Drug Policy

Pot's Black Market Backlash

How prohibitionists, nanny staters, and taxpayers who voted for legalization (!) are trying to keep marijuana illegal - or at least inconvenient.


This story originally appeared on Friday, November 15 at The Daily Beast. Read it there.

In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington passed full-on, no-hemming-or-hawing pot legalization by large majorities. Lawmakers in each state have spent the better part of the past year figuring out how to tax and regulate their nascent commercial pot industries, which will open for business in 2014 (until then, recreational pot is only supposed to be cultivated for personal use). The spirit behind the legalization efforts in both states was that marijuana should be treated in a "manner similar to alcohol."

Unfortunately, it's starting to look like both states are going to treat pot in a manner similar to alcohol during Prohibition. Not only are pot taxes likely to be sky high, various sorts of restrictions on pot shops may well make it easier to buy, sell, and use black-market marijuana rather than the legal variety. That's a bummer all around: States and municipalities will collect less revenue than expected, law-abiding residents will effectively be denied access to pot, and the crime, corruption, and violence that inevitably surrounds black markets will continue apace.

Washington's legalization initiative, I-502, mandated a 25 percent excise tax at each of three levels of transactions: sales between producers and processors; sales between processors and retailers; and sales between retailers and customers. That's all on top of a state sales tax of 8.75 percent. As Jacob Sullum argued at Forbes, the upshot of such a system is that weed could end up costing end users somewhere between $482 an ounce and $723 an ounce. The average price of high-quality pot at Seattle's medical marijuana dispensaries is currently about $250 an ounce (under I-502, medicinal pot won't be subject to taxes).

"The legal market is going to have a hard time competing with the illegal market, but a particularly hard time competing with untaxed, unregulated sort-of-legal market," Mark Kleiman, a UCLA professor and one of the main policy consultants for the Washington's government, told Sullum.

A similar situation is shaping up in Colorado, where voters just passed Proposition AA, which creates a 15 percent excise tax and a sales tax as high as 15 percent on pot sold in stores licensed by the state. On top of that, local municipalities can slap still more taxes on weed sales. Cities such as Boulder and Denver will start out with levies in the 3.5 percent range but can jack the rates as high as 10 percent and 15 percent.

While Colorado's legalization initiative made personal use and possession of pot legal statewide, it also let counties and municipalities to opt out of allowing pot sales. Over 100 towns and cities across Colorado have voted to ban outright or delay the opening of retail shops selling recreational pot. And it turns out that some of the counties that have banned the sale of recreational marijuana nonetheless want their share of sales taxes collected by the state. When asked whether such a position is hypocritical, a commissioner from Douglas County, which opted out of allowing pot sales, told the Denver CBS affiliate, "The answer is going to be then, why was my county not able to opt out of allowing the smoking of it at all?"

The upshot of such actions is predictable and depressing. Colorado lawmakers are banking on about $70 million a year (PDF) in taxes from pot and their Washington counterparts have projected new revenues of $1.9 billion over the first five years of legalization. There's just no way that's going to happen if a legal ounce of pot is double the price or more of back-alley weed. Even the most stoned pothead isn't that easy to scam.

If the experience of state cigarette taxes teaches us anything, it's that draconian levies allow black markets to flourish. After raising its per-pack tax by a dollar this year, Massachusetts is now grappling with somewhere between $74 million and $295 million in lost revenue. Most people are happy to pay taxes that they think are fair—and most people will avoid taxes they think are extortionary. Combine that with the widespread NIMBYism at work in Colorado and it's a recipe for clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The past several decades haven't been kind to the nation's drug warriors, especially when it comes to marijuana, the only illegal drug that is used on a monthly basis by more than 1 percent of Americans. In 1996, California passed a medical marijuana law and was soon followed by 19 other states and the District of Columbia. Crime—whether drug-related or not—didn't go up, kids didn't start toking up in droves, the heavens didn't fall.

Instead, a record number of people—58 percent, according to Gallup—have come to embrace pot legalization as a smart and proper idea and The Marijuana Policy Project identifies no fewer than 10 states it expects to legalize weed in the next couple of years.

It'll be an ironic buzzkill if it ends up that folks in places such as Maine, California, and Hawaii have an easier time firing up a state-sanctioned joint and enjoying the economic and social benefits of legalization long before the trailblazing residents of Colorado and Washington.

This story originally appeared on Friday, November 15 at The Daily Beast. Read it there.


NEXT: Emily Ekins on Obamacare Derailing the President's Credibility

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  1. Excuse me while I go search for my surprised face.

  2. Oh where, oh where has my little Dunphy gone…

    1. He is not a pot smoker as far as i know. Dunphy just liked the idea of not busting users and and small time pot dealers.

      He still has that. As far as i know in Washington state where Dunphy lives and works if he finds someone with some pot there is no mechanism for him to check where it came from. So it is assumed legal. This portion of the black market is for all intents and purposes no longer a black market.

      I am sure he is still very pleased with the legalization of pot in Washington.

      1. Of course he is, but he still went on to intimidate pharmacies into giving him private medical records.

        In between surfing, body building contests, and filling in for Eddy van Halen (not the socon/abortion one), of course.

    2. ..Google is paying 75$/hour! Just work for few hours & spend more time with friends and family.On sunday I bought themselves a Alfa Romeo from having made $5637 this month. its the best-job Ive ever had.It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out http://www.Buzz95.com

  3. People don’t universally run away from a tax. Just look at the Obamacare tax. It looks like people will be rushing to pay that next year rather than sign up for insurance they don’t want.

    Alternate comment: Not everyone in those states voted to unleash the pot hounds. You have to give those other people something, too, and that something is continued – if watered down – prohibition.

  4. pot taxes likely to be sky high

    Sky high! I’m soooooooooooo wasted!

  5. The purpose of legalizing it was to get rid of the black market. Now they are taxing the black market back into existence.

