Will Politicians Reform Democracy?
The Golden Age of Democracy?
In my historical search so far I had found scant evidence of ‘sovereignty residing at the lowest levels of authority’ or ‘political equality’ or a state of society characterized by ‘formal equality of rights and privileges’. In fact, it looks like the guy I voted for is somebody’s bitch. I was trying to reconcile this fact with the idea of democracy – is democracy really me voting for someone who then ‘belongs’ to someone else? In the prison sense of the term? I couldn’t really believe it though. Maybe I had missed something.
So, I wondered, was there a Golden Age of democracy in Canada – when the promise of democracy was borne out by the reality? Well, it turns out there was at least one session of Parliament when the MPs didn’t just roll over for the boss.
And for that we have to go back to John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, a notorious drunk, and as it turns out someone who knew how to nurse a grudge. It was only the second Canadian Parliament and Macdonald was in it up to his eyeballs with the Pacific Scandal. This was a particularly nasty bit of business where the government of the day was accused of accepting bribes designed to influence the building of the national railroad.
Anyway, the whole thing revolved around political contributions, and despite the Prime Minister’s protestations of innocence, evidence came to light that money had indeed changed hands. The long and short of it was Macdonald was forced to resign as Prime Minister and as a result had also offered his resignation as head of the Conservative Party.
Anyway, the election of 1874 found the Conservatives turfed and Alexander Mackenzie elected Prime Minister. Anyway, Macdonald, as I said, was a hard-drinker on all accounts, whose idea of a good time seemed to be getting drunk, getting mad and getting even. The Conservative Party didn’t accept his resignation and as the head of the party he turned his attention to turning the Conservative candidates into a disciplined, centralized group of “team players” who wouldn’t dare to turn on him as they had in 1873. Which really started “party discipline” rolling its way across the Canadian democratic landscape. All shaped by one pissed-off alcoholic and the results of which we’re living with today.
And for the evidence to support that statement, we only need to see what our MPs are up to today. Because in the spring sitting 2013 Canadian Parliament, Andrew Scheer, the Speaker of the House, made what was billed as a “historic” decision. Postmedia News reports that Scheer signaled (and I’m just wondering what signaled means – smoke signals, hieroglyphs, pictographs)? – that he is willing to let backbenchers deliver statements and perhaps even ask questions in the Commons without the permission of their party leadership.
The story says: “Scheer’s ruling puts the ball back in the court of MPs who have complained they are being muzzled and could have dramatic ramifications for Parliament.
It’s possible the chamber could become much more lively and unpredictable, as party whips from both government and opposition parties lose some control over MPs in their caucuses.
The ruling comes after weeks of controversy in which backbenchers in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s caucus publicly called for more freedom of speech in the House.
In total, 11 Tory MPs urged the Speaker to change the practice in which solely party whips determine which of their MPs speak in the chamber.
At the centre of the debate is a practice in which Harper’s senior parliamentary team hand-picks which of the Conservative MPs get to deliver one-minute statements before the daily question period.
Government Whip Gordon O’Connor defended the practice, saying that MPs are merely players on a “team” who must play by the orders of their “coach” or “manager”.
Sadly, I am not making this up. The evidence seems pretty clear – this is a mainstream news article no less that calls it a historic event that my MP might be able to address Parliament without the permission of their “coach” or “manager.” Even if it’s only for a one-minute speech. Where, exactly, I wondered did the ‘dramatic ramifications” come in? And, quite accurately as it turns out, it is a historic event. Because in the entire history of our Canadian Parliamentary system – dating back to the second session of Parliament – the Prime Minister, has been telling your MP what to say and how to vote. And if that’s the case sovereignty seems to be residing at the very top and certainly not at my level. So, if that is indeed the case, we can add another bit of evidence to the idea that at least in Canada, the Parliamentary system has not changed in over 140 years. Based on that, my perception is that it never will under the current system of government. As my old grandpa used to say, if you can’t do something in 150 years, it’s not worth doing at all.
And not only do we have some news article telling us about the frustrations of your MP within Parliament, but it turns out even Parliament doesn’t think that Parliament is running properly. And not only that but Parliament has been trying to address this problem for decades, as it turns out.
