to earn a living if you work hard – a living that will earn you things like ownership of a home, college for your children, health coverage that won’t necessitate a fire sale at the end of one’s life, etc.   Obviously Measure R doesn’t do all of this, but it is a step in the right direction.
  • What about competition?  If your business model is no longer affordable, where you have to threaten the voting public with a $1.50 raise if R is passed, what if City Cab would work with the city to provide choice in cab service?  This would allow more owners.  There are many opportunities here with the advances of technology – services such as Uber, etc.  Is there City, County, or State regulations we could change that would allow other companies with perhaps a different business model?
  • Back to the threats.  Don’t you find it a little sickening to the stomach that if services paid for by our community and society for the special care of a population in need – like the transportation of our elderly and disabled – isn’t it sickening if the people doing that work don’t get what can be considered to be a living wage?  So yes, let’s continue these services and let’s pay the employees appropriately.  If we can’t, then let’s make sure in the next election we do things to increase public spending appropriately for the care of the elderly and disable – things like removing the disgraceful cap on Medicare/Medicaid taxes at earnings.
  • Measure R is not strictly about the minimum rage, which is why your rhetorical questions at the beginning of your piece are only that – rhetorical.  I’m sure I’m speaking for all the Fair Wage Folks when I say we’d love to pass a measure county wide and for all employers and for a higher minimum wage, but this is what is currently politically feasible.  It is not about WalMart or McDonalds or even City Ambulance/City Cab.  It’s about their employees – people who are not getting a fair wage for their work given that the employment market is flooded with people looking for jobs.  There will always be another worker willing to work on an unsustainable income because there will always be someone either with less costs or in an even more dire situation.  The people willing to work for their money deserve to earn a living too.
  • What measure R is about is collective bargaining.  This means we should all – including employers – be encouraging employees to collectively bargain for our contracts.  If this became the norm again, we may begin to turn back the incredible national inequity that, we can see manifest even at City Ambulance.  This quote is from Mitch Trachtenburg who seems to be the only person touting this important and overlooked section of the measure.

Anyone who has read the Eureka Fair Wage Act ought to know that section123.05 says that if an employer and their employees conclude that it would be in their mutual best interest to waive the $12 minimum, after the employees inspect their employer’s books, they can waive the minimum.

What this means is that no business will close as a result of this act, unless the employer is unwilling to tell their minimum-wage employees how profitable the business is, or unless the employer open their books but the employees decide their wages are unreasonable, given the business’ profit margin.

No On R

What this is really all about, what Jaison is unwilling to write about is City Cab’s unwillingness to allow employees to collectively bargain.  As one who has tried, they work hard and proactively to instill fear in their workers against any attempts to disrupt, let’s admit it, a neo-feudal system set up once one enters and exits City Ambulance/City Cab’s property as an employee.


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The Ten Thousand Dollar 100 and Reagan

Our local business elite, our private sector bosses, many of our job creators suddenly have become big government liberals.  They are all for minimum wages, in fact they argue that it’s “unfair” that this minimum wage measure doesn’t cover the entire county.

They are freeing themselves from the standard and accepted rhetoric of the Right that talks about government over-reach. Suddenly the defenders of free market capitalism not only demand a minimum-wage but one that is higher than the just raised $9 minimum and one that is county wide.  They just want to make sure this minimum wage is done right.

Hogwash.

Here is a cut and re-cut version of Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech recently posted with cinematic music background on a recent Hum GOP post.  After all the classic Drudge and Rush anti-Obama slanted stats, at the 5 min and 30 sec mark you get the reason to “join us” as conservatives – “we have the winning argument” and here is that argument – in Reagan’s words.

“I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines… outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. … For three decades, we’ve sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan…And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose.Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.”

And that has sadly been the winning conservative argument since then.  Unfortunately it too is hogwash.  Local and national conservatives DO believe in government as is clear in this minimum wage back-and-forth and, btw,  the campaign finance reform proposal the BOS will likely pass this week.

In reality job creators and conservatives really don’t mind plans or even planners – just as long as they themselves are either are the planners or they control the plans.

