Reason Writers Arguing for Prop. 19 on TV: Matt Welch on Varney & Co.


This morning, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch explained to a skeptical Stuart Varney of Fox Business Channel why he thinks Prop. 19 is the most consquential issue at stake in Tuesday's election. Five minutes, with an O. Henry twist at the end:

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  1. I think Varney’s somewhat in denial. He thinks that this time it will different, that the GOP will let the small government types stay the night. But we won’t even end up getting a goddamn walk of shame- we get sent home in a cab after sex.

    1. In other words, you’re saying, “It’s a trap!”


    1. Yep. Get ready for anal probes at TSA. I knew it was only a matter of time..

      1. Now who can argue with that?

  3. This is a tough call. Prop. 19 is a yes-or-no in the biggest state, while the deficit is just quantitative. And it’s true that the election of legislators both in Congress and the legislatures of many states that have their own fiscal crises doesn’t necessarily decide anything. However, how the votes go in those elections does seem to say a lot about voter sentiment on what does appear to most to be the biggest looming issue.

  4. Why don’t they just rename Fox Business FOX News 2? I recently got the network for the first time because I switched cable companies. Previously, I’d only been able to watch Stossel and Napolitano’s show on YouTube. Whenever I turn it on they’re talking about the Tea Party. Maybe it’s different in the middle of the day when the stock markets are open.

    Thanks for posting Reason appearances on the site though. Please keep this up.

  5. Most excellent, Matt. Varney would only say that he didn’t believe it is the most important issue. Otherwise, I believe you convinced him that legalization is the moral position.

    1. I believe you convinced him that legalization is the moral position.

      If that was his goal in the first place, that’s something right out of The Art of War.

  6. Overwhelmed! But not overly convinced.

    I agree with Matt’s assertion that, after their triumphant return to power in the House come January, no real change can be hoped for from the Repugs regarding deficit spending. But I also don’t think the passage of Prop 19 would bring any real change either. I would be surprised if the Feds didn’t move assets to Cali to make up for any of local law enforcement who didn’t want to enforce Federal regulations against marijuana.

    The economy is the number one issue at stake on Tuesday, all things being equal. And all things are equal as far as potential for change is concerned.

    1. Actually gridlock is going to be a welcome change. 2 Years of congress sitting around with their thumbs up their asses is much more preferable to them throwing another trillion at the banks. Maybe the market will finally be able to adjust itself without the government injecting it full of uncertainty.

      1. Hopefully Welch and I are both wrong on a Repuke Congress’s impact and you are right, and we get to find out that Matt is right on Prop 19.

        It’s Halloween. It’s the season of miracles.

        1. And uninhibited sluttery. I love it.

      2. The only GOOD gridlock happens when Democrats block Republicans from accomplishing anything. Otherwise, it’s just Republicans throwing a tantrum because Obama is president.

        1. Good trolling, absurd yet forceful. We give the contestant a 5.7 out 6.0.

    2. But I also don’t think the passage of Prop 19 would bring any real change either.

      I gotta disagree there. The feds have something like 5,000-6,000 DEA agents to cover the entire country, compared to an order of magnitude more California police officers. They can move all the resources they want, and it still won’t be anything more than symbolic and arbitrary.

      I basically see it unfolding just like Prop 215 did — and it’s hard to argue that didn’t ultimately have a major effect on marijuana policy in California and a bunch of other places.

      1. I very much hope we get to find out that I’m wrong on that.

  7. Embed code isn’t working. Can you get them to fix? Want to blog this. Great job, Matt! Always hard when they give you the pressure of “Say everything in 30 seconds.”

    1. Au contraire! I love it when they tell me how much time I have….

      Amy, the Fox Business Channel apparently has the video up, with embed/share functionality (Emmanuelle I think linked to it on her Facebook).

      1. How do we know this is the real Matt?

        1. How do we know that guy in the video was the real Matt? I didn’t see any vest…

          1. I’m moving away from the vest.

            1. Impostor!

  8. Chunk Thomas the “Tea Party-ist” candidate. It’s mock campaign adds a comedian friend of mine put together.

  9. Matt, well done!

  10. finally a talking head with passion on the individual liberty aspect. also on the de-facto already legal meme from the statist. the other night on old riley, stossel (who is a horrible debater) couldn’t get a word in edge wise. get matt on that show to explain to the prohibitionist that it is not a joke for the 800,000 a frickin year that get arrested.