Power Centralized in the Prime Minister’s Office
‘Parliamentary Reform and the House of Commons’ was a report produced by Jack Stilborn, Political and Social Affairs Division, Government of Canada, on Oct. 5/2007. Jack works for the Parliamentary Information and Research Service of the Library of Parliament. In the preface to his report, under “Reasons for Reform” we find the following little tidbits:
“First, backbench and opposition frustration at the centralization of power in the hands of the prime minister and the Prime Minister’s Office has been a constant of parliamentary life for decades.
Second, concerns about the effectiveness of parliamentary institutions under modern conditions are also long-standing. The apparent ineffectiveness of Parliament’s established scrutiny and accountability functions in detecting the sponsorship scandal in advance of the Auditor General’s report in 2003 on the sponsorship program deepened these concerns, as did Parliament’s failure to detect earlier problems at Human Resources Development Canada or the firearms registry.
Third, there is a broader concern about an apparent long-term decline in public confidence in politicians and political institutions. This trend was most recently documented in a report from the Minister for Democratic Reform, released on 10 September 2007. Based on extensive public consultations, the report identifies mistrust of members of Parliament (MPs) and frustration with the operation of the House of Commons as widespread attitudes. Perhaps reflecting this trend, voter participation in federal elections has declined from the levels of 75% to 80% typical of the 1950s and 1960s, to 61.5% in the 2004 election, for example, and 64.7% in 2006. Moreover, political engagement by young Canadians has fallen to extremely low levels from a traditional 50% voter participation rate to around 25% in recent elections. These figures have led to concern about an impending legitimacy crisis relating to Parliament and politics.”
Legitimacy crisis? Mistrust of members? Decline in voters? 25% participation by young Canadians? So what did Parliament do about all this? Was there widespread concern, a series of meetings with the public, a fact-finding mission, a Royal Inquiry, new legislation or some plan of action? Did the media take up the cry? Sadly, I don’t recall seeing it.
I reluctantly read on. The “Key Themes” in the report further states:
“Until the 1970s, the dominant assumption of reformers was that the House of Commons was a legislative bottleneck and needed to become more efficient. This assumption reflected the pressures on the House created by the emergence of the modern interventionist state, with its volume of complex legislation.
By the mid-1970s, a new set of concerns had begun to arise. Parliament was seen as increasingly marginalized, reduced to rubber-stamping government legislation and spending proposals. This state of affairs was seen as a threat to the democratic character of the political process and as opening the door to unresponsive government, public disengagement and cynicism.
The post-1970s theme of House of Commons reform has been the belief that MPs need to be more independent and influential, and that this change would help to make Parliament more effective in counterbalancing the executive and more credible to the public. In the mid-1980s, the Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons (the McGrath Committee) declared, in language that could easily be used by reformers today:
The purpose of reform of the House of Commons in 1985 is to restore to private members an effective legislative function, to give them a meaningful role in the formation of public policy and, in so doing, to restore the House of Commons to its rightful place in the Canadian political process.”
So the committee in 1985 wanted to restore the House of Commons to its rightful place in the Canadian political process. Fast forward to spring 2013 and someone is telling MPs that they have to listen to their “coach”. Wow. So it didn’t look like they were all that successful did it?
Not only that but more recently and even after some three decades or more of work, we’ve seen that the modern reformers haven’t done so well either. Which backs up my earlier convictions and Robinson’s observations that institutions don’t change and that they merely continue to do what they do. But what about the bitches? What happens when they don’t play ball?
In 2013 Tory MP Brent Rathgeber quit the caucus over what he called the current government’s “lack of commitment to transparency and open government.” Which was one of the platforms Harper ran on. More transparency, not less. So if you run on one platform and then do something else, to the point where even your bitches are throwing in the towel, is there a penalty? Maybe. But you and I won’t get a say until the next General Election. Where you get to kick him out after he’s already committed Canada to billions of dollars of spending. So is it possible that someone can actually lie to get elected in Canada? And, after he lies, are there any consequences? I was always taught that there were consequences to lying. Which doesn’t appear to be the case for politicians.
