About Nicholas Hooton
- Website: http://nicholashooton.com
- Profile: Nicholas Hooton is an editor and strategist for Utah Liberty Alliance.
- Our already overcrowded jails and prisons will become moreso
- The costs associated with enforcement will add to the state’s burdensome budget
- Usage will increase
- Gang activity will increase, as well as violent and property crime
- Civil rights violations will increase as police officers have one more reason to search persons and property
- The anticipated revenue from citations (for example, a $65 license reinstatement fee) will give police officers further incentive to search individuals and result in more civil rights violations
- The increase in usage and violent crime, along with a disincentive to seek help, will place a larger burden on the state’s emergency rooms
The Utah legislature sure did manage to get H.B. 477 passed in a hurry — just 72 hours. What does this bill do that is so important as to require such speed and energy? Why, it protects the legislators from being embarrassed, that’s what.
Utah’s open records act, known as GRAMA (Government Records Access Management Act) is our state’s equivalent to the Freedom of Information Act. It entitles the public to obtain copies of government records. H.B. 477 shields many records from release and increases the amount the government can charge for copies of other records. It’s still up in the air whether or not Gov. Herbert will sign off on it.
The bill managed to pass both the house and the senate without much of a fuss, so chances are good that your representatives voted for it. If you don’t know who your representatives are, just go to this page and enter your address. For your convenience, I’ve listed the “yeas” from both the house and the senate below. If you find your rep’s and/or senator’s names, you might want to give them a quick call and let them know how you feel about them stomping on your rights. You might also want to send a quick message to the governor letting him know how good his re-election chances are if he signs this.
Anderson Fisher, Julie Last Richardson Barrus Froerer Mathis Sagers Bird Galvez McIff Sandstrom Brown, D Gibson Menlove Sanpei Brown, M Greenwood Morley Sumsion Butterfield Grover Newbold Vickers Christensen Handy Nielson Webb Clark Harper Noel Wheatley Cox Hemingway Oda Wilcox Daw Hendrickson Painter Wiley Dee Herrod Perry Wilson Dougall Hughes Peterson, J Wimmer Draxler Hutchings Peterson, V Lockhart Dunnigan Ipson Pitcher Edwards Ivory Powell Eliason Kiser Ray Senate:
Adams Hinkins Okerlund Valentine Bramble Jenkins Reid Van Tassell Christensen Knudson Stephenson, H. Waddoups Davis Liljenquist Stevenson, J. Dayton Madsen Thatcher Hillyard Niederhauser Urquhart
The house is considering a bill that “establishes reporting requirements for school districts regarding civic and character education taught in schools.” Among the values that “students shall be taught in connection with regular school work” is “the essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system.”
Let me get this straight: the state wants to use its coercive, socialist monopoly on the education industry to force schools to teach children about the benefits of the free enterprise system. Did we all get that?
As expected, Gov. Gary Herbert signed the spice ban into law today after the measure sailed through the legislature with only one hangup: that it didn’t ban enough substances.
The reasons cited for this enactment have been the health of the public and the safety of our children. The bill passed without any longitudinal research into the effects of a complete ban and, as usual, without any thought for the unintended side effects, despite the many real-world examples of these effects. The federal “War on Drugs” is a complete and utter failure. Drug prohibition has been shown to increase usage. Bans have also increased violent and property crime in areas where they have been enacted.
The safety of our children? Before, the substance could have been regulated for safety and restrictions put on purchases by minors. Now, kids will simply need to go to a friend’s house or a local gang member to purchase spice of questionable quality. If they become tangled up in it, before, they could turn to their parents and the community for assistance. Now, fear of legal consequences will give them no recourse and their problem will be exacerbated. They may even be afraid to go to the emergency room if something really bad happens for fear of getting in trouble.
Here are my predictions for what this ban will do over the long term:
One last prediction, an ironic one, and one that has been more eloquently stated by Stephen Rolles, a senior policy analyst for the Transform Drug Policy Foundation:
A curiously self-justifying logic now prevails in which the harms of prohibition—such as drug-related organized crime and deaths from contaminated heroin—are conflated with the harms of drug use. These policy-related harms then bolster the apparent menace of drugs and justify the continuation, or intensification, of prohibition. This has helped create a high level policy environment that routinely ignores or actively suppresses critical scientific engagement and is uniquely divorced from most public health and social policy norms, such as evaluation of interventions using established indicators of health and well being.
I continue to hope, going forward, that Utahns will think prior to acting, that we will consider the consequences instead of giving into our knee-jerk reactions.
