GMO

There’s a measure on the Oregon ballot that if made into law requires labeling of all GMO products. I’m pretty sure it’s going to pass considering these are the same voters that stuck down Fluoride. And I can’t wait to watch Portland’s jaw drop when everyone finds out 95% of what they’ve eaten for the past decade is genetically modified.

Yes on 91

I received a flyer in a mail today entitled No on 91. Measure 91 is Oregon’s ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. The flyer was plastered in candies with a tagline: “Why experiment on Oregon’s kids with these MARIJUANA junk foods?” Odds are if you live in Oregon you received one in the mail too, most of you I’m sure can see right through the long list of unsubstantiated claims on the back, but for those who aren’t familiar with the facts around the drug I present a counter argument–and unlike the fear-mongering flyer I’ll include where I pulled my data from:

The No on 91 Committee claims that big marijuana business targets kids with gummy bears, sugary kids cereal, ice cream, etc. There’s no such thing as “big marijuana business” because it’s still against federal law. The reason candies are commonly used is because it’s easy to infuse them with THC. It’s not about kids at all, its purpose is for recreation without smoke for those of us who are more health conscious or simply don’t enjoy smoking. Everyone’s required to present ID, and be at least 21 to get any of these substances.

They claim that youth use of marijuana increases when availability increases, but when you look at the stats of Oregon, Colorado, and Washington, youth use has increased at least 2% between 2006-2011–legal or not. (http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/40-marijuana-use-by-age-group#detailed/2/7,39,49/false/909,857,105,118,104/30/14409,317)

Measure 91 allows “too much marijuana”. Not sure what that means, but just because I would be allowed to own up to 400 joints or 1 LB of edibles doesn’t mean that’s what I can afford, or realistically want. There’s no point in keeping that much around when I can go down the street and buy some more.

“This is not Woodstock weed: Today’s marijuana is 300-800% stronger.” No it isn’t. Not according to Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, the director of the Marijuana Potency Project, “Since 1972…the average THC content of marijuana has soared from less than 1% to 3 to 4% in the 1990s, to nearly 13% today” (http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/09/health/weed-potency-levels/).

They claim that there is no standard for driving. According the Voters’ Pamphlet for the Oregon General Election, “(2) The offense described in the section, use of marijuana while driving, is a Class B traffic violation.” It’s almost impossible to set standards or limits on the substance like we do with alcohol because there’s active and inactive THC and every body processes it differently.

They also claim that “Like Colorado, the black market will always be cheaper than ‘legal’ taxed marijuana.” I’ll level on this one. If the substances is drastically overtaxed like it is in Colorado then yes impoverished communities will continue to use the black market. (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/nine-months-colorado-legalized-recreational-marijuana/)

The final reason for opposing Measure 91 is that “For every $1 the government receives taxing substances like alcohol & tobacco, it spends $10 in social costs.” I don’t know how they came up with those numbers, but there are a few logical flaws here. First, that’s for alcohol and tobacco, two legal substances which cause a lot of deaths (2.5 million for alcohol, and more than 5 million for tobacco worldwide), we still need more data on the social costs of marijuana. (https://ncadd.org/in-the-news/155-25-million-alcohol-related-deaths-worldwide-annually, http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/)

In the center of the flyer there’s an outlined section: Oregon Can Learn From Colorado’s Mistake

  • Colorado’s 12-17 year old marijuana use rate is 39% higher than the national average.
  • INCREASE of 57% in marijuana-related emergency room visits.
  • INCREASE of 100% in traffic fatalities where drivers tested positive for marijuana.
  • INCREASE OF 268% in poison control center calls for children (ages 0 to 5) for marijuana.

First, Colorado, like many states have shown that more and more youth are using the substance as previously mentioned. There are more people testing positive for marijuana in traffic fatalities, but here’s what you’re not being told: “The problem with these criticisms is that we can test only for the presence of marijuana metabolites, not for inebriation. Metabolites can linger in the body for days after the drug’s effects wear off — sometimes even for weeks. Because we all metabolize drugs differently (and at different times and under different conditions), all that a positive test tells us is that the driver has smoked pot at some point in the past few days or weeks.” As reported by Radley Balko of The Washington Post. As for the 268% increase in poison control calls, according to USA Today the number of calls reported last year was 70, and most of those could have been prevented if parents took the time to hide their drugs with all the other things adults leave around the house like guns and rat poison.  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/08/05/since-marijuana-legalization-highway-fatalities-in-colorado-are-at-near-historic-lows/, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/02/marijuana-pot-edibles-colorado/7154651/).