So what got Rathgeber into a lather? And, again, it bears repeating here: Apparently, if the news reports are to be believed, the Cabinet isn’t even telling MPs the financial implications of bills they’re voting on anymore. So, if I’m following the bouncing ball correctly, your MP is told how to vote and what to say in Parliament to the point where his coach isn’t even telling him how much money what he’s voting on costs. Anyway, this is something I could use. Hey honey, never mind how much the new outboard costs. You don’t have to know. Just shut up and nod your head.
And what about Brent? What was his reward for his principled action? Well, he had effectively squashed his chances of becoming anything but a political nobody, in the words of a former Prime Minister, although a nobody with principles, perhaps. Because this isn’t how you get into the Royal Council and become a high-profile Cabinet Minister. Where there are buried treasures and other pirate booty just laying around for the taking.
And, lest you think I’m just strictly Tory-bashing, keep in mind that the Tories are only the latest in a long line stretching back to the inception of the Parliamentary system in Canada and chronicled in Parliamentary reports for over a century. The current Tories are just using the political system that has been exploited in this manner for over 140 years, that’s all. Wouldn’t you if you were so inclined? If you didn’t have much of a conscience?
So it’s now back to Pareto and Mosca, those crazy Italians who seemed to have more of a cynical take on democracy. Maybe they do know something. Because if they’re right our entire system is in the control of elites who are well organized, have a lot of drive and initiative but really aren’t all that interested in you and me aka the voters.
I am now at a deep impasse in not only my research but my world view. How did all of this come about? After all, everyone knows democracy is good and the commies are evil and we have to make sure the rest of the world gets free. But, here’s some people employed by Parliament, my employees really because I pay my taxes, in my modern G8 democratic Parliamentary committee trying desperately to get my duly-elected MP not only the right to speak up in Parliament but also trying to ‘restore the House of Commons to its rightful place in the Canadian political process’. And this report was from over 30 years ago. And, in three decades, nothing has changed and in fact, things seem to have gotten worse. So how did I get it in my head that somehow we were “free” and everyone else wasn’t?
And, for the answer to that, I had to look no further than Nelson Mandela, Janey Canuck, Richard Nixon, my wayward youth, my dead dad and my criminal conviction. Oh yeah, I didn’t really want to bring it up until now, but I’m a bona fide Canadian criminal. In my somewhat troubled youth I got pinched with a gram or two of marijuana and convicted. Which puts me right up there with Homolka, Pickton, Clifford Olson and Russell Williams and a bunch of other murderers and rapists.
How I got to be a criminal is an interesting illustration of democracy in action and may go a long way to explaining why we think that democracy is so good and the Commies are so bad. And this is another little story with a history – some 70 years as it turns out.
Anyway, in my youth I consumed a lot of recreational drugs – I may have had some issues as they say. And one of the more dangerous recreational drugs I did was alcohol (yes alcohol is a recreational drug – you certainly don’t need a prescription for it, do you?) And in my experience it is far more dangerous than marijuana, another recreational drug I overdid.
In fact, I could smoke pot until I turned green but the difference is alcohol can kill you in one sitting if you drink too much. The other effects of alcohol ranging from alcoholism, pancreatitis, fetal alcohol syndrome, cardiovascular disease and cancer to cirrhosis of the liver and other nasty things. In fact I saw the cirrhosis part first-hand when my dad drank himself to death.
So why would my government (via the local Liquor Board) sell my dad alcohol, which resulted in his death but call me a criminal if I smoked a joint, I wondered. How did this situation come about? More to the point, how is it that marijuana is a bad recreational drug and alcohol is a good recreational drug?
And here’s what I learned – repeat a story long enough and pretty soon it gets accepted as the truth. And, somewhere along the line I heard that if you can tell a story for 25 years, it is the truth. And it will take on a life of its own. It will become generational. So let’s have a look at how public perceptions are formed. Where does society learn all these truths?
From Terrorist to Hero
And for that we have to look no further than Nelson Mandela, a convicted criminal or world leader, depending on when you knew him. In other words before the 1988 concert in Wembley Stadium that honored him or after the concert. Every young person knows he’s one of the good guys, a world hero, right? However, before 1988 he was a terrorist. And in jail. And banned. The Mandela concert was billed as his 70th birthday party (it was months before his birthday) but it was really to press governments to accept Mandela as a rightful leader of his people.
