Posts Tagged ‘minorities’

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?

December 31, 2009

What is Democracy?

What is democracy?  In the narrowest definition it is popular self-government.  It is political, it involves many people, and it requires tallying judgments to record popular decisions.  Elections are the crucial element, with the rule that majorities can never eliminate minorities from the electoral process.  However, voting is not enough.  To make political participation effective citizens need information and public associations to give them access to the system, and they need elected officials to respond.

Democracy is not everything all the time anywhere.  It doesn’t favor capitalism, socialism, or any other -ism.  It does not mean two-party politics, constitutions, a vigorous press, or voluntary associations.  Democracy does not contain cures for cruelty or oppression.  It has no exclusive claim to compassion or social responsiveness.  It has affinity with liberty, equality and fairness, but it doesn’t give reliable support for any of these.  Democracy, as Robert Wiebe writes, “reveals our humanity not our salvation.  We may not like it.”

The risks of the modern world make us realize that a collective life defines democratic citizens. Democracy can’t rely on private interests and private rights.  It is about shared purpose, community and public lives and duties.  As we realize limits to growth, we begin to understand that IT must go in SOMEONE’S backyard. “Democracy,” Robert Hiskes writes, “presumes a set of ideas about what it takes to accomplish things together and voluntarily as a matter of faithfulness and engagement – not out of force.”

The way we understand ourselves as a public is our most critical issue today.  There is widespread frustration that money rules, not citizens.  Has our American public become a myth? Our democracy was formed during colonial days when people decided what to do about common problems and acted together to implement their solutions. Citizens are powerful when they act collectively.  While we may despair of the national picture, we still act locally.  When citizens do, they are willing to act at a higher level.

Of course, local interests can be unrelentingly selfish.  Well-intentioned leaders, self-styled as “the public’s agents,” can be very contemptuous of people.  It may be because they see the “big picture” and the public through a lens of idealism, which blinds them to community interests. Yet, no argument for self-rule is as compelling as what people experience and how they cooperate with those who hold different values within local communities.  If we want democracy to flourish, we need to encourage people to grow where they were planted.

“Society in every state is a blessing,” Tom Paine wrote in Common Sense, “but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer…our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”   Functioning as private consumers and private property owners, rather than as public citizens with common or community interests would seem to make his point.  The state or a few of its leaders do not exercise public reason.  It can only occur through deliberative action, and deliberation is a joint social activity.  Thus, in the fullness of its meaning, democracy is we the people, acting together to reform or improve our shared public sphere.  Increasing participation is its indispensable goal.  As Langston Hughes wrote:

“O’ yes,

 I say it plain,

 America never was America to me,

 And yet I swear this oath –

 America will be!”

John Legry, December 28, 2001

Executive Director, (ret.)

Citizen Involvement Committee

Multnomah County, Oregon

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Thomas Paine - Author-Patriot, 1737-1809.

"The world is my country. To do good is my religion."

 

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Marijuana Papers

July 9, 2009
FIRST PAPER:
Choices.

Choices.

There are many terrible drug habits.  The worst is alcohol, in numbers of users and anti-social effect.  It is the leading cause of teenage deaths: 80,000 young Americans a year, 40,000 maimed from mixing drink and driving.  U.S. government/police statistics confirm the following:

–     100,000 alcohol-related deaths annually (compared with zero marijuana deaths in 10,000 years).

–     At least 40-50% of all murders and highway fatalities are alcohol-related.

–   Alcohol is indicated in 69-80% of all child/rape/incest and wife-beating cases.

–     Heroin is indicated in 35% of burglaries, armed robberies, grand theft auto, etc.

–     The FBI reported over 600,000 arrests for simple marijuana possession in 1997.

Approximately 50% of all drug enforcement money, federal and state, for the last 60 years has been directed toward marijuana!  70-80% of all people now in prison would NOT have been there 60 years ago.  In cultivated ignorance and prejudice we put 800,000 of 1.2 million people in jail (1998 – not including county jails) for a minor habit.  80% of them were not dealing.  In 1978 there were 300,000 people in jail for all crimes combined.

After wide cultivation for 10,000 years, marijuana was outlawed in America in 1937.  Was it because it threatened public health – or certain business interests?  Hemp (cannabis sativa) is one of the most useful plants known to man.  Its fibers make rope, sails, shirts, paper; it provides clean lighting and lubricating oils, animal feed, and is safely used in medicines.

What happened?  In the 1920’s and ‘30s, Americans became concerned about drug addiction – especially morphine and a Bayer Company “miracle drug” called “heroin.”  Most Americans didn’t know smoking hemp was intoxicating until William Randolph Hearst began a sensational campaign linking “killer weed” to jazz musicians, “crazed minorities,” and “unspeakable crimes.”  His newspapers featured headlines like:

  • MARIJUANA MAKES FIENDS OF BOYS IN 30 DAYS: HASHEESH [sic] GOADS USERS TO BLOOD-LUST

Not all shared their view.  The U.S. Siler Commission studied marijuana smoking by off-duty servicemen, found no lasting effects, and recommended NO criminal penalties apply to it.

