Sizzla, Community Values, and the Mateel

sizzla reggae on the river

I do not enjoy criticizing local nonprofits, but the recent controversy around the the Mateel Community Center’s choice to book “Murder Music” superstar, Sizzla, to headline this year’s Reggae on the River deserves a bit more attention, because it points out some of the pitfalls of importing someone else’ culture rather than developing our own.

we develop culture

I’ve never understood the local fascination with Reggae Music. I love Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. I’ve heard some other reggae music that I liked a lot, but I’ve heard more insipid, preachy, banal and just plain lame reggae music since I’ve moved to Humboldt County than I’ve ever heard before. Listening to the radio around here often reminds me that the global reggae music machine produces plenty of pap that’s every bit as vapid as the American Top 40, as well as religiously themed pop music that rivals Christian Rock, for subtlety and depth.

christain rock

I have deep respect for Rastafarian culture. It’s not my culture, but I respect Rastafarian history, tradition, beliefs, and religion. I know that a lot of people find their strength in Rastafarianism, and I think that’s a beautiful thing, for them. I am not the son of the son of an African slave. I do not live in poverty in a violent ghetto on the outskirts of a tropical resort city built to serve rich white tourists, and I do not know whether Emperor Haile Salassie is the messiah or not, but he doesn’t mean a lot to me personally.

haile salassie

Like Christianity, like Islam, like Judaism, many people take Rastafarianism seriously, and receive a lot of personal strength from it. Like Christianity, Islam and Judaism, Rastafarianism has apparently spawned some embarrassingly popular, if not seriously threatening, fundamentalists. It happens to every religion, it seems. I mean, what’s the point of finding your personal strength, if you can’t use it to whip some non-believer’s ass once in a while?

church malden

Dance hall music star, Sizzla, obviously enjoys tremendous popularity among reggae music fans, in spite of, or perhaps because of, his strong belief that homosexuality is evil. According to Sizzla, homosexuality is so evil that it is OK to kill homosexuals. In fact, he thinks it’s a good idea to kill homosexuals, and he wants to kill homosexuals. We know that he feels this way because he’s written these sentiments into the lyrics of his songs and stated as much on stage.

sizzla attacks gays

A lot of religions have issues with homosexuality, if not sexuality in general. I don’t understand why religions focus so much time and energy on telling people what not to eat and who not to have sex with, but I think it at least partially explains why most of us are not particularly religious, and why the people who cling to religion the most are often people who don’t get enough to eat, and/or don’t have enough sex.

sexual frustration

We all know gay people, if we’re not gay ourselves, and hopefully, all of us know that it’s NOT OK to kill gay people. I’d like to think that’s a community value we all share around here, but you never know what kinds of ideas people nurture in the privacy of their own minds. For instance, if Sizzla were notorious for his calls for violence against bankers, or real estate tycoons, or drug dealers, I wouldn’t be writing this column. Instead, I’d be writing about this great show I just saw, and about an inspiring artist who tells it like it is.

music isnt just sound

 

Apparently, that’s how reggae fans see Sizzla. His message resonates with people. I don’t get it, but Sizzla’s music means something to a lot of people. He is highly revered in Jamaica not only as a prolific artist, but also as a community leader, and a strong voice in the Rastafarian movement. Many people here in the US want to hear his message too. I don’t understand Sizzla’s appeal any more than I understand his hatred of gay people, but that’s OK.

sizzla ethiopia

There are lot’s of things about lots of cultures that I don’t understand, but I do understand why you might not want to invite Sizzla to play at your community event, especially if you value the gay people in your community. I’m not worried about other cultures; I’m worried about the culture of this community. Here, in Humboldt County, we value gay people. We appreciate the contribution they make to our society, the diversity they bring to our community, and we love them as friends and family. I would think that this would make Sizzla a very poor choice to headline our biggest community event of the year.

