San Francisco Bay Guardian Columnist Sad Oaksterdam Raid Turning People Off of Big Government


Last week the federal raid of Oakland, California's Oaksterdam University provoked a whole bunch of headlines on the drug war. It also provoked a truly terrible column from the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Under the headline "Why Wall Street loves the War on Drugs," writer Tim Redmond tells a mournful tale of how the 1 percent uses the war on drugs to do something crazy, namely make people sour on a massive federal government able to do things like shut down a university devoted to teaching people to grow a plant.

And that is just terrible, writes Redmond. That is just like the 1960s when the Vietnam War and the dawn of the War on Drugs turned leftie, hippie types into those nodding sagely at Ronald Reagan, convinced at the rightness of his inaugural "government is not the solution, it's the problem" speech. Never mind that Reagan was one of the fathers of, not the war on drugs, but the hyper-militarized version we have today. Still, it's a real shame that this kind of thuggery is turning people off of Obama's economic goals, or the general, exciting goal of income redistribution. It's not, says Redmond, doing Obama any favors in his re-election campaign to alienate former supporters by letting these raids happen. 

In fact, writes Remond, it ain't about drugs at all:

There's only one possible way to increase economic equality in this country, and it involves government intervention. With union membership at a fraction of what it once was, government is the only institution with the power these days to enforce income redistribution. The wealthy have to be forced to pay higher taxes, and that money has to be spent on public education, affordable housing, economic development, public-sector-driven job creation and other programs that are proven to narrow the wealth gap.

But that's tricky, since the Right has done such an effective job (with the help of corrupt politicians of every stripe, including liberals) of making Americans mistrust government. How do you get people to vote for higher taxes when they think the money's going to be wasted on pointless wars and crony contracts—and on sending federal agents to roust pot clubs?

They think? It is being wasted. And even if it isn't being spend on those specific things, what kind of government do you have when your government is capable of raids like this, when it's in fact policy and not even unique?

Redmond goes on:

There are more progressives in the Bay Area today who distrust and dislike the federal government than there were before the raids began. We're going back to the days when "the feds" became a dirty word. And it's undermining everything that Obama is tyring to do with the economy.

Yeah, Wall Street, which is trying to get rid of pesky regulations, loves this—if you hate the feds in Oaksterdam, it's hard to love them at the IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission. That's what the 1 percent relies on. And it's working.

It's hard to formulate a response to such clueless pleas for a big government for thee, not for pot smoking little old me. You know, a perfect government big enough to keep the super rich meek and choked with taxation, but not one that would ever think of stepping up its police force, or its prohibition of anything, or the passing of any law to which good, honest members of the 99 percent might object.

But let's hope Redmond is right and that these raids are working to alienate Californians and folks all over the country and Obama voters, too. Any passionate foe of the war on drugs should either stay home, or vote for Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. The hoped-for Obama as friend to drug freedom ship has definitely sailed long ago.

Of course Remond, in the midst of his awful writing, is also too clueless to realize how closely involved the IRS (not exactly a friend to the 99 percent, no matter how much you support the taxation of the wealthy) has been with these federal raids. Tax loop holes are a great excuse to shut down medical marijuana distributors. Or they were back when Obama's Department of Justice was cautious enough to wait for the ghost of an excuse beyond the same old drug war tactics.

Reason on drug policy; Apropos of this and way too much, Matt Welch on "Why Big Government is Offensive." And Reason.tv on "What We Saw at the San Francisco Marijuana Rally"