Jim Manzi discusses “Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society”; Plus: American Dream Goin’ South and California’s Proposed Cigarette Tax, This Week on Gadfly Radio

Join us live Tuesday, 10 a.m. PDT, on CRNtalk.com, CRN1, for another spirited edition of Gadfly Radio with Martha and CalWatchDog.

Martha Montelongo could not stay away from the microphone for long, so she’s returning from her road trip a week early!

In the first half of the program, we’ll talk to Jim Manzi, author of the new book, Uncontrolled:  The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society. Manzi, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the founder and chairman of Applied Productive Technologies, argues “we have much less formal knowledge about society than economists and other social scientists often claim, and that therefore we need to rely predominantly on practical expertise, federalism and trial-and-error learning to make useful progress.” It’s a fascinating book, and should make for a fascinating discussion.

Then, John Seiler, Ben Boychuk and Martha Montelongo will discuss some of the latest developments in California, including the pitch battle over Proposition 29, the “Tobacco Tax for Cancer Research Act.” If approved, Prop. 29 would raise the cigarette tax by $1, with the money ostensibly earmarked for cancer research.

Prop. 29’s backers are trying to portray the measure’s opponents—which do, in fact, include tobacco companies—as objectively “pro-cancer.”  L.A. Times columnist George Skelton flatly asserts that Prop. 29 will save countless lives, and that opponents of the tax increase are simply lying to protect Big Tobacco. And in a column at California Progress Report headlined “The Friends of Lung Cancer,” former Sacramento Bee editorial page editor Peter Schrag writes:

There are lots of good reasons to support Proposition 29, the tobacco tax initiative on the June 5 ballot, not least those named Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. Together, the two tobacco giants have so far kicked in about $40 million to the sleazy campaign to defeat it. If you count the nearly $700,000 that the Republican Party contributed to their cause you have yet another reason.

Incredibly, Schrag comes out in qualified opposition to Prop. 29, saying, “Anything that big tobacco is against – or big pharma or big oil – is usually good enough to be for. But let’s save it for a more worthy purpose next time around. There’s a long list of underfunded programs that can badly use the money.” Well, alrighty then!

The problem with Prop. 29—well, one of them, anyway—is that it would create yet another new agency with an unreliable revenue stream in a state beset with a multi-billion dollar deficit. Remember Prop. 71? That was a 2004 bond measure that set up a mostly unaccountable new agency responsible for spending billions on stem-cell research. The Sacramento Bee reported Monday that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is now in danger of running out of money.

And as CalWatchDog’s Katy Grimes noted last month, Prop. 29’s backers have plenty to gain if the measure passes: “Don Perata, a former state legislator, has been using the June ballot measure’s election fund as his own personal checkbook. Perata has paid nearly $40,000 to an Oakland City Councilman in order to win a contract for one of his lobbying clients, the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times reported.” Grimes also reports that Prop. 29 includes “a clause prohibiting any changes in the spending decision that its politically appointed commission makes, for a full 15 years.”

What’s more, the measure, “is written in a way to exempt the CEO from normal state salary requirements, and why that CEO can hire whomever he wants, at whatever salary he chooses.”

How bad is California’s economy? People are voluntarily returning to Mexico. John Seiler at CalWatchDog lays out the numbers in “American Dream Goin’ South,” which highlights the reverse migration of Mexicans from California. John writes:

Although the official California unemployment rate is 10.9 percent, the real level — including those working part time who want to work more and those who have given up looking for work — is 25 percent, just as during the 1930s, as I have reported.

A difference this time from the 1930s is that Mexico’s economy is not also in a slump, but is a hot tamale:

“First-quarter growth was 4.6 per cent compared with a year earlier, the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2010, prompting several analysts to upgrade 2012 growth forecasts.”

Other items of note: 

  • “California’s salary setting commission is bracing next week to consider a 5 percent pay cut for legislators and other statewide officeholders, in keeping with a similar cut proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown for state workers,” reports Jim Sanders at the Sacramento Bee.
  • Executives at California State University campuses would be prohibited from getting public pay increases during the next two years and then limited to 10% raises during the next four years under legislation approved Monday by the state Senate,” according to the Los Angeles Times. CalWatchDog’s John Hrabe has been on the cutting edge of reporting on the Cal State executive compensation scandal. Read his latest report here.
  • During last week’s episode, Ben and John discussed California’s exploding budget deficit, including the state’s high hopes for billions in new revenue from the Facebook IPO. City Journal contributing editor Joel Kotkin argues at The Daily Beast that Facebook won’t save the Golden State. Meantime, Facebook shares on Monday closed near $34 on the second day of trading—or about $4 below the stock’s initial offering price. Yikes.

