Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monona decriminalizes marijuana use, possession: Wisconsin should follow suit

The economic — and health — benefits of marijuana could be a boon for the state

The city of Monona, which sits just to the southeast of Madison, just decriminalized marijuana use and possession for law-abiding citizens over the age of 21.

By a 4-3 vote of the city council, a measure that would reduce the fine from $200 to no fine at all was approved. Mayor Bob Miller is also supportive of the measure.

The fines for users under the age of 21 remains $200, a point that advocates pushed for themselves to reinforce the idea that marijuana use should only be decriminalized for adult use only.

This move is the right direction to head in, and the state ought to look at its own standards as well. Other states across the nation have already decriminalized or outright legalized marijuana use. Wisconsin should follow suit: there is no reason that this drug, which is safer than alcohol consumption in most cases, should remain illegal.

It should be strictly regulated, of course. Every effort should be made to prevent minors from using marijuana, and hotels, restaurants and apartment complexes should have the right to tell occupants that they cannot smoke marijuana in their buildings (in fact, Wisconsin’s smoking ban should apply to marijuana smokers, too). Use while driving should also be strictly forbidden.

But we must remember that marijuana is relatively safe to use. And its legalization could be a boon to the economy. In Colorado, for instance, reported $17 million in added tax revenues — and that’s just for January of this year. For the entire year of 2016, the state reported over $200 million in tax revenues.

Wisconsin should follow other states' leads and look into legalizing marijuana itself, especially since we’re currently suffering the effects of being hit with a tight budget. A substantial amount of those revenues could go toward ensuring roads are well funded, or that public schools receive the adequate supplies that they need, for example.

Even taking a moderate approach on marijuana decriminalization would be helpful: legalizing it for medicinal purposes could comfort hundreds of thousands of patients in the state, and can help stave off the opioid crisis that Wisconsin is facing.

Conservative lawmakers that run Wisconsin will not likely budge on this. But it’s an issue they ought to reconsider: marijuana decriminalization, and eventual legalization, would be beneficial to the state’s budget as well as to the overall health of its citizens.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trump is a dangerous president because he lacks this crucial skill

The president lacks the basic ability to think critically

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and I’ve come up with a definitive reason that Donald Trump is quite possibly the worst person to have serving as president of the United States — he lacks a critical mind.

That isn’t to say that Donald Trump lacks opinions. He has plenty of them, visible to the world of social media through his tweets (whether we want them or not). But his opinions are rarely the result of his own thought processes. Rather, they come from other places, usually cable news programs he’s just watched or far-right wing internet websites with questionable sources for their content.

Critical thinking is defined as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.” We had a president with a critical mind when Barack Obama was in office. To be sure, he took advice from several of his close advisers, and had his own “presidential bubble.”

But Obama was an enlightened mind also, and weighed each person’s opinions against the evidence at hand, formulating a carefully thought-out opinion based on the ideas of several individuals and, most importantly, his own thinking. He acted coolly and calmly, never making a brash decision without first going over what the possible outcomes could be.

We don’t have that careful, measured analysis in President Trump. The current commander-in-chief throws out wild accusations without evidence, and relies too heavily on what information is being spoon-fed to him rather than taking stock from several different sources of information and coming up with his own decisions.

That allows for many mistakes to be made — and for many to manipulate the decision-making process of the president to reach their desired outcomes. That makes Trump’s presidency potentially the most dangerous one in recent history, and it’s why we need to stand up to him at every juncture possible.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Scott Walker “shifts” on his promises — so why should voters trust him?

Walker tries to spin excuses for why he's failed to deliver on jobs pledge

In 2010, Gov. Scott Walker made a huge promise: that under his leadership, the state of Wisconsin would create 250,000 jobs in four years.

It was a promise that many derided him for. 250,000 jobs was overzealous, a lot of people warned. But Walker persisted, and even doubled-down on his pledge, saying that 250,000 jobs was his FLOOR, not his ceiling, for creating jobs in the state. In other words, he fully expected to create more than that amount.

Walker even said that his job depended on meeting this pledge.

This week the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that Gov. Walker has still failed to come close to his jobs pledge — more than two years after he said it would come about.

So how does Walker react? By stating that he’s shifted his goal. From Chuck Quirmbach of WPR:
"I qualify that now saying ... I got more people employed than ever before," Walker said. "You ask people on the street who are hiring, it's not how many jobs are created, it's how many people are there to fill them. And so, I've shifted from that, and said my number one issue is workforce. I need to find those people."
Someone should inform the governor that promises don’t work like that. When an elected official says that their job depends on something — which Walker said in 2010 — it should not be dismissed so easily.

Much more than that, Walker needs to keep in mind that anyone who became governor when he did would have “got more people employed than ever before.”

That’s like bragging about the growth of population — which has been slow, but has been growing. The same holds true for jobs growth...it has increased, to be sure, but at a snail’s pace.

As I pointed out last week, the pace of jobs growth under Walker is slower than his predecessor’s rate of growth. And Jake, over at Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse, points out that we’d have added more than 300,000 jobs by now if we had kept pace with the rate the U.S. overall had maintained since Walker took office.

So no — we should not allow Walker to “shift” his promise. Voters should not trust this governor to do what he promises for them. He failed to create the number of jobs he said he would. A respectable person would own up to that fact. Walker, on the other hand, makes excuses, including “shifting” his goals when they don’t come true.