    Jesus fuckin’ Christ on a cracker. Only pols could fuck up something as simple as legalizing pot. Still, I have to say that I am not surprised one bit.

    1. It’s not like vindictive, Machiavellian politicians, goaded on by various federal agencies, pharma, and the liquor industry would purposely undermine such an initiative in an attempt to craft lopsided empirical evidence that legalization failed to boost state revenue in any meaningful way, exacerbated the underground drug trade, and facilitated a younger generation to consume a larger (admitted) portion of said drug trade.. all while directing focus away from their own glaring culpability in the ensuing “disaster”… preposterous…

    2. The thing is, I don’t even care about any tax. I’ll just get my weed from the same sources as I already do…no tax. Even if the taxes were low, why would I bother? I can avoid any tax with utter ease.

      What the fuck? Richard Sherman just let the Vikings score a touchdown? WHAT GIVES SHERM?!?

      1. Eventually, once the growers risk premium is eliminated, then your sources would no longer exist in a properly functioning moderately taxed marketplace. Only when the tax arbitrage is high enough to make the risk premium worth it will there continue to be a black market.

        I think Kleiman’s model overstates what the retail price would be in the absence of a tax.

        1. Aren’t we missing something here? Legal pot production and distribution will likely drive down prices much lower than black-market. Free market principles should allow producers and sellers to work at much lower margins, such that the taxed legal stuff is still much cheaper than black-market.

          Unless the state is planning to price fix on top of taxing?

          The NIMBY problem would likely go away if the state tells the non-participants to fuck-off on the tax dollars.

          1. Legal pot production and distribution will likely drive down prices much lower than black-market.

            Those same legal production and distribution mechanisms will be used by black marketeers. How can you prove that product being moved on a distribution chain is going to be sold legally with a 30% surcharge or illegally without that cost?

            It will be almost impossible. It will also be impossible for them to arrest anyone for carrying weed because they won’t know whether they bought it legally or illegally.

            They’re basically going to drive down the cost of illegal weed and also make it impossible to catch people who break that law. They really have not thought this through.

            1. There is a risk cost in working with the black market that I still think you’re underestimating.

              Putting a tax stamp (which the fed already has) fixes a lot of the states problem with that.

              Looking at High Times, I see black market prices for an oz going anywhere from $200-$500. If I can work completely legally, as a producer, I’ll significantly up my production and lower my costs. If you take out the risks, $50 ounces are hugely profitable.

              1. You can put a tax stamp on an unopened pack of cigarettes. You can even put a tax stamp on the filter. You can’t put a tax stamp on the shredded vegetable.

                1. Easy fix. Illegal to carry the “shredded weed” in a non-approved container. “Approved” container will need a tax stamp and a date that is only good for a certain amount of time so you can’t just keep using the same one. Similar to a prescription bottle. Extra points if the container is hard to carry and a horrible bright color to make more visible to LE safer for the children.

          2. They price fix in limiting the number of “permitted” growers.

        2. agreed.

      2. The thing is, these dynamics are being overlooked. *Everyone* that had a source will keep using that source if the prices justify. And if the prices don’t justify by number, convenience and familiarity will still carry the day.

        Legalizing weed, but taxing it to the point the black market remains profitable simply encourages more users. And that means more people looking for a better price on consumable goods they want.

    3. You have to remember; most of the would be Ruling Class – the politicians, the functionaries, and the so-called ‘Intellectuals’ – believe on one level that the rest of us a good little Proles who will do what we are told. And on another level, they are well aware that most of us will do what we damn please whenever we think we can get away with it.

      The conflict between these two beliefs is one of the reasons that these people are batshit nuts.

    4. The purpose of legalizing it was to get rid of the black market. Now they are taxing the black market back into existence.

      Exactly why moonshine still exists.

      1. Yes but moonshine is a VERY small share of the market, and there isn’t exactly a bunch of gang violence associated with it.

  6. Speaking of creating black markets

    Every day in America, about 4,000 people under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and 1,000 go on to become daily cigarette smokers. Most adolescents who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes have reported that they’d like to quit but can’t. So perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the most persuasive arguments for raising the minimum sales age came from a high schooler.

    Prompted by an essay contest about how to change the world, then-17-year-old Jessica Adelson argued for increasing the age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21. In 2007, the teenage Adelson appeared before the state legislature in her home state of Connecticut. “By increasing the age, we can stop many young people from getting their hands on cigarettes,” she told lawmakers. According to the AP, Adelson further testified that “Younger teens typically know a lot more 18-year-olds than 21-year-olds who might buy them cigarettes.” Adelson’s argument is borne out by the authors of a recent article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, who write that people aged 18?20 are responsible for 90 percent of the cigarettes purchased on behalf of minors. Cut them off, and the benefits would extend down to much younger teens.

    What a stooge. There’s your future Senator from Connecticut.

    1. But wait! There’s more awfulness:

      The Obama administration has no excuse for dragging its feet over the past four and a half years, particularly after the president trumpeted the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act as a vehicle to protect American youth. It’s hard to imagine the Obama administration could do anything besides adding momentum to this growing municipal movement if it simply followed its congressional mandate to explore the nexus between higher tobacco sales ages and health benefits. Given that Congress has already demonstrated its ability to persuade states to set the age of alcohol sales at 21, and that it’s capable of producing a similar scheme for tobacco sales, the main obstruction to a nationwide movement with political traction should not be federal government inertia.

      Yes, Congress has shown an ability to shred federalism by coercing states into raising the drinking age with threats of cut funding.

      1. That was signed into law by none other than Ronald “Federalism: vote with your feet” Reagan, by the way.

    2. Are we sure that Slate wasn’t taken over by Andy Kaufman years ago?

      1. Shut the fuck up, you moron.

        1. Oh look, Warty, Red joe is nipping at your heels. Can you hear him down there? You probably thought it was a chihuahua.

          1. Uh oh, MonkeyAIDS doesn’t like me. IT’S A BEIGE ALERT

            1. What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?

              1. Speaking of which i am going to change my alignment for libertarians from Chaotic good to Neutral good.

                Libertarians do not oppose law. They just recognize Chaos can work better then Law in many instances.

