As The World Burns: Right To Bong – 4/23/2010

After being dazed and confused last week on “420” in the midst of the deep provoking thoughts inspired by “Apocalypse Now,” I began to wonder if this will be the last time engaging in this unofficial holiday is a misdemeanor.

The debate of marijuana legalization has been one of the hottest issues that is being marginalized by the media and politicians. While the Obama Administration is trying to ignore the issue, California is taking steps to legalize and regulate this billion-dollar industry.

To continue the enforcement of a law that William F. Buckley Jr. once said “has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could,” is not only ludicrous but also irresponsible on the part of government during this troubling economy.

Regardless of what opponents say, they have failed to make any validation of what could be regarded as a rational counter argument with any factual evidence. The opposition’s argument consists of racial fears, old wives’ tales and the reefer madness concocted by Henry Anslinger (political opportunist and the first drug czar) in the 1930s.

Even then, Ansliger’s crusade was seen as a scam, and his lies were exposed when Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of New York from 1934-1945, commissioned the first scientific study regarding the effects of marijuana in 1939 (LaGuardia Commission).

The most recent study in support of legalization, “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” by the Department of Economics at Harvard University, was published in 2005. The report focused on the economical ramifications of prohibition and how legalization could benefit the economy. The study received the endorsement of 500 economists, including Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the modern age who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976.

Legalization would economically benefit communities in Northern California, where medical marijuana farming is a major source of revenue. The legalization would boost revenue and bring in tax dollars to the state government. At the same time, agencies once responsible for enforcing marijuana prohibition will now have to supervise its regulation and taxation.

From the average American to politicians to Noble Prize winning figures, the ongoing prohibition has been a blunder. If California fails to get the ball rolling on the movement of legalization, then have fun enjoying that “Emerald Kush” in the closet while watching the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
4/23/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: Right To Bong 

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Cyberbullying and its many unsavory aspects – 4/17/2010

Bullying is a problem that impacts every institution of learning. It’s common for one strong individual to torment a weaker person for entertainment. It is also a problem that has been long ignored by schools.

Sure, schools claim to have a zero-tolerance policy against bullying while embracing programs to reduce the problem. In reality, most of it has been talk only, while some anti-bullying campaigns have made it easier to identify the easy targets (like the “beat bullying” wristbands).

Bullying is a problem that can only be solved with action. All a victim has to do is confront his or her tormentor and engage the bully in a manner that will ensure the individual now has a reputation of being aggressive. However, this only works against bullies at school. There is still the problem of cyber bullying.

Traditional school bullying brings physical and emotional harm to an individual; cyber bulling causes harm to one’s reputation. As stated by Robert Greene in “The 48 Laws of Power,” a reputation defines an individual’s power, and so one must protect it at all costs.

On rare occasions have cyber bullies manipulated the emotions of an individual, which resulted in someone having an emotional breakdown. The most well known was Megan Meier, who committed suicide after being emotionally tormented online by Lori Drew, the mother of Meier’s friend.

Cyber bullying not only causes great harm but it’s also an issue that is difficult for an individual to deal with. The problem with cyber bullying is that one can’t show force or act aggressively because of the social stigma associated with fighting online. By doing so, one has dug himself or herself into a deeper hole of embarrassment. Also, most bullying is done anonymously so it is difficult to hunt down the bully in person.

Like the issue of traditional bullying, this is a problem that school districts have failed to properly handle. Too often the solutions are a pep talk to the entire school by a counselor or a teacher telling students to “be nice.”

This is a problem that only teachers can solve. It should be the responsibility of the instructor to identify students who could be the victims of cyber bullying and to work with counselors to help the student, while taking disciplinary action against students who participate in the harassment.

Or the victim could take action against those who are rumored to be tormenting him or her. The culprit may never be revealed after breaking the faces of a few individuals. This will send a message to other students that you are not a person to mess with.

Written for La Voz Weekly
4/17/2010
Original Article: Cyberbullying and its many unsavory aspects

As the World Burns: America’s Tax History – 4/17/2010

Last week, Americans paid their income taxes. Regardless of what an individual paid, the Tea Party continued across the nation fighting the Obama Administration’s socialist policy of “tax and spend.”

If you are a free-thinking individual, you, too, might have some frustrations regarding the political atmosphere in Washington. Sure, Tea Party activists are just tools of conservative think tanks and the extremist branch of the GOP. But if you could get past all the whining about “socialism” you would realize they do make a point.

The national frustration we are witnessing is simply America’s hatred of taxes, but more of a reaction to the Bush Administration. We have taxation with representation, just representatives who ignore the voters (except during election season). This nation had to endure eight years of the worst corruption in government which facilitated the economic collapse we are enduring.

To better understand how tax dollars have been used in America, one would need to do a comparison with the governments of European nations.

Up to 50 percent of the income of European citizens goes to taxes while Americans barely have to pay a fraction of that amount. The difference is that the European government ensures that their citizens have the best public services in the world, while in America we get nothing.

European nations have some of the best education systems, universal health care, and governments that look out for the best interest of its citizens. In America however, we are witnessing our education deteriorating, public transportation that is lacking infrastructure, citizens who are going bankrupt because health insurance is unreliable and a government that ignores their needs.

Correction: America has the best military in the world, since the government funds it with a large portion of our GDP. That doesn’t even count all the money that is wasted on private contractors such as paying Halliburton billions to fix a leaky pipe with duct tape (watch the documentary “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteer”).

However, if you’re a lobbyist then the government will cater to the needs of who you are representing. Thanks to some hard lobbying, Wall Street got all the deregulation it wanted just to screw over the nation’s economy.

Hard working Americans have a lot to be upset about, but rather than directing our anger at the Obama Administration we also need to hold the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations accountable for their actions as well.

If the American government continues to look out for the interest of lobbyists or their personal needs, then it will only be a few years before the oldest democracy falls prey to revolution as its citizens sit back and watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
4/17/2010
Original Link: As the World Burns: America’s Tax History