Another reason to hate the State: mandatory minimum sentencing

Most laws are bad and/or unnecessary.  Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are certainly no exception.

First of all, they have their roots in the anti-freedom, counterproductive drug war.  In fact the first mandatory sentencing law in the United States was intended to force judges to sentence people to jail and bankrupt them for possessing marijuana.  Over 60 years later, some local governments are finally allowing people to buy and sell cannabis without fear of state violence, but we are still stuck with these laws.

The main problem with mandatory minimum sentencing is that it shifts more power in the criminal justice system to the prosecutor.  A prosecutor’s job is to try and convict people of “crimes” and extract money from them or lock them in a cage.  An easy way to do this is just charge them with a crime that automatically carries a lengthy prison sentence, then offer to drop the charges if they plead guilty to a lesser offence that doesn’t.  Even if they didn’t commit the more serious crime or are completely innocent, a defendant is likely to take this bargain out of fear of spending years in prison.  This basically denies people the right to a jury trial in many cases.

That’s far from the only problem however.  Most of these laws are designed to lock up drug dealers, but selling drugs is not a crime because there is no victim.  So any law connected with the drug war is illegitimate from the start.

But even if mandatory minimum sentencing only applied to violent crime, it’s still unjust.  I’m no fan of lawyers in robes (judges) deciding our fate, but surely there should be some discretion in sentencing.  Is every assault really the same?  Even murders can have some nuances that should be factored in when deciding whether someone needs to die in prison.  Is killing an abusive husband the same as killing someone for money?  Do they deserve the same sentence?

If you think politicians need to be tough on crime and force judges to lock people up for decades, just ask yourself if you or someone you care about has done anything that’s considered illegal.  Possessed marijuana or some other contraband?  Shoplifted?  Committed “Fraud”?  Fired a gun where you’re not supposed to?  If you’ve done these things you could end up like these people:

  • Weldon Angelos – 55 years for possessing a handgun while he sold $350 worth of marijuana to a police informant on three separate occasions
  • Leandro Andrade – 50 years without parole for theft of nine video tapes
  • Chantal McCorkle – 24 years for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud; sentence subsequently reduced to 18 years on appeal
  • Richard Paey – 25 years for 15 counts of drug trafficking and other charges including fraud; granted a pardon in 2007 after serving three and a half years due to the circumstances of his drug use
  • Timothy L. Tyler – Life in prison for possessing 13 sheets of LSD.

Our overlords want to ban e-cigarettes

Steve Forbes makes some valid points if you care to read them here.  Indeed, the FDA is threatening the ban of e-cigs until they’re “proven” safe.  Of course that’s ridiculous.  I’m sure there is some danger from ingesting nicotine so if our rules in Washington, D.C. want to ban them, I’m sure they’ll find an excuse.

As a Libertarian of course I don’t think there should be any government restrictions on smoking of any kind.  You should be allowed to smoke unless you’re on the property of someone who won’t allow it.  That includes cigars, cigarettes, marijuana, crack, or anything else.

But the manufactured controversy over e-cigarettes illustrates two more specific things that are wrong with present day Amerika.

The first issue is this insistence by the State to almost immediately ban any new product that comes out in the market that is in some way associated with a drug that is already illegal or restricted in some way.

Someone decided to mix alcohol and caffeine and sell it?  Ban it.  It could be dangerous. After all people are too stupid to realize you can put vodka in Red Bull.  It’s not like someone saw that people were already doing this and decided to meet the demand the way Reese’s combined chocolate and peanut butter right?

Someone’s selling incense made with legal substances that when smoked gives similar effects to marijuana?  Ban it.  Chuck Schumer will have none of that.  Some people claimed that these synthetic marijuana-like concoctions were potentially more harmful than actual marijuana.  That may well be the case, but if marijuana weren’t illegal, no one would have invented these things in the first place.

Someone’s selling nicotine in a new way? Ban it. The government hasn’t studied it for ten years and forced manufacturers to pay them for the privilege of allowing them to sell it.

I’m sure in all these cases the more established beer and tobacco companies have lobbied hard for the bans.