                The choice between law and chaos for a libertarian is the choice between which serves good the best.

                of course on this scale that would make Randians and anarchists Chaotic good and Chaotic evil respectively.

                Note: making anarchists evil is entirely based on Epi being an anarchist and not any indepth analysis of anarchy.

          2. You probably thought it was a chihuahua.

            I will have you know that The Precious stands head and shoulders (figuratively) above any internet troll. The bitch weighs only seven pounds and took on the neighbors rottweiler (it didn’t turn out so well for her but she is recovering nicely). You have smeared her honor, sir, and I demand satisfaction!

        2. What the hell’s up your ass?

  7. “By increasing the age, we can stop many young people from getting their hands on cigarettes,” she told lawmakers.

    Appeal to Magic!

    1. Thanks to the miracle of control/regulation legislation, people under arbitrary the age of 21 almost never obtain booze (or die disproportionately in car accidents, DUI), obtain handguns, or *any* drug without prescription expressed governmental consent. We really do live in a golden age…

      1. Or, as Lord Havelock Vetinari would put it, a goldish age.

        1. Think Pratchett’s a libertarian? He’s gotten a bit preachy in his old age but he does seem to still be OK with free markets.

          1. He expresses some leanings in that direction specifically in his comments on drug use (prior to “Snuff”). However looking at his defense of Vetinari taking over the post office, the semaphore system (“Going Postal”) and the Mint, as well as ending the gold standard (“Making Money”), quantitative easing (“GP” and “MM”) and burying the newly discovered golem automatons to prevent job loss (“MM”) I’m forced to say he’s mostly a typical British liberal. Maybe slightly more private industry friendly.

    2. Hey, Congress has passed a law making medical insurance available for everyone and cheaper besides!

    3. While they are at it they can mandate only nice weather on weekends. I cant believe they have dragged their feet on that for so long.

      1. That would “other” subsistence farmers, the minority pro-precipitation factions… check your privilege.. fascist!

      2. While they are at it they can mandate only nice weather on weekends.

        Christfag Republithugs block a carbon tax!!


        1. C-.

          Shriek would complain more about KOCK BROTHERS and CORPORASHUNZ.

          1. No that’s Tony. Shriek’s gig is all about Christian Taliban.

    4. You have to appreciate the logic. “The current law mandating no sales to people under 18 isn’t working to prevent sales to people under 18. Make the age 21 and the law will work perfectly!”

      1. If laws don’t magically stop it, surely we just need more laws!

  8. During the last legislature’s session here in Washington I testified that if the taxes were high enough the government would probably spend more to eradicate the black market than what they were already spending. I used the cigarette smuggling problem as an example since with Washington State’s high tax on cigarettes about 30% of all cigarettes consumed in the state are smuggled in. I don’t think the listened and if they did they didn’t care.

    1. Well, you did assist in giving their hearings the fa?ade of legitimacy, and a balanced dialogue where both sides of such an argument were represented… at least on paper… DEMOCRACY!

  9. So surprised! Who wouldn’t have assumed a couple of hardcore, illiberal nanny states like Washington and Colorado would ease off of their power tripping just because their voters indicated that was their desire.

    1. The officers were in fear for their safety. Procedures were followed. It’s sad that she didn’t instantly obey orders. It’s her fault she’s dead. The Sheriff’s department will be billing her estate for the expended bullets. Any questions?

    2. When she refused the deputies’ order to drop it, they say, they fired

      Drop bang, bang, bang, it!

      At least no officers were hurt.

    3. She had multiple sclerosis. Un-fucking-believable!

    4. New Mexico again!

  10. Government can always be counted on to create new job opportunities for criminals.

  11. “voters in Colorado and Washington passed full-on, no-hemming-or-hawing pot legalization by large majorities.”

    Yeah? I could swear they wanted it regulated to hell and back, and that was specifically in the initiatives. But ok.

    1. They said they wanted it regulated ‘like alcohol.’ Of course, there was nothing in the law actually forcing Colorado’s government to do that, so shockingly they placed unbelievably onerous regulations on weed.

      This is what happens when morons try to legalize pot.

      1. But alcohol is regulated to hell and back. So…

        1. This is even further…

  12. Harvey Weinstein: Obama isn’t embarrassing, U.S. is embarrassing.

    God, please let the progs go this route. Between this argument and the argument that people are just too fucking stupid to buy their own health insurance, the left could very well destroy itself beneath an ocean of smug.

    1. Oh Harvey, we should listen to you? After you passed on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings that made billions? New Line thanks you profusely.

    2. Obama hasn’t failed us. We have failed Obama.

      I recall on Obama’s second inauguration day some Jezebel commenter said she was so touched that in spite of how mean and nasty and ungrateful America was, Barack Obama still wants to be our president.

    3. Thank God we have enlightened health care systems like the NHS and Canada with significantly lower 5 year cancer survival rates, significantly lower preventive screening rates, and significantly lower utilization of indicated chronic medication like statins. But as we all know the only thing that matters is that everyone (except me) is equal in their misery. That’s only fair.

    4. Best two quotes:

      Appearing on Piers Morgan Tonight Friday, Weinstein said “this is the only the country in the world where we don’t have health care. Countries embarrass us around the world.”

      “And this is the only country in the world where we don’t have a gun law. I watched you, you know, talking about that,” he said. “You know, quite frankly it’s embarrassing. Obama’s not embarrassing. The country is embarrassing.”

      He thinks we have no health care and 0 gun laws. Leftists are so cute when they’re trying to sound like grown ups without actually knowing what they’re talking about. It’s like watching a small, mentally ill child dress up like an adult.

    5. I always confuse him with Harvey Fierstein.

      1. I always confuse Harvey Fierstein with Roy Firestone.

    6. Fuck you Harvey. We have a gun law. It is called the second amendment.

      I was thinking about the anti-hunting people from earlier today. They remind me of overly domesticated, in-bred animals that has been raised in very sheltered environments. They have no experience in the real world and behave in ways contrary to that animal’s nature.