Sizzla-ROTR 2016

The Mateel Community Center was well aware of Sizzla’s anti-gay rhetoric. A similar controversy erupted several years ago when a private promoter booked Buju Banton to play at the Mateel Hall. A protest erupted and the show was canceled. At that time Sizzla was already recognized as one of eight reggae artists labeled “Murder Music” for their blatant endorsement of violence against gay people. The Mateel also knew that booking Sizzla would sell a lot of tickets.

reggae on the river poster 2016

As it turned out, Sizzla’s infamous hatred of the LGBTQ community made him an irresistible bargain for any promoter willing to invite him into the US. The Mateel Community Center, working with the few promoters who were willing to weather the inevitable shit-storm of criticism, made it possible for Sizzla to tour the US for the first time in seven years, and he kicked off that tour at Reggae on the River.

homophobia boycott

We smoke as much weed as Rastas, and we have as much hair as Rastas, but we’re not Rastas. We’re Hippies. Remember? We were once a persecuted minority united by a spiritual ideal too, but we believe in free love. We had some other ideals too, but we’re all still pretty much on board with the idea that any kind of sex is cool, so long as everyone involved in it is an adult, and wants it. Our “local culture” remains fairly amorphous, but I feel safe in saying that we’re a fairly sex-positive community. Come to think of it, we might have a more distinct cultural identity if we didn’t try so hard to drown it in imported Jamaican music.

rastafari has no place for hippies

Near as I can tell, weed is the only real connection between Jamaica’s Rastafarian culture and the community of Southern Humboldt. When I talk to people around here about Reggae on the River, they talk about the history of this community, and they talk about the money. They get big dollar signs in their eyes and talk about how much money it brings into the community, how all the schools and fire departments make their budget there, and they talk about how much weed they sell at it. I’ve never heard anyone around here describe it as a religious revival.

get high reggae on river

I’ve been to Reggae on the River, twice, once as a volunteer and once as a vendor. It’s been a while, but I remember that I had fun. I like getting high as much as anyone, and Reggae on the River is all about getting high, or Irie as the Rastas say. I saw a lot of white, middle-class lushes at Reggae, the kind of people you would expect to see at a hippie drug festival, but I also saw a lot of Rastas in the audience, clearly Reggae on the River means something to them too. In fact, Reggae on the River may mean more to them than it means to us, at this point.

rastas

Still, this is our community, and we have facilities like the Mateel Community Center, to promote culture, and to promote culture that supports our community values. The Mateel chose Sizzla to headline Reggae on the River because the “Murder Music” stigma made him a bargain, and that bargain made Reggae on the River profitable this year. Apparently greed is our only true community value.

money talks

Maybe values are just more trouble than they are worth. I mean, if wealthy communities like ours can’t afford them any more, and poor communities sharpen them into offensive weapons designed to kill, maybe we’re better off without them. How much different would it be, really? We’d still have plenty of vapid pop music, and tons of drugs. I’ll bet most people would hardly notice the difference.

top concerts long

Go to Rio!

go to rio keep calm1

It looks like the Rio Olympics has become the vacation bargain of the century, with tickets for some events selling for as little as $12. Rio is beautiful any time, but at this time of year, the weather is perfect. If you’ve never seen “Cidade Maravilhosa” (“marvelous city”), you owe it to yourself to experience it, first-person, while you are still young.

cidade mahavilhosa

 

Take the whole family. This may be your last chance to take your kids to an Olympic Games in this hemisphere for more than a decade.

Rio-2016-Olympics-Mascots-

American dollars go a long way in Brazil, and the airfare is very reasonable right now. Think of the stories you’ll tell your grandchildren. On second thought, maybe you don’t want to think about that too much.

Think too much

Just go! Have the time of your life. Live it up, and when you get back, sleep around a lot. Seriously. I think a global Zika pandemic may well be the best thing to come out of the whole “Olympic Movement” in the history of the games. Zika is a godsend, and we should all thank whatever entity, or non-entity, we choose to thank for such things, because Zika presents us with an ideal opportunity to solve a previously intractable global problem with a minimum of pain and suffering.

