Liberals – we must save the poor and the weak from marijuana legalization

Ross Douthat has a particularly odious OpEd in the New York Times: Pot and Jackpots

Yes, he’s talking about marijuana and casinos.

But both have been made possible by the same trend in American attitudes: the rise of a live-and-let-live social libertarianism, the weakening influence of both religious conservatism and liberal communitarianism, the growing suspicion of moralism in public policy.

And both, in different ways, illustrate the potential problems facing a culture pervaded by what the late sociologist Robert Bellah called “expressive individualism” and allergic to any restrictions on what individuals choose to do.

So he feels that he needs to express his concerns, and (as a conservative concern troll) the concerns all liberals should have regarding the impact of such a thing as marijuana legalization.

But liberals especially, given their anxieties about inequality, should be attuned to the way that some liberties can grease the skids for exploitation, with a revenue-hungry state partnering with the private sector to profiteer off human weakness.

This is one reason previous societies made distinctions between liberty and license that we have become loath to draw — because what seems like a harmless pleasure to the comfortable can devastate the poor and weak.

Ah, yes, because the poor and the weak have been doing so well under prohibition. It’s just been a walk in the park for them, dodging SWAT teams and drug dealers and having parentless children.

Ross is a conservative trying to get liberals to take his bait — tap into their often reflexive anti-libertarianism, and appeal to their concern for the poor and the weak — but he’s done so in a manner that’s a bit too obvious.

However, there are liberals (and I can think of some who we’ve discussed here) who actually would be quick to take the bait – the arrogant do-gooders who think that the unwashed masses are incapable of making their own decisions, and therefore should have a strong well-off person make those decisions for them. Interestingly, if someone made the exact same argument about women needing men to protect them from themselves, those same liberals would probably be appalled.

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33 Responses to Liberals – we must save the poor and the weak from marijuana legalization

  1. claygooding says:

    How can the poor be protected by prohibition when they are the ones filling our prisons and the middle class filling our drug treatment facilities because they have the money to hire an attorney and pay the court costs?

  2. Matthew Meyer says:

    Interesting that Douthat is talking *about* different people than he is talking *to*.

    “It’s not you, the affluent liberals we are worried about… It’s those brown and black people you are always trying to protect…”

    Way to call him on the clumsy pandering, Pete.

    • kaptinemo says:

      And this is part of the reason why I do not trust ‘Progressives’, of any sort, then or today. Let us not forget it was during the so-called ‘Progressive Era’ of the early last century that mired us in this mess.

      And as to Mr. Douthat, perhaps if he’d done some research on his own, he would have learned his chosen topic had already been the subject of a speech nearly 20 years ago: The History Of The Non-Medical Use Of Drugs In The United States, A Speech to the California Judges Association, 1995 annual conference
      by Charles Whitebread, Professor of Law, USC Law School

      from the Conclusion section of the speech:

      “Have you ever seen the rhetoric that goes around the gambling prohibition? You know what it is. Look, we have had a good time. We have been together yesterday, we have been together today, I have known a lot of you guys for ages. How about after the talk, we have a minute or two, let’s go on up to your room and we will play a little nickel, dime, quarter poker. Want to play some poker this afternoon? Why not? It’s a nice thing to do.”

      “Would we be outraged if the California State Police came barreling through the door and arrested us for violation of California’s prohibition on gambling? Of course we would. Because, who is not supposed to gamble? Oh, you know who is not supposed to gamble — them poor people, that’s who. My God, they will spend the milk money. They don’t know how to control it. They can’t handle it. But us? We know what we are doing.

      “That’s it. Every criminal prohibition has that same touch to it, doesn’t it? It is enacted by US and it always regulates the conduct of THEM. And so, if you understand that is the name of the game, you don’t have to ask me, or any of the other people which prohibitions will be abolished and which ones won’t because you will always know. The iron law of prohibitions — all of them — is that they are passed by an identifiable US to control the conduct of an identifiable THEM.” (Emphasis mine – k.)

