Is Our Nation Broken?

Lately I have been saddened by the division in our Nation. I think it has always bothered me that we have a long history of division. Like when we hated on the Indians and all but annihilated them and enslaved a portion of our society that was predominately black and further punished them with segregation and Jim Crow laws, but I had hoped we had left some of that behind.  The most obvious division today is among the Haves and the Have Not’s and between those who want more government control and those who do not. Those we have elected to lead us have been putting on a pretty good show of fighting for the cause of their constituents, yet our government continues on its set course. That course being more control over its people and more information about their lives and more of their money. Obviously they are not content to just control their own citizens, but people all over the world as evidenced by the surveillance of foreigners and the constant intervention in other nations by our government. Should we be in a constant state of war without a defined enemy. The stated enemy is terrorism yet we refuse to acknowledge that it is a war with Islam where the Quran calls for the killing of non-Muslims. We also have the internal and external war on drugs where tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in a struggle to illegally provide the United States with drugs and hundreds of thousands of Americans are imprisoned and lose their property because their drug of choice is not alcohol or tobacco. These things are being used as an excuse to gather information on every citizen in this country and many abroad. Privacy in our communications, information searches, shopping habits and our medical history is gone and all that information along with our location is now available to our government. We have surrendered our individual sovereignty for the illusion of safety.

Lets consider some of the implications from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One provision is the smokers have been accessed a $3000 penalty or premium increase that cannot be subsidized with tax money. That $3000 is just an arbitrary number. What if it increases to $6000 or more and how hard would it be to say that anyone who uses an illegal drug should be charged more. You could always just not tell them but likely medical exams in the future will include toxicology exams since the government is picking up the tab. Laser powered molecular scanners will very likely find their way into medical diagnostics and drug use will be obvious, both legal and illegal. If you do not report your drug use you will be guilty of felony fraud.

The use of the Internal Revenue Service as the enforcement arm of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is also troublesome. Does anyone remember the abuse of power about awarding or withholding tax-free status to groups and individuals along party lines. The Internal Revenue Service has always been used by our elected leaders to reward those in their favor and punish those who are not. It is also being used to divide our nation. We are split between the Haves and the Have Not’s where according to CNN Money, 10% of the people pay 70% of all income taxes. Randi Rhodes once told me that it wouldn’t do any good to tax the poor because it is like squeezing blood from a turnip but I disagree. Those who do not pay income taxes ( about 47%) don’t have any skin in the game and they can vote for whatever benefits they want from government and not have to worry about how it is paid for. When we authorize our government to take away from a few to supplement others it is theft, even if it is backed by the rule of law. If everyone pays, then we could find the level of government benefits that we can agree on and pay as we go. This astronomical national debt thing has to stop if we are to leave any kind of decent future for our children and grand children.

If America wants to turn this around, it can be done, but we have to act in unison. Stop voting for lifetime politicians. Their allegiance is not to you but too their party. Demand term limits and run for office if you are dissatisfied with the selection of candidates. We need more ordinary citizens in office. Above all watch those that take office and let them know what you expect from them. Silence is seen as approval.

Randy Johnson

Federal Law Complicates State Job Protection Laws

According to an article in the Huffington Post, the Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that the Colorado law preventing employers from terminating employees for activities off the job that are legal, such as the use of tobacco does not apply to medical marijuana patients. Although medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, the court determined that Federal prohibition prevents job protection under the state law. Similar problems have been addressed in other states with similar results. Arizona may be the only state that protects medical marijuana patients employment with a caveat, the protected employment must not harm the employers Federal contract or license. Federal law requires any business that does business with the Federal Government to provide a drug free workplace and have a drug testing program. The Federal law also complicates insurance agreements with employers because many insurance policies exclude claims where illegal activity is involved. Even if an employee’s job status was protected under state law, an on the job injury might not be covered by the employers insurance policy because of the Federal prohibition of marijuana.

I’m really not in favor of laws preventing employers from terminating employees for what ever reason they see fit. If I were an employer, I wouldn’t want people telling me who I could or could not hire or fire. That in itself is against the principles of freedom and is hostile to business. Isn’t the legalization of marijuana about personal freedom? Shouldn’t that freedom apply equally to everyone, including employers?

Just another good reason to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act and let states sort out the legalization of marijuana. The will of the people is being circumvented by the obstructionists in Washington, who believe we should all live by their edict.

Randy Johnson

Insurance and Marijuana Use

An article written by Aaron Crowe from , that I found at delves into the issues of automobile insurance coverage and the use of marijuana. It discusses insurance company policy toward medical marijuana and sources a study into the effects medical marijuana have had on traffic fatalities. According to the article any drugged driving conviction or loss of license involving drugged driving will result in your insurance carrier canceling your policy. When your license is restored you would not be eligible for discounted insurance but instead be put in a pool for high risk insurance at near double discounted rates. Insurance companies have little if any tolerance for DUI convictions whether they are from alcohol or other drugs.

In another article from, Some life insurance policies will cover people who use marijuana (but not abuse) and cover them at a higher rate similar to how insurance companies charge higher premiums to those who use tobacco. I am assuming that the (but not abuse) clause would pertain to state legal medical marijuana use, but I have no way to confirm that. The article also stresses the need to be honest in the application process as the application becomes part of the policy and any dishonesty on the application constitutes fraud.

Interestingly the study cited from titled “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption” by D. Mark Anderson and Daniel I. Rees reports that in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, traffic fatalities have decreased by almost 9%, marijuana use among people 12 to 17 years of age decreased even though overall marijuana use increased, and alcohol consumption overall decreased. The study suggests that marijuana is used as a substitute for alcohol consumption. The decrease in traffic fatalities may be the result of decreased alcohol consumption or it may be related to the fact that most people who consume alcohol do so away from home in bars and restaurants and then drive home, while most marijuana consumption is done in private and at home. Also cited in the study were references to driving studies that indicate marijuana users tend to compensate for impairment by slowing down and taking fewer risks while alcohol users tend to not be aware of their impairment and tend to drive faster and take more risks. Either way just the act of legalizing medical marijuana has reduced traffic fatalities (9%) at rates similar to raising the drinking age to 21 years (9%) or mandatory seat belt laws (8%). The results of reducing traffic fatalities associated with alcohol are even greater at a 12% reduction for (blood alcohol content above 0) and a 14% reduction for (blood alcohol content at .10 and above). This gives credence to the idea, alcohol and marijuana are substitutes for one another and that legalizing marijuana would result in lower alcohol consumption.

Burian, Scott; Liguori, Anthony and John Robinson. 2002. “Effects of Alcohol on Risk-Taking

During Simulated Driving.”

Human Psychopharmacology 17: 141-150.

Carpenter, Christopher. 2004. “How do Zero Tolerance Drunk Driving Laws Work?”


of Health Economics

23: 61-83.

Carpenter, Christopher and Mark Stehr. 2008. “The Effects of Mandatory Seatbelt Laws on

Seatbelt Use, Motor Vehicle Fatalities, and Crash-Related Injuries among Youths.”

Journal of Health Economics

27: 642-662.

Randy Johnson