“This is how we turned Mandela from a black terrorist into a black leader,” said concert organizer Tony Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth convinced performers like Simple Minds, Dire Straits, Sting, George Michael, The Eurythmics, Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder to perform. The concert sanitized the image of Mandela because you couldn’t have a terrorist supported by all those entertainers and one of the biggest concerts in the world, right?
“We signed with the entertainment department of television (stations). And when the head of the department got home and watched on his channel that they were calling Mandela a terrorist, they called straight to the news section to say, don’t call this man a terrorist, we just signed 11 hours of broadcasting for a tribute about him.”
The gig at Wembley attracted broadcasters in nearly 70 countries and was watched by more than half a billion people around the world, still one of the largest audiences ever for an entertainment event. And despite some broadcasters’ demands for the politics to be toned down the message got out.
Singer Harry Belafonte opened with a rousing acclamation: “We are here today to honour a great man, the man is Nelson Mandela,” he told the worldwide audience.
Nelson Mandela was released from jail 19 months later, after 27 years in prison. A second concert was later held to celebrate. So was Mandela a terrorist or a hero? It all depends on public perception. And a pretty good storyline. What were world leaders to do? Continue to treat him like a terrorist after the Eurythmics endorsed him? The terrorist label fell to public opinion. After one concert no less, although, admittedly a pretty big damn concert. But it still was a single event. And if public perception can be shaped by a single event as simple as a music concert, what other influences are we open to, I wondered?
What would happen if you repeated something for decades? And it just takes on a life of its own? Even if the whole thing was based on a bunch of bullshit – stuff that people just made up? Which brings me back to pot, Janey Canuck and Henry Anslinger and a completely different storyline. Henry was the first Drug Czar for the United States and was the point man for getting the Federal Bureau of Narcotics rolling. And, this story has a uniquely Canadian origin.
Henry was so good at what he did and was made the Director of the bureau in 1930. And most of what Henry did was tell racist stories. About negroes high on drugs having sex with white women. Stories about ‘reefer madness,’ insanity, death and murder. He even threw in some Communism for good measure. And the good people of the 1940’s ate it up as did the lawmen and legislators. Something had to be done about the negroes boinking the white women. Anyway, it turns out that Henry had actually stole these stories from a Canadian writing under the pen name of Janey Canuck and publishing articles in Macleans magazine and writing books.
In the early 1930’s, the writing was on the wall for Alcohol Prohibition in the United States (alcohol would be legalized in 1933) and it seemed that all those enforcement agencies that had been set up to combat Prohibition were going to be out of a job. However, if there was some kind of a new threat that required enforcement the budget money would flow again, careers could still be made and fame and glory could be realized. Incidentally, when I worked in a government bureaucracy, we had a term for this. It was called empire building. Anyway, Henry looked around and eventually decided that marijuana required his unique brand of empire building. Which, as it turns out, had some uniquely Canadian origins.
In Canada, Cannabis was actually added to the Confidential Restricted List in 1923, although the law was never enforced. Police in Canada actually made their first confiscation and arrest in 1937, some 15 years later, coinciding with criminalization in the U.S. Historians usually point to the 1922 publication of Janey Canuck’s (Emily Murphy’s) The Black Candle as the inspiration for the addition to Canada’s restricted list.
Murphy was a police magistrate who wrote a series of articles in Maclean’s magazine under the pen-name “Janey Canuck,” which formed the basis of her book. She used numerous anecdotes which made strong links between drugs and race and the threat this poses to white women. Keep in mind this was a Canadian magistrate writing in a Canadian publication no less. One chapter is entitled “Marahuana – A New Menace”, and makes the claim that the only ways out of cannabis addiction are insanity, death, or abandonment. And while my dad abandoned us to the great hereafter, I don’t think he did it with pot.
In the U.S. Henry was to repeat Canuck’s stories to the astounding results that we’re still living with today – including the corruption of entire countries, drug cartels, gang warfare including the killing and dismemberment of gang members, the deaths of innocent bystanders and other acts of violence. But, I’m getting ahead of things.
