Greeks Again – Send in the Colonels

The voting is nearly over and in a few hours we will know if the Greeks have voted to accept the EU cnditions or soldier on into what the EU seems to think is the void.

Were I Greek I would vote against the EU but, and it is a big but, not in favour of the leftie lunatics who seem to be running the place at the moment.

Greece is in a horrible position created by a series of governments which were willing to spend money Greece did not and does not have. To deal with this Greece needs to declare effective bankruptcy. With all that entails. A lot of pain, likely food and drug and energy shortages, almost certainly deaths. Austerity is coming whether with the EU’s blessing or not.

My own view is that it is better for Greece to bite this bullet on its own. The Euro and the EU are simply going to make the process longer and more painful. But, unfortunately, Greece is ruled by a bunch of university communists who have not the slightest clue how to get Greece going again. Getting rid of these pests is Job#1 for a post plebiscite Greece.

Done well, the default can bring Greece prosperity in a couple of years. But those years are going to be very tough. Having a bunch of Chavistas in charge will make the process all the tougher.

Six months out it is going to make a lot of sense for one of those good, old fashioned, Greek coups to occur. Are there still Colonels in Greece?

Sadly, rooting out the corruption which has driven Greece to the wall is unlikely to be a democratically popular idea. There will be whines about democracy which will be very justified; but to wean a country from a now defunct public teat is never going to be pretty. The Germans will be blamed, so will the EU; but, for Greece, the only solution will be to impose the end of the leftist experiment.

A no vote will be the beginning, the end is up to Greeks able to face a very unpleasant reality.

The Liberal Party in Five Years

While I distrust polls it would seem that the bloom is off Justin Trudeau’s rose and it is now a question of whether he’ll manage to hold the Orange tide sufficiently to save Harper or if he’ll be relegated to also-ran status once the debates occur. Either way, the Liberal Party will be a shadow of itself come October. So might the Conservative Party and thus a question – what should the Liberal Party do?

The easy answer is to dump Trudeau and his advisors and find a new leader. Which is, I suspect, exactly what they will do. However, there is another alternative and one which in the privacy of my own blog I want to think about.

Step one: yes, dump the advisors. They appear to be idiots and lack the essential Liberal instinct for the jugular. 32 point Democratic policy papers are a pretty sure sign that the war room has lost the thread. But keep Justin.

Step two: understand that politics is about to undergo a huge and deeply upsetting change. No, it isn’t global warming which isn’t happening. No it isn’t Prime Minister Mulcair repealing Bill C-51. It is about the underlying economy of the world shifting in a way that none of the mainline parties has a clue about dealing with.

Step three: Robots. In fact robots and artificial intelligence and a bunch of interesting biotech and, well, robots. Technology is poised to change the way we do virtually everything, from driving to fast food to drafting wills, we are perilously close to machines being able to deliver the goods without human intervention.

Step four: Yikes. No jobs. Jobs are the way we allocate resources in our current economy. To make stuff, to approve loans, to create new products, to deliver things, to get food to the grocery store, we need people and we pay those people. Because they are paid they can buy stuff and the wonders of a market economy continue. What happens when a 200k a year haul truck driver is replaced by an autonomous driving robot? Well, that is 200k which will not be spent on F-150s and hot tubs in Fort MacMurray.

Step five: Whether the NDP or the Conservatives win the election, neither party has the freedom to think about the implications of an increasingly jobless economy. Pure capitalism, where labour is largely irrelevant to the production of goods and services, is a world that neither the Conservatives nor the NDP have or can contemplate.

Step six: Young Mr. Trudeau, humbled by his deep losses reaches back to his father’s legacy of intelligence and begins to askthe questions the other parties are incapable of. How do we deal with an economy of abundance? How can we finance government when individual earned income plummets? What do we do when “work” is delinked from production? How can we create a new economy out of the ashes of the old?

Step seven: A humbled Mr. Trudeau walks out those questions and looks for really smart people to answer them, for Canada.