Zika virus positive

Think about it. If you had to choose one deadly virus to decimate the global human population, would you choose:

  • A. Ebola

    ebola 1

  • B. Hantavirus

    hantavirus

  • C. Bird Flu

    bird flu

  • D. Zika

    zika-virus-man and baby

It’s a no-brainer, right?

zika no brainer

The Zika virus barely sickens living people, but it produces horrible deformities in their, yet to be conceived, offspring. We could handle the entire Zika pandemic with aggressive birth control and a minimum of suffering. It’s hard to miss people you’ve never met. Most of us never mature anyway, so it’s not like we won’t have plenty of children around, and the people who still want to have babies can have them, knowing that those babies will remain babies for their entire lives.

microcephaly

I can scarcely imagine a more humane way to reign-in the human population explosion, and I think it’s long overdue. Tell the CDC to stop looking for a cure, and to forget about a vaccine, or even a strategy for Zika. Tell them to keep working on Ebola, the Hunta Virus and Bird Flu, but we can handle Zika on our own. Bring it on! Better yet, go out there and get it, bring it back, and spread it around!

contagion-map

This is our one, big, once in a lifetime, golden opportunity to really solve a huge problem, by having a good time. Does life get any better than that! Zika is the disease for us, and it couldn’t come at a better time, so let’s make the most of it. Go to Rio! Watch the best athletes in the world compete for the gold, in person.

olympic runners

Ride the cable-car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil --- Image by © Radius Images/Corbis

Stroll barefoot through the sand at Copacabana Beach.

rio-copacabana

Going to Rio for the Olympics is like reading Playboy for the articles. You’ll have a terrific time, and you’ll do us all a favor.

do us all a favor

We may never have an opportunity like this again, and this is probably our last, best hope for the future of humanity. We can’t afford to miss the boat on this one. Ideally, we would initiate a massive airlift to bring swarms of Zika carrying mosquitoes to every outpost of civilization, but it would take forever to line up government funding for that kind of operation and we simply don’t have the time. That’s why it’s so important that you book your tickets NOW for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. The world cannot wait. We need you to do your part. You simply must attend the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.

17-Brazilian-Foods2

If you absolutely cannot afford the trip, at least have the decency to have sex with someone who went. We can do this, people, all of us, working together with this exquisite little virus called Zika. We can stop global warming, reverse the extinction crisis and end poverty and homelessness forever, but we can’t do it without your help. All you have to do is GO TO RIO FOR THE OLYMPICS!!! You’ll have a fabulous vacation, get a great tan, and save the planet all at the same time. Bon Voyage! Have a wonderful trip!

bon voyage

SoHum Has Created a Monster

we have created a monster

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors just passed a new, unnecessary, unconstitutional and unkind ordinance to limit free speech and criminalize poverty called the “aggressive solicitation ordinance.” They might as well have passed a dress code too, for all the good it will do. This is just the latest attempt to sweep Humboldt’s poor and homeless under the rug, but the poor and homeless will not go away because poverty is systemic in our local economy.

44 million americans live in poverty

Because of prohibition, the marijuana industry breeds poverty, and the real-estate driven economy breeds homelessness. The people who complain the most about the poor and the homeless are the people doing the most to create the poverty and homelessness in our community. Rather than address our housing crisis, low wages, or the out-of-control organized crime problem, the Board of Supervisors decided to punish the victims, the honest, hard-working, low-wage workers who actually generate most of the wealth in Humboldt County.

minimum wage

This ordinance has nothing whatsoever to do with “public safety” and everything to do with greedy real-estate bloodsuckers, dope yuppies, business owners and mobsters who are making a killing right now off of the “green-rush.” The same people who sell out our forests and rivers to the highest bidders, create poverty and homelessness in our human communities too, but they hate to see it in public, so they send cops to harass the poor and create new laws that criminalize poverty, like this new ordinance.

