Wednesday, November 11, 2009
800,000 Americans Busted Annually For Pot
By Sherwood Ross
Mon, 09 Nov 2009 17:18:00 +0000
(The Intelligence Daily) -- Seven million Americans have been arrested since 1995 on marijuana charges and 41,000 of them are rotting in federal and State prisons---but the public is starting to rebel against “the preposterous war on pot,” two political scientists say. Thousands of other pot users and sellers are confined in local jails as well.
“People convicted of possessing even one ounce of marijuana can face a mandatory minimum sentence of a year in jail, and having even one plant in your yard is a federal felony,” progressive organizer Jim Hightower and co-author Phillip Frazer point out in the November issue of “The Hightower Lowdown.”
Police arrest someone in America every 36 seconds on marijuana charges, with a record 872,000 arrests made in 2007, “more than for all violent crimes combined,” Hightower and Frazer point out. They note that 89 per cent of all marijuana arrests “are for simple possession of the weed, not for producing or selling it.”
They argue the drug war “is doing far more harm than marijuana itself ever will,” because (1) it diverts hundreds of thousands of police agents from serious crimes “to the pursuit of harmless tokers”; (2) it costs taxpayers at minimum $10 billion a year to catch, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users and sellers; (3) it enables government to snatch the cars, money, computers and other properties of people caught up in drug raids even if they have had no charges filed against them; and (4) it allows “police agents at all levels to trample our Bill of Rights in their eagerness to nab pot consumers.”
The drug war has also unleashed a torrent of racism in the form of unjust sentencing, which confines crack-cocaine users who are mostly black to prison for longer terms than powder snorters, who are mostly white.
Hightower and Frazer say authorities have perverted the infamous “Patriot Act” of 2001 for use in non-terrorism cases, allowing “sneak-and-peak” search warrants to be used in drug war probes, including pursuit of marijuana users. The Act’s provisions were supposed to be applied only for suspected terrorist acts. Only three of the Justice Department’s 763 requests for “sneak-and-peak” last year were used for terrorism searches, they report in Lowdown.
By outlawing drugs, Hightower and Frazer contend, Congress has created “a vast, murderous narco-state within Mexico” to satisfy U.S. consumer demand for the drugs. And Plan Colombia, the multi-billion operation started by Bill (“I didn’t inhale”) Clinton in 2000 to eradicate cocoa production there, has failed, judging by the 15 per cent increase in coca production.
For all the legislation against it, pot is more plentiful than ever and 10 per cent of Americans told surveyors they have enjoyed using it in the previous year while four in ten say they used it at some point in their lives. Plus, a 2005 survey found 85 per cent of high school seniors claimed pot was “easy to get”, easier than alcohol, which is a regulated drug, Hightower Lowdown points out.
The publication quotes a University of Michigan student who told them, “If the government trusts society to use alcohol responsibly, it is idiotic to assume citizens are somehow incapable of responsible use of cannabis.”
A Gallup opinion poll in 2005 found that 51 per cent of Americans stating alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana and 52 per cent saying it should be legalized, taxed, and regulated.
State and local governments, Hightower and Frazer report, “have begun walking step by step away from the weed war.” Since 1996, 13 states from Rhode Island to Alaska have passed laws to allow growing and distribution of doctor-prescribed marijuana for medical purposes. What’s more, pot possession is no longer criminalized in a dozen states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon.
The drive now is for outright legalization of pot, the authors say. This would enable officials to take the exorbitant profit and violence out of illicit black-market weed by legalizing it and turning it into a revenue-producer that would rake in tax dollars.
Instead, the Office of National Drug Control Policy says, Americans spend $9 billion a year buying pot from Mexico; $10 billion on pot from Canada, and $39 billion on home-grown pot, now America’s Numero Uno cash crop---“topping the value of corn and wheat combined.” By one estimate, legalization would produce annual tax revenues of $6.2 billion. In Portugal, which legalized all drugs in 2001, hard drug use has showed a stunning decline while the numbers of people getting detox aid has soared, Time magazine reported last April 26th. By contrast, USA has the highest rates of drug use in the world.
As Rep. Barney Frank has said, “I now think it’s time for the politicians to catch up to the public. The notion that you lock people up for smoking marijuana is pretty silly.”
There is, however, a downside to the legalization of pot: some of the individuals in the legal system who depend on the arrests of pot smokers might have to find worthwhile jobs instead. Look at all the paychecks that get cut: The cops make their collars. The bail bondsmen get their rake off. The prosecutors make their cases. The social workers write up their interviews. The clerks push their papers. The lawyers collect their fees. The judges render their verdicts. The prison guards make their rounds. The vendors sell their baloney sandwiches. The construction firms build their additions. And the shrinks nod their heads.
One last thought: cigarettes kill 440,000 Americans every year and sicken millions---but no one reportedly ever has been killed by smoking a joint. If the growers and peddlers of pot belong in jail, where do the manufacturers of brand name cigarettes and cigars belong? In two years’ time they kill more Americans than all the Blue and Grays who died (620,000) in the Civil War. Indeed, in the next two years, 440 times as many Americans will be killed by smoking cigarettes than all U.S. troops killed in six years of fighting in Iraq. While this writer opposes the use of all drugs, and does not indulge himself, it’s easy to see the prosecution of pot smokers and growers for victimless crimes is, as Hightower Lowdown (firstname.lastname@example.org) reports, “preposterous.”