Anyway, empire building goes something like this – demand somehow gets created based on public opinion. Government takes this as a message to do something. If you can create your own demand and then act on it, so much the better. And because someone has to deliver the program, the government bureaucracy springs into action and budgets are drawn up. The wheelers and dealers in the bureaucracy come up with an org chart and a plan of action. Careers can be made, budget money flows and the world can be made right.
The more public demand you get, the higher the budgets, the more lucrative the positions and fame, fortune and accolades come your way. And, in the racially-charged 1930’s of the United States, what better story to sell than white women having sex with negroes of all things? Damn. Something had to be done about those god-damned negroes who were playing jazz and getting high on the muggles and then screwing the white women. And Janey Canuck had already written the storyline.
And it seems that Anslinger was born for this task. He personally got the U.S. Congress to criminalize marijuana through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Then, teaming up with William Randolph Hearst, he of the “yellow journalism” newspaper and magazine empire, they started an anti-marijuana campaign the likes of which had never been seen and all based on racism.
And you and I are still living with the results of that campaign. Because once the bureaucratic machine gets rolling, people with vested interests do not want to see it stop. Too much money is changing hands. Corruption sets in. Entrenched interests want to see things continue and expand. Hell, maybe we could even declare war. Think of the money in that.
Here are some famous quotes of Anslinger that were heavily promoted in William’s newspapers:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.
Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.
Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.
Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.
…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.
Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.
You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”
As a result of Henry’s campaign, hundreds of thousands of people have been imprisoned, entire countries have been corrupted and billions of dollars spent in North America and around the world on Marijuana Prohibition. Organized crime uses it to finance other ventures. Anyway, when I was smoking pot I never had the urge to kill any of my brothers, but maybe I just got lucky and it turned me into a pacifist instead. Lucky me. Too bad I wasn’t black, because I could have sure used some sex with white women, but most of the time that didn’t happen either.
Lies Become Reality
But, more to the point, the lies become reality. Almost ludicrous over 70 years later, marijuana prohibition is still alive and well. But surely someone would correct this situation, right? And attempts have been made. In 1967, in the United States, the Marijuana Tax Act (the basis of criminalization of marijuana) was declared unconstitutional because anyone seeking to pay the marijuana tax would have to incriminate himself to do it. To correct this error, Richard Nixon’s government enacted the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Nixon also appointed the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse to conduct a two-year study of drug use in America.
Tricky Dicky assumed the report would slag marijuana and provide support for his War on Drugs and he could go out and spend the kind of money required for a war, but before the report was finished, Nixon heard rumors that the commission was actually going to recommend legalization! Never one to take things lying down, he had a meeting with Raymond Shaffer, the head of the commission, to influence the report but to no avail. In 1972, the commission concluded that marijuana should be decriminalized. Despite the recommendation in the comprehensive report, Nixon declared War On Drugs shortly thereafter and mounted a public relations campaign that ensured support.
So how is all of this affecting us today? Are we still busting the negroes for smoking the ganja and having sex with the white women? Whatever became of Anslinger’s racist messages in this modern day and age? Surely we’ve grown up a little?
Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be case. The New York Times recently reported on a study released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
“WASHINGTON — Black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates, according to new federal data.
“…….the new data, however, offers a more nuanced picture of marijuana enforcement on the state level. Drawn from police records from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the report is the most comprehensive review of marijuana arrests by race and by county and is part of a report by the American Civil Liberties Union. Much of the data was also independently reviewed for The New York Times by researchers at Stanford University.”
This disparity had grown steadily from a decade before, and in some states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, blacks were around eight times as likely to be arrested. (that’s 800% for the statistically inclined).
During the same period, public attitudes toward marijuana softened and a number of states decriminalized its use. But about half of all drug arrests in 2011 were on marijuana-related charges, roughly the same portion as in 2010.”
“The study shows that blacks are targeted no matter where they live, where they go, wealthy or poor, within small or large black communities.”
“(Police) measure their productivity by the number of arrests they make. And so they go to the places where they can easily find marijuana by stopping and frisking people with little political risk.
“In other words, frisk a white guy coming out of a bar and watch his community go nuts and your career die. Stop a black guy and chances are nobody cares.”
“While the racial aspects of marijuana arrests are the most disturbing finding in this report, it is also significant that U.S. police are still spending massive amounts of time and resources chasing after simple pot possession.”