  13. I realize it’s VICE and they probably don’t have very high standards, but what the heck is this?

    A story written by Rebecca Martinson, aka the sorority ‘c*nt puncher’, that isn’t 1/10th as funny or powerfully written as that sorority email.

    1. I’m always heartened when I see a comment section that knows what’s up.

      This is garbage. I consider myself a fairly charitable guy, but come on. Who Ok’d this deranged sorority girl shit? I just wasted 5 minutes of my life reading this bullshit. Who do I blame? Not this boring mediocre slut with horrible stories who couldn’t write herself out of a paper bag. I blame VICE for allowing their brand to become so watered down that dumb shit like this gets posted.

      Why, for fucks sake, is Vice letting this banal bitch write an article. I have been trying to get something on here forever and this “apple cheeked” whore gets to write about her limp ass boyfriend. Btw Rebecca Martinson..you have bad grammar skills and misspelled a lot. Come on Vice,,class it the fuck up.

      The real story here is how beat this chick is. Even 2 college age bitches couldn’t get a dude up when her face was in the mix. A transcription of the saddest porno ever: “Three Teen Losers Walk Into A Dorm Room, No One Has Fun XXX”

      1. I guess Vice is going downhill. They’ve stocked the standard issue insane leftist (but I repeat myself) who seriously claims Detroit is a victim of capitalism.

    2. Reading that was like listening to someone who just likes the sound of their own voice. What a waste of the innertubz.

      1. This guy wins

        “A transcription of the saddest porno ever”

  14. He thinks we have no health care and 0 gun laws.

    He forgot about the complete lack of bank regulation.

  15. What a snooze fest in Austin.
    Put on a better race Texas, or F1 will soon vacate again.

  16. “[Obama] stepped out of character to vent to an assembled group of top aides. “If I had known [about the website problems] ,” the steaming president reportedly said, according to the New York Times, “We could have delayed the website.”…

    “…o one wanted to even hint to the president that this techno-savvy administration possibly had a website stuck in, say, 1995. “People don’t like to tell him bad news,” says an ex-White House staffer. “Part of it is the no-drama culture.””


    1. He still thinks socialism is just fine so….my guess; Fuckwit McShitweasel still will not understand why a good leader does not surround himself with yes-men.

      1. If people don’t agree with Barry O’s brilliance, then they need to be fired.

        1. The “steaming president”. I love it; so apt. but the writer left out the “hot”. “Steaming hot president” is much more evocative.

          You know what else comes out steaming?

          1. A pussy fart?

      2. Fuckwit McShitweasel still will not understand why a good leader does not surround himself with yes-men.

        Please. He’s still stuck on licking the boots of power; what interest could he possibly have in being a good leader?

    2. Well, I guess one way to escape drama is to put your fingers in your ears and say ‘la, la, la, I can’t hear you’ when people let you know you seriously messed up something.

      1. Or better yet he could QUIT HIS JOB.

  17. I was reading this Time article in which, I swear I’m not making this up, it’s claimed that no one told Barack Obama that something was wrong with the website because they have a “no drama culture.”

    I found this comment which I feel like shows everything wrong with modern liberalism:

    @warlord What he said is Pants-On-Fire wrong, but unlike Republicans he profusely apologized for misleading the 5% affected (most of whom seem to be disinclined to see if they can get a better deal on the exchanges).


    In his 5 years as President, Obama has a 73% truth to 27% untruth ratio (also unlike Republicans, whose ratio is usually 73% lies to 27% truth).

    Wow. First this person claims he ‘profusely apologized’ when he did no such thing then he claims that only 5% were affected, which is a lie since it doesn’t include the employer mandate which has yet to be implemented. Then, to finish this off, he cites Politifact as his evidence that Obama is more truthful than Republicans.

    It never occurs to him that Politifact chooses what quotes to look at, which means there’s bound to be confirmation bias. It never occurs to him that people at poltifact might be pro-Obama which would skew numbers.

    Politifact says it, so it is the truth. Progs cannot think for themselves.

    1. Fuck. Didn’t realize Eduard posted this.

    2. but unlike Republicans he profusely apologized

      “I’m sorry you suckers actually believed me when I said you could have a unicorn” is not a profuse apology. It’s not even an apology. It’s him rubbing your own stupidity in your faces.

      for misleading the 5% affected

      You mean lying to the individual policyholders whose plans are being cancelled? But of course, as long as you use the law to negatively impact a minority its okay.

      Wait a minute…

      In his 5 years as President, Obama has a 73% truth to 27% untruth ratio (also unlike Republicans, whose ratio is usually 73% lies to 27% truth).

      First, you lying shitheel, the percentage is 52% for TEAM Red. Second, Politifact is as objective as a DNC fundraising newsletter and as reliable as the National Enquirer.

  18. Students at historically black college complain Obamacare has left them uninsured

    Many students said they had been disappointed by the rollout of Obamacare.

    Students at Bowie State University assailed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Thursday after administrators cancelled a low cost school-wide health care plan due to new regulations in the law.

    Many students told Campus Reform that the now cancelled plans, which provided coverage for just $50 per semester, were the only insurance they could afford.

    “I can’t afford anything right now,” one said. “I can’t even afford my loans.”

    “We don’t have that money,” said another. “We can barely afford books.”

    Several students said that they felt they had been let down.

    “It’s stupid and it’s Obama’s fault,” one said. “You haven’t done anything, Obama, and I’m disappointed in you.”

    “What it was hyped up to be, was that it was supposed to solve a lot of problems and help a lot of people, and its not really doing that,” said another.

    Many students had no idea the plans had been canceled, which was announced only in an email to their school addresses.

    In a statement to Campus Reform, Bowie State said it was confident that Obamacare would fill the void left by the canceled plans.