But, the anti-hemp campaign had results.  By 1931, after two years of secret hearings Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act.  Unsure if it was constitutional to ban it outright, they taxed the plant prohibitively instead.  Growers had to register; sellers and buyers were buried in paperwork; noncompliance was a federal crime.  The tax was $100 an ounce (“legitimate” marijuana then sold for $2 a pound).  The Act ruined the legitimate industryMedical use was too expensive; doctors and pharmacists turned to chemically derived drugs.  Nonmedical uses were taxed to death and farmers stopped growing.  No brainer, it still grew wild all over the U.S.; its “illegitimate” use was little affected by Congress.

Going on four generations now, propaganda and lies have relentlessly drained taxpayer’s money to build government’s anti-drug machine and the conditions of a police state.  Virtually every state is in the midst of the biggest prison expansion ever in America’s and the world’s history, creating political vultures only concerned for the growth of their prison-related crime-fighting industry and job security.  They demand more prisons and more money to pursue this “law and order” madness against an invented crime.

We can moderate society’s problems and reject the police state by simply legalizing marijuana.  We can clear the jails, and re-employ police, court, prison and rehabilitation staff to deal with real crime and hard drug abuse.  We can put money into our schools and health care without raising anyone’s taxes.  We can also stop lying to ourselves, and end a terrible multi-generational injustice.  Let’s just say “no” to these anti-marijuana bozos.               jl, Portland, 6-05

Just Say Now (Willamette Week article on present efforts to legalize marijuana:

http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3535/12786/

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented:

http://www.jackherer.com/

SECOND PAPER:

Fresh moral dilemma in every bite!

NAMING NAMES:
Was it a conspiracy?  Was a viable industry ruined because it threatened public health, or because a few large businesses would profit from banning it?  Hemp was outlawed in 1937 just as new technology that processed it faster, producing higher-quality fiber with less cost and environmental damage than wood-based pulp, was invented.  Hemp would have undercut competing products overnight.  Popular Mechanics predicted that it would become America’s first “billion-dollar crop.  …10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [forest] pulp land.”

William Randolph Hearst had a vested interest in protecting the pulp industry.  He owned enormous timber acreage and hemp could put his paper-manufacturing division out of business and ruin his land value.  He slanted the news to protect his investments.  He led a yellow journalism campaign to outlaw hemp.  As example, a car accident in which marijuana was found dominated the headlines for weeks, while alcohol-related accidents (outnumbering marijuana over 1,000 to one) made the back pages.  Hearst popularized the word “marijuana” to introduce fear of the unknown to create a useable hysteria.

The Du Pont Company also had pulp industry interests, patenting a new process for wood-pulp paper.  Their own records show wood-pulp products as over 80% of all their railroad car holdings for the next 50 years.  Du Pont was also drastically changing its business strategy.  Primarily a military explosives maker, they realized after World War I that peacetime uses for artificial fibers and plastics would be more profitable.

Du Pont poured millions of dollars into research to create synthetics like rayon and nylon.  Two years before the Marijuana Tax Act outlawing hemp, they developed a substitute for hemp rope.  The year after the tax, they brought rayon out in direct competition with hemp cloth.  Du Pont assured Congress in secret testimony that they could make synthetic petrochemical oils to replace hemp oil.  The millions spent on research, and hundreds of millions in expected profits would be wiped out if newly affordable hemp products hit the market.  So, Du Pont worked with Hearst to eliminate hemp.

 Du Pont’s point man was Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the new Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) (out to make it big like FBI’s Hoover).  He was appointed by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, chairman of Mellon Bank, Du Pont’s chief financial backer, and Anslinger’s wife’s uncle.  Anslinger used his clout to sway congress.  When the American Medical Association (AMA) argued for hemp’s medical benefits, Anslinger led the entire congressional committee to denounce and dismiss them.

Five years after the tax was imposed, the government reversed itself when the Japanese seized Philippine hemp, causing a wartime rope shortage.  Overnight, they urged hemp cultivation and made a movie, “Hemp for Victory” – then, just as fast, recriminalized hemp after the shortage passed.  While it was legal, it saved the life of a young pilot named George H.W. Bush, who didn’t know when he bailed out of his plane that:

–     Parts of his aircraft were lubricated with hemp oil.

–     100% of his parachute webbing was U.S. grown cannabis hemp.

–     All the rigging, ropes and fire hoses of his rescue ship were hemp.

President G.H.W. Bush opposed decriminalizing hemp grown in the U. S.

Does the hemp conspiracy continue?  Doctors can’t prescribe marijuana for patients as medication for chronic pain, although one judge found, “the record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people and doing so with safety under medical supervision.”

The Anti-Drug Industry continues its ruthless disregard for truth, mercy, and facts.  The evidence of marijuana’s benign nature is fully documented.  Propaganda and greed fuel the anti-marijuana crowd, not facts or justice.

Just Say Now (Willamette Week article on present efforts to legalize marijuana:

http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3535/12786/

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented, with authenticated  copies of original materials:

http://www.jackherer.com/

“They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you’re high, you can do everything you normally do, just as well. You just realize that it’s not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.” – Bill Hicks.  

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented:

http://www.jackherer.com/