Criminalizing-Homelessness

Greed is even uglier than poverty. Greed poisons the soul and turns decent people into degenerate monsters of consumption. I don’t know if greed makes people stupid or if stupidity makes people greedy, but stupidity and greed always go together, and together, they make ugly. That ugliness is palpable in SoHum.

greed is an ugly catalist

Even a newcomer can feel it. I noticed it the first time I came to Garberville almost two decades ago and it has only gotten worse since. The whole town loudly exudes ugly, stupid, crass, greed. You can practically see it in people’s faces and you hear it almost every time they open their mouths. That’s the kind of ugliness that makes Southern Humboldt so repulsive to decent people who might consider moving here, and that’s the kind of ugliness that undermines the quality of life for the people who do live here.

greed cant look away

Real-estate offices don’t attract tourists. Increasingly, real-estate offices provide no service at all to ordinary citizens, who were long ago priced out of the housing market. The greedy leeches lurking within those offices only value the natural beauty of this area and the uniqueness of this community to the degree to which they can turn it into money that they can stuff into their own pockets. They are the ones inviting every drug-dealing greed-bag in America to come to Humboldt County to destroy our forests and choke out the last wild salmon. They are the ones making Humboldt County unaffordable to anyone but drug-dealers and they are the ones making the people of Humboldt County poor and homeless while they make themselves filthy rich.

greedy real estate agents

Who needs them? We should have learned our lesson after the mortgage fraud collapsed the housing market. They are still the same greedy, lying, cheating bastards that wrecked the economy and made everybody homeless to begin with. Haven’t we had enough of their shit?

enough of this shit

Drug-dealers aren’t any better. If anything, drug-dealers are even greedier, dumber, and even more dishonest than real-estate leeches, and there’s a lot of crossover around here. Most of our real-estate leeches deal drugs too, and a lot of our drug dealers get into real-estate as a way to launder their drug money. Between the two of them, they’ve turned SoHum into a vortex for the greediest and the slimiest. They’ve created the perfect environment for hard-drug pushers, prostitution, human trafficking and child pornography among other things, which they welcome with open arms, so long as it has enough money.

welcome gene simmons

From the depths of this pit of depravity, and fueled by the filthy black market cash that fills it, Estelle Fennell rises like Godzilla to crush the poor, honest, working citizens of Humboldt County and all who would oppose her.

 

godzilla rises from the deep1

Stomp, new subsidies for real-estate developers.

Godzilla_stomp

Stomp, new subsidies for property owners.

godilla stomp 3

Stomp, those subsidies now get paid by Humboldt County’s poor and homeless.

godzilla_stomp 1

Stomp, this new ordinance makes it illegal to ask a stranger for help and effectively blocks grassroots organizers from building a campaign against her.

godzilla stomp 2

Stomp! What’s next?

godzilla trail of destruction

A very real monster is destroying our forests and our communities, and that monster passed this ordinance to cover it’s tracks, and dispose of the bodies of it’s victims. We have to stop it, before it’s too late!

stop fingers before it's too late

A Step in the Right Direction

step in the right direction tip toe

I read recently that HumCPR has agreed to purchase a number of shipping containers that they intend to convert into emergency temporary housing, and that a HumCPR member has agreed to host this emergency housing facility on his property in Eureka. It’s about time Humboldt County landowners stepped up to the plate on this issue, and even though this is a baby step, it seems like a baby step in the right direction, for a change.

baby steps change everything

 

Until now, I’ve seen landowners take a mostly punitive approach to poverty and homelessness. They’ve used their political power to pass a regressive sales tax (Measure Z) which unfairly burdens poor and working families, and then made sure that the county uses that Measure Z money to harass Humboldt County’s poorest citizens. Eureka’s new, grossly unconstitutional, panhandling ordinance is another example of local landowners pressuring county government to directly and intentionally violate the human rights of people who lack the resources to defend themselves within the system.

measure z homeless-family

Landowners should remember that the right to free speech, which includes the right to ask for help, the right to assemble, the right to protest, and to seek redress for their grievances, are inalienable human rights. These rights, among others, are not bestowed by any government. Human rights precede the Constitution, and they supersede all government regulation. Every human being on Earth was born with these rights, and every human being has a right to fight for and to claim these rights using any means necessary.

any means necessary malcolm x

Property rights, on the other hand, are a contrivance of government and have no meaning outside of it. Your right to own property only exists so long as the government which grants those contrivances enforces them. Government enforcement costs money, and it costs substantially more money when large portions of the population do not consent to be governed and actively resist government control.

