Thursday, November 10, 2022

What's the Difference Between a Libertarian and a Librarian?

Sounds like the beginning of a riddle, but it's not.

Just a few days ago, my friend Bill, the state chairman of the Libertarian Party of Delaware as it happens, approached one of the local libraries in northern Delaware to propose a Liberty Story Hour. The program was to be presented by him and perhaps a colleague or two. The program would feature stories about the founding fathers, limited government, responsible spending, etc. and would be tailored to children and be presented in an age appropriate way.

Bill got a very polite response from the library.



Thank you so much for the program description. I spoke to my manager about the program and we are going to pass. While we appreciate the literacy aspect of this, we just don't think this would be a good fit for our public library. Again, thank you for considering us!

Have a great evening.

Signed xxxxxxxx


Her Title xxxxxxx

That was a polite response, right? If the response had been written in Ordinary English then I'd have said yes. It was a polite response. But the response wasn't written in Ordinary English. That was Bureaucrat English. When you translate from Bureaucrat English to Ordinary English, what Bill really got was a big fat Fuck You! Yes, I realize that this paragraph gets cut if published anywhere else but on my own blog, but I had to get it out of my system!

Not a good fit for "our library?" What does that mean exactly? Not in keeping with "our" community standards maybe? Not in keeping with "our" politics perhaps? Back in 2019, another local library held a Drag Queen Story Time. Oh, you thought those only happened in places like San Francisco or Boston or New York City? Nope. This Drag Queen Story Time was held right here in our own back yard at the Old New Castle Library. I'll emphasize, it was not the same library my friend Bill approached, but they're both right here in our community.

Now, let me just say, it's not that I was a huge advocate of Liberty Story Hour, but I didn't oppose it either. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and a wise man once told me, "Don't criticize someone's activism just because it isn't your particular brand of activism." So I'm not writing this article to advocate for Liberty Story Hour in our public libraries. I'm not even writing this article to oppose Drag Queen Story Times in those libraries. There are plenty of others who may be motivated to write those articles and God bless them. I'm writing this article to ask just how relevant libraries are these days. And maybe to talk a little bit about pronouns. Heaven forgive me, but we have to take a little time to talk about those pronouns.

I'm a traditionalist. I don't use pronouns. By the way, traditionalist is not a dog whistle for bigot, homophobe, xenophobe or any other "phobe." It's not even a dog whistle for conservative. I'm a Libertarian. Tradition is not a dirty word, and it's not a dog whistle for anything else. If you want to talk about a dog whistle, let's talk about those pronouns! Would anybody have any difficulty guessing on which end of the political spectrum or even the tradition spectrum that librarian resides? Not once you realize what information listing your pronouns really conveys. Now that's a dog whistle. To be honest, I'm grateful for this dog whistle. The message comes through loud and clear. I think we know who we're dealing with here. Perhaps Bill should have offered to do Liberty Story Hour in drag.

Oddly enough, on reflection, I realized that despite having read that librarian's email several times, I had never noticed what her pronouns were. Don't misunderstand me. I recognized that she had listed her pronouns, but the information those pronouns were meant to convey, never registered with me. I don't mock this librarian for whatever sexual orientation those pronouns reveal. I mock her for the arrogance, the presumptuousness, the narcissism that posting them reveals. I don't ridicule her based on any new awareness of who she prefers to have sex with. I ridicule her for presuming that I care, or even that I should care!

So, enough about pronouns. What about libraries?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding what those of us with traditional values see as an attempt to indoctrinate children in our public schools. Between the 1619 Project, climate alarmism, Gay Pride, and all the other woke agendas being pushed in our public schools, it's surprising they have any time left to teach the ABC's. Judging by test scores, maybe they don't. I think it's time to recognize that, generally speaking, the same woke ideologues who control the education system in this country, also control most of the libraries. It used to be the responsible thing to do to promote and fund libraries in your community. Is it still such a good idea? If libraries have become the domain of propagandists and indoctrinators, maybe the answer is no.

Maybe that librarian did my friend Bill a favor by rejecting his idea for a Liberty Story Hour. Why would a traditionalist want to lure parents of impressionable kids into a library to get habituated to a system that may allow you your Liberty Story Hour this week, but next week might be sponsoring a field trip for six year olds to the local drag bar. They could use Liberty Story Hour as a gateway to introduce your kids to all the other woke agendas to which they are so devoted. Parents have a difficult enough time fending off that indoctrination in the public schools. If you're one of those traditional parents, why would you then willingly subject your children to the same propaganda at the library? Especially if these programs are predominantly run by a bunch of woke, pronoun sporting harpies more interested in recruiting soldiers for "the cause" than in promoting the welfare of your kids.