It is not at all clear what the answers will be. The advent of serious robotics and the beginnings of applied artificial intelligence will create a situation which has not existed since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. It will be the equivalent of bringing an agrarian society into the machine and factory age. At the moment there is no Canadian political party remotely thinking about any of this.

The Liberal Party, much as I hate its cronyism and its cynicism, has a long tradition of channeling intelligence towards national goals. Not that this has worked out so terribly well but Liberals have for decades at least been open to new ideas and, in a pinch, new paradigms. While the Party is a shadow of its former self and has rushed to embrace the cant of assorted climate change/inequality/SJW cranks, it still has the capacity to embrace and explore new ideas.

As importantly, while it may be wiped out in the next election, rendered a rump in Parliament, it has the history and the credibility to offer solutions which Canadians may take seriously.

Nothing will please me more than seeing the Liberal Party crushed in the next election; but it has the capacity to return and to deal with a new world which is rushing towards us. Justin is about to learn a useful lesson. Where he goes from here may end up being as important as his father’s single-minded determination to keep Canada one nation.

 

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Vancouver Votes “No” to Transit?

I have been paying a tiny bit of attention to the campaign to fund the Lower Mainland’s transit needs with a .5% increase in the Sales Tax. Now the votes have been counted and the measure has been rejected. Resoundlingly. The great and the good in Mainstream media – well Pete McMartin – point out that there is no Plan B. Translink was committed to the 7.5 billion dollar plan and it lost. The “now what?” is “nothing”.

I happen to like public transit. Admittedly I live in the country but we have a very useable community bus service. In Vancouver I think the Skytrain system is a huge value add for the region. $5.00 to the Airport is unmatched in major world cities. But I also think Translink – the entity charged with providing public transit – bit off far more than it could chew with its Plan. Here’s the problem; Translink is not just about Skytrain and buses, it is also about roads and bridges and bike lanes and a whole lot of other bits of transport infrastructure. McMartin thinks the winner of the plebiscite was the car. Which he sees as a bad thing. It isn’t but it demonstrates the sort of thinking which pretty much ensures that these sorts of initiatives will usually fail.

Transportation and infrastructure debates are not either/or situations. Rather they are about allocating resources to meet current and projected demand. Getting into downtown Vancouver or out to UBC by car during rush hour is a painful experience. As the pain level increases demand for public transit will increase. Or, and this is what to a degree is happening in the Lower Mainland, the attractiveness of putting businesses in downtown or attending school at the end of the point, will fall and those businesses and institutions will move further out. SFU has a gorgeous building right in the middle of the bustling City of Surrey. Tech parks, shipping operations, law firms and all manner of other businesses do not need to be downtown. As the commute gets worse the incentive to bypass it all together becomes greater.

Meanwhile, pace McMartin, there is always a Plan B. For example, the much touted Broadway corridor to UBC could be built by Vancouver itself with Federal and Provincial money and a small hike in municipal taxes. It does not have to be paid for all at once. The Surrey Light Rail Project could also be done on a go it alone basis.

For good reason voters are sceptical about the sort of mega project thinking which Translink was trying to get them to buy; but that does not mean that incremental improvements to public transit cannot be undertaken. It is a bit messier but the outcome is likely to be as good or better than the joys of central planning.

I love Lauren Southern

Lauren Southern

Well, she was a Libertarian Candidate

18.

Very easy on the eyes even for pervy old guys like me with the monitor at 180%.

Figuring her way out into the journalism world armed with a microphone and a huge sign announcing “There is no rape culture in the West” at the Vancouver Slut Walk. Smart, honest, gutsy and, of course, right.

It turns out that Miss Southern is, or rather was, a Libertarian candidate for Parliament. She was suspended for, and I quote Breitbart which quotes the Libertarian Party leader, the deeply unknown Tim Moen as saying “According to Moen, Southern’s actions had “broken message discipline” and undermined the party’s efforts to “connect hearts and minds to the message of liberty and achieve a tipping point of 10% of the population adopting an unshakable belief in Liberty.” (brietbart)

Now this clown has obviously missed the key rule of politics: people who have 750,000 You-Tube views are connecting to the hearts and minds of which you speak. Miss Southern is willing to take a message to the 3rd Wave Feminists. She’s willing to stand up for the truth. If you needed to know why the Libertarian cause is an electoral disaster Tim’s genius move dumping Miss Southern is pretty much the story.