libertarian circular reasoning

It costs a lot of money to send a cop out into the street to harass poor people. It costs even more to arrest, book and charge someone for violating an unconstitutional city ordinance. On the other hand, any poor person can take revenge for these violations armed with nothing more than a rock, a pack of matches or even their own excrement, and are completely within their rights as a human being to do so.

destroy cop car

As long as landowners use government to oppress the poor and deny them their basic human rights, landowners should expect the poor to make war against them. In fighting this guerrilla war against oppression, all private property becomes a fair target and violence is completely justified. As long as Humboldt County landowners pursue a punitive approach to poverty, this guerrilla war will continue to escalate. As the government sends more cops to violate people’s rights, more people withdraw their consent to be governed, and instead seek to undermine government control, destroy private property and claim their inalienable rights by any means necessary.

oppression creates war

Landowners cannot win this war. That should be obvious, by now, to anyone with their eyes open, but the sooner they recognize this, the better. Landowners can only lose this war. Every time someone calls the cops on people for hanging-out, talking to their friends, sharing food, smoking, imbibing, asking for help, trying to sleep, or any other ordinary activity of normal life, for which poor people endure endless harassment, they create enemies. Every time they create an enemy, they escalate the war. Every time they escalate the war, it costs them more money to protect themselves and their precious private property.

poverty mandela

 

As this war escalates, frustrations rise on both sides. The more landowners and merchants express this frustration, in conversation and in public forums, the more they lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the community. It’s nearly impossible to complain about poor people without sounding like a complete boor, and few people who attempt it, pull it off gracefully.  Nobody with any class wants to hear you complain about poor people, any more than they want to hear you complain about (insert racial epithet here). This kind of talk does no good whatsoever, and it turns people off. On the other hand, it’s hard to criticize someone for helping the poor, even a little bit.

help poor mother theresa

So, I won’t even try. Instead, I’ll take it as a rare sign of intelligence. Maybe local landowners have finally come to their senses, and realized that it makes more sense to solve the problem than it does to fight the war. Here’s hoping we see more steps in this direction in the future.

each step in the right direction

Marketing Premium Cannabis

marketing cannabis

As we move towards legalization, and pot becomes even more ubiquitous and banal, it will become more important than ever to remind the non-cannabis consuming community, why we find this common weed so uncommonly attractive. It’s just a matter of marketing. If you want to sell a high-end luxury product like appellation controlled, Humboldt grown, fair trade, organic, salmon-friendly sun-grown sinsemilla for a premium price, it really helps if your customer A) has the money, B) can read the label, and C) cares.

hey look someone cares

That means you need well educated, higher income people to want your product. Current statistics show that the higher your income, and the more education you have, the more you gravitate towards alcohol, while low-income, sub-literate people invariably smoke weed. How do we convince someone who is bright, successful, has plenty of money, and feels optimistic about the future, to make time for marijuana?

time for marijuana

It won’t matter how good your weed is, if the people who can afford it, don’t want to get high. Cannabis is the ticket, not the main attraction. Getting high is the main attraction. Here in Humboldt County, we focus a lot on the quality of the ticket, and how much money you can make selling tickets. Drug dealers have always run the box office, but what’s going on in the theater? What’s so great about getting high, that it’s worth buying these expensive tickets? Do you think people pay $10 a gram for weed, just so they can cough and hack on smoke that tastes like diesel fuel? You can do that for free, any day of the week, just by standing on the sidewalk downtown.

rolling coal

We’re losing the media battle. TV and movies portray drug dealers as gangsters, or business-people, two of our primary cultural archetypes. On the other hand, high people, that is, people portrayed as being under the influence of cannabis, usually appear vacant, generally seated on a couch, in front of a TV, surrounded by empty junk food wrappers. If they say anything at all, they’ll do it inarticulately, and punctuate it with giggles. Who wants to be that guy?

stupid stoner

Is that what getting high is all about? How stupid do you have to be, to begin with, that that even looks attractive? I mean, if that’s what people do when they get high, it’s not just a waste of good weed, it’s an insult to good weed, and a waste of a good life. No one aspires to become a vacant half-wit; so why would anyone spend money on a drug that promises to transform them into one.