(Reach the author at email@example.com. He formerly worked for the Chicago Daily News and wire services.)
By Jessica Geary
There has never been a good war or a bad peace.~ Benjamin Franklin
I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge to mankind.~ Thomas Jefferson
I am deeply anti war, I am accused of lacking "patriotism" because I don't feel that murder and destruction are conducive to a civilized humanity. I don't apologize for this. I assert that my abhorrence of war is a manifestation of my love for, not only, my country, but for humanity as a whole. To me empty jingoistic nationalism is not patriotism, it is hubris and a maniacal assertion of one's own supposed superiority. It's the manifestation of an empty soul. To accept the idea that fealty to the state is patriotic is to renounce the very heart of the American ideal of a free society. Our country was founded in the belief that the individual had natural rights and no government was divinely granted any power that infringed upon those rights. I am an un-terrified Jeffersonian Democrat, I believe in freedom and I know from history that war is the main mechanism in which the state destroys the liberties of those who live within its borders. So, let us beg the question: What is patriotism?
"...patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does and would actually promote analytical questioning in a quest to make the country the best it possibly can be." Socrates
Much like the love of my children leads me to correct them when they make a mistake and teach them to be independent, thoughtful, and polite, my love for my country leads me to want to correct it when it is wrong. To sit silently while atrocities are committed using my money and in my name makes me a compliant co-conspirator in the murder, rape, and theft the state partakes in. My love of the American ideal makes me want my country to act in accord with said ideals, not use it as a shield from criticism. The founders were critical of war, entangling alliances with other nations, and blind devotion to the state. When I question our naked aggression towards others I am carrying on the tradition of American patriotism, I am suspect of the rationalizations I hear and I won't defend the state because I am not willing to sanction their blatant disregard for human life and liberty. I am also unwilling to sacrifice my neighbor's, or my own, children on the altar of the US quest to maintain its bellicose empire. It's time to renounce the broken idea that we can make the world "safe for democracy" or "spread our goodness" by the barrel of a gun. It is not our job to police the world and it is folly to think otherwise.
"PATRIOTISM, n. 1) The inability to distinguish between the government and one's 'country'; 2) A highly praiseworthy virtue characterized by the desire to dominate and kill; 3) A feeling of exultation experienced when contemplating heaps of charred 'enemy' corpses; 4) The first, last, and perennial refuge of scoundrels."
Most self-styled patriots I have come into contact with are not patriotic, they are collectivists who derive their sense of self-worth from vicarious glory, which unfortunately is garnered by murder and torture. There is no threat to them as they sit safely at home criticizing anyone who doesn't blindly follow the talking heads that endlessly reinforce the false virtue of worshiping the state. This attacking of the character of those who oppose war is nothing new:
"But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
As a Nazi minister he was knowledgeable about the state's use of propaganda to further the war racket. The state needs external, as well as internal enemies, to tighten their control over their own people, any war will do.
The "War on Drugs" has been the excuse for the militarization of our local police forces, while the "War on Terror" is an ambiguous unending war that is used to step up the surveillance on and the restrictions of the liberties of the American people. For the state, we are the true enemies, not Muslims in the sands of a far off desert, however they need to maintain their mask of benevolent authority. They do this by enlisting the people themselves into their service by furthering the myth that they are a legitimate enterprise, that they need to go to war for the "good of the people". There has been no cases throughout the entirety of human history where war was justifiable, it has always been those in power using those they lord over as sacrificial lambs in order to keep and expand their power .
For me to follow my conscience I must leave you with this thought: By using violence in any way that is not purely defensive, we are committing an act of evil. If we break our laws in the name of justice, there is no justice. I refuse to submit to the idea that I must support the state to be a patriot, to me dissent is patriotic, as is peaceful resolution of our conflicts. Anything else is just an excuse to hate blindly. So, if this makes me unpatriotic I wear the label proudly, as it means that I think and speak for myself.
The Right to Ignore the State
by Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an incredible prophet and a magnificent defender of laissez-faire. Among his numerous works is The Man Versus The State, first published in 1884. That book launched one of the most spirited attacks on statism ever written. He ridiculed the idea that government intervention of any kind "will work as it is intended to work, which it never does." He drew on his tremendous knowledge of history, citing one dramatic case after another of price controls, usury laws, slum clearance laws, and myriad other laws which, touted as compassionate policies, intensified human misery. Below is one of his essays that explores the principles of self-government, which Henry David Thoreau defended in his seminal essay, Civil Disobedience.
The Right to Ignore the State
1. The Right to Voluntary Outlawry
As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state — to relinquish its protection, and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others; for his position is a passive one; and whilst passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally self-evident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation, without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man's property against his will, is an infringement of his rights. Government being simply an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not. If any one of them determines to ignore this mutual-safety confederation, nothing can be said except that he loses all claim to its good offices, and exposes himself to the danger of maltreatment — a thing he is quite at liberty to do if he likes. He cannot be coerced into political combination without a breach of the law of equal freedom; he can withdraw from it without committing any such breach; and he has therefore a right so to withdraw.