The good news is that Libertarians are rallying around Miss Southern and suggesting that their leader and the Party “elite” get their heads out of their anal sphincters and recognize that Miss Southern is the electoral gold they have been seeking. If they piss off some social justice warriors, feminists and other bigots, so much the better.

The Libertarian position is properly understood as a broad church. It is about government and the evils thereof. it makes perfect sense for there to be Libertarian socons as well as Libertarian SJWs; but, where they meet is that the state should have nothing to do with it.

Let’s see how that works in practice. Gay Marriage, socons hate it, SJW’s are convinced it is a blessing from the Great Goddete of Equal Rights: Libertarian position, What the Fuck is the State doing being involved in marriage. Go away.

Pot: Socons, “The Devil’s Weed”, Legalization Bunnies, “It’s medicine.” Libertarian position, What the Fuck is the State doing being involved with what I choose to smoke?”

Race: Socons, “Race should be ignored, individuals matter.” SJWs, “Race, gender and identity are the only things which matter, individuality is a no more than a social construct”. Libertarian position, What the Fuck is the State doing making choices as to which citizens to favour? Go away.

The dimbulbs in the Canadian Libertarian Party seem to have forgotten who the enemy is. Here is a reminder – it’s the State. And it is anyone who wants to use the State to further their, no doubt admirable, agenda.

Miss Southern seems to intuitively get that. The idiots who suspended her Libertarian candidacy are still stuck inside the box of PC thinking. (As an aside, was Miss Southern homeschooled…she does not seem to have absorbed the general idiocy the current school system creates.) Being inside the box they don’t realize that it is not about a particular position; rather it is about understanding that on all matters it is government and the use of government which is the problem. The Libertarian enemy, the Libertarian problem to be solved, is never about socons or SJWs, it is about the State and its systematic destruction of individual liberties.

Miss Southern is blowing up big. She has the looks and the sass and the sheer balls to épater le bourgeois.

Mr. Moen needs to get over himself. He needs to tell his Party President that Libertarians ignore the two minutes of Twitter hate the feminist SJWs can summon. He needs to tell his Executive that he will sign Miss Southern’s nomination papers and, if he has the wit God gave a rock, he needs to apologize to Miss Southern for being such a gormless pussy.

Mis Southern is destined for great things, Mr. Moen? At the moment, not so much.

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Canada Day in the Age of ISIS

imagesCanada Day is going to be hot and sunny in my part of the world. Living flags, obscure multi-cultural bands and, later fireworks with routine police checks of everyone riding the buses to make sure no one is actually carrying a beer to the festivities.

Sounds like fun and it is. But this year there is just a hint of caution. Do I really want to take my family into a crowded place? Sure, there is tons of security – those cops will take away your kettle bomb as well as your beer. Chatter is being monitored. CSIS and the Horsemen are on the job.

There is an argument that if you hesitate, if you alter your behaviour in any way, the terrorists have won. It is a good argument but unconvincing. Back in the day, a decade ago, rowdy teenagers were the only issue at Canada Day festivities. Hardly a big deal. Now we have the niggling suspicion that even with Canada’s excellent security services, whack job “lone wolves” are a live possibility.

Looking at the pictures and video from Tunisia, the carnage inflicted by one (or perhaps two) gunmen armed with automatic weapons is dreadful. But one evil Islamist in a F-150 pick-up could do equal damage in a crowd.

Security is always a balance between resources and threat. In Canada, for the moment, the threat seems to be relatively minimal and somewhat contained. Yet I would have said the same thing before the Islamic terrorist shot up the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

Canada Day celebrations across the country are now targets and the security services wisely treat them as such. Which, I think, tells you how far our situation has deteriorated.