stoned dude

When I was growing up, I only saw high people portrayed in the media, on anti-drug propaganda that I knew could not be trusted, but I knew that Miles Davis smoked weed, and I knew that Bob Dylan smoked weed. If you asked me to give you one example that showed off the very best of human intelligence. I’d probably pick something like The ESP Sessions, by Miles Davis and his band. I’m not even a jazz fan, but I cannot deny the genius and the passion so beautifully expressed on that record. Do I want to smoke what Miles was smoking then? Fuck yeah, even if it was the same brown seedy weed the rest of us were smoking, because Miles was smokin’ back then.

On the other hand, do I want to smoke Snoop Dog’s special Chemdawg Reserve strain of premium sinsemilla. Fuck no, because Snoop Dog is a no-talent drug-dealer with atrocious taste. I don’t want to be like him at all. Miles Davis was a man of music. He was shaped by music, and music poured through him. Snoop Dog has got his mind on his money and his money on his mind. It shows, Snoop. It shows.

Is today’s high-tech sinsemilla really better than the brown seedy weed we all used to smoke in the 60’s and 70’s? I think that all depends on how you look at it, and I’m afraid that bright, successful optimistic people are not going to see anything very inspirational, exciting or special about our current cannabis culture, and as a result, might just choose to skip cannabis altogether.

marijuana a special kind of stupid

That would be a shame, because cannabis has a lot to offer everyone. Stupid people cause fewer problems when they smoke weed instead of drinking alcohol, but bright, talented people often find they have better ideas, greater sensitivity, and a higher level of coherence when they smoke weed. I just wish I could point to more contemporary examples.

your inner genius

P.S.  Just a little more Miles, cause he was so fucking cool!

Free the Weed, Screw the Economy

weed economy

In the current debate over how to regulate cannabis in a legal environment, I hear an inordinate amount of concern about the possible economic effects of disrupting the current black-market. I mean, we didn’t mind when Amazon drove brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business. We didn’t care when itunes destroyed the record industry. “That’s progress,” and “You’ve got to stay ahead of the curve if you want to compete.” we said. It seems to me, that this whole internet revolution, that turned our economy upside-down, and ruined a whole lot of honest hard-working people’s lives in the process, remains hugely popular, despite the casualties.

record store

But I guess it’s a different story when it comes to drug dealers and the legalization of marijuana. That’s what they’re telling us, right? They are telling us that we need to regulate marijuana very carefully so that the price remains high enough to preserve the drug-gangster lifestyle. The recently passed CA state medical marijuana regulations will dramatically slow the development of new, legal, cannabis related business opportunities. Instead, they create a whole bunch of totally unnecessary, regulatory jobs for people who do nothing, except consume tax dollars and keep marijuana expensive. It’s appalling!

Appalling-Vistas-

For decades, we’ve paid exorbitant black-market prices for pot. We’ve lost jobs, been denied jobs, paid fines and legal fees, and spent time in jail, as veterans of the War on Drugs. We’ve paid excessive taxes, suffered indescribable social injustice, and lost civil rights, to pay for the cruel, misguided, and completely unnecessary, War on Drugs. The War on Drugs has claimed millions of casualties. We’ve been through hell in the War on Drugs. We’ve paid enough for marijuana. After what we’ve been through, no one should ever have to pay for marijuana, ever again. Never.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We really shouldn’t worry so much about the effect the collapse of the marijuana black-market will have on our local economy. I know that the prospect of shrinkage in our local economy frightens people, but we should embrace it. What good does the economy do, if it destroys the environment, works us to death, and makes the things we need ridiculously expensive? The truth is, the marijuana economy does a lot more harm than good, and we’d be better off without it than you think.

better off than you think

It is important to remember that he economy is not one of those “more is better” kind of things. If you haven’t read my book, On the Money, Economics for the 99%, you owe it to yourself to do so. In it, I explain, in detail, how the economy works against you, and why making the economy larger, inevitably makes your life worse,. Consider this example:

consider this

Imagine a businessman, running his own small business, but business is slow. He’s just scraping by, economically. He goes to work at 9:00am, where he has a few orders to fill, and the phone rings once in a while. He makes a few calls himself, to drum up some new business. His customers like him because he gives them excellent service, and he’s built a personal relationship with most of them, but business is slow all around, so they don’t have much work to send his way. By 3pm he’s got his work squared away for the day, so he decides to knock off early. Of course he’s got his phone on, in case he gets a new order, but he’s out the door at 3pm.

