Medicinal weed is the real deal

Earlier this evening I was out for a glass of wine with some friends. I characterized my decision not to vote for Donald Trump as a preference “not to vote for the final American president.” If he wins, I don't see how the republic we have survives in its current form. But maybe that's the point of why people support him?

The rejection people feel from the government is wholly reasonable. Legislators and executive branch leaders on both sides of the aisle totally ignore the voice of the people, and in the case of Clinton, flaunt their lack of accountability to the rules that bind the rest of us. It's hard for me to understand how an autocrat solves those issues of accountability, but I agree that a Clinton probably does not, either. So it's a vote for a horrifying future, or a miserable status quo. 

How Nice, Trump, Brexit and the Turkish coup are all connected
A long feature in Slate illustrates how in one week last month, the failure of technocratic rule, the rise of populism and the danger Islamic terror were all on display simultaneously, causing the author to ask: will democracy make it? I like to believe it will, but it is clear how out of touch leaders are with the masses right now. People have no voice in decisions, and the government feels increasingly out of touch. I’d like to think it will respond before a critical mass see the appeal in a person like Trump, but even those like myself believe neither option is acting with the best interests of the people in mind.

Yet another way we’re subsidizing Walmart
It’s already insane that a large segment of Walmart’s workforce receives public assistance, in what essentially amounts to a government subsidy of a major business, but Bloomberg reports this week on the impact that cost-cutting measures have had on security in stores. This move has shifted the manpower burden (and cost!) of loss prevention off Walmart employees and on to police departments. I want as little government interference in business as possible, but that premise cuts both ways. Government shouldn’t be passing onerous regulations, but you also can’t lever government resources to reduce your own expenses and become a taxpayer subsidized operation. It’s clear the root of this problem is aggressive cost-cutting by Walmart to increase profits, and local communities need to push back firmly (as some have in the article).

Democrats have chosen unions over kids
In most cases, I would agree it’s the Republicans who have moved further from the middle on policy issues. The full-throated Dem embrace of public sector unions makes sense for forming an electoral coalition, but at what point are we tired of putting government workers ahead of everyone else? The Democratic Party platform on education is a key example of this: it’s a policy platform that benefits no one other that teacher’s unions, and is not even reflective of the overall party. America falls further behind in education every year, and the mentality of putting bad teachers and failing schools ahead of the next generation’s students is only going to erode our ability to compete globally.

Why free trade critics focus on China, not NAFTA
To that end, I think the blanket criticism this year about free trade in the election is way off base. The government has not done enough to prepare and retrain people through the incredible transition that is occurring in the economy now. But to assert we’re going to somehow magically restore lost manufacturing jobs is a farce. Putting aside the fact that US manufacturing output is up thanks to technology and the jobs aren’t needed: these aren’t jobs we want here. They’re unskilled, low-value jobs that aren’t going to warrant more than minimum wage in the global economy no matter what tariffs you put in place. Where Trump, especially, is correct is that China needs to start playing by the rules. Punitive tariffs aren’t going to help anyone, but China ignores IP law, allows worker abuse, has draconian laws that close their markets, and otherwise tilt the scales in their favor. We ought to embrace the global market — but on terms that are fair for everyone. China needs to play by the rules, or they ought to be back on the outside looking in.

Medicinal weed might be the real deal
A good number of people I know treat “medical marijuana” as a nice wink toward decency in the march to legalization. Sure, many people can benefit medically from marijuana’s effects, but it’s really just something we all say so people can get high, right? Turns out there’s real benefits. A study found that painkiller usage has significantly declined in states with medical marijuana as people choose that treatment over opioids. For a country who is suffering an epidemic in opioid abuse, this should be exciting news. Count me as a cynic who was pro-legalization but suspicious of true medical benefits. Now I’m considering a change of mind.

The NSA got hacked. Well, maybe.
No one seems to know quite what to make of the leaked files this week that are attributed to the NSA. Did they get hacked, or not? Edward Snowden seems to think that the files are legitimate, but also is suspicious the NSA itself was hacked as opposed to a staging server. What’s most interesting is not the hack itself, but the decision to release this information publicly. There seems to be an escalation going on between the US and Russia that the general public is not privy to in the way they would for conventional saber-rattling. It’s scary to think there’s this battle playing out totally apart from the public eye, and that we might be exposed to the consequences somewhat suddenly.