The laws are changing, but no reason to wait. On Inauguration Day, I’ll be issuing a blanket pardon for every person convicted solely of possession, use, or sale of marijuana. There are two reasons for this action. First, this is a group of people with no violent-crime conviction, so I rather doubt they pose a threat to society (except, of course for the threat of not voting Republican). The money saved in incarceration costs would be more than enough to open up treatment/rehab centers for the small percentage of these convicts who are addicts! Second, since marijuana poses a miniscule health risk in comparison with either tobacco or alcohol, it’s way past time to classify legal and illegal substances in accordance with a validated medical scale.
Oh, and I know I’ve said this before, but in addition to pardoning all the potheads, there will be an immediate end to private prisons of all types. I’ll add that there’ll be an immediate end to solitary confinement on the rather obvious grounds that it’s cruel and abusive treatment.
I’d been joking about this idea w/ friends for a while, but I’m beginning to think it warrants serious thought. I’ll appoint a team to investigate and analyze what would happen if we passed a Federal law banning any employer from providing health insurance and health care coverage to their employees. I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to discover that there’d be a fast change in insurance costs and in direct medical rates if the whole thing weren’t subsidized via corporate group insurance policies. Yes, I still intend to push for proper single-payer coverage, but this could well be a big step in the right direction.
A genuine left-wing President.
Gotta say this fella has an awful lot of good things going on. The only thing I might add here is a thought about his criminal past. Compare him with the recently departed Mandela, who was an avowed militant in his early days. People can and do change.
I make no claims that anyone could achieve as much change (or as quickly) in the USA as Mujica has done in Uruguay, but I’d certainly like to give it a go.
P.S. – click on the title for the link to the Guardian article.
I should have posted some of these promises sooner, but having watched Malala w/ John Stewart, the first statement in this post is:
There shall be no more illegal assassinations. Let me be perfectly clear (copyright RMN): every single death caused via a remotely piloted armed vehicle aka “drone” is an illegal act. If there should be a declared state of war, any means of killing combatants is allowed. But we have no declared war and we have no army as an enemy. For that matter, much as I’m glad OBL is dead, not only was that an illegal assassination, it was a blatantly illegal entry into a sovereign nation by members of our Armed Services. This is a sad thing to say, but were I President and the Government of Pakistan requested extradition, I’d send SealTeam 6 there to face charges of illegal entry, destruction of private property, and murder. I do not want the gov’t of the USA *ever* to break laws regardless of the situation.
The second statement concerns a problem within our borders: private prisons. My pledge: these will be shut down the day I take office. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for a government to abandon its responsibility not only to the public but also to convicts. The existing private prisons operate essentially free from oversight, and validated reports of abuse (not to mention kickback deals with local govt’s/courts to keep the prisons full and profitable) abound. There’s an old saying allegedly from the criminal world, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” I’ll adapt that to the people’s side: If we can’t provide proper incarceration facilities and programs, we shouldn’t convict. I recommend reading Conover’s “Newjack” , by the way.
Some of us older folks remember when software was sold on floppies that had a block deliberately damaged. This stopped copy programs from being able to dupe the software–for about a week, after which freeware tools showed up that did bit-level copying just fine. We’re now in a worse situation, with software that just plain won’t run if it can’t connect to an internet server for authentication. This is just plain wrong, and as President, I’ll make that sort of lockdown illegal. That’s right: it will be illegal to sell software (or “license” software) which requires any sort of remote authentication to install or execute. If you buy it, you own it. You get to customize it (voiding the warantee, perhaps, but not running afoul of absurd laws), duplicate it, and use it as you please. In the same vein, I’ll leave corporations free to sell “DRM-locked” software, but make it explicitly legal for the ownder to remove and/or circumvent the DRM at will.
As a comparison, just imagine buying a print book and not being allowed to write in the margin, or tear pages out, or even read it without calling Harcourt, Random, & Gesellschaft for permission every time you pick it up.
I’ve heard all the “you’ll kill the industry” counterarguments, and they’re nonsense. You need look no further than Tor, which sells all ebooks sans DRM, or to Red Hat and Revolution Analytics, two companies getting rich selling service and support for customized open-source software (GNU-Linux and R, respectively), to see that there are perfectly good business models which have no need of software lockdown whatsoever.
Every now and then, it’s fun to grab a Nixon cliche, so, “Let me say this about that.” Here goes: killing any person of any nationality in any location, save during a declared war, is illegal. Whether it’s drones, SealTeam[pick a number] or covert agents who put plutonium in someone’s lunch, it’s just plain illegal. Of course there are various individuals and non-government organisations whose goal is terrorist or other attacks on our country, but when did we (the USA) decide it’s ok to act outside of our own set of laws and morals? Think back a bit: remember the many B-grade movies and TV shows in which the bad guys were the cops who went vigilante? The 180-degree flip on that attitude is something we all should be disgusted by. (not to mention the horror of ending sentences with a preposition ).
I’ll sign off with a little comparison. Ask anyone who lived in Southie in the 70s and 80s whether Whitey Bulger committed the equivalent of terrorist acts. He’s responsible (OK, allegedly responsible) for dozens of murders. How come nobody ever suggested a CIA or military team be deployed to kill him?
I saw a recent news story that I found interesting. I’m not going to claim that every urban school can take this approach, but I would like to emphasize two points. First, having a massive, visible security system does not necessarily make the school safer, nor does it make students feel safer. Second, encouraging kids to take part in fine arts, music, theatre, etc. is a really good thing. We tend to forget about past successes, such as chess clubs in Philadelphia and choirs in NYC and Chicago, which is a shame. (Schools should also make a commitment to inclusive phys ed / exercise programs too; I’m not proposing an either/or situation here.)
One other comment about elementary education: take a look at this xkcd . Encourage your children and your children’s teachers to be open to questions.