Finally, look at the top four groups who oppose the measure: Oregon Pediatric Society, Oregon Sheriffs, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, and Oregon District Attorneys Association. The Pediatric Society aside, what do the other groups stand to lose if Measure 91 passes? Money. So before you vote NO on 91 remember it’s not really about the kids, that’s just a ploy to tug at your heart string. Legal venders check ID, black market dealers don’t. We should protect our children, but that happens though education and personal responsibility, not by keeping something illegal. Oregon has some of the highest, if not the highest marijuana use in the nation, the best thing we can do for kids, and our society is to legalize and control it. Lastly, whether or not you vote yes or no, our state’s never going to benefit from misinformation and fear, you can be against drugs, but please don’t be against facts.

Bonus Check

“Hey, how are you?”

“I’ve had better months.”

“What’s wrong?”

“You dictate the schedule, so I think you know what’s wrong.”

“Your hours?”

“Yeah, it’s getting pretty difficult making $250 stretch through the week. It’s really nice to get the special treatment after five years of dedication to the company.”

“…”

“I know you make between $80,000 and $120,000 to manage this store. Guess how much I, a married, 30 year old man with half a decade of experience in grocery and 11 years in customer service, made this year.”

“What?”

“$20.000.”

“We’ll fix it, we can get you more hours.”

“Oh I get it, throw the dog a bone.”

“No.”

“It’s not just me, you’re squeezing money out of your most loyal, hardest working associates because our pay is capped, and giving all those hours to new hires who you only have to pay minimum wage saves the company money which will probably wind up in your annual bonus.”

“Well…”

“I know it’s easy to think of us as brainless worker drones, but we’re people with families, kids who are going to want a Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas presents. We have rent, medical bills, and hobbies. Personally, I’d like to pay off my credit card.”

“I understand. Believe it not I was right where you are when I was your age. I know what it’s like to work hard for very little.”

“Then why are you trying to fuck us over?”

“Well…”

“No I get it, your bonus check is priority over our well-being.”

The More Things Change…

I quit having expectations and this is why: I don’t think a single thing has really changed for almost five thousand years. After our first and possibly greatest invention–writing–humanity has remained largely stagnate in its thinking, but luckily not in its understanding of the physical world. Yet, even with all the accumulated knowledge of the known universe these problems persist throughout history:

An uninformed ruling class.

The struggle for reason over ignorance.

The plight of the poor, and immigrant.

The brotherhood of religion and government.

Short-term gains trump long-term costs.

Reinforcing the status quo through violence.

I don’t expect anything to change. We’ve had the technology to cure what ails us for years. The real reason we don’t have everything hooked up to solar, or wind, or geothermal is because you can’t charge anything for free energy. There’s no fucking money in using the sun as a perpetual energy maker. There’s no money in batteries that can run for three years on a single charge. If writing is humankind’s first great invention then the battery is second, and solar panels third, but to fully implement it would call our nation’s most esteemed philosophy into question, and that isn’t going to happen because of the list above.

Workers’ Rights: A Thought Process

Here’s the problem:

Capitalism doesn’t protect or benefit those who can’t contribute directly to the system, nor does it guarantee a certain quality of life.

Here’s the bandage:

We fill the holes of capitalism with social programs.

Here’s the cycle:

Those programs cost money, which means more taxes, but nobody’s making enough to pay more taxes.

Here’s the compromise:

Raise minimum wage.

The social backlash:

But why should some dropout flipping burgers make what I make per hour?

The terrible truth:

If the federal government increased minimum wage to match our productivity over the past half century, minimum wage would be almost $22 an hour. This is why so many of us have been, or are on food stamps, and other kinds of government assistance. We’re all long overdue for a substantial upgrade in the payroll department.

The wall:

It’s not in a company’s best fiscal interests to increase the cost of labor, every action taken comes at the cost of the employee. As soon as our pay goes up our hours drop. When our hours go up our medical goes down; it’s a wreaking ball that won’t stop until every last dollar is gone out of the worker’s pocket. Eventually this will put everyone at a stand still. Private companies are making billions in profits while our government is raking in debt–a lot of which comes from cleaning up after these corporations.

The solution:

Workers’ rights for the new century. When you decide to work for someone your giving them a service, not your life. If a company can’t afford to pay it’s employees enough to live a certain quality of life then they should have built a better business model. You shouldn’t have to put in 60 hours a week to get by, nor should workers get their hours cut just because some suit up the ladder wants to stuff more cash into his pocket. The government can a cut a huge bulk of its debt simply by making laws to protect workers against corporate greed instead of voicelessly mopping up the mess after. We won the 40 hour work week, and the eight hour day, but it doesn’t stop there. We need laws that protect us, and ultimately the companies themselves–who’ve shown time after time they don’t work for our interest, just our money.