    If you like your plan…

    You know what? Fuck it. I’m not even gonna say it.

    1. Reap the whirlwind, children. Hey, wait until you go out into the lousy job market with your worthless degrees. More fun ahead for you!

    2. “Bowie State said it was confident that Obamacare would fill the void left by the canceled plans.”

      Oh, it is going to fill your void alright. Good and hard.

    3. You haven’t done anything, Obama

      If only that were true.

      1. Funny how actions have value everywhere except government. It’s the only place I’d pay people to actually do nothing, because doing nothing is far better than doing something.

  19. In case I forget to post this tomorrow, here is a video about *free speech.* Oh, and an awesome meet-cute.

    A group was on the Ohio State University campus with signs about…well, let’s just say A Certain Topic. A young woman comes over and knocks down the signs. The young man doing the display argues with her, she finally agrees that he should be able to express his opinion and helps put the signs back up.

    I don’t know for certain that the young man and the young woman went out to dinner to further mull over their differences, but when the movie gets made, that’s the way I want it to happen.


    1. Let us just hope that if they did go out that no unwanted pregnancy resulted 😉

      1. Or let’s hope that the child has its mother’s intensity and its father’s intelligence.

        1. I do not see knocking down someone else’s property as intensity but as rudeness as best.

          1. Its mother’s forthrightness and its father’s intelligence. Work with me here, I’m trying to be nice to your ally.

            1. Having similar stances on an issue does not an ally make.

              1. In my defense, I was yanking your chain.

        2. They’re both stupid so I’m hoping for termination.

    2. Sort of like a real life ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ or that other movie with those two that had the exact same plot.

  20. Military Chaplains Sue Over Alleged Harassment and Attacks on Christian Beliefs

    -Retired U.S. Army Maj. Steven Firtko and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Klender began the Clinical Pastoral Education Center program at a San Diego VA last year. Shortly after, they say the program’s supervisor, Nancy Dietsch, began harassing their beliefs.

    According to the suit, she told them they could not pray in Jesus’s name, and she shouted: “Do not quote Scripture in this class!” while pounding her fists on her desk.

    -According to court documents, Dietsch also insisted that God could be a man or a woman and stated that evolution is a fact. The suit says she stated three times that: “There is no room in this program for those who believe they are right and everybody else is wrong.”


    This story has been all over the SoCon internet. So far only the plaintiff’s complaint is out there (linked in the article), but even in their statement of the facts it seems hard to tell whether this was an obvious case of an intolerant, authoritarian instructor or something more complex involving a case of sanctimonious, overly sensitive SoCons.

    1. “it seems hard to tell whether this was an obvious case of an intolerant, authoritarian instructor or something more complex involving a case of sanctimonious, overly sensitive SoCons.”

      If only there were some kind of procedure to decide which scenario was the true one…you know, something like some adjudicator hearing the evidence and arguments on both sides and then rendering a decision…

      1. I heard this works even better when you have 9 of them deciding whether you should be bound by law to buy a product from a company.

        1. I’m not defending the Supreme Court’s constitutional jurisprudence, simply saying that give two conflicting versions of events, it’s better to have those conflicting versions resolved by a jury, except in a case where the law is the same regardless of the facts – and I don’t know if it’s that kind of case here.

          1. I understand; I’m just in an overly cynical mood.

          2. a case where the *outcome* is the same etc.

      2. -If only there were some kind of procedure to decide which scenario was the true one…you know, something like some adjudicator hearing the evidence and arguments on both sides and then rendering a decision…

        Well, dozens of SoCon websites have not felt the need to wait for that procedure to raise alarm about the case.

        1. For that matter, Reason magazine itself doesn’t wait for the outcome of a lawsuit or prosecution before expression a view of the merits of a case. And after the evidence has been fully gathered, it’s even possible to disagree with a court’s interpretation of the evidence and the law.

          In the UK, the media was prevented from criticizing the company that produced Thalidomide because its corporate practices were under litigation – fortunately, the US doesn’t have this kind of censorship.

          1. And so far, only one side has been showing a lot of enthusiasm for having these claims heard in court – presumably, the side which feels confident in its case.

            1. -presumably, the side which feels confident in its case.

              I would not draw that conclusion.

              1. Here’s the complaint:


                If the facts alleged were true, would it be a problem?

                If you’re not going to wait for a judicial resolution of these facts, what journalistic techniques are the media employing to discover the facts?

                1. -If the facts alleged were true, would it be a problem?

                  I would want some context about some of them before I could say.

                  -If you’re not going to wait for a judicial resolution of these facts

                  Er, I thought I was the one calling for waiting for a judicial resolution of these facts (or at least for the other sides response).

                  1. I thought this was part of your regular series of lol Socons are idiots posts? But until we know the facts we don’t know whether, or to what extent, they’re idiots, or even whether they’re getting shafted in the religious-freedom department.

                    1. -But until we know the facts we don’t know whether, or to what extent, they’re idiots, or even whether they’re getting shafted in the religious-freedom department.

                      Well, this is my point. The SoCon websites are headlining this story with things like ‘VA Tells Chaplains No Jesus or Bible Allowed’ based solely on the plaintiff’s complaint. That is silly, especially since even reading the complaint suggests some important context is not covered there.

                    2. So, perhaps these stories are wrong? I’m willing to await further investigation before saying who’s right in this dispute, and if the SoCons were all wrong I’ll say so, but without knowing if the complaint is right, it would be a bit premature to criticize them for relying on the complaint.

                      The chaplain-trainer’s contact info is given below, if you really want to know her side right away.

                    3. -without knowing if the complaint is right, it would be a bit premature to criticize them for relying on the complaint.

                      Er, without knowing if the complaint is right, would it not be imprudent to rely on it?

                    4. If the socons are wrong on this, they should be called out for being wrong. If theyre right, dont criticize them for being prematurely right, thats called a scoop. Judge the tree by its fruits. If they published a false story, boo on them. If their story is true, good on them for alerting the public to constitutional violations by the feds!