2. The Immorality of the State
"No human laws are of any validity if contrary to the law of nature; and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority mediately or immediately from this original." Thus writes Blackstone, to whom let all honour be given for having so far outseen the ideas of his time; and, indeed, we may say of our time. A good antidote, this, for those political superstitions which so widely prevail. A good check upon that sentiment of power-worship which still misleads us by magnifying the prerogatives of constitutional governments as it once did those of monarchs. Let men learn that a legislature is not "our God upon earth," though, by the authority they ascribe to it, and the things they expect from it, they would seem to think it is. Let them learn rather that it is an institution serving a purely temporary purpose, whose power, when not stolen, is at the best borrowed.
Nay, indeed, have we not seen that government is essentially immoral? Is it not the offspring of evil, bearing about it all the marks of its parentage? Does it not exist because crime exists? Is it not strong, or as we say, despotic, when crime is great? Is there not more liberty, that is, less government, as crime diminishes? And must not government cease when crime ceases, for very lack of objects on which to perform its function? Not only does magisterial power exist because of evil; but it exists by evil. Violence is employed to maintain it; and all violence involves criminality. Soldiers, policemen, and gaolers; swords, batons, and fetters, are instruments for inflicting pain; and all infliction of pain is in the abstract wrong. The state employs evil weapons to subjugate evil, and is alike contaminated by the objects with which it deals, and the means by which it works. Morality cannot recognize it; for morality, being simply a statement of the perfect law can give no countenance to any thing growing out of, and living by, breaches of that law. Wherefore, legislative authority can never be ethical_must always be conventional merely.
Hence, there is a certain inconsistency in the attempt to determine the right position, structure, and conduct of a government by appeal to the first principles of rectitude. For, as just pointed out, the acts of an institution which is in both nature and origin imperfect, cannot be made to square with the perfect law. All that we can do is to ascertain, firstly, in what attitude a legislature must stand to the community to avoid being by its mere existence an embodied wrong; — secondly, in what manner it must be constituted so as to exhibit the least incongruity with the moral law; — and thirdly, to what sphere its actions must be limited to prevent it from multiplying those breaches of equity it is set up to prevent.
The first condition to be conformed to before a legislature can be established without violating the law of equal freedom, is the acknowledgment of the right now under discussion — the right to ignore the state.
3. The People as the Source of Power
Upholders of pure despotism may fitly believe state-control to be unlimited and unconditional. They who assert that men are made for governments and not governments for men, may consistently hold that no one can remove himself beyond the pale of political organization. But they who maintain that the people are the only legitimate source of power — that legislative authority is not original, but deputed — cannot deny the right to ignore the state without entangling themselves in an absurdity.
For, if legislative authority is deputed, it follows that those from whom it proceeds are the masters of those on whom it is conferred: it follows further, that as masters they confer the said authority voluntarily: and this implies that they may give or withhold it as they please. To call that deputed which is wrenched from men whether they will or not, is nonsense. But what is here true of all collectively is equally true of each separately. As a government can rightly act for the people, only when empowered by them, so also can it rightly act for the individual, only when empowered by him. If A, B, and C, debate whether they shall employ an agent to perform for them a certain service, and if whilst A and B agree to do so, C dissents, C cannot equitably be made a party to the agreement in spite of himself. And this must be equally true of thirty as of three: and if of thirty, why not of three hundred, or three thousand, or three millions?
4. Subordination of Government Authority
Of the political superstitions lately alluded to, none is so universally diffused as the notion that majorities are omnipotent. Under the impression that the preservation of order will ever require power to be wielded by some party, the moral sense of our time feels that such power cannot rightly be conferred on any but the largest moiety of society. It interprets literally the saying that "the voice of the people is the voice of God," and transferring to the one the sacredness attached to the other, it concludes that from the will of the people, that is of the majority, there can be no appeal. Yet is this belief entirely erroneous.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that, struck by some Malthusian panic, a legislature duly representing public opinion were to enact that all children born during the next ten years should be drowned. Does any one think such an enactment would be warrantable? If not, there is evidently a limit to the power of a majority. Suppose, again, that of two races living together — Celts and Saxons, for example — the most numerous determined to make the others their slaves. Would the authority of the greatest number be in such case valid? If not, there is something to which its authority must be subordinate. Suppose, once more, that all men having incomes under 50 pounds a year were to resolve upon reducing every income above that amount to their own standard, and appropriating the excess for public purposes. Could their resolution be justified? If not, it must be a third time confessed that there is a law to which the popular voice must defer. What, then, is that law, if not the law of pure equity — the law of equal freedom? These restraints, which all would put to the will of the majority, are exactly the restraints set up by that law. We deny the right of a majority to murder, to enslave, or to rob, simply because murder, enslaving, and robbery are violations of that law — violations too gross to be overlooked. But if great violations of it are wrong, so also are smaller ones. If the will of the many cannot supersede the first principle of morality in these cases, neither can it in any. So that, however insignificant the minority, and however trifling the proposed trespass against their rights, no such trespass is permissible.