    1. Agreed about Stossel — I’m glad he’s been given a platform for some good positions, but he just isn’t all that great at expressing himself, in person or with the written word. Welch had exactly the right mix of coherence and zeal here. Good stuff Matt.

  11. Since I have come to the conclusion that it will take a revolution to restore our rights, I also have come to the conclusion that Prop 19, and others like it, are the best way to counterpunch against the current government. I fervently hope it passes.

  12. Nice job, Matt. I think it’s fair to say that Yes on Prop 19 would have immediate, resounding positive consequences. Washington will be theatre (even more)for a while. The national elections are merely a break from the terror wrought by DC to the economy by our rulers.

  13. Oh, and Cheech and Chong on Monday. where do they stand? Dave? Dave’s not here.

  14. So he had no answer to your arguments, but was not convinced that you were right? I guess he prefers being a stubborn idiot rather than someone who listens to reason.

  15. Great job! I’m convinced. I’m probaby just being dense, but I didn’t notice an O. Henry twist.

    unless… are you talking about the fact that some on the company agreed with you ?

    1. Mostly the Cheech & Chong thing.

    2. They cut out that part – Varney gave Matt a bong for Christmas, only to find out he doesn’t actually smoke pot, and Matt gave Varney a copy of Sullum’s Saying Yes, only to find out Varney can’t read.

      1. Late, as always. I need to be quicker with my lame jokes.

  16. Well done, Matt. Not sure why Varney kept pressing you on the “most important issue” thing, as if that makes any difference.

  17. That “we already have de facto legalization” argument infuriates me every time I hear it. Why are so many people arrested on pot offenses every year? Why are so many people in prison? Why are criminal gangs fighting so viciously to control the black market? Varney clearly hasn’t tried to buy pot since 1978 or so.

  18. You should have tried to tie together legalization with the economy, government spending and deficit since decriminalization helps all of those things

    1. the response to the “defacto” argument should always be, “only for white people.”

      1. More to it than that. I’m white, and if I wanted to buy pot now (which I haven’t in decades), I would have no idea where to go. And trying would be much more dangerous and difficult than, say, buying whiskey.

        1. That sure won’t sell it.

          1. It’s unlikely to be an issue in Texas anytime soon anyway.

    2. If I would have gone econ, I would have mentioned (aside from the $40 billion price tag on the Drug War) that dispensaries are one of the only growth businesses in a state with 12.4% unemployment. But pot ain’t gonna solve the financial crisis, and the fundamental case — one that should have resonance to an audience that likes to toss off words like “liberty” — is one of basic freedom and morality.

      1. Agreed. I think you went with the best possible argument considering the context here.

        1. I also agree on that. What Matt said at the end with regard liberty is the only point I bother to make when debating drug legalization.

  19. excellent.

  20. I think the one point Matt could’ve made that would have destroyed Varney’s argument about the economy being more important is the fact that the vast majority of incumbents will get re-elected this year. I forget what the percentages are but I seem to remember it being well above 75%, possibly in the 90% range.

    If we are just sending the same idiots back to Washington why does anyone think anything is going to change in regards to the deficit?

    At least with Prop 19 you have something foundational being adjusted. I am sad to say that even if the GOP picks up the house I have little to zero hope that anything will really change economically that much.

    1. I agree, but it will likely slow (a little) the massive and rapid growth of government we have seen the last few years. No GOP takeover is bound to be worse in that regard.

  21. That host, Stuart Varney, reminds me of Jeff Stelling of Sky Sports:

    (Hilarious clip, by the way.)

  22. The question raised in this interview is whether or not marijuana legalization is the most important issue at stake 11-2. As demonstrated by the discussion, the answer is: yes, it is definitely the most important. This leads to another interesting question: What is the most prominent aspect of Prop 19 making it the biggest issue at stake in this election. All the reasons Mr. Welch pointed out are quite significant, but there is one thing (a thing that is dear to most libertarians) that I don’t think he expressly touched on:

    Drug prohibition is the ultimate market distortion, the ultimate government intervention. It results in absolutely NO trade, NO consumption. The dismantling of drug prohibition will end up being the greatest teaching example of how other areas of government intervention harm society in myriad ways and fall way, way short of their purported goals.