For a variety of reasons I do not like Bill C-51. It is too broad, it lacks essential oversight, it invites abuse. But I agree with the impetus behind the Bill. There are terrorists abroad in the Dominion. They are motivated by support for Islam. They need to be found, stopped, and their networks rolled up. The Tunisians knew where to look – they closed 80 mosques.

If we are going to have our security services deal with terror they need the tools to do it and they need strict oversight and real consequences if they abuse those tools. I wrote about that here. We also need to stop adding fuel to what, in Canada, is still a very small fire. As we lack the resources to positively vet immigrants from majority Muslim nations, we need to have a moratorium on immigration from those nations save for the minorities in those nations who are being slaughtered by ISIS and its ideological allies. And we have to stop pretending that Islam has nothing to do with Islamic terrorists who commit their crimes in the name of Allah.

Canada Day celebrates the birthday of an extraordinary nation. A nation which has welcomed newcomers for its entire life. To keep that nation strong and free, we have to have the gumption to prevent its invasion by people who do not share our broadly held values and whose ideology (masked as a religion) means that they never will. Our security services can, I hope, deal with the potential terrorists who are already here; but asking them to deal with wave after wave of people who will not accept, much less share, our democratic commitments is too much. Sooner rather than later we need to understand and confront the Islamic threat to Canada and the West.

Meanwhile, enjoy the day!

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Hippies, Beats and Boredom

Beats, Hippies, drugs, heroin

Burroughs in Tangier

I just finished Ted Morgan’s rather long biography of William Burroughs. For a guy who shot his wife dead and was a heroin addict most of his life, not to mention a weird sort of homosexual avatar, Burroughs had many glittering friends and a remarkably dull life. I like literary biography as a genre and will read lit bios more or less to fill in the missing pieces of the English literary enterprise in the 20th century. Burroughs’ own work I have found unreadable and now that I know, in excruciating detail, from whence it came, I should not be surprised. Give me Gore Vidal anytime.

On eBay, I found a stash of Tom Wolfe’s early work. Four dilapidated pocket books chronicling the end of the Beats and the birth of the Hippies. The shorter form journalism of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby remains a pleasure with Wolfe getting the rise of American prole/teen culture in the early sixties exactly right. From Junior Johnson and stock car racing to slot cars to Hot Rods and demolition derbies – plus Las Vegas –  he demonstrates the sheer power of the underclass with a bit of World War II money. It’s a bit dated now – “style of life” for “lifestyle” – but Wolfe’s journalism says a lot about America in an age of optimism. 

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test – all about the delights of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters is very nearly unreadable. Not because Wolfe writes badly, rather because he writes far too well and the sheer tedium of these people is repeated page after page after page. Hippies do not age well – as the drooling 65-year-old beggars who dot our streets attest. But reading about these people in their prime, when the world was new and they were taking LSD before everyone took LSD suggests very strongly that these people were pretty damned boring to begin with. Kesey himself, with One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, established a bit of a reputation and (link between the Beats and Hippies) Neal Cassady (lightly disguised as Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s On the Road) apparently was quite a good driver. But that was about it. Hallucinations distort reality, they don’t change it.

They got a school bus, painted it in Day-Glo, took lots of drugs and drove around America surprising and outraging the “citizens”. Perhaps material for a 10,000 word Esquire article but a book…no. Other people’s drug trips, like other people’s dreams, should be written of lightly, if at all.

I was just a bit young to embrace the hippies, I enjoyed the drugs and a bit of the sex, but the actual life was five or even ten years ahead of me. When the Merry Pranksters were annoying Americans from coast to coast I would have been about eight.

Various of my rightie friends suggest that the right finds itself losing culture wars. They are correct to a degree. The generation of 1968, having imbued a melange of Marcuse, Leary, Fanon and, in the deep background, Gramsci, the Frankfurt School and Rudi Dutschke, take as a given their right to define the hip, the politically correct, the fashionable and the unspeakable. The grand march through the institutions – Dutschke’s phase not Gramsci’s – has left us with universities, media and corporations largely incapable of saying “no” to the ever-escalating demands of whichever identity group happens along.