          2. Preventing speech about something under litigation is ridiculous.

            “Hey, lets have a discussion about (x) but lets only let *some* people chime in. That way, we can get the absolute most biased opinions possible, instead of any chance at reaching what is most likely to be closest to the absolute truth by having a third party voice their opinion.”

            1. So, therefore, if you’re going to criticize someone’s allegations in court, instead of just going “OMG this is only one side, who even knows if these crazy plaintiffs are right” why not look into the underlying dispute and see what’s actually going on?

              1. Eduard, I am honestly not sure what you are getting at here.

                Are you saying people should not comment on legal cases until they have heard both sides of the case? Your first post seems to indicate this. Subsequently your posts seem to be about censoring such comments, and, I think, how that is a bad thing. I do not think anyone has or would disagree with you about that. So what are you getting at?

                1. Your first post said “So far only the plaintiff’s complaint is out there” – raising the question whether the facts alleged are true. I said there’s ways for the court to decide if they’re just making up facts to stir up the rubes.

                  If you don’t know if the facts are true, why are you linking to this story as part of your “OMG SoCons are so icky” series of posts?

                  Or if, as you say, even accepting the facts as alleged, this still might be a case of “sanctimonious, overly sensitive SoCons” etc., then I’d be interested to know the context in which it would be acceptable to offer this sort of training to chaplains in the first place, since chaplains are supposedly there to ensure that soldiers have access to ministers of their own religion, not to learn a version of their religion taught by their government.

                  1. Well, because just because SoCons are often icky does not mean they are not in this case the victims of something bad.

                    If you read a lot of complaints you quickly get the sense that you are getting one side’s story and that there is a good chance that, at the least, some important context is being left out. I got that sense in reading this particular complaint.

                    For example, the complaint notes several times in which the instructor responds to the quoting or reading of scripture in class by telling the students not to do that. Now, was the teacher just intolerant to Scripture, or did she perhaps tell the class that she wanted them to discuss theological matters without simply quoting Scripture (as if that ended the debate)? What were these people being trained for? Were they to simply minister to people of the Chaplain’s faith, or was it a broader mission (note one of the complaints centers on the instructor telling them that ‘the VA’ does not want prayers at ‘public ceremonies’ to be ended with ‘in Jesus’ name’)? In another they point to the instructor saying ‘it is disrespectful to read your Bible while someone is
                    speaking.’ Were they literally reading it when, and over, someone else speaking? If so that is not telling them the ‘Bible has no place’ as many SoCon websites is saying about the case, it could be they plaintiffs were rude.

                    That kind of thing.

                    Or take this one:

                  2. Here’s some contact information for Nancy Dietsch, the chaplain trainer whose behavior is the subject of this suit.


                    You can ask her whether, in the course of giving training to those who sought to be VA chaplains, she did any of the things alleged in the complaint, eg:


                    “On var ious occasions, Ms. Dietsch stated during the classroom portion of the San Diego VA-DOD CPE Center, in the presence of both Chaplains Firtko and Klender that they should not pray in Jesus’ name.

                    “…On or about October 8, 2012, Ms. Dietsch informed the class she believes G od could be a man or woman. Chaplain Firtko recited the Lord’s Pray er, stating “Our Father who Art in Heaven.” In response, Ms. Dietsch angrily pounded her fist on the table and shouted: “Do not quote Scripture in this class!””

                    and so on. I’m really curious about what she said, but am kind of shy about contacting her myself.

                    1. nb – I think that rather than have govt-appointed chaplains the govt should just let ministers of their soldiers’ religion have access to said soldiers with minimum government involvement.

                      But if the rationale to having paid chaplains is to have soldiers served by ministers *of their own religion,* it defeats the purpose to tell these ministers what religious observances and teachings are acceptable. But maybe that part of the complaint was made up.

                    2. You are not getting it. The issue is not just did she say these things, the issue is, in what context?

                      Can you imagine a theology classroom where the teacher does not want people to reply simply by quoting Scripture? Maybe she told them she assumed everyone knew Scripture and that she wanted debate to explore the theology behind the Scripture.

                      And can you imagine a VA instructor saying that one might, or even should (not as an order but as a matter of instruction of ‘preferred practice) not pray in Jesus’ name at public ceremonies (where perhaps not everyone is Christian)?

                      These are important things to know in judging what the plaintiffs say happened.

                    3. One allegation was that the don’t-quote-scripture remark was in the context of the instructor’s invocation of a gender-neutral God. If this is true (and I said I don’t know), then it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the govt was taking sides on theological issues rather than instructing these would-be chaplains on proper ministering techniques.

                      And the point about wanting to go to “the theology beyond the scripture” and not “simply…quoting Scripture,” hey, that’s cool with Catholics like yours truly, but these plaintiffs seem to be some sort of Baptists. To them, the whole thing about getting beyond scripture is a disputed theological point on which a government instructor shouldn’t have an opinion. Ditto God’s gender – why should a government instructor get into whether God is male, female, or the Unitarian “oblong blur”?

                    4. -then it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the govt was taking sides on theological issues rather than instructing these would-be chaplains on proper ministering techniques.

                      It seems easy to avoid that to me.

                      Imagine a theology class where students were told that simply quoting Scripture on an issue would not be seen as dispositive, and therefore should not be the answer. The topic one day is about whether God is male or female and the instructor asks what people think. A student answers by simply reading ‘God our Father’ from Scripture. The teacher says ‘look, I told you, do not quote Scripture in the class.’

                      That does not strike me as being intolerant, and it could easily have been the case.

                    5. Check out the fist slamming paragraph I quoted above. Theres no two ways about it, either the plaintiffs gave false witness by lying about or distorting the incident in question, or else the govt violated the first amendment. Theres no religiously neutral justification for offering an opinion on gods gender and then tilting the ensuing discussion in a nonbiblical direction. What does the allegrd conduct have to do with neutrally preparing people to minister to veterans of all faiths?