“Researchers said the growing racial disparities in marijuana arrests were especially striking because they were so consistent even across counties with large or small minority populations.”
So Anslinger’s original objectives from 70 years ago – the prosecution of blacks for marijuana-related crimes seems to be in full force today. Nothing has changed. Not only has the original intention of the bureaucracy not changed, neither has its operation. It’s still busting blacks for possession after 70 some years. A racist law perpetrated by racists. All started by one man with the support of the media. What has this got to do with Canadian democracy? I would say this supports my original premise that institutions don’t change their original objectives. Not after four centuries and certainly not after 70 years.
And while we’re on the topic – what are the consequences for pot-producing countries like Mexico, for example? Vincent Fox, the former president of Mexico recently appeared at a news conference in Seattle where he praised marijuana legalization by several U.S. states (keep in mind that in the U.S. the herb is still illegal based on federal law – you figure it out).
Fox said the “war on drugs” has ravaged his country. This is an entire country that has experienced drug violence. Countless deaths, beheadings, corruption and “collateral” damage – innocent bystanders caught in the drug trafficking wars.
Mexico’s drug system provides direct or indirect employment for much of its population, says Brookings narcotics expert Vanda Felbab-Brown. She estimates that as much as 40 to 50 percent of the Mexican population works in the “informal, if not illegal, economy.” Officials estimate that the drug trade makes up 3 to 4 percent of Mexico’s $1.5 trillion annual GDP—totaling as much as $30 billion—and employs at least half a million people. So much for the idea of legislating away social problems.
So does marijuana cause negroes to have sex with white women? And, for the white guys smoking pot, who are they going to have sex with, black women? And, other than the sex, is marijuana a dangerous drug – say more dangerous than that most common of Canadian recreational drugs – alcohol?
According to a study by London’s Imperial College’s chair of neuropsychopharmacology, David Nutt, the three most dangerous drugs in the world are actually alcohol, heroin and cocaine – in that order. The study “Drug Harms in the UK” was published by Nutt in one of the most prestigious English medical journals in the world – Lancet, a peer-reviewed journal. I also had to look that one up – peer review apparently means that your study must be reviewed by other experts in the field before publishing. This is in stark contrast to William Hearst’s yellow journalism where reporters just made shit up. In the study tobacco is the sixth and Marijuana is deemed the eighth most dangerous drug.
In his blog, Dr. Nutt states: “By legislating on a substance without reliable scientifically based evidence, we run the risk of causing more harm through criminalizing users than might be caused by the drug itself. The evidence on drug harms should not be sacrificed for political and media pressure. “
So here we have a guy who has identified two things as to why, in his view, governments aren’t doing the right thing. One is political pressure. If you’re “soft” on crime you might risk offending someone who is “hard” on crime, I guess. The other is media pressure. Which we’ve already seen in action changing a guy from a terrorist to a world leader or getting a drug outlawed based on someone getting high and having sex.
So how would the Canadian democracy respond to the idea that marijuana required a criminal conviction of users of the drug based on stories of white women having sex with black men? Keep in mind that Canada’s arrests for marijuana only came about only after the U.S. criminalized the drug.
And 49 years after criminalization in Canada the Le Dain commission in 1972 recommended legalization, although they didn’t mention if the black guys were still getting laid. The Le Dain Commission enumerated ten ‘social costs’ in its Cannabis report. The first and ‘most serious’ was the effect of a criminal conviction, particularly on young offenders.
“It is well established that the formal application of criminal sanctions has a stigmatizing effect on those exposed to the process, although, according to a Canadian study, this experience has almost no deterrent influence on cannabis users.” I can certainly vouch for that statement – it didn’t slow me down any. When you need your medicine you’re going to get your medicine.
Other social costs of criminally prohibiting cannabis mentioned by the Le Dain Commission include: encouraging the development of an illicit market; obliging persons to engage in criminal activities or with criminal types to supply themselves with cannabis; exposing people to more hazardous drugs by forcing them to have contact with traffickers dealing in a variety of psychotropic products; promoting the development of a deviant subculture; undermining the credibility of drug education programs; the use of extraordinary and disreputable methods of enforcement; creating disrespect for law and law enforcement generally; diverting law enforcement resources from more important tasks; and adversely affecting the morale of law enforcement authorities.