But the roots, the root causes if you will, go back well before 1968 to the toxic culture of the beats and the echo of that culture in the Merry Pranksters. At its core, that world is about unspeakable selfishness, a deep sense of entitlement and a profound solipsism.

The enervation of the West began on hot afternoons in Tangier, redolent of hash and the delights afforded aging homosexuals by desperate Arab boys. Is there such a thing as a counter plinth? The very opposite of a platform upon which to erect a work of art or a society?

Oddly enough, Wolfe’s description of a California in which grown men made baroque objects in the shape of cars, or the South where equally grown men raced “stock” cars at 180 miles per hour, suggests the road not taken. And, indeed, Wolfe’s subsequent books, The Right Stuff and then the dark, Bonfire of the Vanities, show the paths diverging.

Winning the culture war is about defending a culture and, more importantly, developing that culture. Oddly, this has nothing to do with #hashtags or the right cocktail parties; or perhaps it does. Perhaps it is about our own #hashtags and our own cocktail parties and learning a little from the pomo left.

The modern left is perfectly delighted to direct a two minute hate at a scientist’s shirt or a scientist’s light remarks or someone who shows up consensus science as a fraud. It hates facts and it hates humour. Facts and humour and a sense of camaraderie can go a very long way in deconstructing the flailing left wing consensus. Rather than railing about the idiocy of identity politics, it is much more fun to arrange cage matches such as happened at the Chicago Gay Pride Parade when the #blacklivesmatter people showed up. Lobbing the 18 year global warming pause into unctuous discussions of model predicted end times is always fun. Remembering the Islam in Islamic terrorism is worthwhile.

Most of all, remembering just how boring hippies were and just what dreadful people the Beats celebrated will keep spirits up and humour front and center.

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SCOTUS ends debate before it bored us to death

Legal scholars are having a little bit of trouble with the “reasoning” in the US Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage. It was not, frankly, the Supreme Court’s finest jurisprudential hour and the precedent of reading into the constitution rights which were well outside the Founder’s intention is unlikely to end well. No matter.

I have long thought gay marriage should be legal. Canada has had it for a decade and has, so far, not collapsed like Rome before the Visigoths. Once legalized gay marriage is mercifully no longer much discussed. Base appealing GOP candidate seem to think one badly reasoned Supreme Court decision should lead to the election of Supreme Court Justices, or a Constitutional Amendment or, possibly, just a general hissy fit. They are thereby denying that base, and the rest of America, a break from hearing about the overarching importance of gay marriage to the well being of America. Believe me, not having to hear about it is blissful.

Of course there are always going to be people deciding that this is the starting gate for the slippery slope to, well, it is not clear what lies beneath but it is pretty sure to be awful like little old ladies marrying their cats or people marrying more than one person at once rather than serially like decent people do. And what about the children?

Call me crazy but it is really no one’s business but their own.

Of course, for some of my socon friends this really is the hill to die for. Family! Religion! What’s in the Bible! Children!

Unfortunately for the socons the gay marriage ship has sailed. Politically intelligent people will wish it Bon Voyage and get on with the things which matter like ISIS, climate change bullshit, building smaller government. Really smart political people will be talking about robots and AI and autonomous cars and the materials revolution and the culture of abundance. Those are real political issues. Gay marriage, like the Confederate Flag and trans everything are distractions.

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Grexit

Apparently, today, Greece is to have an ultimatum, or is it a prenultimatum. No matter, the EU and the IMF and the Germans are really serious now and they are not prepared to put up with any more waffles. Or are they?

The biggest problem the Greeks and the Eurozone face is the fact that neither side is willing to really draw that line in the sand. The Greeks keep spinning and the EU types keep backing away from the possible calamity of Grexit.

The Greeks are counting on the theory that the Eurozone and the EU cannot withstand the possibility of Greece defaulting. Are the Greeks right? On the numbers almost certainly not. Greece is 2% of the overall Euro GDP. They owe something on the order of 150 billion Euros which sounds like a lot but much of that debt is hedged and much of it will be repaid. The European banking community has managed to transfer a lot of the Greek debt to the assorted government and quasi-governmental institutions. Sure, they will take a hit, but not a balance sheet busting one.