When we have made our constitution purely democratic, thinks to himself the earnest reformer, we shall have brought government into harmony with absolute justice. Such a faith, though perhaps needful for this age, is a very erroneous one. By no process can coercion be made equitable. The freest form of government is only the least objectional form. The rule of the many by the few we call tyranny: the rule of the few by the many is tyranny also; only of a less intense kind. "You shall do as we will, and not as you will," is in either case the declaration: and if the hundred make it to the ninety-nine, instead of the ninety-nine to the hundred, it is only a fraction less immoral. Of two such parties, whichever fulfils this declaration necessarily breaks the law of equal freedom: the only difference being that by the one it is broken in the persons of ninety-nine, whilst by the other it is broken in the persons of a hundred. And the merit of the democratic form of government consists solely in this, that it trespasses against the smallest number.
The very existence of majorities and minorities is indicative of an immoral state. The man whose character harmonizes with the moral law, we found to be one who can obtain complete happiness without diminishing the happiness of his fellows. But the enactment of public arrangements by vote implies a society consisting of men otherwise constituted — implies that the desires of some cannot be satisfied without sacrificing the desires of others — implies that in the pursuit of their happiness the majority inflict a certain amount of unhappiness on the minority — implies, therefore, organic immorality. Thus, from another point of view, we again perceive that even in its most equitable form it is impossible for government to dissociate itself from evil; and further, that unless the right to ignore the state is recognized, its acts must be essentially criminal.
5. The Limits of Taxation
That a man is free to abandon the benefits and throw off the burdens of citizenship, may indeed be inferred from the admissions of existing authorities and of current opinion. Unprepared as they probably are for so extreme a doctrine as the one here maintained, the radicals of our day yet unwittingly profess their belief in a maxim which obviously embodies this doctrine. Do we not continually hear them quote Blackstone's assertion that "no subject of England can be constrained to pay any aids or taxes even for the defence of the realm or the support of government, but such as are imposed by his own consent, or that of his representative in parliament?" And what does this mean? It means, say they, that every man should have a vote. True: but it means much more. If there is any sense in words it is a distinct enunciation of the very right now contended for. In affirming that a man may not be taxed unless he has directly or indirectly given his consent, it affirms that he may refuse to be so taxed; and to refuse to be taxed, is to cut all connection with the state. Perhaps it will be said that this consent is not a specific, but a general one, and that the citizen is understood to have assented to every thing his representative may do, when he voted for him. But suppose he did not vote for him; and on the contrary did all in his power to get elected some one holding opposite views — what them? The reply will probably be that, by taking part in such an election, he tacitly agreed to abide by the decision of the majority. And how if he did not vote at all? Why then he cannot justly complain of any tax, seeing that he made no protest against its imposition. So, curiously enough, it seems that he gave his consent in whatever way he acted — whether he said yes, whether he said no, or whether he remained neuter! A rather awkward doctrine this. Here stands an unfortunate citizen who is asked if he will pay money for a certain proffered advantage; and whether he employs the only means of expressing his refusal or does not employ it, we are told that he practically agrees; if only the number of others who agree is greater than the number of those who dissent. And thus we are introduced to the novel principle that A's consent to a thing is not determined by what A says, but by what B may happen to say!
It is for those who quote Blackstone to choose between this absurdity and the doctrine above set forth. Either his maxim implies the right to ignore the state, or it is sheer nonsense.
6. On Civil and Religious Liberty
There is a strange heterogeneity in our political faiths. Systems that have had their day, and are beginning here and there to let the daylight through, are patched with modern notions utterly unlike in quality and colour; and men gravely display these systems, wear them, and walk about in them, quite unconscious of their grotesqueness. This transition state of ours, partaking as it does equally of the past and the future, breeds hybrid theories exhibiting the oddest union of bygone despotism and coming freedom. Here are types of the old organization curiously disguised by germs of the new — peculiarities showing adaptation to a preceding state modified by rudiments that prophesy of something to come — making altogether so chaotic a mixture of relationships that there is no saying to what class these births of the age should be referred.
As ideas must of necessity bear the stamp of the time, it is useless to lament the contentment with which these incongruous beliefs are held. Otherwise it would seem unfortunate that men do not pursue to the end the trains of reasoning which have led to these partial modifications. In the present case, for example, consistency would force them to admit that, on other points besides the one just noticed, they hold opinions and use arguments in which the right to ignore the state is involved.
For what is the meaning of Dissent? The time was when a man's faith and his mode of worship were as much determinable by law as his secular acts; and, according to provisions extant in our statute-book, are so still. Thanks to the growth of a Protestant spirit, however, we have ignored the state in this matter — wholly in theory, and partly in practice. But how have we done so? By assuming an attitude which, if consistently maintained, implies a right to ignore the state entirely. Observe the positions of the two parties. "This is your creed," says the legislator; "you must believe and openly profess what is here set down for you." "I shall not do any thing of the kind," answers the non-conformist, "I will go to prison rather." "Your religious ordinances," pursues the legislator, "shall be such as we have prescribed. You shall attend the churches we have endowed, and adopt the ceremonies used in them." "Nothing shall induce me to do so," is the reply; "I altogether deny your power to dictate to me in such matters, and mean to resist to the uttermost." "Lastly," adds the legislator, "we shall require you to pay such sums of money toward the support of these religious institutions, as we may see fit to ask." "Not a farthing will you have from me," exclaims our sturdy Independent: "even did I believe in the doctrines of your church (which I do not), I should still rebel against your interference; and if you take my property, it shall be by force and under protest."