Tonight on Gadfly Radio w/ Martha Montelongo and CalWatchDog’s John Seiler, CA City Journal’s Ben Boychuk & special guest, LEAP member, Kyle Kazan, former police officer w/ Torrance P.D.


Gadfly Radio Tonight, at 8 PM PT

Live Call in number: 1-818-602-4929 
September 6, 2011 Tonight live at 8PM PT:  Tonight on Gadfly Radio, Ben Boychuk of CA City Journal joins me as we talk with John Seiler of CalWatchDog.com, with special guest LEAP member, Kyle Kazan, former police officer w/ Torrance P.D. in CA, the sixth-largest department in the county. 

Kyle Kazan twice led his department in felony arrests. He also testified as a court certified expert in drug sales. Kyle’s work as a foot soldier in the war on drugs gave him insight into the …futility and waste of drug prohibition.

We’ll talk about the Drug War and escalation of violence in Mexico, the operations of cartels in CA, the weapons sold by US agents to Mexican cartels, the costs to financially broke CA and our Fed Govt for the War on Drugs.

We’ll also talk about Portugal’s 10 year old program that has produced measurably safer, healthier communities,and a measurably significant drop in drug use and abuse, and significant financial savings for the Portuguese Government. What is the program, how does it work, how does it break down in terms of savings, policy and what are the real numbers of drug use, abuse, rehabilitation and incarceration today in Portugal, v what they were 10 years ago? We know in the U.S. the numbers have gone up. What are those numbers? We’ll ask Kyle that too!

As part of our regular format, we’ll do our closing segment where we talk with John Seiler about the latest, hottest stories at CalWatchDog, your eyes on CA Government.

John Seiler tonight on Gadfly, wants to talk about AB 499 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. He has just published a report at CalWatchDog on this story. He writes that “In the bill’s language, it ‘authorizes a minor, who is 12 years of age or older, to consent to medical care related to the prevention of a sexually transmitted disease.’

Current law allows such care only with a parent’s permission. AB 499 passed both houses of the Legislature and awaits a decision by Gov. Jerry Brown.

AB 499 commonly is called the “Gardasil Bill” because the major drug to be administered to 12-year-old girls — without their parents’ consent — is Gardasil, manufactured by Merck. According to Merck’s Gardasil Web site: GARDASIL is the only human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of HPV….”
Related links:

Merk Bankrolled Anti parent Bill

California Neighbor Mexico Spirals Into Anarchy 

by John Seiler
at CalWatchDog.com

Add caption

Drug-Related Mexican Violence Soars, As US Policy Bolsters Cartels

Drug cartels are tightening their grip in Acapulco, where civilian communities attempt to resist
by John Glaser,
August 31, 2011

Portugal’s Ten Year Old Drug Policy Program that has legalized drugs  with measurably better results realized in terms of lower usage, crime and government spending for rehabilitation, education, and intervention.

– Cato Institute

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?

Scientific American reports much more favorably here: 5 Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results Street drug related deaths from overdoses drop and the rate of HIV cases crashes
By Brian Vastag | April 7, 2009

Mixed Results For Portugal’s Great Drug Experiment NPR straddles the fence and is on overdrive to remain “fair” and “balanced.” if you’re not going to argue for the civil liberties of those who commit crimes of sin, such as enjoying a joint for the same reasons one enjoys a beer or a glass of wine, or if really out for an adventure, the same as smoking enough pot to feel like one has had one or two martinis. Pot can be as mild as beer and wine, or as potent as martinis or screw drivers, without the long lasting toxicity and hangover effects from the alcohol poisoning. That said, I thought it was interesting report.

Ann Coulter debates with John Stossel about the War on Drugs in this 9 minute video on YouTube.  I brought it up last night to illustrate the hard set prejudice influential conservatives hold against a Drug Policy that respects individual choices and liberties, and uses resources to support addicts of any drugs they abuse, to free themselves of their addiction and to turn their lives around.    

We’ll take your calls, questions and comments on the air at 1-818-602-4929.

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Drug-Related Mexican Violence Soars, As US Policy Bolsters Cartels — News from Antiwar.com

Drug cartels are tightening their grip in Acapulco, where civilian communities attempt to resist

by John Glaser, August 31, 2011

As of early August, 650 people had been killed in Acapulco, Mexico in 2011, making it one of the the bloodiest cities in Mexico, due primarily to the drug war.
As a key passageway for South American cocaine, the city has long attracted drug gangs, with agents of the Sinaloa Cartel battling the Zetas as far back as 2005. Both gangs are targeted in America’s war on drugs, which unfortunately has bolstered their capacities in various ways as they expand their dominance in the black market.
Men from the Zetas gang are suspected of having terrorized and burnt down a crowded casino last week, killing over 50 people.