                    6. And I would think that govt instructors might legitimately teach would be chaplains about va regs and patient needs, a tbeology class would be a no no.

                    7. WhILE govt instructors might etc

  21. Honestly, i’ve tried telling progressives this but the idea that simply having a store front isn’t going to incentivize someone to pay 3 – 4x more apparently doesn’t get through their heads.

    1. It’s about the ease of access more than price (for a lot of things) to me.

      I don’t smoke pot generally; however, if I got in the right mood/lacked responsibilities, I’d easily pay 4x as much just not to have to look for it. My time is valuable.

    2. Depends what’s being multiplied. If the actual increase in $ is so low that I still just want to walk into a store, it might work.

  22. “What it was hyped up to be, was that it was supposed to solve a lot of problems and help a lot of people, and its not really doing that,” said another.

    This kid is more perspicacious than Nancy Pelosi.

  23. Venezuela’s socialist government has arrested more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging at hundreds of shops and companies since the weekend, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday.

    “They are barbaric, these capitalist parasites!” Maduro thundered in the latest of his lengthy daily speeches. “We have more than 100 of the bourgeoisie behind bars at the moment.”

    1. If there’s any justice for Venezuela that fucker and his thugs will end up hanging upside down from the streetlamps of Caracas.

      But at least they are ironclad proof of the insanity of socialism and Occupy-rhetoric.

      1. I watched this shit on CNN today before Cheney fired up his Evil Republican Weather Control Machine (TM).

        These fuckers just refuse to learn from history. There is no truth but Revolutionary Truth.

    2. It is bad enough for someone to consider the offering of a product for whatever price as an arrestable crime, but what is even worse is that in this instance the products in question are, seemingly, largely things like electronics, not bread and water.


      1. Why would they wait until food is expensive to start making examples out of people?
        This is just the socialist version of broken windows theory: If you let the wreckers hoard televisions, they’ll get bolder and withold the food too!

        Makes complete sense, if you’re a socialist buffoon.

  24. Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
    Had I from old and young!
    Instead of the cross, the Albatross
    About my neck was hung.

    1. wat

  25. Do you really think republicans and democrats care about the outcome of any election or referendum ? They can turn a golden egg into a lead pipe overnight. Pharma, Tobacco, Alcohol, are behind all of this. peace

  26. Pot is proving to not be the liberaltarian cash cow that promoters thought it would be?

    Boo hoo.

    So long as people can grow it, possess it, and ingest it freely who is to say there is a problem?

    1. Yes, why would a libertarian have a problem with a 30% vice tax?

      Vice taxes are anti-freedom in general. A 25% straight up excise tax on any item is atrocious. It’s the government trying to manipulate our behavior, just as much as a ban would be.

  27. Anybody watching “The Challenger Disaster” on the Science Channel?

    Bill Hurt. Pretty good so far. Man against government.

    1. I just got back from a weekend away, saw it, and set the next showing to record.

      My mother-in-law’s ex husband (there are 5 of them so far!) was at Thiokol at the time of the “accident”…

      1. I read both of Feynman’s books and listened to some of his lectures in college. Needless to say, I’m a big fan…. I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve seen it, but from what I understand, the engineers knew exactly what happened when it happened, and no commission was necessary.

  28. I think we (in Washington state at least) should push for extending the tax rates and restrictions that are being slapped onto legalized marijuana to tobacco and alcohol.

    If it’s legal and wise to tax marijuana to the edge of de facto prohibition, then it’s equally wise and legal to do the same for other drugs, since alcohol is equally harmful and tobacco is MORE harmful than marijuana.

    It also has the added benefit of getting the powerful alcohol lobbies (both grassroots and otherwise) and even more powerful tobacco lobbies in on the side of marijuana.

    1. Not sure about Washington state, but elsewhere tobacco is certainly taxed to high-hell.

      1. I live in Washington state.

        It is taxed to high-hell.

    2. I think you’ve got that wrong – tobacco is more harmful than marijuana and alcohol is even more harmful than tobacco.

  29. When I read the Archduke’s link about Venezuela jailing ‘bourgeois capitalists’ I wanted to see if I could find any useful idiots in the US that support him.

    Democratic Underground does not disappoint

    16. Wow what a hit piece.

    This article is designed to send capitalist into a tizzy. It attacks all the sacred cows of capitalism – limiting profits, looting, government control of business. Now if they added making the uber rich and corporations pay actual real taxes then capitalist heads will explode. They even managed to add the words “enabling act” at the end. Wow talk about biased reporting.

    I think I will wait for more realistic news reporting before believing any of this.

    22. And how many Wall Street bankers have we jailed?


    The rule of law works better in Venezuela than it does here. In the US, the rich get a pass . . . or a bailout.

    44. The next needed step is the arrest of the spies, wreckers and sabatuers

    There should be a series of jails deep in the jungle where these parasites should work to repay the people for what they have stolen.

    But to be fair I think a large number of them disapprove, even if they are defensive about the implications for their beloved socialism.

    1. 22. And how many Wall Street bankers have we jailed?


      The rule of law works better in Venezuela than it does here. In the US, the rich get a pass . . . or a bailout.

      The part about the rich getting a bailout is actually a valid point, it’s just that this nincompoop doesn’t realize they get bailed out because of Big Government not in spite of it.

      Idiot also fails to realize that some people running an electronics store are not the same as the Kings of Finance that get their friends in government to bail them out.

      44. The next needed step is the arrest of the spies, wreckers and sabatuers

      Wait, he’s seriously using the phrase ‘wreckers and saboteurs’ and doesn’t realize that this makes him sound like a legitimate Communist?

    2. 4. A good start is the day Maduro gets perp-walked.

      No doubt for drug corruption, torture and murder of his opponents.

      Right-wing banana republics do that, so do left-wing.
      “…People voting republican, give them a boot to the head!”
      Reply to this post

      Star Member delrem (3,229 posts)
      8. That is stormfront type BS.

      The guy with the slogan about curbstomping Republicans says something rational, gets told he’s a Neo-Nazi.