What now does this proceeding amount to when regarded in the abstract? It amounts to an assertion by the individual of the right to exercise one of his faculties — the religious sentiment — without let or hindrance, and with no limit save that set up by the equal claims of others. And what is meant by ignoring the state? Simply an assertion of the right similarly to exercise all the faculties. The one is just an expansion of the other — rests on the same footing with the other — must stand or fall with the other. Men do indeed speak of civil and religious liberty as different things; but the distinction is quite arbitrary. They are parts of the same whole and cannot philosophically be separated.
"Yes they can," interposes an objector; "assertion of the one is imperative as being a religious duty. The liberty to worship God in the way that seems to him right, is a liberty without which a man cannot fulfil what he believes to be Divine commands, and therefore conscience requires him to maintain it." True enough; but how if the same can be asserted of all other liberty? How if maintenance of this also turns out to be a matter of conscience? Have we not seen that human happiness is the Divine will — that only by exercising our faculties is this happiness obtainable — and that it is impossible to exercise them without freedom? And if this freedom for the exercise of faculties is a condition without which the Divine will cannot be fulfilled, the preservation of it is, by our objector's own showing, a duty. Or, in other words, it appears not only that the maintenance of liberty of action may be a point of conscience, but that it ought to be one. And thus we are clearly shown that the claims to ignore the state in religious and in secular matters are in essence identical.
The other reason commonly assigned for nonconformity, admits of similar treatment. Besides resisting state dictation in the abstract, the dissenter resists it from disapprobation of the doctrines taught. No legislative injunction will make him adopt what he considers an erroneous belief; and, bearing in mind his duty toward his fellow-men, he refuses to help through the medium of his purse in disseminating this erroneous belief. The position is perfectly intelligible. But it is one which either commits its adherents to civil nonconformity also, or leaves them in a dilemma. For why do they refuse to be instrumental in spreading error? Because error is adverse to human happiness. And on what ground is any piece of secular legislation disapproved? For the same reason — because thought adverse to human happiness. How then can it be shown that the state ought to be resisted in the one case and not in the other? Will any one deliberately assert that if a government demands money from us to aid in teaching what we think will produce evil, we ought to refuse it; but that if the money is for the purpose of doing what we think will produce evil, we ought not to refuse it? Yet such is the hopeful proposition which those have to maintain who recognize the right to ignore the state in religious matters, but deny it in civil matters.
7. Progress Hindered by Lack of Social Morality
The substance of the essay once more reminds us of the incongruity between a perfect law and an imperfect state. The practicability of the principle here laid down varies directly as social morality. In a thoroughly vicious community its admission would be productive of anarchy. In a completely virtuous one its admission will be both innocuous and inevitable. Progress toward a condition of social health — a condition, that is, in which the remedial measures of legislation will no longer be needed, is progress toward a condition in which those remedial measures will be cast aside, and the authority prescribing them disregarded. The two changes are of necessity coordinate. That moral sense whose supremacy will make society harmonious and government unnecessary, is the same moral sense which will then make each man assert his freedom even to the extent of ignoring the state — is the same moral sense which, by deterring the majority from coercing the minority, will eventually render government impossible. And as what are merely different manifestations of the same sentiment must bear a constant ratio to each other, the tendency to repudiate governments will increase only at the same rate that governments become needless.
Let not any be alarmed, therefore, at the promulgation of the foregoing doctrine. There are many changes yet to be passed through before it can begin to exercise much influence. Probably a long time will elapse before the right to ignore the State will be generally admitted, even in theory. It will be still longer before it receives legislative recognition. And even then there will be plenty of checks upon the premature exercise of it. A sharp experience will sufficiently instruct those who may too soon abandon legal protection. Whilst, in the majority of men, there is such a love of tried arrangements, and so great a dread of experiments, that they will probably not act upon this right until long after it is safe to do so.
