Posts Tagged ‘marijuana’

Predictions

November 11, 2016

No more gridlock! With Republicans controlling all three branches of government, we will see action on all kinds of fronts.

I realize that making predictions is a fool’s game, but I’m writing down what I expect to see in order to test myself. Nothing would delight me more than to be wrong on many of these prognostications… but we’ll see.

Health care. Obamacare is toast. Mostly we will revert to the status quo ante, which was not good. The one piece I can’t quite foresee is whether Republicans will repeal the law requiring insurance companies to insure everybody, regardless of pre-existing conditions. The one piece I am sure of is that they will repeal the mandate that everybody buy insurance. Without that mandate the economics of the insurance-based system don’t work, especially if the insurance companies have to insure everybody. Obamacare tried to patch up the existing system; it was questionable whether it could succeed even if encouraged. We’ll never know! I predict that health care will be in crisis within Trump’s first term. Eventually (in the next decade) we will end up with single-payer insurance, which we should have had in the first place.

Trade. Not much will change. There will probably be a show of saber-rattling, maybe with China, but Republicans are the party of big business and business interests are strongly for maintaining the status quo. .

Immigration. Not much will change. There will be an early show of building a wall—a Potemkin wall about 10 miles long somewhere in Texas. Immigrants, legal and illegal, will continue to come, but there will be a great reduction in the number of refugees accepted through legal processes. The millions of immigrants living without papers will continue doing as they have done; they will not be deported—business and farming interests will make sure of that–nor will they be given a path to citizenship.

Tax reform. Taxes will be cut, especially for the rich along the lines of Paul Ryan’s proposals. This will result in huge deficits, which will result in legislation cutting programs for the poor. The deficits will continue to mount until we reach a financial crisis.

Infrastructure. We will finally get money for roads and bridges. This will last until huge deficits catch our attention, probably in 2-3 years.

Regulation. The regulatory apparatus of the federal government will be reduced in every area, but especially regarding banks and financial institutions, consumer protection, and the environment. The impacts of these changes will be diffuse and hard to measure, except regarding banks and financial institutions, where they will inevitably create a crisis that will require a bailout. How long before this happens is hard to predict, but that it will happen is as close to a sure thing as we know. Banks and financial institutions have not learned how to regulate themselves; and Republicans both hate regulations and love banks and financial institutions.

Climate, coal, solar. Attempts by the federal government to slow climate change will end. Problems with climate change will continue to grow (as they probably would even if we did our best). I can’t foresee how cataclysmic the problems will be, nor how soon they will become cataclysmic. The coal business in America will continue its death spiral, as fracking spreads (with less regulation!) and keeps the price of energy low. Solar and wind energy will grow due to their efficiencies and also because some large states (California) will subsidize their use.

Social issues. Abortion will continue unabated, though perhaps the Supreme Court will allow more restrictions in Southern states. Gay marriage will be universally accepted. There will probably be more latitude for people and institutions to discriminate by, say, refusing to bake a wedding cake or make facilities available for gay marriages, but people will care less and the issue will all but disappear. Marijuana legalization will continue to spread; problems with illegal drugs like heroin will also continue to grow. Over all, America will continue to move toward more liberal and hedonistic values, as seen on TV.

Social Security and Medicare. There will be benefit cuts. Social security’s finances will be stabilized, probably by raising the age of retirement; and Medicare will continue to grow hugely more expensive, prompting even more cuts. See Health Care, above.

Foreign relations. Not much will change. There is no appetite for “boots on the ground” nor for a policy that enables Iran to build a nuclear bomb. The world will be slightly friendlier for dictators, but they weren’t doing badly before. Terrorism will continue unabated for the foreseeable future; the problems of the Middle East will continue and the refugee crisis will grow.

The unknown. By definition, the unknown cannot be predicted, except for this: we will be confronted by problems that we do not anticipate. Some possible areas: financial meltdowns, events of nature (storms, earthquakes), cyber disasters, terrorism, war. But there may well be categories that we don’t even know exist. How will the new Republican/Trump administration respond? That is hard to foresee, but recent history does not encourage a rosy view of Republicans’ ability to cope with reality. For the last eight years Republicans running Congress have majored in outrage, not in governance. And President Trump has no experience in governance at all. He does not seem to be a calm and measured person. The category of “unknown” is by far the most frightening of all—as it always is.

 

 

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Got Drugs?

April 19, 2010

Among the letters this morning to my local paper, The Press Democrat, was this one from a city council representative. I quote it in full:

EDITOR: There will two forums Saturday at the Saturday Afternoon Club in Ukiah to discuss the possibilities and potential economic consequences of statewide legalization of marijuana. I encourage interested citizens on all sides of the issue as well as all supervisorial candidates to join this discussion.

“The Future of Cannabis in Northern California” is scheduled for 1 p.m.-4 p.m., and “What’s After Pot” is schedule for 7 p.m.-10 p.m.

A ballot measure called the “Tax Cannabis Act” has qualified for the November ballot, and polls show that its passage is likely.

How will Mendocino County position itself in the event of state legalization to gain needed tax revenue but to avoid losing the market to large corporate growers in the Central Valley?

Are there opportunities to develop an Emerald Triangle brand that would become known for exceptional quality and ecological superiority?

Our growing region has a multiple-decade head start in the cultivation of this crop. Could this expertise fend off a precipitous fall in the price of marijuana on the open market?

The questions are many, and as a candidate for 3rd District supervisor, I think it is very important that everyone have a seat at the table in this important discussion.

HOLLY MADRIGAL

City councilwoman,

Willits

I think marijuana will be legalized in California this year. Ms. Madrigal is ahead of the curve,  already concerned about the economic implications for her constituents–negative, if Central Valley factory farms seize the market; positive, if Mendocino County can  establish and brand its reputation for a superior product.

As everybody in our part of the world knows, Mendocino County already depends on marijuana cultivation for a large part of its economy. That’s why I think the initiative to legalize marijuana will pass. Dope is already  in the mainstream. Few are seriously trying to fight against it. Legalization will merely certify what already exists,  allow it to be taxed, and (probably) eliminate the role of gangs in growing and and selling it.

Those are short-term benefits, real ones. We don’t know what the long-term effects will be, though. We don’t know whether drug use will increase, and we don’t know the impact on people’s health and welfare. It’s a gamble, frankly, but a gamble that we have already tacitly decided to take in California. It’s very similar to the end of Prohibition: the prohibitors are tired of fighting, and the general population is sick of the waste and abuse and hypocrisy of the war on drugs.

I graduated from high school in 1968. In one year I went from hardly knowing anyone who had smoked marijuana to hardly knowing anyone who hadn’t. Even so I can honestly say: I never dreamed that I would see this day.