      1. Apparently someone of them have issues with the very thought of cooperative trade between multiple parties:

        6. There is a problem, that the productive class gets paid peanuts while retailers gouge.

        It bothers me – extremely – that I can’t pay the farmer direct the full price of the product, without vulture capitalists interfering and ensuring that the farmer gets the least.

        94. So if i start a trucking company to haul produce..

        …..I am a “vulture capitalists”?

        99. Yes you are a vulture if you do that

        According to Trotsky, transportation is specifically mentioned as one of the key industry that should be nationalized. Airlines, trucking and railroads, even taxicabs should be under government control and provided with generous subsidies so they can pay generous living wages regardless of how many people or how much stuff they carry.

        People need wages, not profits!

        1. According to Trotsky.

          According to Trotsky.

          1. Suggest Pipes, “The Russian Revolution” ( http://www.amazon.com/Russian-…..revolution ).
            It is not easy reading; what could be exciting is written as BORING, but there it is: Lenin was an unmitigated asshole and the “workers” were so much baggage the bolshis could drag along.

        2. and provided with generous subsidies so they can pay generous living wages regardless of how many people or how much stuff they carry.

          And every man should sit on a throne of gold while getting blowjobs from Sunny Leone!

          How does Sunny Leone simultaneously blow 150 million men?

          To the gulag with you!

        3. Holy shit. So everyone who wants corn should drive out to an Iowa corn farmer’s house and personally make a deal with the farmer? How would the farmer have time to farm his corn if he had to spend all day selling it?
          I know. Maybe if we had someone bring a bunch of corn to a centrally located “store”, people could gather at said “store” and buy the corn! And this would create “jobs” for “truckers” and “merchants”.

          I was at DU once about 10 years ago and got banned instantly for mocking their board rules about only allowing posters who agree with them, and tolerance and Democracy and stuff. Glad to see they’re still the nuttiest site out there even with BusHitler gone.

          1. Sometimes direct to consumer is actually feasible, especially with improved technologies and supply chain logistics.
            The problem is they see what happens in our competitive world, and the fact we often manage to get rid of middlemen (because we made them obsolete), and assume that therefore removing middlemen is how you get prosperity.
            The term cargo-cult economics is highly appropriate.

        4. I love that blinding inconsistency of 19th century socialism.

          “Wage labor is evil! Our goal is to make everyone earn a fair wage!”

          It’s all about how work is terrible and bosses are tyrants, while the ideal system is one in which your work is highly regimented by a small group of experts. What a difference!

        5. And demand for shoes and bicycles would skyrocket.

    3. I wanted to see if I could find any useful idiots in the US that support him.

      Check Anti-War.com or LRC? I mean saying bad things about an opponent of the USG makes you a neocon warmonger.

      1. There’s apparently some of those on DU as well!

        77. There used to be some Mugabe fans here on DU, but they faded away.

        I wonder how long some DUers will continue to support Maduro if he continues on his present path.

        WHAT! There were people on DU who were pro-Mugabe?

        79. Or it could be, as most respected economists have said,

        the massive mismanagement and corruption of the Ven. govt.
        If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

        83. Is it heritage foundation, Cato institute, or did Rush not bother to say?

        If you point out Venezuelan corruption, you must be a dittohead!

        1. Uh oh.

        Expect the usual suspects to chime in on how this is the fault of U.S. imperialism and that Maduro and his Merry Band of Thugs has no choice but to confront the evil empire that is the U.S. and how this is the result of the U.S. meddling in Chile in the 70’s.

        There’s one guy named Ranchemp who posted most of the reasonable stuff in that thread. I don’t know what he’s doing on DU. He said something about Bush being worse than Chavez, but even with that little tilt into left-wing paranoia he’s pretty much kicking the shit out of the armchair socialists on the DU board.

      2. Oh I’m sure Ramirez or what’s his name is on it.

    4. Some douchebag’s sig: “Owning property is like driving, it’s a privilege, not a right.”

      Rage inducing.

  30. I’m in shock. A movement that wanted to legalize pot so they could tax and regulate the shit out of it ends up legalizing pot and taxing and regulating the shit out of it.

    1. I guess this proves Cobb’s point. Black people really are violent.*

      *I shouldn’t have to put a sarcasm tag here, but I’m going to anyway. /sarc

    2. Whoever wrote that is not really familiar with English sentence structure.
      Hint: Diagram some sentences!

    1. Shreek posted this last night and claimed he was a Heinleinian and everyone else here was a Calhounian.

      1. I’m sure shreeky would have been a supporter of Goldwater also, given the chance, making the rest of us look silly while he defended AuH2O with his brilliant logic.

        Shreeky certainly has a penchant for defending people named Barry.

    2. “Today, probably 90 percent of the Republican intelligentsia in Washington DC and New York City counts itself as libertarian on economic and social issues”

      Could be, but those who have some understanding of libertarian view will laff their asses off about *that* claim.
      Did shreek claim to be one of those?

      1. Wait, what Republican intellegentsia in NYC? David Brooks? Bloomberg?

    3. What a long pompous screed of nothing. Like the BSG finale.

      1. Starbuck is an angel libertarian.

        1. She was individualistic and had no problem telling a slaver to frak off.

      2. I thought we agreed the final season doesn’t exist.

  31. grains are destroying our brains

    1. That’s a purdy girl eating cereal, there is.

  32. I know I will receive backlash on this but I don’t care. I agree with most Libertarian views but I have to draw the line with hard drugs. I agree weed should be legal but once it I is legalized then there will be people wanting to legalize cocaine or heroin or meth. This has to stop.

    1. I agree weed should be legal but once it I is legalized then there will be people wanting to legalize cocaine or heroin or meth.

      You mean re-legalize

      Cocaine Toothache Drops
      Just 15 cents!

  33. I think people ought to be glad that kids are all smoking pot now. Its better than sniffing glue like everyone used to do. (which actually is dangerous)

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