Last year, when concerned mother Kerry McCullough began her effort to raise awareness about the negative effects of spice, particularly on her son, I wonder if she envisioned that her concerns would be met with a campaign of violence against Utahns of all ages in reaction to their use of this drug. I wonder if she knew that property would be seized, people would be beaten and imprisoned, addicts would be deterred from seeking help, and access to the drug would increase for children. I wonder if she thinks her son is safer now.
I hope not.
I am pleased to announce that Spooner has joined UtahLiberty.org as a contributor. Spooner is an advocate of agorism, which is a distinctive strategy for bringing about a free society. I’m sure we’ll hear more about it from him as time goes on. He prefers to maintain anonymity as an author, so Spooner is what we’ll know him as here.
I was not surprised to read today that the statewide ban on “spice” (synthetic cannabis) had no problem passing the Utah House.
“This sends a clear message to the citizens of this state that we are protecting their health,” Rep. Gage Froerer said of the legislation.
Aww, isn’t that sweet? They’re looking out for our health.
But wait, what’s this? On the same day, I read that the House is thinking of doing away with alcohol license quotas “to encourage business growth and economic development.”
Translation: there’s no money in spice and no one in the legislature gives a damn about your health.
A team of researchers recently created a classification of drugs to determine which are the most dangerous, not just on the individual level, but to society as well. Does it come as any surprise that alcohol easily takes the #1 slot, or that tobacco ranked higher than marijuana?
I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it here: if you ever want to make a legislator speechless, ask them why they want to ban spice, and when they say anything about health or safety, ask them if they’re planning to ban alcohol. Their resulting silence will prove that the spice ban is the result of an absence of a powerful spice industry manipulating government. Alcohol provides tax revenue, plain and simple. Spice does not. That’s it. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.
I know I’m a little late in getting to this, but I was intrigued by KSL’s Sunday edition discussion from December 19, 2010. Among the topics discussed was the recent declaration by a federal judge that the individual mandate in the new health care bill is unconstitutional. The judge asserted that forcing citizens to purchase a product or service is not among the powers delegated to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution.
This is, of course, absolute and utter hogwash. I quote below from Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution:
The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States…
This is followed by a lengthy list of all the goodies Congress is given power to spend our money on. And that’s just the federal government. I won’t even attempt to abridge the lengthy and complicated section of Utah’s constitution that gives taxing power to the state.
What is taxation but forcing you to purchase products and services? I never consented to paying for the services of Alcoholic Beverage Control or state-sponsored sporting events or preserving the capitol building or the state fair or the education of other people’s children. These are all products and services that the state is forcing me to purchase. You may want to spend your money on these things, and that’s all well and fine, but I don’t. You may want to peruse the state budget sometime to see how many millions of our dollars are being spent on stuff you don’t want to spend your money on.
It’s for the greater good, you may argue. Without the services provided by the state, we would descend into anarchy and chaos. We’ve got to have police and firemen and highways and courts. Our legislators aren’t going to work for free. We’ve got to have some taxation, for the essentials. If we didn’t have taxes, how would we have all these essential services?
Um, the same way we have them now: by paying someone to do them for us. It’s not rocket science. If these services are so essential, why is the assumption made that we won’t pay for them unless we are forced to? That makes zero sense. I for one would be happy to pay for police services, and I would shop around for a police service that has a decent response time, not like the officers who showed up on bicycles 20 minutes after I called them to report someone trying to break into my house and threatening my family. A private police force would have an incentive to maximize efficiency while lowering costs, because if they don’t, I take my business to a competing firm.
This is just one of the examples of stateless alternatives to the so-called essentials provided by the state that you’ll learn about in Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty: the Libertarian Manifesto, my book recommendation for the week. I cannot recommend this book enough to those who want to learn more about how liberty can work. But it doesn’t just work. It’s also the only morally justifiable political philosophy.
“Not all the political news this year involves the rise of partisan extremism and government by rage. There has been lots of that. But maybe there is a limit, a point when people of good sense and good will band together to say no. As they have just done in Utah.”
Utah Liberty Alliance seeks to bring about a free society through journalism and activism, starting right here at home.
Repeal Stupid Laws
Does your city have stupid laws on the books? It is amazing how sacred people consider the laws of the State to be until they consider the law absurd. You can help delegitimize the State by contacting us with information about the stupid laws in your city. We'll contact elected officials to urge them to repeal.
Recent Forum Posts
In development: Utah Copwatch (utahcopwatch.org)
posted in forum Incubator by Dallin Crump on August 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm
In development: Utahns for Privatized Education (u4pe.org)
posted in forum Incubator by Dallin Crump on April 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm
Utah juror information
posted in forum Incubator by Nicholas Hooton on April 30, 2012 at 8:56 am