From the European perspective losing Greece would be sad but not quite on the order of losing Spain or Italy. The EU will continue, the Euro will survive.

In world terms, the Greek exit/default/bankruptcy is a buying opportunity. Mr. Cook has denied that Apple will buy Greece but that will not stop any number of hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds from stepping up and buying bits of it. And, if the Grexit results in a drachma worth pennies on the Euro it is a dandy bet that plenty of Germans, Brits and French people will be only too delighted to buy that Greek villa they were priced out of previously.

A fire sale is not likely to be politically popular in Greece, but there is not a lot which a government can do to prevent private transactions between consenting adults. Especially in a country where the law is breaking down.

From the world wide perspective, Greek default is unfortunate but a long way from tragic. From a Greek perspective, it is probably the only way out. The only people who are likely to suffer really nasty consequences are the Eurocrats whose mantra of “ever closer” will lie broken at the side of the road. I shall try to work up a tear, but I doubt I will succeed.

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Greeks without Gifts

Greece, Grexit, EuroAbout three years ago my pal Mike Brock alerted me to the risk premiums being demanded on Greek sovereign debt. They had gone hyperbolic. Apparently Mike was on to something.

It is looking very much as though Greece will not meet its obligations and if it can’t there is every chance that it can no longer remain in the Eurozone. Default at this point may be the Greeks’ best option if it cannot persuade its creditors to take the proverbial “haircut” on its debt. In fact, it may be the best option even if the creditors accept a haircut.

Leaving aside the leftie posturing, there is a very real question as to why Greece ever joined the Euro. The Euro itself is a rather odd construction which makes not a lot of economic sense. Having a single monetary policy while leaving nations free to set their own fiscal policy might make sense if all of those nations were economically very similar. But even then there would be problems if some of those nations were politically divergent from others. The grand hope of the EU and the Eurozone was that people as diverse as the Germans and the Greeks would somehow all become “Europeans”. That has not happened.

For the EU losing Greece would be about as significant as Canada misplacing Prince Edward Island. Sad, a bit of a blow, over in two weeks. For Greece, losing the EU could well be the best thing which ever happened.

Economic reality can be postponed to a degree but it cannot be ignored. The Greek economy was not paying its way. The Greek government was paying lots in benefits and collecting not so much in taxes. Politically, it was largely impossible to cut the expenditure side of the ledger – a position which Syriza is maintaining in the face of its debt crisis. There were and are perverse political incentives to keep paying money which the government does not have to people who are not working. While that is possible when the people who are not working – the elderly, the ill – are a tiny fraction of the population, it can’t be sustained as the non-working numbers grow.

So long as there was the Euro, the EU and, ultimately, Germany to pay the bills there was very little political will to undertake reform. Austerity was decried. The harder truths avoided. Smart Greeks could see what was coming and have been offshoring their money in buckets for years. Good for them, not so good for Greece.

What comes after default will not be pretty and may very well degenerate into a weird sort of civil war. (Not an uncommon outcome in Greek politics from pretty much WWI on.) The may be suffering on a national scale and the collapse of Greek civil society. Or there may not. In fact, it is equally possible what with a Greek currency priced to reflect Greek productivity, Greece could emerge from a default with a viable, Greek, economy.

At the moment Greece is hobbled by a currency which has very little relation to its actual economy.Exiting the Euro is risky but it is likely a better bet in the middle to long term than continuing to pretend that Greece is somehow Germany with a better climate.

Gone to Pot

A client of mine alerted me to tonight’s 5th Estate program on Pot Fiction. It is the full hour and worth watching for a variety of reasons. Here’s the link.

The point of the program is that, in Vancouver at least, the practical effect of Health Canada’s Medical Marijuana regulations is de facto legalization. And, in fact, the program does not actually deal with the effect of the injunction against those regulations which has meant that the regulations themselves are suspended until a case against them has been heard, likely all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Despite the fact that I don’t smoke pot – because if I do I will be asleep in approximately three minutes – I have long advocated complete legalization. Largely for libertarian reasons but also because the criminal law is essentially unenforceable. But the medical marijuana regulatory scheme interests me as a grand example of government getting something entirely wrong.

