Monthly Archives: June 2007

Ladies And Gentleman, We Have A Winner

The state receiving the award for the dumbest new law taking effect on July 1st is Tennessee:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Comer Wilson hasn’t had to show his ID to buy beer in a while. Maybe it’s the 66-year-old man’s long white beard.

Starting Sunday, gray hair won’t be good enough. Wilson and everyone else will be required to show identification before buying beer in Tennessee stores – no matter how old the buyer appears.

“It’s the stupidest law I ever heard of,” Wilson said. “You can see I’m over 21.”

Tennessee is the first state to make universal carding mandatory, says the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association. However, the law does not apply to beer sales in bars and restaurants, and it does not cover wine and liquor.

Supporters say it keeps grocery store and convenience store clerks from having to guess a customer’s age.

Because you never know when a bunch of Sixth graders who look remarkably like Korean War Veterans will walk into the local 7-11 and try to buy a six-pack of Budweiser.

As dumb as the law is, though, this comment from Tennessee’s Governor is even dumber:

Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said it’s a good way to address the problems of underage drinking.

And the 63-year-old governor said he personally won’t mind the extra effort to buy beer.

“I’ll be very pleased when I’m carded, and in my mind I’ll just imagine it’s because I look so young,” he said.

Yea, you go with that Governor.

H/T: The Irish Trojan and Hit & Run

N.M. Gearing Up To Face Drug Police On Federalism

New Mexico has voted to legalize medical marijuana. Starting tomorrow, they’re raising the bar: the state will make sure a safe and legal distribution system in created:

New Mexico has a new medical marijuana law with a twist: It requires the state to grow its own.

The law, effective Sunday, not only protects medical marijuana users from prosecution — as 11 other states do — but requires New Mexico to oversee a production and distribution system for the drug.

“The long-term goal is that the patients will have a safe, secure supply that doesn’t mean drug dealers, that doesn’t mean growing their own,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico.

The state Department of Health must issue rules by Oct. 1 for the licensing of marijuana producers and in-state, secured facilities, and for developing a distribution system.

There’s a bit of a thorny issue, in that I don’t the state should be in business regulating and distributing narcotics. But I’m going to set that aside at this point, because the situation they’re setting up is a better deal that what New Mexico currently has in place.

The really interesting thing, though, is that they’re throwing down a bit of a gauntlet here. And I’m guessing Alberto Gonzales, or whoever succeeds him as AG, is going to pick it up.

The distribution and use of marijuana are illegal under federal law, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 in a California case that medical marijuana users can be prosecuted.

Faced with that dilemma, the health department has asked state Attorney General Gary King whether its employees could be federally prosecuted for running the medical marijuana registry and identification card program, and whether the agency can license marijuana producers and facilities.

Unfortunately for anyone licensed by New Mexico, the Department of Justice doesn’t care about your silly state laws. Marijuana is a dangerous gateway drug, leading our children down a path of failure and ruin. Didn’t you see Reefer Madness?

How do I know they’ll trump state laws? Well, if Raich isn’t enough, you can go one step farther and look at the Ed Rosenthal case. A man specifically deputized by the city of Oakland to grow marijuana for medical marijuana patients was federally prosecuted, and for an added kicker, couldn’t reveal to the jury that what he was doing was specifically approved by the city government.

n 2002, federal agents arrested Ed, even though he had been deputized by the City of Oakland to grow marijuana for medical use. In a stunning setback for the federal government, he was sentenced to only one day in prison. In 2006 the 9th Circuit Appeals Court overthrew Rosenthal’s conviction. Several months later the US Federal Attorney’s office re-indicted him. A new trial commenced on 14 May 2007.

On May 31 2007, it was announced that Ed had been convicted again for three of the five charges against him: one conspiracy count; one count of growing, intending to distribute and distributing marijuana; and one count of using a commercial building as a site for growing and distributing marijuana. He was acquitted of growing and distributing marijuana at the Harm Reduction Center medical-marijuana club in San Francisco. The jury reached a deadlock on whether he had conspired to grow and distribute at the Harm Reduction Center. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer once again prohibited Ed’s lawyers from telling the jury that his work was sanctioned by Oakland government officials, a main point of contention for the jurors of Ed’s first trial. Ed will see no more jail time and will, of course, appeal.

I’m sure the people setting up the licensing system won’t face any prosecution. They may survive under sovereign immunity. But I’d warn anyone considering applying for a state license to remain on guard. The feds don’t care about state law, and they don’t care about the 9th or 10th Amendment. They’ll fight the Drug War ruthlessly, regardless of what the American people or the government of New Mexico have to say about it.

The Reality Of “Predatory” Lending

Over at my personal blog, I wrote earlier today about a Washington Post article about the rising number of foreclosures in the D.C. Metropolitan area. Along those same lines, Tim Cavanaugh writes in the July issue of Reason Magazine about the current focus on so-called predatory lending and its connection to the state of the real estate market.

As Tim points out, there was once a time when it was difficult for people to get loans, and that was considered a crisis too:

The conventional wisdom used to say the poor didn’t have enough access to debt. One of the earliest products of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was the Home Owners Refinancing Act, which provided mortgage money to more than a million borrowers over a three-year period. Harry Truman’s record shows a consistent effort to expand the amount of debt available to willing borrowers.