      Mr. Douthat is showing, once more, why we have this mess to begin with: the insufferable arrogance of those conceited enough to believe they know what’s best for their fellow citizens…and will use the (inevitably, blood-stained) machinery of The State against those who don’t agree with them to accomplish their wet dreams.

      • kaptinemo says:

        Oh, and if in case there’s any doubt, I am not in support of Mr. Douthat’s premise(s). He’s not a conservative but just another cookie-cutter NeoCon, a Trotskyite trying to wear a Goldwater suit, but the heavy hammer-and-cycles of his former ideological masters keep ripping holes in the pockets, revealing the Statist body armor and weaponry underneath…and what he’d like to do with them is no different than those he supposedly opposes have done. He and his ilk are but one side of the same coin of governmental force and fraud…

      • Matthew Meyer says:

        Man I love that speech by Prof. Whitebread.

  3. Russell Olausen says:

    Comic logic by a blue blood . Quite delirious.

  4. capo says:

    And how can an immoral institution like the Drug War industry ever hope to achieve a moral result?

  5. Jean Valjean says:

    So we’ll help them out financially with some hefty fines and “treatment” costs, and maybe a little free board and lodging if they don’t get it the first time.
    (Pete, glad you spotted Douche-hats “liberal” play. Sounds like Sabet’s M.O.)

  6. DdC says:

    The government is the enemy of irresponsible profits. The rednecks, or PC teabogs just follow blindly hoping for a bone to be tossed their way. When the Libertopians realize their umbilical cord is attached to wall st maybe they will see the “government” is a word for a collective of people elected or appointed to govern for the best interest of the people. Profits are opposite of that and therefore Libertopians, and GOPerverts are the enemy of Americans. The democrats appeasing them and the blue dawgs siding with them are just as guilty as those who follow willingly. Money is the root of all evil. Money has bastardized the Constitution for multi National corporations with no allegiance to Americans. Money buys disease to sell treatments and prohibit remedies. Money buys corporate employees elections and judges and school boards. Censoring school books teaching ignorance to dumb down dissidents. Money is a fine bartering tool for trading goods made of molecules and atoms.

    Money is harmful when it buys the truth and spreads gossip in the name of a free press. Selling products. Profits on health care is a no brainer for incentives to make more money by creating more things unhealthy. Pollution to Star Wars, drones and lies to Iraq, all for profits. Can’t legislate profits without buying elections and gerrymandering the elections electronically or geographically. None of it is too hard to see. Just too hard for most to give up their piece of the pie. Just for the sake of Democracy. Profit is the new Mother of Invention. Treatment profits while cures and prevention take it away. Checks and Balances are a gimmie with humans. Ask any animal, humans are crazy. They can’t control themselves when given god like powers. They try to govern individuals and not the laws protecting individuals. Those laws they’ve discarded for profits cutting overhead.

    Dumping hazardous waste into rivers or outsourcing, prison labor and scabs growing daily trading long term security for short term survival. Homeless deterrents to whistle blowers. Cut food stamps and farm the hungry kids to foster care profiteers. Living room sweatshops, bible thumping anti choice brainwashing. While the crop dusters dumps 90 million pounds of Big Ag monsatan poisons all over the land of cotton. Aborting more in the think tank wars. Sweet poisons Aspartame and Saccharin, GMO, DDT, PCB, Agent Orange and Diet Green dumped on the Colombian kids and their pregnant mothers. How do you spell enough? Alphabet channels reading memo’s from their corporate sponsors and their parent corporations best vested ignorance. Inbedwith whom ever it says. Cop-shops lobbying for more war on citizens and more cages built instead of schools. More money perpetuating harm than there ever is in Peace. Money Can’t Buy Love but it can buy a whole lot a Hate. Happiness is why we bust our ass making money. Or it comes from a simple act of random kindness. If the people lead, the leaders will follow. If the people follow blindly they trade their liberty for fossil fools pathetic profits. As corporatists rake in record levels, billions they reap and they get subsidized from food stamps cut for hungry pregnant women and kids. The Fascists are in the building while trolls spew deceptions. Maybe some Anonymous puterwhiz could trace their ISP’s to the Sabotage Foundation. Shock Jock headlines, induendo, slander, gossip mis quoted, basically a low paid parasite, GOPolytick or Aleech in the Dick Armey. Tricky Dick and the Gipper’s deciples.