The original medical marijuana regulations allowed people to buy from a single supplier or grow their own or designate a grower. While the system was far from perfect, and found to be unconstitutional, it had the advantage of regulating with a very light hand. But, oh Heavens, there was “leakage”. Medical pot was not always only used by medical users. Yikes.

So Health Canada came up with a regulatory scheme which was going to licence grower/distributors and put the users and their growers out of business. Enter Big Green and a bunch of promoters who sold shares in publicly listed companies based on the new regulations. The promoters made a lot of money using a simple story: there were 45,000 medical pot users in Canada (projected to grow to 450,000 users in a decade) who each used about 3 grams a day and who would have no choice but to pay between $8 and $15 a gram for their “medicine”. You do the math.

To my not very great surprise, people used to paying $0 to $5.00 a gram did not rush to sign up. And, very quickly, at least in Vancouver, pot shops – for registered users only of course – began to spring up. Becoming a registered user was not tough. As the 5th Estate guy discovered, telling a naturopath a charming story about stress and sleep disturbance over Skype gets you your registration. At which point you are free to buy. (I note the 5th Estate did not ask the pot shop owners where they were getting their pot – which is a rather good question because it is certainly not from the licenced growers as they are not allowed to sell except by mail order.)

As anyone who has lived in Vancouver knows, the Vancouver Police Department has better things to do than bust dispensaries. Plus, given the injunction halting enforcement of the Health Canada regs, it is not obvious what they would bust the dispensaries for that would have a chance of getting past the Crown. But even if they did bust the dispensary and even if the Crown brought charges, it is pretty difficult to see how a judge could find a person guilty who was selling to a registered user.

The problem is that the boffins at Health Canada have not quite figured out that their regulations are assuming a world which does not exist. First, they assume that people want to smoke “legal pot”. That might be true if police forces were in the habit of kicking down doors to arrest people smoking pot at home but, I fear, that hasn’t happened in years. (It may occasionally occur as a means of harassment but the probable cause issue is usually sufficient to kick the charges.)

Second, the boffins assumed that “medical marijuana” would somehow be policed by the medical profession. While it is a happy thought, all that is needed are a few doctors, nurse practitioners and naturopaths who think pot is just fine for what ails you, to render the “policing” function meaningless. Given that there is very little evidence either way as to pot’s medical efficacy, putting the burden of policing on the medical profession was a non-starter from the get go.

Third, the idea of centralizing growing and distribution of a relatively easy to grow plant in the hands of a group of entrepreneurs was a forlorn hope. Why would Mrs. Smith give up her little personal grow op only to buy her arthritis pain reliever at five times the price from clever marketers? And why would people who were growing illegally stop when they now had a fool proof means of distribution.

The only way that the regulations – if they ever manage to survive judicial scrutiny – will work is if Health Canada can somehow convince the Vancouver (and many other city police departments) to enforce the Criminal Code in the face of wide spread public opposition. Health Canada’s regulations will only work if the cost of “illegal medical marijuana” is, by draconian enforcement, raised to the point where the legal alternative is cheaper. Which would mean a level of enforcement which far exceeded the scale of enforcement we saw in the 1990’s. Which is not going to happen.

Health Canada is in way over its head. It has 1200 pending licence applications and it has only managed to approve 17 of them. It’s regulations are suspended by a Federal Court injunction. Its rules saying that only dried smokable pot is legal have been struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada. It has never managed to provide guidance as to the conditions marijuana is indicated for and what dosages might be efficacious.

Meanwhile, people who want to smoke pot are running rings around the regulations and using them to have a “Get out of Jail Free” card on the off chance they are found “in possession”. Now the law is in disrepute with the public and, more importantly, the police, Crown and judges.

We have legalization through the backdoor.

Unregulated, un-taxed and entirely beyond the state’s control.

I’d call that a win.

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