As I am wont to babel about the economy: here it goes again. President’s Bush’s economic stimulus package, which pledges to give the average tax payer a $600 rebate check sometime later this year, isn’t going to offset the negative impact produced by the net decline of 85,000 jobs in the first two months of 2008. The unemployment rate is a lagging indicator of the economy, meaning that job losses occur after the economy has already taken a downturn; or, jobs will increase only after the economy has begun to grow. That said, the evidence put forth in this poor start to 2008 would suggest that the economy is indeed in trouble.
Typically, even the promise of an effective stimulus package will uplift Wall Street and consumer confidence, thus leading to increased consumer spending and subsequently a growing economy. As you can see, the plan put forth by our fearless leader has not instilled confidence in the consumer and has not bolstered Wall Street. Therefore, it cannot be considered an effective plan.
How about something new? Legalize marijuana for economic reasons. It is estimated that the legalization of marijuana in the U.S. would lead to a $7.7 billion drop in law enforcement costs and generate $6.2 billion in tax revenue. This is a net $13.9 billion improvement to U.S. government budgets, not to mention the fact that the dollars being spent on marijuana would be included in the consumer spending category of GDP, which would improve economic measures. What the study done by Harvard visiting professor Jeffrey Miron doesn’t take into account is the improved quality of life which arises from less militant policing of a substance that’s use is fairly widespread and has less negative effects on both individual health and society than alcohol. In 2006, there were 829,627 arrests for marijuana, which makes up 43.9% of total drug arrests in the U.S. Of the 829,627 arrested for marijuana-related charges, 738,916 were for possession alone. This is in direct contradiction to the alleged philosophy of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which states, “DEA targets criminals engaged in cultivation and trafficking…”. The statistics seem to contradict the mission stated by the DEA.
If marijuana was legal, then growing and distributing it would not be a crime. Therefore, this would put drug dealers out of business. I am not so naive as to believe that the supply of drug dealers will decrease by the exact same number as the marijuana dealers who were put out of business, because some of these dealers undoubtedly dabble in other substances and others who only sold marijuana before legalization will probably sell something else post legalization. I acknowledge that there are a considerable amount of concerns centered around operation of motor vehicles and individuals going to work while under the influence of marijuana. This should be treated no differently than alcohol is presently: it is not acceptable and/or legal to operate machinery or motor vehicles, or to go to your job while under the influence of a marijuana or alcohol.
The side benefits are also quite substantial. The Cannabis plant can be used for a variety of commercial and industrial products. Paper, rope, soap, lotions, fuel and lubricants are all among these products. The crops grow well in the United States’ varied climates and are relatively easy to grow, making it an ideal cash crop. If the trend could be set by the United States, then other countries may follow suit. This could lead to a situation analogous to the one in the 18th and 19th centuries when America was exporting enormous quantities of tobacco. The trade deficit could be reduced by taking a progressive step forward, one executed with much forethought and wisdom, and enticing the world to join us on our revolutionary quest to change the prejudices of government against its society.