Click to read more.

CA Neighbor Mexico Spirals Into Anarchy | CalWatchDog

Instead of the Bush-Obama “war” on drugs being exported to Mexico, there are two actions that can end, or at least greatly reduce, the country’s deadly gang wars and massive government corruption.

First: End the ‘War’ on Drugs
First, the U.S. government should end the “war” on drugs. It should begin to do so internationally, ending its interventions in Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan and other narco-states. Further, it should allow U.S. state and local governments to decide whether or not illegal drugs should be decriminalized. That’s actually what’s said in the Constitution, where no “war” on drugs is given as a power to the federal government.

Second: Legalize Mexican Guns
The second reform to reduce violence in Mexico would be to legalize guns in that country. Currently, Mexico has one of the world’s most draconian gun-control policies.

click to read more.

Mexicans Are Fed Up with the War on Drugs– The Beacon

By Robert Higgs
Sunday April 10, 2011 at 11:32:17 AM PDT

A few days ago, tens of thousands of Mexicans in scores of Mexican cities participated in public protests against the War on Drugs and the use of the Mexican army as anti-drug warriors. The violence that has accompanied the Mexican government’s attempts to defeat the drug dealers during the past several years has claimed perhaps as many as 40,000 lives. Some cities, especially Ciudad Juarez, across the river from El Paso, Texas, have become virtual battlefields.
All of this would be sufficiently dreadful if it had accompanied legitimate efforts to suppress real criminals. But although the drug dealers have committed murders, robberies, and other genuine crimes, to be sure, the foundation of this entire “war” is the U.S. government’s attempts to suppress actions — possessing, buying, and selling certain substances — that violate no one’s natural rights. Not to mince words, the War on Drugs is completely evil, from alpha to omega. No one who believes in human liberty can coherently support it. That its prosecution should have resulted in death and human suffering on such a vast scale constitutes an indictment of every person who has conducted or supported this wicked undertaking from its outset.
The Mexican people are showing in many ways, and with unprecedented determination, that they are completely fed up with this gringo-prompted war in which, in recent years, they have become the most devastated victims. Governments that treat their people in this way have no legitimacy whatsoever. They deserve to be brought down. And if the people of Mexico bring down Calderon’s government, then peaceful, rights-respecting people everywhere will have reason to cheer and hope.
Click here to read more.

(I was stunned by the bold, frank unapologetic voice in this article.  It’s powerful and poignant, and I’m  grateful to Higgins for writing it.)  

“It is far from clear that Proposition 19, as it is known, will pass. The combination of conservatives who fear that legalization would transform us into a hash-happy heap of hippies, drug warriors who make a living off of the criminalization of pot smoking, and gangsters whose profits are tied up in prohibition could be enough to defeat it by a narrow margin.”

Mary Anastasia O’Grady, opinion writer for the WSJ, expert on The Americas, pens a column weighing in on Prop 19 in CA. It’s about the The Economics of Drug Violence.

The Economics of Drug Violence
Competition in the narcotics trade is preferable to monopolistic syndicates.
Click here to read more.

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Killings Cast Pall on Mexico Drug Plan Calderón’s Strategy of Using Army Patrols Draws Fire as Juárez, a Centerpiece of the Push, Turns Into a Murder Capital


CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico—The gangland-style murders of three people with ties to the U.S. consulate in this border city have confirmed for many people what residents here already knew: President Felipe Calderón’s strategy of sending in the troops to corral drug gangs has failed.

The gritty working-class city of 1.5 million has become a litmus test for Mr. Calderón’s antidrug strategy and, by extension, his presidency. The conservative leader took power vowing to bring cartels to heel, and chose Mexico’s army rather than local police to do the job, sending 45,000 troops to various hot spots, including 7,000 to Juárez.

But violence has skyrocketed in Juárez, an assembly center for export goods that never escaped its roots as a border playground for Americans. It has suffered a disproportionate amount of the mayhem, accounting for 5,349 out of more than 18,000 drug-related murders across Mexico since Mr. Calderón took power in December 2006.

“It’s a complete failure,” Oscar Cantú, publisher of local newspaper El Norte, says of Mr. Calderón’s enforcement strategy.Click here to read more…

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