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The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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There’s another proposal to legalize marijuana being marshaled for the Nevada ballot, this time under the guise of “regulating marijuana and making it harder for kids to get.”

It’s tempting to say they never asked me for my opinion. In fact, though, people keep doing so. And I keep saying the same thing.

Yes, I understand the focus groups fail to show 50 percent support when you just talk about “re-legalizing drugs; the War on Drugs does more harm than good; it doesn’t stop drug use (even in the prisons) and it violates the 9th Amendment.” I understand the polling (presumably) climbs over 50 percent when you talk about capturing more tax revenues and “doing a better job of keeping drugs away from kids.”

Nonetheless, the current effort fails on three counts:

1) Misdirection rarely works. The lawyers tried it with a couple of ballot issues here last time around; us ink-stained wretches blew the whistle on their duplicity and they failed. Even if you have a partial success, people will feel betrayed when they find out; they’ll turn on you and you’ll have lost ground because in future they’re less likely to listen to you even when you deliver the STRAIGHT case for drug freedom. Better to fight on principle even if you lose in the short term. The truth is the truth and you sleep better at night.

Focus groups gave us “New Coke.” I’m sure randomly selected focus groups would choose mint mouthwash over single malt Scotch. But would that convince you to fill a Laphroaig or Lagavulin bottle with mint mouthwash and try to sell it for $65?

2) If such a scheme WERE to work, you’d be setting up a new tax-collection bureaucracy and feeding the state more money. Are we in favor of a larger bureaucracy with more money to spend? (This measure doesn’t talk about reducing other tax rates to make legal pot “revenue-neutral.”) Entrepreneurs without government contracts (which would eventually go to huge agribusinesses that would likely do to the quality of pot what they’ve done to supermarket tomatoes) would be MORE likely to be jailed.

Anyway, the G-man who starts salivating when he spots the money river represented by the pot and cocaine trades need to be told, “Awww, you’d like a piece of that? Well then maybe you SHOULDN”T HAVE BEEN PUTTING PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR GROWING AND MARKETING USEFUL PLANT EXTRACTS FOR THE PAST 70 YEARS, IDIOT! As your punishment, you CAN’T HAVE ANY OF IT! Bad doggie; bad doggie.”

3) Finally, if this monster child ever were to succeed, the proponents would then be responsible for a legal environment in which a 20-year-old man could and would be more likely to go to jail for “supplying marijuana” (sharing a joint) with his 17-year-old girlfriend. We’re sworn on the altar of freedom to oppose such piffle.

All that’s required to end the War on Drugs is for the courts and the executive branch -- and especially juries -- to acknowledge that it’s barred by the 9th Amendment, and therefore all such laws are null and void under Marbury vs. Madison.

This would happen instantly in any nation that still honored and observed the Constitution of 1787. No, I don’t know how to restore that knowledge and faith. I just know that promising to put more people in jail for “supplying marijuana” to 17-year-olds -- kids who are qualified to fight and die in Iraq -- isn’t a step in the right direction.


It seems someone out there still wants the size and cost of state government to keep growing till it consumes every penny of our wealth -- though of course we’ll see massive hyperinflation and a general depression long before that.

The union group Nevadans for Nevada is sending paid workers and volunteers to locations where taxpayers are being offered a chance to sign petitions for the Tax and Spending Control Initiative. There, they intend to harass voters and keep them from signing.

On the other hand, those who want to do their part to further the quite modest TASC proposal (to limit state budget growth to the official inflation rate plus the rate of population growth, combined) can drive to Bob Beers campaign headquarters, 4905 Alta Drive just west of Decatur Boulevard, and sign the darned thing any time between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., weekdays. (Weekend hours vary.)


The book “Freakonomics” was a minor hit recently, despite the authors’ inability to prevent their statist assumptions from creeping into their work. (I will cite examples in future, if there proves to be any appreciable demand.)

Now, authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt have taken to wriiting an occasional column of the same name, which shows up on these pages, well ... occasionally.

Unfortunately, their statist tendencies remain uncorrected.

Lamenting that the IRS is “not nearly as tough and cruel as it should be,” this sadistic pair in an April 9 missive honored IRS kleptocrat John Szilagyi, who in the early 1980s suggested cracking down on taxpayers who -- the IRS brain trust believed -- were claiming deductions for dependent children who either did not exist, or who were, more properly, fur persons.

Szilagyi suggsted making taxpayers obtain and enter a unique Social Security number for any child they wanted to claim as a dependent. “Initially, there was a lot of resistance,” Szilagyi, now 66 and living on your looted paychecks in Florida, told the authors. “The answer I got was that it was too much like ‘1984.’ ”

Like that would STOP them?

Needless to say, by 1986, they’d made it law. “He and his bosses were shocked,” the Freakonomics authors report. As of the following April, “Seven million dependents had suddenly vanished from the tax rolls, some incalculable combination of real pets and phantom children. Szilagyi’s clever twist generated nearly $3 billion in revenue in a single year.”

Leaving aside the question of how much harm the central government wreaked with those extorted funds, note the premise: All the dependents who had been claimed before this change, who were not claimed thereafter, must have been fictitious.

Not one single American parent, the authors would have us believe, refused to brand their child with a lifetime tax slave identiity number, in exchange for a bounty of a mere hundred or so dollars. Not a single parent simply stopped seeking a modest deduction for a real child, rather than number him.


An alert reader points out that the state treasurer’s list of unclaimed property recently published in the Review-Journal includes an entry under “Dario Herrera.”

Drop something in that men’s room at Jaguar’s, commissioner?