Marijuana hearts and minds

Really interesting new survey from Pew looking at changing attitudes on marijuana legalization.  Most interesting to me, the growing support is much more than just generational replacement– at every age level people are getting more supportive.  Even old marijuana-hating geezers (I suspect that’s very much the medical marijuana argument):

Opinion on Legalizing Marijuana:  1969-2015

What’s also interesting to see is the number of people who admit to changing their mind on the issue.  And it is overwhelmingly in the direction in change of support for legalization:

Supporters of Legalization More Likely Than Opponents to Have Changed Minds

While I think there are genuine medicinal benefits, I’m far more persuaded by the fact that marijuana is clearly not as harmful as other drugs– especially alcohol.  Good to see that this fact is catching on with a decent portion of the population (though, the medical argument appears to be especially key):

Many Supporters of Legalization Cite Marijuana’s Health Benefits

So, the public is definitely moving in the right direction on this issue.  Just need more politicians (especially Republican ones) to catch up to public opinion and scientific reality.


The most important inequality

Bill Ayers with a great post arguing that the most significant inequality in our society is not one of wealth (not that that’s unimportant), but political power:

The real issue – indeed, the fundamental question of all governance no matter what kind of political system you have – is distribution of power. We talk a lot about money corrupting politics, and it clearly can and does – but that’s a back-end reinforcement mechanism. Money follows power far more than it leads it. Take a look at folks who got rich outside the usual power structures – Bill Gates is a good example. Gates has more money than the Koch Brothers will ever have, but that doesn’t make him more powerful. His wealth has had very little, if any, impact on American politics. Most people don’t even know what his political views are.

So when we argue about whether our political system should be redistributing wealth, we are barking up the wrong tree. What we should be talking about is the redistribution of political power. We have forgotten that such redistribution is exactly what democracy is designed to do. Political power always and everywhere tends naturally to accumulate over time in the hands of a small elite – this has happened in every human society, everywhere, at every stage in history. The whole point of the American revolution, the Constitution (and before it, the Articles of Confederation), the Magna Carta, and all of what we regard as the best political experiments in history have had this one thing in common: the goal of intentionally taking power away from the few and spreading it out among the many. [italics in original; bold mine] …

This will sound to some like a partisan argument, and in a certain sense it is. The Republican Party, from its policy positions to its core ideology to its funding sources, seems to have aligned itself some time ago with the existing dominant bases of power in the United States. A message that rejects wealth redistribution is a message in defense of the status quo – that is, the current distribution of power in the country. So far as I can tell, the Republican Party on most fronts seems content with the existing concentration of power…

The Democratic Party in general, going back probably the late 1960s and the Chicago debacle, has largely accommodated itself to the existing power system as a means of remaining relevant….

So where to turn? As usual, I don’t have any good solutions – if the answer were obvious somebody else would have found it already. But I do argue – as I always have – that asking the right questions and focusing on the right issues is far more important that having the answers. Right now our political system is largely asking all the wrong questions. We have for the most part abandoned the central mission of democracy in favor of some of its trappings. If we start asking the right questions, I don’t know what will happen – but I think the outcome is likely to be better than the path we are on.

Great stuff.

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