8. The Coming Decay of the State
It is a mistake to assume that government must necessarily last forever. The institution marks a certain stage of civilization — is natural to a particular phase of human development. It is not essential, but incidental. As amongst the Bushmen we find a state antecedent to government, so may there be one in which it shall have become extinct. Already has it lost something of its importance. The time was when the history of a people was but the history of its government. It is otherwise now. The once universal despotism was but a manifestation of the extreme necessity of restraint. Feudalism, serfdom, slavery, all tyrannical institutions, are merely the most vigorous kinds of rule, springing out of, and necessary to, a bad state of man. The progress from these is in all cases the same — less government. Constitutional forms means this. Political freedom means this. Democracy means this. In societies, associations, joint-stock companies, we have new agencies occupying big fields filled in less advanced times and countries by the State. With us the legislature is dwarfed by newer and greater powers — is no longer master, but slave. "Pressure from without" has come to be acknowledged as ultimate ruler. The triumph of the Anti-Corn Law League is simply the most marked instance yet of the new style of government, that of opinion, overcoming the old style, that of force. It bids fair to become a trite remark that the law-maker is but the servant of the thinker. Daily is Statecraft held in less repute. Even the "Times" can see that "the social changes thickening around us establish a truth sufficiently humiliating to legislative bodies," and that "the great stages of our progress are determined rather by the spontaneous workings of society, connected as they are with the progress of art and science, the operation of nature, and other such unpolitical causes, than by the proposition of a bill, the passing of an act, or any other event of politics or of State." Thus, as civilization advances, does government decay. To the bad it is essential; to the good, not. It is the check which national wickedness makes to itself, and exists only to the same degree. Its continuance is proof of still-existing barbarism. What a cage is to the wild beast, law is to the selfish man. Restraint is for the savage, the rapacious, the violent; not for the just, the gentle, the benevolent. All necessity for external force implies a morbid state. Dungeons for the felon; a strait jacket for the maniac; crutches for the lame; stays for the weak-backed; for the infirm of purpose a master; for the foolish a guide; but for the sound mind in a sound body none of these. Were there no thieves and murderers, prisons would be unnecessary. It is only because tyranny is yet rife in the world that we have armies. Barristers, judges, juries, all the instruments of law, exist simply because knavery exists. Magisterial force is the sequence of social vice, and the policeman is but the complement of the criminal. Therefore it is that we call government "a necessary evil."
What then must be thought of a morality which chooses this probationary institution for its basis, builds a vast fabric of conclusions upon its assumed permanence, selects acts of parliament for its materials, and employs the statesman for its architect? The expediency-philosopher does this. It takes government into partnership, assigns to it entire control of its affairs, enjoins all to defer to its judgment, makes it, in short, the vital principle, the very soul, of its system. When Paley teaches that "the interest of the whole society is binding upon every part of it," he implies the existence of some supreme power by which "that interest of the whole society" is to be determined. And elsewhere he more explicitly tells us that for the attainment of a national advantage the private will of the subject is to give way, and that "the proof of this advantage lies with the legislature." Still more decisive is Bentham when he says that "the happiness of the individuals of whom a community is composed — that is, their pleasures and their security — is the sole end which the legislator ought to have in view, the sole standard in conformity with which each individual ought, as far as depends upon the legislature, to be made to fashion his behavior." These positions, be it remembered, are not voluntarily assumed; they are necessitated by the premises. If, as its propounder tells us, "expediency" means the benefit of the mass, not of the individual, — of the future as much as of the present, — it presupposes some one to judge of what will most conduce to that benefit. Upon the "utility" of this or that measure the views are so various as to render an umpire essential. Whether protective duties, or established religions, or capital punishments, or poor-laws, do or do not minister to the "general good" are questions concerning which there is such difference of opinion that, were nothing to be done till all agreed upon them, we might stand still to the end of time. If each man carried out, independently of a State power, his own notions of what would best secure "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," society would quickly lapse into confusion. Clearly, therefore, a morality established upon a maxim of which the practical interpretation is questionable involves the existence of some authority whose decisions respecting it shall be final, — that is, a legislature. And without that authority such a morality must ever remain inoperative.
See here, then, the predicament, a system of moral philosophy professes to be a code of correct rules for the control of human beings — fitted for the regulation of the best as well as the worst members of the race — applicable, if true, to the guidance of humanity in its highest conceivable perfection. Government, however, is an institution originating in man's imperfection; an institution confessedly begotten by necessity out of evil; one which might be dispensed with were the world peopled with the unselfish, the conscientious, the philanthropic; one, in short, inconsistent with this same "highest conceivable perfection." How, then, can that be a true system of morality which adopts government as one of its premises?
1 Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) was the most renowned of English jurists.
2 Hence may be drawn an argument for direct taxation; seeing that only when taxation is direct does repudiation of state burdens become possible.
Special Reports Last Updated: Apr 22nd, 2008 - 00:36:59
VA confirms 18 vets commit suicide every day
By Jason Leopold
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Apr 22, 2008, 00:19
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In a stunning admission, top officials at the Veterans Health Administration confirmed that the agency’s own statistics show that an average of 126 veterans per week -- 6,552 veterans per year -- commit suicide, according to an internal email distributed to several VA officials.
Brig. Gen. Michael J. Kussman, the undersecretary for health at the VA, sent the email, dated Dec. 15, 2007. Kussman had inquired about the accuracy of a news report published that month claiming the suicide rate among veterans was 18 per day.
“McClatchy [Newspapers] alleges that 18 veterans kill themselves everyday and this is confirmed by the VA’s own statistics,” Kussman wrote. “Is that true? Sounds awful but if one is considering 24 million veterans.”
In an email response to Kussman, Ira Katz, the head of mental health at the VA, confirmed the statistics and added “VA’s own data demonstrate 4-5 suicides per day among those who receive care from us.”
This week, in a federal courthouse in San Francisco, that email will be cited as evidence that the VA has failed to properly treat veterans who suffer from PTSD and veterans who are suicidal. Those allegations were made in a class action lawsuit filed against the VA by two veterans advocacy groups, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth, alleging a systematic breakdown at the VA has led to an epidemic of suicides.