In other words government working for the private sector is what Reagan conservatism is really about.  It’s why policies and protections for workers, labor their families have been systematically gutted since Reagan and his followers finally reached the pinnacle of power in 1980.  It’s why our society suffers the dangerous and increasing levels of wealth inequity.

If the spokes-people for the shy 100 contributing $10,000 on John Fullerton’s campaign finance report would like to see a higher minimum wage for all the county enacted just a little more prudently, I’m guessing that isn’t necessarily the first thought of the $10,000 100.  Which may be one of the actual reasons they are being so shy.

The $10,000 100 don’t strike me as the sensitive types – but who am I to say?  I don’t know who they are.


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The Stories 460s Tell: HCDCC Edition

Wearing my member-of-the-public hat I can disclose to you some wonderful work the HCDCC is doing on behalf of unions and state Democrats.

Reading campaign finance reports since the beginning of 2014 filed with HumCo’s election office, the most recent contributions using this admittedly user-unfriendly website, and the HCDCC’s publicly available filing ID of 761414 I’ve noticed that there are large contributions to the committee by our wonderful unions.  Here are the totals…

Date:               Amount:       Contributor:

12/30/13          $34,000         AFSCME (full disclosure – I’m a dues-paying member)

8/8/14              $33,000         California Teachers Association

8/12/14             $34,000        CA State Council of Service Employees

9/16/14             $34,000        California School Employees Association

10/10/14           $25,000        California State Association of Electrical Workers

10/10/14           $34,000        AFSCME

Total:                 $194,000

Using the same sources, here are the significant non-local outlays:

Date:               Amount:       Recipient:

9/19/14           $35,000          Solorio for Senate 2014

9/25/14           $50,000          Chavez for Senate 2014

9/30/14           $25,000          Solorio for Senate 2014

Total:               $110,000

Those are some public numbers for your perusal HumCo electorate.  Before those of you inclined to get indignant from numbers like these get too indignant, please pay close attention to the eventual campaign finance for both candidates of these critical SoCal races.  Here is one report on a major recent donation.

Money isn’t pretty in our political system.  Liberals need to learn to be as transparent and open and discuss the forces that requires these somewhat odd money-paths.  The stories about money that need to be told are not largely due to the overwhelming advantage conservatives have on this issue.  It’s time for liberals to start fighting back and explain exactly what is going on.  It’s difficult and probably pretty boring to most as it involves numbers, but the answers are in those hard-fought political campaign finance reports.

Full disclosure (part deux), in addition to being a member of the public, I am also the HCDCC Treasurer.


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Conservatives Following the Money…

Lost Coast has a miss-able article on a Willow Creek cannabis hootenanny that was framed and titled as “Cannabis Growers Raise Consciousness About Their Issues While Raising Money for Needy Families”.

Both Supervisors Bass and Sundberg joined the festivities and have now joined Supervisor Bohn and Harbor Commissioner/Weed Inc. Lobbyist Richard Marks in overt support for our black market product.

Here are some quotes from Supervisor Sundberg:

“The BBQ meeting in Willow Creek last Friday night was one of the most encouraging I have been to in a while. People from the Marijuana Industry were coordinated and knew what the issues were that they need to overcome to become a legit industry.”

and

“I let them know my view that marijuana is here, it’s not going anywhere, and we need to all talk about how to deal with the impacts now, so we can be leaders in becoming legitimate instead of accepting what out of the area people think is good for us.”

Dovetailing well with the California Canabis Voice‘s “CCV”‘s treasurer’s talking point

“Doing [regulation] right will improve the value of our land and cause the price of our products to go up. If we improve the value of our brand…if our brand is associated with best practices …those are the things you have to do to become the next Napa.”

Many conservatives, apparently with the silent and/or tacit grudging support of religious conservatives are going to start jumping on Weed Inc’s lucrative band-wagon.  Supervisor Bohn started this conservative trend earlier this year (at least to the point where I finally became aware of it), and now Virginia and Ryan are on board too.

