Posts Tagged ‘politics’

gun

I have no real aversion to firearms.  I might be getting more libertarian in my old age, where privacy and individual rights are taking on a position of more and more importance. What bothers me about the gun debate is how passionate and emotional people get about guns, on both sides of the issues, without truly emphasizing the facts we know.

It has been said that statistics can lie, be cherrypicked to support whatever position you’re going to stand behind.  I have researched guns and gun violence extensively, and while there are many pro-gun websites and information hubs full of useful and appropriate positions, I double-checked sources and had difficulty verifying many claims.  Below are  studies and statistics verified through multiple sources.

While I don’t have an aversion to guns, I believe all of us need a good understanding of how guns are more than just tools.  Because they are more that just tools.  It is objectively true that a gun has a different effect on our thoughts and behavior than a hammer, or a screwdriver, or a stapler.  Whether or not you believe you should have an unadulterated right to own a gun, you must acknowledge facts and reality.  So here are some facts!  Read them and make your own decisions.

 

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Voting

Posted: March 8, 2016 in evidence based policy, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

tagsgf-election-sticker-i-voted-stocksdale2

Every time I vote in my town, I am humbled.

I live in a city with a huge immigrant population.  Every time there’s an election, I am surrounded by folks coming to vote, with their citizenship papers, or their voter registrations, or their passports and licenses.  Some speak broken English; some speak no English at all.  Our signs are in Bengali, Arabic, English, and Polish.

Every person in the hall is so excited to vote, the energy in the room is palpable.  These are folks who are working and living in this county, whose children attend our city’s schools, and are my neighbors and friends.  My community takes voting seriously.  Because it matters – because it still matters.

No matter how jaded or cynical I become, or how disillusioned with our political process (and I am), all I have to do is walk into my precinct on election day, and I am revitalized.

Citizenship matters, and voting is the most fundamental act we have as citizens.  I hope you take advantage of this beautiful gift.  I hope you fulfill your civic duty.  But most of all, I hope you are excited to be a citizen and to make your voice heard.

I voted.  Did you?

As so often happens, I was reading an article in the Metro Times, one which advocated for marijuana dispensaries as legal business within the city of Detroit (and Michigan, in general).  Read it here.

Right now in Detroit there are about 180 dispensaries all over the city; Weedmaps has a service allowing users to locate their nearest dispensary, much like a yellow pages for pot.

You may have already guessed I’m an advocate of legalization; honestly, I’d like to see all drugs at least decriminalized, so we can stop filling up our jails with simple users and non-violent drug crimes.  But the dispensary issue is a bit murkier.

Since the end of prohibition in the 1920s, liquor has been widely available for purchase and subject to government regulation.  Like it or hate it, we have an age where use is legal and we have standards for how to sell it (by looking at an ID, bartenders aren’t supposed to over-serve, we have a legal limit for driving etc).  Even though we know parents buy for kids, teenagers sometimes get a ‘fake’, we still (generally) see the rules being followed.

There aren’t real, concrete rules for marijuana dispensaries or who they can sell to, where they can be located…it’s a bit of a mess.

I love the idea of stores because it’s a safety issue; it’s safer to go into a business than to talk to some dude on the street (or, more likely, to trust that the guy your friend uses has safe, quality product and isn’t working for the police).  I love the idea because it moves us one step closer to that state of legalization and of decreasing stigma of use.  It just worries me, because we’ve seen alcohol be used as a means of oppression in poor communities, and I’d hate to see this go the same way.

Poor areas are wayyyyyy more likely to have an abundance of liquor stores.  WayMoreLikely.

Easy availability of alcohol is associated with increased rates of neighborhood violence.  Alcohol advertising is targeted toward people and communities of color (l think we all remember the Colt 45 ad with Billy Dee Williams, now ironically appropriated by rich white hipsters).  Liquor stores take up space that could otherwise be used by local businesses, schools, religious organizations, etc (or even grocery stores to increase food availability).  Liquor ensures poor communities stay poor, and contributes to lack of safety and economic decline.  When liquor stores are less prevalent, youth homicide drops and median income rises.

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a plea to make booze (or weed) illegal again, but we can’t deny the impact adding liquor and weed to the environment has on our vulnerable communities (including the perpetuation of racism against and within communities of color).

So we’re seeing enormous numbers of weed stores popping up all over Detroit.  When I look at the map of dispensaries, I’m not seeing them ONLY in poor areas, but perhaps concentrated in areas of vulnerability.  District 1 is home to 13 stores; District 1 has some of the lowest employment rates in the city.

We don’t need rules and regulations to protect us from ourselves – we need them to ensure corporations and single-minded businesses aren’t allowed to create negative environments just because they can, because we haven’t said no.

Weed might be safer than other drugs, but if we don’t pay attention, it will be added to the oppressor’s toolbox.

Not too long ago, I heard an amazing episode of “On the Media”, broadcast on NPR.  They talked about nihilism, mostly throughout history, although addressing some feelings that our collective society has gone to hell, that nihilism is on the rise.

I’ve never been a nihilist (another reason I’ve been a mediocre punk) because I think people caring is the only reason to keep going; doing good for each other, informing yourself and others, keeping the world in mind is a force, one I’ve never completely lost faith in.

However, this episode talked about the idea of “political nihilism“, when one stops caring about politics in society, feeling its meaningless to care, because no change is possible.  I feel this way more and more.

come on, who’s going to win this one?

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