The organizations claim the VA, which has a backlog of 600,000 benefits claims to sort through, is unprepared to deal with cases of posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and has turned away veterans who have sought help for depression at VA hospitals. Some of those veterans later committed suicide, according to the lawsuit.
The groups want a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction to force the VA to immediately treat veterans who show signs of PTSD and are at risk of suicide.
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop in a person who witnesses, or is confronted with, a traumatic event. PTSD is said to be the most prevalent mental disorder arising from combat.
According to a copy of the lawsuit filed in July 2007, “more than any previous war, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to produce a high percentage of troops suffering from PTSD,” due to the widespread use of improvised explosive devises, multiple rotations, the ambiguity of fighting combatants dressed as civilians, and the use of National Guard members and Reservists.
Those figures are now supported by a comprehensive study released by the RAND Corporation last week stating that about 300,000 U.S. troops sent to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from major depression or PTSD, and 320,000 received traumatic brain injuries.
Early warnings ignored
Prior to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the VA issued a report to Pentagon and White House officials saying that it expected that the number of U.S. troops who would suffer from PTSD would reach a maximum of about 8,000.
But Paul Sullivan, the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, told lawmakers those estimates were extremely low. He continued to sound early warning alarms about the extent of PTSD cases and the likelihood of veteran suicides during numerous appearances before Congress over the years.
“The scope of PTSD in the long term is enormous and must be taken seriously. When all of our 1.6 million service members eventually return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, based on the current rate of 20 percent, VA may face up 320,000 total new veterans diagnosed with PTSD,” Sullivan told a congressional committee in July 2007. If America fails to act now and overhaul the broken DoD and VA disability systems, there may a social catastrophe among many of our returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. That is why VCS reluctantly filed suit against VA in Federal Court . . . Time is running out.”
Sullivan has urged Congress to enact legislation to overhaul the VA.
“Congress should legislate a presumption of service connection for veterans diagnosed [with] PTSD who deployed to a war zone after 9/11,” Sullivan told lawmakers last year. “A presumption makes it easier for dedicated and hard-working VA employees to process veterans’ claims. This results in faster medical treatment and benefits for our veterans.”
Yet despite Sullivan’s dire predictions and calls for legislative action the issue has not been given priority treatment by lawmakers. Instead, Congress continued to fund the war in Iraq to the tune of about $200 billion and will likely pour another $108 billion into Iraq later next month. Meanwhile, a backlog of veterans’ benefits claims continue to pile up at the VA.
The VA said it has hired more than 3,000 mental healthcare professionals over the past two years to deal with the increasing number of PTSD cases, but the problems persist.
VA says vets not ‘entitled’ to healthcare
The lawsuit alleges that numerous VA practices stemming from a 1998 law violate the constitutional and statutory rights of veterans suffering from PTSD by denying veterans mandated medical care.
“Seeking help from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs . . . involves a two-track system,” says a copy of the plaintiff’s trial brief filed in federal court last week.
“A veteran will go to the Veterans’ Health Administration for diagnosis and medical care; and a veteran goes to the Veterans’ Benefits Administration to apply for service-connection and disability compensation.
“VA is failing these veterans as they move along both of these parallel tracks. They are not receiving the healthcare to which they are entitled (and where they do receive it, it is unreasonably delayed) and they are not able to get timely compensation for their disabilities, which means that they have no safety net. These two problems combine to create a perfect storm for PTSD veterans: they receive no treatment, so their symptoms get worse; and they receive no compensation, so they cannot go elsewhere for treatment. The failings of these two separate but interrelated systems are what this action seeks to address.”
Justice Department attorneys had argued in court papers filed last month that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were not "entitled" to the five years of free healthcare upon their return from combat as mandated by Congress in the "Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act." Rather, the VA argued, medical treatment for the war veterans was discretionary based on the level of funding available in the VA's budget.
But during a court hearing hearing last month before U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti, Dr. Gerald Cross, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration, said that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were not only entitled to free healthcare, but he said "there is no co-pay."
Additionally, Cross testified that of the 300,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars treated at VA hospitals, more than half were diagnosed with a serious mental condition, 68,000 of which were cases of PTSD.
His testimony marked the first time a Bush administration official has provided detailed information about the psychological impact of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on combat veterans. Cross testified that five years after the invasion of Iraq, the VA has still not completed a study on the link between suicides and PTSD among combat veterans. However, he said such a study is currently in the works and may be published soon.
Gordon Erspamer, an attorney representing the veterans groups, said in an interview that the VA has said publicly it is doing everything it can for veterans, but the Bush administration’s true position is “veterans are not entitled to healthcare if that is what we decide.”
“The agency is very hostile to most of these guys on mental health issues,” Erspamer said. “A lot of them who work at the VA are veterans themselves and it's the suck it up mentality. It’s a total failure of leadership and management. They were totally unprepared for this many casualties and totally unprepared for PTSD.”
Soldier’s suicide warnings ignored
Chris Scheuerman, a retired Special Forces masters sergeant, testified before a congressional committee last month that there is an urgent need for mental health reform in the military.
Scheuerman said his son, Pfc. Jason Scheuerman, went to see an Army psychologist because he had been suicidal.
The Army psychologist wrote up a report saying Jason Scheuerman “was capable of (faking) mental illness in order to manipulate his command,” according to documents the soldier's father turned over to Congress.