The second issue is how people have completely lost perspective and common sense.  When governments first began banning smoking in private businesses, we were told it was to protect the health of non-smokers.  Adults were free to smoke they said, but they shouldn’t be able to do it indoors where they could make others sick.  I am quite suspicious that the dangers of second hand smoke have been exaggerated, but it’s not outrageous to believe that it’s unhealthy to spend a lot of time indoors with people smoking.  It doesn’t completely defy common sense.  After all you might cough if someone blows smoke in your face.  Your eyes might water when you’re in a smoky room.  So to save all the strippers and bartenders from lung cancer, our wise overlords had no choice but to ban indoor smoking.

But then they started banning it in parks and sports stadiums.  I’m sorry, but you really have to be an idiot to think you’re going to suffer health effects from being in the same park where people might be smoking.  It’s outdoors for Christ’s sake!  It’s only mildly inconvenient if you’re sitting right next to a smoker and you don’t like the smell.  That’s not even an issue in a public park because you can get up and move!  This was just about inconveniencing and ostracizing smokers and also handing out tickets to generate more revenue for local governments.

But now e-cigarettes?  There is no smoke involved yet “health organizations” want them banned indoors.  This defies common sense in almost every way you can look at it.  These are tobacco control advocates calling for these bans, but there’s no tobacco involved in e-cigarettes.  They cite reports by government agencies to support this ban, but these reports just say they haven’t studied them so they can’t certify them as safe.  They don’t offer any evidence that they’re dangerous. These e-cigs don’t give off smoke so there aren’t any “second hand smoke” health effects.

And now the FDA threatens to ban them outright because they might be dangerous, yet anyone who thought about it for 2 seconds would have to conclude that there is about 0% chance that they’re more dangerous than real cigarettes which would of course remain legal!

This whole “controversy” is about the State controlling you and crazed nanny-state zealots who are convinced that no one should be able to enjoy nicotine in any way, even if it’s enjoyed in a way that literally can’t bother anyone else.


Hey white people, police are not your friends

Two policemen were murdered in Brooklyn over the weekend.  The man who killed them was black, and apparently he was upset by the recent killings of black men by police.  I reject violence in every instance other than self defense.  It is never justified to murder someone.  It is certainly not justifiable to murder cops sitting in their parked patrol car which is what allegedly happened in this case.  The State claims the right to kill people.  I do not.

Now that I’ve made clear my aversion to violence, let’s just stop with the nonsense about there being a “War on Cops” or that we need to feel sorry for police in general.  I’m white, and I’m as tired as anyone of hearing all this crap about “white privilege,” and how I’m somehow responsible for the average black person being poorer than the average non-black person due to my skin tone.  But just because black race hustlers like Al Sharpton and their white liberal ass kissers are all mad at cops lately doesn’t mean cops are good. They’re not.

Police do not exist to protect citizens.  They exist to enforce laws passed by the State.  It is irrelevant to them whether the laws or moral or whether they will actually benefit the community they supposedly serve in any way.  Therefore taking the job of a police officer is in itself immoral.

What does a typical cop spend the majority of his time doing?  Pulling over people for minor traffic infractions (regardless of whether there was actually any safety issue involved) and issuing them fines for this, harassing and arresting people for victimless “crimes” (selling drugs, sex, or untaxed legal items), and filling out reports after an actual crime or accident.  Just ask yourself if a cop has ever protected you from anything.  Has one even helped you in any significant way?  Do you feel safer when a cop pulls up behind you in his car or knocks on your door?  The police are armed revenue collectors and government enforcers.  They are not public servants.

And in case there are any racists reading this who flat out hate black people and think it’s great that cops harass, beat, or kill them, just wait until it’s you or one of your white buddies.  Don’t think it can happen?