    Occupy Wall Street ‏@OccupyWallStNYC
    WARNING: YouTube Rant
    Wall Street pays Congress. Congress pays Wall Street.

    • Windy says:

      DdC wrote:
      “Money is the root of all evil.”
      Incorrect. It is the LOVE OF MONEY, which is at the root of all evil. Please use the whole quote instead of just a part of it. Using just part of the quote skews the meaning.

      Beyond that, as a libertarian I disagree with most of what you wrote.

      • DdC says:

        Windy if you have something to counter what is written by all means feel free to post it. This troll crap of Nancy just say no denialism sucks… As much as John Birch.

        If i wanted the original quote I would have posted it. It does not apply. It makes it seem as if all of this corporatism is from a run a muck out of control love of money when it is common business. It is money creating the opportunity to do evil, not just lusting for it or a misnomer love of it. Dumb quote anyway, the person says he doesn’t love their money doesn’t have any. Money is a tool for the good or evil. Not just the love of it. Evil doers with money do evil. I don’t think evil doers have love as one of their capabilities.

        10 Corporations Control Almost Everything You Buy —
        This Chart Shows How

        Ten mega corporations control the output of almost everything you buy; from household products to batteries to food.

        According to this chart via Reddit called “The Illusion of Choice,” these corporations create the chain of supplies that flow from one another. Each chain begins at one of the 10 super companies.

        Here’s just one example: Yum Brands owns KFC and Taco Bell. The company was a spin-off of Pepsi. All Yum Brands restaurants sell only Pepsi products because of a lifetime deal with the soda-maker.

        $84 billion company Proctor & Gamble owns companies that produce everything from detergent to toothpaste. Unilever produces everything from Dove soap to Klondike bars.

        It’s not just the products you buy and consume, either. In recent decades, the very news and information that you get has bundled together: 90% of the media is now controlled by just six companies, down from 50 in 1983, according to a Frugal Dad infographic from last year.

        The inbedwith dis-infotainment: Gaza to Iraq

        High on Hemp

        or Fossil Fools Crud

        Hemp Products…Schedule#1 Narcotics.jpg

  7. Servetus says:

    “…the rise of a live-and-let-live social libertarianism”, et al? Is Ross Douthat trying to confuse the reader with a word that sounds similar to ‘libertinism’? ‘Libertarianism’ is different, despite the adjectives Douthat places in front of it.

    Libertine was a word coined by John Calvin (1509-1564) to denote someone who was amoral and driven exclusively by earthly pleasures, like Caligula. Regarding Douthat, Calvin considered “looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels”. Unfortunately, Calvin also believed that “knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ”. Thinking was not on Calvin’s agenda, as he noted “There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence”.

    Calvinism typifies the non-thinking, anti-science, prohibitionist mind-set we see today, even though fear and loathing of mind altering substances is something deeply rooted in the Nicene creed of Catholicism beginning in the 4th century CE.

    As a 16th century Protestant Reformation revivalist, Ross Douthat appears forever stuck in a black-and-white snapshot of a world that no longer exists.

  8. ezrydn says:

    Professing themselves as wise; they show their stupidity. Ever read that one, Ross?

  9. Duncan20903 says:


    Q) How many prohibitionists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    A) None. Aren’t the liboralz always yapping about saving the environment, now they want us to burn more energy with lightbulbs? Isn’t that just like a liboral?

  10. allan says:

    even as a little kid that loved stories… chicken little got old quick. It still loses it’s value if told repeatedly.