    1. The dismantling of drug prohibition will end up being the greatest teaching example of how other areas of government intervention harm society in myriad ways and fall way, way short of their purported goals.

      But will any students be paying attention to the lesson? No.

      1. Is it too optimistic to say maybe some will pay attention?

  23. If and when Prop. 19 passes, citizens over the age of 21 will have the government’s permission to ingest an agricultural product inside their own houses but not in public, not in their cars, not in the presence of any minors, anywhere, and not near a school or church. They will have gained all the rights of a registered sex offender. Congrats!

    1. What? You mean I can’t share a joint with a kindergartner while jacking off to a Britney Spears video in the public square? That seals it, I am voting no on P19!

      1. No, it means you can’t share a joint with a 20-year-old, anywhere. As for jerking off in public, the terms of your parole clearly prohibit it.

        1. Oh no. Prop 19 makes giving Cannabis to a 20 year old illegal! I have lost my rights to provide Cannabis to minors, something that is completely legal right now. Oh no!!!!

          1. My sarcasm is better than your sarcasm.

          2. 20-year-olds aren’t minors.

            1. Tell me that when you can send your twenty year old son to the store to pick up a bottle of Jack Daniel’s for you.

    2. still better than being a sodomite in some places.

  24. Good job, Matt!

    I renew my call to install you as the next president.

    The Libertarian party would make a lot of headway with a clean, articulate guy like you as its figurehead. Take that, Joe Biden!

    1. So, what about it Matt. Will you accept the nomination of the Libertarian party in 2012?

  25. You have to give Varney credit for letting Matt spend most of the time on substantive pro Prop. 19 arguments rather than spending too much time on the attention getting but ultimately silly “most consequential issue” argument.

    I think we are a tipping point regarding the drug war, but if 19 wins things will go much more quickly.

    1. Good point, Varney was civil and did let Matt actually voice an opinion. I happen to agree with Matt and Nick that P19 IS the most consequential issue before American voters in 2010. In my opinion, nothing else comes close. If it passes it will be a repudiation of the drug war, which is a colossal waste of time, money and lives. Wasting time, money and lives is what the federal government does best. What other issue in 2010 so directly pokes the malevolent giant?

      1. Varney was quiet only because he had no response.

      2. If it passes it will be a repudiation of the drug war

        In one state out of 50? Hardly. And what about all the other “drug-war” drugs? Looking forward to the free (but not tax-free!) use of barbiturates, LSD, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, MDMA, morphine, heroin, hydrocodone, GHB, methaqualone, cocaine and amphetamines any time soon? How about all the designer drugs yet to be invented? The obscure tribal herbs and potions yet to hit the western markets? Do you think your new and enlightened government will turn a blind eye to those? Prop. 19 will not end the ruinous war on drugs. That will take a philosophical revolution, not a ballot initiative.

        1. Legalizing the source of 60% of the drug cartel’s income won’t make a difference in the drug war… Uh, yeah.

          Legalizing MJ in CA won’t make a difference because CA is only one state; the state that contains more than 10% of the US population, with the most members of Congress? No, clearly that will have no impact. Statist asshole.

          1. Legalizing MJ in CA won’t make a difference?

            No, it won’t. California’s Prop. 19 won’t stop the war on drugs, which is a federal operation. Ever heard of the DEA or the Supremacy Clause? You should probably stop writing. You embarrass yourself.

            1. The Supremacy Clause? What has that to do with prop 19?

              Oh, you seem to buy the argument that if the feds prohibit something, then the states must follow suit. I wonder why the feds have not tried that argument with medical marijuana? Who should be embarrassed here?

    2. “I think we are a tipping point regarding the drug war, but if 19 wins things will go much more quickly.”

      Drug War. Must refudiate.

  26. Matt, great show.

    You were prepared with a smooth opening statement, and I loved the diatribe you ended on. It was the best political smackdown I’ve seen in a long time.


  27. Way to go, Matt!

  28. Though I have absolutely no faith that the GOP, should they take over Congress Tuesday, will do anything to stem the tide of gov’t growth and spending.

    However, we are still better off if they win, since at least they will disagree with the Dems about what to waste our money on, and less will get wasted.

  29. M.W. is teh awesome!

  30. Good stuff, Matt. In all honesty, you’ve been batting 1.000 on the tube lately AND the Don Draper look is a nice counterpoint to the Jacket. Kudos.

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