As you four readers know,  I’ve been following Weed Inc. in local politics since I was trying to figure out how someone like Supervisor Fennell specifically and many in SoHum generally could be so wrong on environmental issues – ie the desperate need and potential amazing benefits of “smart growth”.  Commissioner Ulansey, Supervisor Fennell, Peter Childs, et. al.  pioneered what began as a liberal/libertarian crossover.  Quickly property owners/developers/etc.  discovered this new alliance and found local political influence and power with organizations like HumCPR.  Now, finally, conservatives too are channeling their inner libertarian now that real money is involved.

I think understanding this will help us wrap our head around things like local conservatives showing up for Weed Inc. hootenannies and our local Republican Party endorses people like Matt “Legalize Freedom” Heath for State Assembly.

Weed is where the money is.  Any question, just follow those that are can be defined in part by their close proximity to it.  As usual when politics and politicians follow money, the policy results will often be shallow, myopic and not in the best interests of HumCo’s long term future.

Finally – I’d like to point you to “Jaded Bob”‘s comment in this thread.  It’s about his experience in Napa and I think it points to the real problems with local economies based largely on resources only.  Liberals should be very clear on where the politics of Weed Inc. will be taking us.  It’s another in a long line of exploitative economies.  Riches for a few at a great cost for the community as a whole.


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$10,109 = 100 @ $99 and 1 @ $11.

No On R’s Campaign Finance Report (Form 460)

Pacific SeafoodPacific Seafood headquartered out of Clackamas OR and, oddly, Crystal Greene, from Beaverton OR.  really don’t want Job Creators to pay Eurekans living wages.  Pacific Seafood paid $3000 to support Eureka’s secretive organization built to stop R from passing.  Besides P.S., Charlie Bean, Matthew in the Middle, Chet Atkins, Mike Newman, the Chamber of Commerce’s Don Smullin, the money behind the campaign is doing what it can to stay anonymous.

No on R’s Treasurer found a way to pool $10,109 of donations under the catch-all <$100.  This means that $10K comes in as anonymous.

Pacific Seafood isn’t the only thing on that page that smells fishy.  (hey-oh?)

This seems very, very curious to me. I’m not sure if the FPPC is willing to look into something like this, but if you are interested in reporting this here is their web page.

The total unitemized donations comes to $10,109, or 100 Job Creators paying $99 to support No ON R and one paying $11.  Having spent a year now looking and working on 460’s, this is really an exceptional report, or the result of an exceptional fundraising tactic.

BTW, Pac Sea, do you know what else that $3K could have been spent on?  Worker’s salaries.  That amounts to 1000 hrs right there.  Thats one week of the extra cash needed to help bring 25 of your workers closer to a living wage.  With that kind of discretionary income spent opposing a little measure for a little town in Northern California, I’m wagering paying for the other 51 weeks will not be an impossible task.

****************

The good news – votes trump money.  This is going to be an exceptionally low turnout election.  Your vote and that of your friends, family and acquaintances will have more influence than usual.  The best place to take on financial report wizardly as demonstrated by No on R’s august Mr. Fullerton is at the ballot box – or – at your own mail box as vote-by-mail ballots go out this week I believe.

Additionally the Fair Wage Folks could use donations as it appears we are about to be inundated by No On R ads.  Here is their web site, and don’t be as shy as those Job Creators.  A little transparency will not burn – at least as long as you are doing the right thing.  Which the YES! On R folks are.

(Note:  You can click here or on the sub-title above to see No On R’s 460.  A special thank you note to Eureka City’s City Clerk Pam Powell and her staff who have simplified access to public campaign finance records even for those of us making a go at the intertubes.)


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It’s Not Murder

Preamble:  My thoughts and prayers to the family of Tommy McClain.  There is nothing he did up to at the very worst a few seconds before the shots that lead to his dead that warranted death.  We all know this and we grieve with you for your loss.

PART I:  My bias

Unless irrefutable evidence is brought forward, Eureka and it’s culture wars will have another wound.

I think we are all familiar with the old school/transplant divide in HumCo.  This culture divide may be something that Eureka and Humboldt have experienced since Europeans arrived here.  But it’s pretty clear the culture wars have been happening with the waves of immigrants this area has experienced within some of our lifetimes.  From the sixties “back to the landers” to the Bay Area economic refugees like myself to 100’s of others with stories that are not easily categorized.