    What about the chilluns? Hey, we didn’t come up with The Seed and Straight Inc. Nor did we raid Goose Creek School w/ guns drawn. And we don’t shoot kids’ dogs…

    I do appreciate however how substanceless the prohib blows have become. I mean effectively we’ve shut Calvina’s lips (tho’ we know who her marionette is). And it looks like the cannabists in FL may have Ms Fay busy on her own home front. (interesting to note that the only substantial opposition money to our efforts here in OR have come from Calvina’s SOS org)

    As far as Mr DoubtThat… I defer to Servetus’ comment above. In fact when I read it I was thinking ‘damn, I was just going to say that.’ heh…

    I feel not a shred of pity for their dark, lost souls… so empty are their lives they need to mess with other folks… tsk tsk tsk. I’m hoping Darwin handles their micro-specie, with dispatch.

  11. N.T. Greene says:

    …of course there is profit in sin! Why do you think it is so popular among criminal enterprises?

    So… We better just let the criminals handle it so we don’t get our hands dirty, right?

    …sorry, this is just absurd. Underlined, bolded, italicized absurd.

  12. Randy says:

    It’s funny how moralists like Douhat never ponder whether it is moral to criminalize actions and behaviors that are neither violent nor a violation of another’s rights. It crossed my mind some years back that to do so violates the commandment to not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    • N.T. Greene says:

      I am sure Jesus would just shake his head at the world today and say, “despite the fact that may name, my words, and the commandments of my father are so often invoked… Woefully few of you truly understand them.”

      He would then go on to explain that you’re a person regardless of age, sex, gender, creed, IQ, country of origin, etc… He would preach tolerance and temperance.

      And temperance, despite the movement of the same name, is the virtue not of abstinence but of self control.

  13. allan says:

    OT… while twits like DoubtThat spew about saving the po’ fo’k frum demse’ves the rich under the guiding hand of Barack Obama continue to pillage the village with things like secret trade pacts:

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership: A Trade Agreement for Protectionists

    And from my the-more-I-learn-the-madder-I-get file:

    Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars

    • Pete says:

      Mark won’t be happy with that one.

      • N.T. Greene says:

        This is the first time I recall a news source this major recognizing the difference in impairment at all — and this one actually gives details:

        “For the most part, marijuana-intoxicated drivers show only modest impairments on road tests. Several studies have suggested that drivers under the influence of marijuana actually overestimate their impairment. They slow down and increase their following distance. The opposite is true of drivers under the influence of alcohol.”

        And this is the New York Times! Sure, it’s an editorial, but… it’s a Times Editorial!

        And there is the alcohol/marijuana substitution bit. Did they just imply that marijuana availability was somehow related to teenage drinking? What about that 5% reduction in beer sales?

        All of a sudden, numerous people realized one of the combatants in the War on Drugs: the companies that sell the legal drugs. The companies that stand to take a sizable hit on sales if they have competition from drugs that people might just… like more than theirs.

        Maybe the Times should look up Portugal’s policy on drugs…

      • darkcycle says:

        Yeah…that was my thought, too.

  14. Esoteric Knowledge says:

    It is a manipulation to claim they are protecting you while they take your rights away by banning marijuana and online poker.

  15. Dave in IL says:

    “In 1990, casino gambling was still concentrated in Nevada and Atlantic City. Then came the rise of Indian-reservation gambling; then came casinos with no tribal fig leaf. Today 23 states have commercial casinos, and the old model of casino-going as a what-happens-in-Vegas excursion has given way to casino-going as routine entertainment”

    What Ross fails to mention is that gambling used to be controlled largely by the mob. Ever see Casino with Deniero and Pesci. You want those guys to move back in to gaming? That is exactly what happens when government bans an activity (or substance) that some people want to partake in. Organized crime will ALWAYS fill the void. If you don’t like to gamble or smoke marijuana, that’s fine. Don’t do it. But just realize that prohibition is a gangster’s best friend.

    On a personal note, I work part-time in a casino. As a security officer/EMT, to be exact. I do see some pretty sad, shady stuff. But I also see a lot of people attending conventions and a lot of people who are just stopping by for a night out. Some people don’t gamble and just stop by to eat at a restaurant or buffet. Most people who come are not problem gamblers and no one forces them to come to the casino.

    Douhat infers that casinos are bad for a region’s economy, but I question the accuracy of the (obviously faith-based) study he cited. Beyond property taxes, the casino I work in pays a tax for every patron that enters the casino. Aside from that, the rest of his op-ed is a paternalistic rant.