Feds at least partially responsible for Ferguson, MO uprising

I have to wonder if the National Government in Washington actually likes these violent eruptions  like we’re seeing in Ferguson, MO

Now based on what I’ve read so far, it appears the local cops started this by unnecessarily killing an unarmed black teenager who they were harassing for the non-crime of jaywalking.  They then escalated the situation by responding to protests with taunts and military style tactics:

But here’s why I think the Feds are partially to blame for this and similar situations:

Ferguson was a white suburb 20 years ago.  Now it’s a black suburb.  Why?  These rapid white to black demographic shifts tend to happen because of Section 8 housing.  A big city like St. Louis will tear down one of their run-down, crime-ridden housing projects leaving a bunch of poor blacks homeless.  The Feds give them Section 8 housing vouchers, and then entice realtors to build a bunch of low-income housing where they further subsidize the rent.  It’s usually cheaper to build these cheap apartments out in the Suburbs than in a big city where property is generally more expensive.  So these newly homeless blacks find new homes in a previously white suburb.

White people generally don’t like to live among a large black population.  Whether you think this is some terrible evil or just a natural human desire to live among your own kind is irrelevant.  It’s a fact.  So a large percentage of the white people leave town until it becomes majority black.  However, some white people stay, and these are usually the ones who have the most to lose by leaving, i.e. the ones who control the local government.  So now you have a white government with a white police force in charge of a majority black town.  Kind of like a small scale 1980s South Africa.  This is a recipe for disaster.  It likely wouldn’t happen without Uncle Sam.

The other reason the Feds share some blame in this is their policy of arming local police departments like they’re waging war in Fallujah.

Washington has also been employing millions of young men in their terror war for the last 13 years.  Upon returning to civilian life, these people realize they aren’t qualified for any productive job that pays a decent salary, so they become cops.

So now you’ve got a bunch of local white cops patrolling a black town, armed better than the marines were a generation ago, many of whom actually were marines involved in occupying Iraq earlier this century.  What could possibly go wrong?

As I said at the beginning of this post, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Feds like these types of events.  There are already calls for the “Justice” Department to come to the rescue and clean up the local government’s mess.  Believe it or not, among some idiots Eric Holder might actually come off as a hero in all this.  And in general, civil unrest justifies the whole Department of Homeland Security’s very existence.

God Bless America.

Nevada Bundy Ranch vs. Occupy Wall Street

The State managed to arrest close to 8000 Occupy Wall Street protesters when they finally decided to crack down on them for sleeping in “public” parks.  Needless to say these mostly well meaning people realized none of their goals.  The Banksters are still firmly in charge of their beloved government despite their misguided efforts.  I doubt anyone involved in the OWS movement would suggest otherwise.

Clive Bundy had about 1000 supporters protesting the State’s seizure of his cattle.  The State backed down in his case.  They gave him back his cattle and left him alone (for now anyway).

What’s one important difference between OWS and the Clive Bundy supporters?  Bundy’s supporters were armed.

I admit that’s not the only reason Bundy appears to have been successful in his standoff with the Feds while OWS accomplished almost nothing.  If 1000 armed men had stormed into downtown Manhattan and demanded that Goldman Sachs give back all the money they’ve stolen from the American people, I’m sure a good number of them would have been gunned down on the spot.  So it’s not as if the OWS people could have just all carried guns and had things work out for them.  The fact that the Bundy clan was trying to protect their own property rather than just squat in “public” parks in densely populated cities is a key factor here.

Still, imagine if a few thousand hippies camped out in the desert to hand out copies of the Communist Manifesto and rail against Capitalism.  And imagine this land had been a known hippy campground for generations. And imagine it was land the US government decided to claim as their own and wanted to collect fees for its use, or protect some turtles that lived there, or build a Chinese wind farm.  Do you think they would think twice about just rounding up those hippies and hauling them off to jail if they were interfering with whatever the Obama administration had determined was the land’s best use?

Obviously a shootout between the Feds and the armed Bundy supporters would have been a slaughter.  The regime in Washington has way more fire power.  But what many critics of the US government on the Left fail to understand, is that the public relations debacle that would occur if the Bureau of Land Management murdered a bunch of gun toting right wingers trying to protect their property would be so great, that the mere presence of an armed citizenry can be a bulwark against tyranny.  Obama doesn’t want another Waco in the internet age.

It’s ironic that most in the OWS movement probably would advocate the complete abolition of private gun ownership when it should be obvious that a completely disarmed citizenry would render any significant protest movement impotent.  They need to understand that the State only understands the threat of force.  It’s what their entire existence is based on.