Department of Lexicography:

Since it is such a lovely afternoon, he decides to take a walk in the park, and stop at the library on the way home. He arrives home around 5pm, with a stack of library books, and cooks his own dinner. Nothing fancy, but he makes it the way he likes it. After dinner, he doesn’t go out to a nightclub, because he can’t afford it. Instead, he picks up his old guitar, which he enjoys playing, when he has the time and energy. Since it was an easy day at work, he has some time and energy, so he has a good time playing the guitar, forgets about his money problems for a while, and maybe even teaches himself a new song. Then he relaxes a bit, reads one of the books he checked-out of the library, until he gets too tired to read, and then goes to bed.

lets go to bed

The next day, he wakes up, makes his own breakfast, and goes back to work, hoping he’ll have a little more business. Let’s imagine that on this particular day, he gets a big contract. I mean, an enormous new contract. Suddenly, this businessman is swamped with work, but his money problems are over.

no more money problems

He realizes he needs help. That means he needs to put up a sign, place some want ads, answer calls, conduct interviews, file paperwork, set up accounts, buy a time-clock, and train new workers. Then he needs to order more stock, buy new machines, and put an addition on his shop. So he gets right to work, and by the time he finishes working for the day, it’s already 9:00pm. He goes home, exhausted, orders a pizza, and falls asleep in front of the TV. He feels a little queezy after that pizza, but he chalks it up to the excitement of this life changing day.

just another day

The next morning, he gets up early, grabs a breakfast sandwich and coffee, which he consumes at his desk. It’s not great, but he ignores his disappointment because he’s got more important things to think about. Instead of lunch, he grabs a candy bar from a vending machine, and again, eats it at his desk, between interviews. His phone never stops ringing, and instead of knocking off at 3pm, he doesn’t get out of the office until 9. When he gets home, he orders another pizza, and eats it in front of the tube.

eating pizza in front of the TV

After a few weeks of this, he realizes that he’s drinking four cups of coffee a day instead of one, because he constantly feels run-down, but the caffeine makes it hard for him to get to sleep at night, so he has a few beers with his pizza. After a few months, he realizes he’s gaining weight, so he joins a gym, and orders some home exercise equipment he saw advertised on TV, but he’s too exhausted to exercise or go to the gym, and instead, decides that he needs to improve his diet.

gaining weight

He starts looking for restaurants that serve healthier food. Turns out they charge more money for it too, but he happily pays it. Instead of drinking four cups of drip coffee, he has a vente double cappuccino. He stops drinking beer, and becomes a fine wine enthusiast. Still, the money comes in faster than he can spend it. He commissions a master luthier to build him the guitar of his dreams. When it arrives, he realizes that he no longer has callouses on his fingertips, and he doesn’t have time to play it.

custom guitar

He still feels run-down, and has a vague sense that he’s not taking very good care of himself, so he buys himself a brand new luxury car with all of the amenities. This makes his employees jealous, because they cannot afford such extravagant wheels. They now feel exploited, and so they start asking for raises. They no longer see him as the hardest working member of the team, but as the boss who gets rich off of their hard work.

wealth asshole

Do you see a pattern here? Obviously this successful man deserves the money he’s making. He’s sacrificing his life for it. Clearly, we should view this successful businessman as a role model for the kind of job creator and consumer who drives economic growth That doesn’t mean he’s doing himself, or anyone else, any favors. In fact, he’s killing himself, and he’s killing himself, in part, because it’s the only relief he now sees from a life of too much work.