    Legal, regulated gambling is above ground and safer than the alternative. The same will be true for legal, regulated marijuana markets. But that is what Douhat is probably afraid of. He’d rather endanger people than allow them to be adults apparently.

  16. primus says:

    More paternalistic ignorance. Surely this is what the founding fathers foresaw when they tried (unsuccessfully) to limit government power. What they were unable to forestall was the gutting of their ‘declaration of independence’.

  17. Servetus says:

    America has a love-hate relationship with the poor. The capitalists love to point to the poor on city streets and say to people, “see, this will happen to you if you don’t work hard and vote for us”. When the economy fails, the poor conveniently get the blame for all the economic catastrophes that occur. It’s Occupy’s fault, etc.

    For most of its history, America has followed Malthus’ approach on how societies should deal with their poor, and thereby limit the population of undesirables. The following explains the use of vice-laws like those we see in drug prohibition:

    “ For the lower ranks of humans, vice and birth control were the means by which their numbers could be limited – but Malthus believed that these were insufficient to limit the vast numbers of the poor.

    The positive checks were famine, misery, plague and war; because preventative checks had not limited the numbers of the poor, Malthus thought that positive checks were essential to do that job. If positive checks were unsuccessful, then inevitably (he said), famine would be the resulting way of keeping the population down. Before starvation set in, Malthus advised that steps be taken to help the positive checks to do their work. He wrote” :

    Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all, we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases: and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders. If by these and similar means the annual mortality were increased … we might probably every one of us marry at the age of puberty and yet few be absolutely starved.

    What Malthus advocated is nothing less than genocide, AKA eliminationism, since a segment of the poor are also likely to be social outcasts based not on their inability to perform useful work, but rather due to being relegated to a lower social caste based on out-group skin color, political, cultural and religious affiliations.

    During the eugenics movement in the 1930s, reproductive sterilization was employed in the U.S. and in other developed countries on designated criminals and alleged ne’er-do-wells. Inhumane medical experiments were performed at Tuskagee. Imprisoning people during their most fertile years of reproduction and social development for nothing more than ridiculous drug charges would be a typical Malthusian approach. There’s a reason it’s called a war. It’s obvious the drug war has played its deadly Malthusian role in the U.S., and it continues to do so, as the drug war rages on in places such as Mexico and North Africa.

    • kaptinemo says:

      I’ve been arguing for over a decade that the Wo(S)D, although not originally intended to be, has also become a means of population control in Developing Nations, particularly in this hemisphere, given that the massive use of highly destructive herbicides like RoundUp (and the threatened use of even worse things like Fusarium) to destroy drug crops would inevitably contaminate the soil to such an extent that it cause massive damage to local ecosystems and was bound to cause starvation and result in social unrest.

      (Not to mention the physical damage caused to victims by exposure; always remember that nerve agents are just high-powered insecticides. No real difference, chemically, and no difference to those exposed to it; they suffer and die just as easily from RoundUp as they would from Sarin…it’s just that Sarin is much, much quicker.)

      Just about every reformer, seen and unseen, have done their homework and know the DrugWar has never been linear, it’s exponential, with layers and levels of intertwining complexity that boggle the mind. It acts as a cover-all for a great many sins, too numerous to count. Real motivations such as hatred, prejudice, greed, etc are all covered under the rubric of ‘saving the childreeeeeeeeennnnnnn!’ and are often hard to definitively nail down.

      But as the old saying goes, “You will know them by their works.”. Much of the social and political unrest in our Southern neighbors is directly attributable to the DrugWar. That social and political unrest has led to the unreported deaths of tens if not scores of thousands – if not a few millions – of Indigenous Peoples who happen to be sitting on top of resources that some corporation wants. The kind of people eugenicists would wipe out en masse if they could get away with it using faster methods.

      Oh, yes, the eugenicists are alive and well and still in operation, and some of them occupy some very high positions within this and other Developed Nations governments. And the DrugWar is the best camouflage they could ever have hoped to use to hide their agendas.

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