Additional social costs include the provision of an economic base for organized crime, health risks flowing from the consumption of unregulated, herbicide-contaminated products, the inhibition of research into therapeutic uses of cannabis, the erosion of civil liberties, and the criminal socialization of young persons through custodial sentences. (I think this last one means throwing a young pot user into jail with violent criminals).
And speaking of feeding organized crime, on Jul9/2013, there was a news story in the Windsor Star about the RCMP making seizing some contraband tobacco. Here’s a quote from the Inspector:
“The trade in illicit tobacco is a burden on all Canadians,” Insp. Serge Cote, officer in charge of the Windsor RCMP detachment, said in a news release. “Contraband tobacco presents a serious threat to public safety in Canada by contributing to the growth of organized crime.”
So, I’m just wondering what he thinks about the thousands of tonnes of marijuana that are routinely distributed by organized crime in Canada? I mean this was a seizure of 220 cartons of cigarettes. What about the $34 billion of illegal pot grown in B.C. every year – the infamous B.C. bud? Does that contribute to organized crime and finance other criminal enterprises? Is that a burden on Canadians? This guy figured confiscating 220 cartons of cigarettes was significant – how about $34 billion going to organized crime?
But, more to the point, what does all this have to do with democracy? And here we have the tale of two drugs – alcohol and marijuana. Two storylines brought to you by the media. Incidentally, for more on storylines you should actually see the movie “Wag the Dog” – it’s hilarious and a good lesson in how all this works.
Anyway, alcohol prohibition lasted only a decade or two in Canada (depending on which province you were in) and most provinces went wet in the 1920’s. The U.S. tried prohibition from 1919 to 1933 for a total of 14 years. What did those years teach us? That if someone wants to use a recreational drug, they will. The repeal of alcohol prohibition was due to the violence associated with organized crime.
And, just a side note and to see how stigmatized the idea of someone doing a “recreational” drug has become – I’ve had people argue with me on a strenuous basis that alcohol isn’t a drug. Which I’m sure would be very big news to the medical community. And what they really mean is that alcohol is a legal drug so it’s okay to do. Because otherwise it would be illegal and that would make me – horror of horrors – a recreational drug user.
Anyway, the idea is that Alcohol Prohibition and Marijuana Prohibition have two different storylines – the repeal of alcohol prohibition was because of all the news stories showing the violence brought about by organized criminals controlling the alcohol trade. Marijuana, a much less harmful drug on all accounts and certainly no more harmful than alcohol, is still illegal after 70 odd years and no one, least of all our mainstream media, seems to want to associate drug trafficking with the violence of the gang warfare in Quebec, for example.
What were the Rock Machine and the Hells Angels killing each other and innocent bystanders for? One of the points of contention was who gets to control the lucrative illegal drug trade. Never mind the corruption of entire nations such as Columbia and Mexico where judges, politicians and the public get caught in the crossfire. So why is it that alcohol Prohibition took only a couple of decades and Marijuana is still illegal? Public perception.
And what’s the big shaper of public perception? It’s the media. And how powerful is that? After over 70 years – that’s seven decades or almost four generations – the racist intent of the legislation is alive and well. And criminals are still getting rich and enforcement budgets are still being created. That’s how powerful the media is. Who pays for enforcement on an ongoing basis? You do. Will it help – obviously not.
So, I reasoned, could it be that democracy has a good storyline because someone is selling us the “democracy” story? If, my reasoning goes, my MPs can’t even speak unless their “coach” tells them to and yet I had thought that democracy was some great equalizing force in society where my vote actually mattered, could it be that someone had sold me the democracy storyline over my entire lifetime? Maybe even over generations? Is that even possible? Could Dr. Nutt’s political and media pressure be the driving force behind democracy’s image? And if it really is just a story, what’s the truth?
So, I wondered, is it possible that the public perception of the great Canadian democracy, the beacon of freedom to the world could be different than what it actually is and how it actually operates? Is there a precedent for an institution saying it’s one thing and then acting completely different?
Looking around I wondered if a system of government with utopian principles ever failed to deliver on the utopia it was supposed to bring? And then it hit me like a SAM smacking an F16 over Vietnam. Of course. The Commies. Autocracies disguised as Communism are a dime a dozen. The “revolution” is supposed to lead to some utopia for everyone but they can never seem to get to the utopia part.