“Jason desperately needed a second opinion after his encounter with the Army psychologist,” Chris Scheuerman testified in mid-March before the Armed Services Committee’s Military Personnel Subcommittee.
“The Army did offer him that option, but at his own expense. How is a PFC (private first class) in the middle of Iraq supposed to get to a civilian mental health care provider at his own expense?” he said. “I believe a soldier should be afforded the opportunity to a second opinion via teleconference with a civilian mental health care provider of their own choice.”
Jason Scheuerman shot himself with a rifle on July 30, 2005. The 20-year-old’s suicide note was nailed to the closet in his barracks. It said, “Maybe now I can get some peace.”
Dr. Arthur Blank, a renowned expert on PTSD who has worked closely with the VA, testified during the federal court hearing in San Francisco last month that multiple deployments are largely responsible for an increase in veterans suicides.
"I think it's because of multiple deployments, which means one is exposed to trauma over and over again," Blank testified.
Jason Leopold is the author of "News Junkie," a memoir. Visit www.newsjunkiebook.com for a preview.
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In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.
The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization.
Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department's subpoena. (The Independent Media Center is a left-of-center amalgamation of journalists and advocates that – according to their principles of unity and mission statement – work toward "promoting social and economic justice" and "social change.")
The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.
"I didn't think anything we were doing was worthy of any (federal) attention," Clair said in a telephone interview with CBSNews.com on Monday. After talking to other Indymedia volunteers, Clair ended up calling the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost.
Under long-standing Justice Department guidelines, subpoenas to members of the news media are supposed to receive special treatment. One portion of the guidelines, for instance, says that "no subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media" without "the express authorization of the attorney general" – that would be current attorney general Eric Holder – and subpoenas should be "directed at material information regarding a limited subject matter."
Still unclear is what criminal investigation U.S. Attorney Morrison was pursuing. Last Friday, a spokeswoman initially promised a response, but Morrison sent e-mail on Monday evening saying: "We have no comment." The Justice Department in Washington, D.C. also declined to respond.
Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, replied to the Justice Department on behalf of his client in a February 2009 letter (PDF) outlining what he described as a series of problems with the subpoena, including that it was not personally served, that a judge-issued court order would be required for the full logs, and that Indymedia did not store logs in the first place.
Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn. Around the same time, according to the EFF, the group had a series of discussions with assistant U.S. attorneys in Morrison's office who threatened Clair with possible prosecution for obstruction of justice if she disclosed the existence of the already-withdrawn subpoena -- claiming it "may endanger someone's health" and would have a "human cost."
Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of The Press, said a gag order to a news organization wouldn't stand up in court: "If you get a subpoena and you're a journalist, they can't gag you."
Dalglish said that a subpoena being issued and withdrawn is not unprecedented. "I have seen any number of these things withdrawn when counsel for someone who is claiming a reporter's privilege says, 'Can you tell me the date you got approval from the attorney general's office'... I'm willing to chalk this up to bad lawyering on the part of the DOJ, or just not thinking."
Making this investigation more mysterious is that Indymedia.us is an aggregation site, meaning articles that appear on it were published somewhere else first, and there's no hint about what sparked the criminal probe. Clair, the system administrator, says that no IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are recorded for Indymedia.us, and non-IP address logs are kept for a few weeks and then discarded.
EFF's Bankston wrote a second letter to the government saying that, if it needed to muzzle Indymedia, it should apply for a gag order under the section of federal law that clearly permits such an order to be issued. Bankston's plan: To challenge that law on First Amendment grounds.
But the Justice Department never replied. "This is the first time we've seen them try to get the IP address of everyone who visited a particular site," Bankston said. "That it was a news organization was an additional troubling fact that implicates First Amendment rights."
This is not, however, the first time that the Feds have focused on Indymedia -- a Web site whose authors sometimes blur the line between journalism, advocacy, and on-the-streets activism. In 2004, the Justice Department sent a grand jury subpoena asking for information about who posted lists of Republican delegates while urging they be given an unwelcome reception at the party's convention in New York City that year. A Indymedia hosting service in Texas once received a subpoena asking for server logs in relation to an investigation of an attempted murder in Italy.
Bankston has written a longer description of the exchange of letters with the Justice Department, which he hopes will raise awareness of how others should respond to similar legal demands for Web logs, customer records, and compulsory silence. "Our fear is that this kind of bogus gag order is much more common than one would hope, considering they're legally baseless," Bankston says. "We're telling this story in hopes that more providers will press back and go public when the government demands their silence."
Update 1:59pm E.T.: A Justice Department official familiar with this subpoena just told me that the attorney general's office never saw it and that it had not been submitted to the department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. for review. If that's correct, it suggests that U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison and Assistant U.S. Attorney Doris Pryor did not follow department regulations requiring the "express authorization of the attorney general" for media subpoenas -- and it means that neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor Acting Attorney General Mark Filip were involved. I wouldn't be surprised to see an internal investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility; my source would not confirm or deny that.
Declan McCullagh is a correspondent for CBSNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter as declanm. You can bookmark Declan's Taking Liberties site here, or subscribe to the RSS feed.
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