kill yourself working

That’s what economic growth does to us. For the economy to grow, we have to work more, and spend more, every year. Believe it or not, we’ve got better things to do. You might not remember what they are, because you’ve been a slave for so long, but really, you’ve got better things to do than feed your one lifetime to the goddamn economy.

better things to do

Too much money and too much work are much worse for people than too little. The black-market marijuana industry may have solved our money problems, but it has ruined the quality of our lives, weakened our community, and it continues to consume people, littering our streets with more of their broken husks every day. We don’t owe drug dealers anything, and we owe the economy even less. We deserve better, and it’s time we demanded it.

we deserve better

Who Buys All of This Weed?

bags of weed

I hear a lot of talk around here about the potential impact to our local economy from the impending legalization of cannabis. Suddenly, dope yuppies who, just a few years ago, weren’t even registered to vote, now spend money on lobbyists to convince lawmakers to construct a legalization framework that keeps the money pouring into the pockets of the same people who have profited from prohibition for more than 30 years.

pot grower

Dope yuppies have never cared about anyone but themselves, and the bankers and merchants who make dire predictions about our local economy, would be every bit as concerned about the potential loss in revenue if this county’s chief economic export were underage prostitutes and child-pornography. Money is money, after all.

teenage prostitutes

I don’t hear any mention, however, of the people who buy and consume all of this weed. As one of those proud pot smoking Americans, I am even more fed-up with the outrageously high price of black-market weed than I am with cops sticking their noses in places they don’t belong. While everyone pays for narco cops and prison guards, only cannabis consumers pay these ridiculous prices. Let’s take a look at the people who buy the cannabis grown in the Emerald Triangle, to see where all of this economic prosperity we enjoy, comes from.

owes buys

A recent study found that half of all cannabis consumers have not graduated from high-school. Some of those kids don’t have a high- school diploma because they are still in school. I mean. why do you think they call it “high” school?

kids getting stoned

Some of those kids dropped out of school to grow or sell cannabis as a career, but most of them end up in shitty low-wage jobs. The people who cook and serve your food, wash your dishes, change your oil and clean your offices and hotel bathrooms all smoke weed, and they all pay way too much of their hard-earned money for it.

work form weed

The people who work at Walmart smoke weed. The people who work at McDonald’s smoke weed. Almost every low-wage worker in America smokes weed, or they would, if they could afford it. Low-wage workers often spend more money on pot than they do on food. They do without basic necessities like clothing, like housing, so that they can afford marijuana, because marijuana makes their lives tolerable. High prohibition prices keep them poor and insures that they can never afford to buy their own home, start their own business or get more education. The people who buy marijuana today pay for it with their lives. They pay for it with their futures.

smoke weed at work

Other low-wage workers turn to alcohol, because under prohibition, a few dried cannabis flowers costs more than a big bottle or brewed, fermented, distilled and bottled liquor. People literally choose to sacrifice their health to alcohol, rather than the precious income it would cost to switch to cannabis. A lot of people have quit drinking, by switching to cannabis, and it has saved their lives.

weed beats alcohol

A lot more people would do the same, if cannabis didn’t cost so much. All across America, the people who can least afford it, pay way too much money for marijuana, or do without, when it could really help them. High cannabis prices cause an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering especially among the poor.

homeless-family

People all over America consume cannabis to relieve stress, but high prohibition prices make cannabis itself, unnecessarily stressful. Artificially inflated, prohibition pricing completely undermines the ability of cannabis to relieve stress in the vast majority of it’s consumers. Unless you grow your own, or have more money than you know what to do with, you don’t know what it means to have plenty of weed, and not to have to stress about how much it costs. Cannabis is only effective as medicine, if people can easily afford it.

price of weed too damn high

Millions of Americans enjoy cannabis, millions more rely on cannabis for medicine, and still millions more of us do both. We deserve a break! We are the ones who dragged this state, and the unholy cadre of drug-dealers turned special interest group, kicking and screaming towards legalization. Both the state, and drug dealers have taken advantage of us for decades. We’re sick of it! Now that legalization will finally happen, no thanks to them, they act as though they are still entitled to our money.

Entitled

The Nerve!

entitled not