They always seem to get hung up on the ‘transition’ part where someone has to take control for everybody’s good and guide the country to the glorious utopia at some point in the future, but not right now. Mainly due to the guy that has taken control likes the position and doesn’t want to give it up.
The Hijacking of Democracy
Could the great Canadian democracy be the same? Did it get hijacked somewhere along the way? The stated goals of democracy vs. what is actually going on? If it were possible, could this charade go on for decades or even centuries? Was Robinson actually right – that any reform of an institution that doesn’t fundamentally shift the distribution of power will be doomed to failure? Did Pareto and Mosca hit the nail on the head?
The landowners got into the party because they had some knights kicking around and the king didn’t want to fight that battle – far better to let them into the club. But, I failed to see when the serfs got into the party. Other than your vote every four years or so. Was that the extent of our participation in the system? So they give us a vote, pat us on the head and tell us we’re in charge? Is that the storyline?
So, if we take the definition of democracy as sovereignty residing at the lowest levels of authority, sovereignty, at this point in the investigation seems to be riding a little high. Like about 40 people with one guy really in charge – the guy handing out those jobs. Which would take us in the Italian direction because if that is the case and ‘democracy’ was in essence masking what was going on, it seems like the elite have a pretty good gig going. After all, it’s been a much more successful storyline than Communism, for example.
Except in China where a billion or so Chinese will tell you that their system of government is the best in the world. So what is the truth, exactly? Criminal law based on negroes having sex with white women? Democracy is better than Communism and must be defended at all costs? Is our system of government based on a bunch of propaganda like Anslinger’s and Janey’s reefer madness stories? And, if so, could the lie last through the centuries?
I recall a conversation I had with an American who was telling me the difference between Russians and Americans, as told to him by his Russian friend. The major difference, his Russian buddy told him, is that in Russia at least they realize its propaganda. Could that be it? Could democracy be nothing more than a bunch of propaganda spoon fed to me and, incidentally, the rest of the world while the organized elite with their unity, drive and initiative stand to gain vast fortunes from propagating the lie? Are we the British superpower in modern clothing?
Once again I was gobsmacked by the idea. This is definitely not what I went looking for. The very idea. Nevertheless we are going to fearlessly go where the evidence points. Because if Canadian criminal justice can be made with a storyline like negroes having sex with white women and this storyline could be spoon-fed to the public over seven decades to the tune of billions of dollars spent on enforcement, the corruption of entire countries and the criminalization of users, it seemed to me like anything was possible. Are there a bunch of other storylines out there that I’m not aware of?
At this point in the investigation I was coming to the conclusion that we have to at least entertain the idea that a modern democracy like Canada’s is being controlled by some “elites” for their own gain. And what would that gain look like, I wondered. Well, it wouldn’t be as if they were doing it for my personal well being, so it’s probably for their own good. And that would probably be measured in money and making it as fast as possible. So, I started looking around at how our democracies spend money. If I was a member of the ruling elite, what would I choose as the most fundamentally lucrative business in the world?
Something that could make me billions annually, maybe even hundreds of billions or, heaven forbid trillions and feed the most lucrative sector of the democratic economy? Something where you use a product once and then have to buy incredibly expensive replacements? Something that goes obsolete as soon as it’s built. An industry where you could operate with relative autonomy? Where a lot of secrecy would be required? What would that industry look like?
Then I saw a news article stating that Canada was spending $50 billion on some new warships and was looking to spend $35 billion on something called F-35 ‘stealth’ fighters and “attack drones”. And these were on untendered contracts! And this was heralded as a major announcement by the government of the day. A huge accomplishment.
All backed up with a shiny cool website from Lockheed Martin to convince me that this is what Canadians need. Now this sounded like something that would satisfy the criteria – something with a really good storyline. Of course, the Defence Industry! The Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower tried to warn us about. Time to hit the books again, I thought. What’s up with those guys? How do they fit into the modern democratic picture? Could it be that our incredibly brave Canadian soldiers were also being manipulated by this mysterious “elite?” I shuddered, as they say, at the implications.