Monday Miscellany 5/15/23

Monday Miscellany 5/15/23 May 15, 2023

The plan to make every black Californian a millionaire, the results of legalizing marijuana, and the proposal to eliminate traffic cops.

$1.2 Million for Reparations, but Activists Demand $200 million

The California panel charged with studying whether black citizens should receive reparations from the state has approved a proposal that could give black Californians as much as $1.2 million.

These would not be reparations for slavery.  California came into the union as a free state and never enslaved black people.  The payments would be $2,352 for each year descendants of slaves lived in the state between 1971 to 2020, during the so-called “war on drugs,” as compensation for “over-policing“; $3,366 for each year they lived in California between 1933 to 1977, the years of housing discrimination; and $13,619 for each year they lived in the state as reparations for disparities in health between blacks and whites.   Two million individuals would be eligible to receive as much as $1.2 million, for a total of $800 billion.

But activists protested the panel, claiming that $1.2 million is not nearly enough, that each black resident in California should receive $200 million.

Governor Newsom, who appointed the panel but is reluctant to raise California’s budget that much from $300 billion already, demurs, saying that the legacy of slavery “is about much more than cash payments” and vowing to battle systemic racism by other means.

Marijuana Legalization Is Not Going Well

As states, including the most conservative ones, rush to legalize marijuana on the basis of bogus health claims and libertarian rhetoric, we now have evidence of what that does, based on the track record of early-adopting states over the past decade.

As Obama administration drug policy advisor Keven Sabet says in Newsweek,

A decade’s worth of data are in, and the promises of marijuana legalization are increasingly proving empty. From more marijuana-related hospitalizations to higher usage rates and an expansion of the illicit market, the effects of legalization have been detrimental to public health and safety, communities of color, and even the environment. Politicians who bought Big Marijuana’s line about big tax money have also been made to look foolish.

He goes on to give the details supporting those points.  Today a marijuana joint is at least four times as strong pot that Baby Boomers remember from college, which had a percentage of the psychoactive substance THC of only 3.75%.   And the vapes being sold legally have as much as 90% THC.

Sabet says that more Americans are getting a daily dose of THC  than are taking a daily drink of alcohol.  Hospitalizations for marijuana-related reasons are up 75% since 2011, with children under 12 going to the hospital for marijuana use going up 1,375%.  Traffic fatalities are up because of marijuana.  In Michigan, one out of four fatalities involve drugged driving.

One argument for legalizing the drug was that this would end the illegal drug trade.  Instead, illegal marijuana is flourishing.  California estimates that 70%-80% of the weed sold in legal shops was grown illegally.  Plus, the drug cartels have set up grow operations in states where they are legal so that they can safely grow product to supply the states where it is not legal.

Sabet heads an organization called Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which advocates health-first policies on marijuana based on scientific evidence.  I assume that would mean things like if marijuana has legitimate medical benefits, it should go through the FDA approval process and be sold at pharmacies by prescription.  As opposed to the self-medicating approach of buying it from “dispensaries.”

For the group’s detailed study Lessons Learned from State Marijuana Legalization, go here.

L.A. Now Considering Eliminating Traffic Cops

More California dreamin’:  Having sought to defund the police–or at least to hamstring the police–from fighting crime, Los Angeles is now considering removing traffic offenses from police jurisdiction.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Most traffic enforcement in Los Angeles should be done by civilian workers, but only in tandem with major infrastructure upgrades that improve safety along city streets that are among the nation’s deadliest.

Those are the conclusions of a long-delayed report from the city transportation department that has yet to be released. The Times reviewed a draft of the document, which has been in the works for nearly three years, since the City Council first raised the prospect of removing traffic duties from the Los Angeles Police Department.

Even as traffic deaths and injuries–including from “road rage” violence–have been shooting up in California, the panel is recommending “less punitive” measures.

Says reporter Libor Jany, “Among the recommendations put forth by the city report is investing in so-called ‘self-enforcing infrastructure,’ such as narrower streets, dedicated bike lanes and more clearly marked pedestrian crosswalks. Such measures naturally slow the flow of traffic and discourage drivers from speeding or breaking other road laws.”

The city would also “use unarmed civilians to enforce ‘safety-related traffic violations’ such as speeding.”  Reportedly Berkeley, Oakland, and Philadelphia are already doing this.

And if someone gets a ticket from one of these civilians, “the city should consider ‘means-based’ fee models — such as vouchers to repair broken taillights — for traffic violators, measures that ‘advance traffic safety objectives and do not perpetuate enforcement disparities.'”

Having driven in L.A., I’m not sure how anybody commits the offense of speeding, since the freeways in my experience always seem to be like long parking lots.  But when speeding is possible, presumably on the back streets, I wonder how the civilian enforcers would catch up to the offenders and be able to pull them over without the police powers of pursuit and arrest.  And since road rage is a problem, what would set that off more than a civilian trying to write the offender a ticket?

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