My favorite artifact of the period’s pro-lending mood is Fredric March’s great “collateral” speech from the 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives. March, playing a rising bank middle manager who has just returned to his job after serving as an Army NCO in the Pacific, reads a rambling riot act to a banquet of porcine small-town bankers who have criticized him for providing loans to bad-credit-risk veterans. If we’d fought like bankers, seeking collateral for every risk and a guarantee on every expenditure, we’d have lost the war, he argues.

We can dispute the wisdom of federally guaranteed loans and mortgage purchasing, but it’s notable that the new economy March wanted helped to create one of the greatest booms in the country’s history: the postwar suburbanization of America, which is now derided by our own bien pensant classes, who claim there’s too much ready credit out there. The difference now is that it’s coming from the market rather than a package of government guarantees, from an industry that expanded to fill a demand and is now contracting as the demand shrinks.

Which is, when you think about it, how it should be. You can question the wisdom of some of the decisions that people made in going with unconventional mortgages, but the truth of the matter is that without these types of financing options that the market created, most of those people never would have been able to obtain a mortgage to begin with. They’d still be renting, or living with family, and the idea of the home of their own would be nothing but a dream that would probably never be fulfilled.

Did some lenders make the mistake of lending to bad credit risks ? They probably did that too. But they have learned the lesson of those mistakes as well. That’s what the market is about.

Besides, as Tim points out, things aren’t nearly as bad as the politicians would have you believe:

In a sane world, we’d say this is a market behaving as it should, and marvel at an economy where so many people who were once locked into the renters market have gotten a chance at homeownership. Some of them have blown their chance by exhibiting the same kind of behavior that made them bad credit risks in the first place. But most have not. In fact, about nine out of every 10 sub-prime borrowers are still making their payments.

Sounds like mostly a success story to me.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

New Laws Coming On Sunday

I just came across a story with a headline about “Hundreds” of new laws that will be taking effect in various states on July 1. Most of them are fairly innocuous attacks on liberty, that will stagnate economies and generally raise consumer prices, like most of government:

Among them are new efforts to encourage alternative energy in Nevada and Minnesota, tougher rules against illegal immigrants in Georgia and Idaho, and a higher minimum wage in several states.

Encourage? Yeah, they encourage by regulating or taxing, not calm persuasion. And I’m sure the immigration rules in Georgia and Idaho, and the higher minimum wages, will just do wonders for the economies of those states…

But one bit caught my ire, in only the way that seat belt and helmet laws can. And like those laws, this one will be cheered from the rooftops about how wonderful government legislation can be:

– As a deadly tornado bore down on southwestern Indiana in 2005, the National Weather Service issued a radio warning urging people in the twister’s path to seek shelter. But many of the most vulnerable residents didn’t hear the alert because they had no radios equipped to receive it. That will change Sunday when Indiana enacts a law requiring mobile homes to have weather radios.

“My family would be here had I known that weather radios existed,” said Kathryn Martin, who pushed heavily for the reform after the tornado shattered the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park and killed dozens of people, including three of her relatives.

Bruce Savage, an institute spokesman, said tornadoes do not discriminate between buildings.

“They certainly could have benefited from a weather radio,” Savage said of the students who died. “So why not make the bill really cover and provide adequate warning to everybody?”

Martin said she doesn’t understand resistance to making weather radios a requirement. “You have to know that the storm is coming,” she said.

Like seat belts and helmets, I’ve got nothing against weather radios. And if I lived a mobile home, I’d gladly trade the paltry $30 for a radio. But I’m not willing to trade freedom for that radio.

The fact that Kathryn Martin can’t understand why there’s resistance to making this a requirement speaks a lot to what our kids are being taught in public schools. And it sure isn’t a good story.

The Battle Against The Fairness Doctrine Continues

Captain Ed is reporting that Congressman Mike Pence’s amendment blocking the FCC from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine will be introduced in the Senate by Senators Norm Coleman and John Thune:

In an effort to prevent Democrats from suppressing the right to free speech for talk radio and other broadcasters, Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and John Thune (R-SD) today introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2007 (S.1748). The bill would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine, which would require the government to monitor political views and decide what constitutes fair political discourse. Identical legislation was also introduced by Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) in the House of the Representatives.

“At its core, this is about the right to free speech. Our founders put the first amendment first for a reason. It protects all Americans’ right to free speech, regardless of political affiliation or views. The Democrats’ attempt to regulate and stifle ideas is a grave threat our liberties,” said Senator Coleman. “Since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, talk radio has flourished due to free market ideas. We mustn’t put the government in control over the political views expressed on the public airwaves. I applaud Congressman Pence for being a leader on this issue. Senators DeMint, Thune and I will continue working with our colleagues in the Senate to pass this critical legislation.”

“Here they go again. Democrats showed in the immigration debate they will once again try resurrect the so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine’, which is nothing more than an attempt to muzzle the free speech of conservative Americans. If liberals had their way, this unfair doctrine would give the heavy hand of government control over talk radio. We must act now to preserve all American’s first amendment rights,” said Senator DeMint.

This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats, or Rush Limbaugh, or even conservative talk radio. It’s about freedom of speech. Passage of this bill should become a priority.

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