The difference I’m experiencing on the left is not this obvious clash of cultures.  It’s a political clash of cultures which I believe is generational.  In short, I don’t share a default anti-authoritarianism which I believe stemmed from the events of the civil rights era in the south and then was repeated through the Vietnam era.  Those protests were fundamentally different, but the enemy was the same.  It was the status quo and their enforcers.

I hope everyone today see’s the righteousness of the struggles against authority and the hand of authority – the police – was in the South.  Many, including myself, see obvious echos of the protests in Ferguson this Summer.  However, I’m not sure how many of us are less impressed with the ultimate results of the anti-authoritarianism of the Vietnam era.  I’m absolutely for sticking it to the man for a war one fundamentally doesn’t believe in.  I honor and cherish the Ladies in Black who will be (update 12:20 PM – “are”)under the flag at the Courthouse again today at noon protesting our continuing wars in the Middle East and South Asia.  Having said that, there a disconnect in a reactionary anti-authoritarianism that I believe, locally, has it’s roots in the Bay Area in the 1960’s.  No evidence for that, it’s just a hunch.  That is the bias I go into this topic with.

PART II:  Some thoughts on handling Mr. McClain’s death as a community

I think it’s important to acknowledge that Tommy McClain’s death under all but an infinitesimally small possible circumstances could not be considered murder.  And it will not be considered murder when this is all said and done.

One of the first things they teach you – some would say indoctrinate you – with in the Army is the difference between killing and murder.  The officers involved in the shooting that night were on the job and their argument for the killing will be self defence – which we all acknowledge is legitimate in theory (not necessarily in this case of course).

So the question is not about murder, it’s about how a man died, should he have died, and if not how will justice be served.  These are really tough questions and most of us on the left want there to be a fair determination of what happened and consequences and actions to be meted out appropriately – importantly – including the very real option that Mr. McClain only died that night because the officer firing the shots made a mistake.

The best chance we have to find out exactly what happened and to have satisfactory justice served if there was a tragic and deadly mistake made is, ironically, to give Police Chief Mills the space to serve the public by focusing on exactly what happened that night, not on defending one of his own.

So on this Tuluwat Examiner post there are two things that jump out at me that I disagree with.  a) It’s not murder, and b) I question the power and effectiveness of a Citizen’s Review Board.  I think we need to Keep It Simple and have people focus their limited time for civic interest and activities to be focused on our employees who actually oversee (or should if they don’t currently) Chief Mills – The Eureka City Council (not on the internal dynamics of a Citizen’s Review Board which will be more easily to manipulate than the City Council).  Let’s make sure we are putting pressure on the Council for an honest and transparent investigation of what ultimately lead to an unnecessary death of a civilian by those we hired to serve and protect.  Let’s make sure that we the public – left and right – are able to wrap our heads around a situation where a mistake was made by a peace officer.  We ourselves, or even family members of ours, might have made the same mistake – if there was one – given the circumstances.  This is not to say there shouldn’t be serious consequences if it was a mistake – there should be because this potential mistake cost a life.

Rest in Peace Tommy McClain, and deepest sympathies to your family and friends.  You should still be alive today.


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The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs …

… and HumCo/CA Weed Legalization

 

I wanted to pass along this factoid I happened across this am from a 2012 Kevin Drum post.  I think it’s good to keep in the back of one’s mind as we think about weed legalization.

“Probably nobody cares about this, but there’s a reason marijuana isn’t legal anywhere in the world: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, an international treaty adopted in 1961. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under this treaty, which means it’s flatly, totally forbidden. Countries can decriminalize marijuana use, but no signatory to the treaty can legalize either use or cultivation.

So it’s not just a matter of getting either Congress or a state legislature on board for legalization. You’d have to get the United States to withdraw from the 1961 treaty, and that just isn’t in the cards. Decriminalization and wink-wink-nudge-nudge lack of enforcement are about the best we can hope for anytime in the near future.”

I’d imagine, and it is only imagining, that this is one of the unspoken and perhaps unknown reasons legalization doesn’t really come up as a subject nationally.  That and the Moral Majority.

My bias on this is I think we do need to depend on international treaties to help guide growth and development internationally given environmental concerns that don’t understand national boundaries.

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