I used to be a huge fan of libraries. Once upon a time, I was also a big fan of Public Radio, but they've managed to ruin that too. I spent a lot of time in libraries. At one time, I looked forward to my retirement years when I could spend even more time in libraries. Then a funny thing happened. This new thing called the internet came along, and all of a sudden, libraries just didn't seem that relevant any more. These days, that's what the internet is for. Maybe its time to realize that even though it was once a good idea to promote libraries to your children, perhaps in today's climate, that's not so important. Is blind devotion to the anachronistic idea of a physical library really such sound thinking? As far as public policy is concerned, perhaps less money should be devoted to libraries and a bit more focus placed on ensuring an internet free of viewpoint censorship.

There was a time when criticizing libraries would have been considered almost sacrilegious, and I'm sure there are hordes of angry, blue haired, pierced, and tattooed, Bernie loving librarians organizing, even as we speak, preparing the campaign to get me canceled for daring to speak against the institution. For them, I offer this:

A Libertarian walks into a library and asks the librarian for an ounce of legal cannabis. The librarian replies indignantly, "Sir, this is a library." The Libertarian apologizes, leans in a bit closer and WHISPERS back, "Sorry. I'd like an ounce of legal cannabis."


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Just in Time for Easter, Marijuana Legislation is Resurrected in Delaware

 On March 10th of this year, House Bill 305, a bill to legalize marijuana, failed in the General Assembly.  Contrary to the conventional wisdom, many Libertarians were glad to see this legislation go down in flames (or if you prefer, up in smoke).  Sure, it legalized recreational cannabis, but it also created a labyrinth of taxation, regulation, compliance obstacles and licensing carve outs for favored Democratic social justice constituencies.  You could forget about the mom and pop pot businesses and a new cash crop for local farmers.  The numbers of growers, manufacturers and retailers was to be strictly regulated.  Licenses were to be limited and expensive.  This bill was written with the Corporate Cannabis Industry in mind.  It was a crony capitalist's wet dream.  And it didn't allow for home grow either.  The State's alcohol regulations allow home hobbyists to brew beer and make wine for personal consumption.  Why no similar concessions to the casual cannabis enthusiast with some potted plants (pun intended) in his basement under a grow light?  Good riddance to a bad bill.  We want legalized weed, but not at any price.  The next time, we'll get a better bill, and as it turns out, the next time might be now.

Several days ago I saw that Delaware Representative Ed Osienski (D-Newark), the sponsor of the failed HB 305, had introduced two new bills to try again to legalize marijuana in the state.  One bill, (HB 371) is short and sweet; just over two pages.  It legalizes possession for recreational use, in private, of under an ounce, by those 21 and over, if acquired without remuneration.  I know there were an awful lot of clauses in that last sentence, but as laws go, what could be simpler than that?  Don't ask how one is presumed to have obtained said marijuana if you can't buy it or grow it.  It's like they're saying you can privately smoke all the free marijuana you can get your hands on as long as you get it in less than one ounce quantities.  The new bill fails to address how to find those generous  philanthropists who are presumably going to be giving away all that free marijuana.   This minor omission  reminds me of the South Park story of the underpants gnomes and their mystery plan for making profit.  

But there is more to the story.  Accompanying HB 371, the legalization bill, is HB 372, the taxation and regulation bill.  And where HB 371 is just over two pages and relatively easy for a layperson to understand, HB 372 is almost 50 pages long and will put even the average insomniac to sleep after the first few paragraphs.  I'm sure there are no hidden surprises or corporate giveaways anywhere in those fifty or so pages of legislative legal jargon.  In describing the new legislation, the State News quoted Representative Osienski as follows:

“I think the whole idea of breaking it up into two is allowing those that have concerns about legalization to have the opportunity to vote no on it, but then have the opportunity to vote yes on regulation,”

When I first read this, I was furious.  I thought to myself, "How hypocritical can these politicians get?  The original bill failed, and in its resurrected form they are more concerned with cementing in place the horrible taxation and the regulation parts and to hell with the personal liberty aspect of legalization."  I was reminded of the Lily Tomlin quote.  "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up!" I was really pissed, but it turns out, I was wrong. And wrong in a good way.

 Every once in a while something happens to remind me that I'm not as smart as I think I am.  This was one of those times.  It turns out that tax related bills have a higher threshold for passage than other routine pieces of legislation.  Regular bills require a simple majority, but tax bills require a 3/5 vote in order to pass.  The original HB 305 which contained both legalization and taxation failed despite a vote of 23 in favor and 14 opposed because this bill required 25 votes in order to pass. No Republicans supported the bill, and four Representatives, two Republicans and two Democrats, did not vote.  It missed passage by only two votes.  Close, but no cigar.  

So what happens now?  Well, legalization alone as defined in HB 371 only requires a simple majority to pass the House.  There are already enough co-sponsors of the bill to insure that happens.  Of course, we don't know how the bill will fare in the Senate, and the Governor has expressed opposition to marijuana legalization in the past. And overriding a veto would require a 3/5 vote of both chambers, so we would be right back where we started.  Still, I wonder if the Representatives who did not vote last time could be persuaded to support the new legalization bill.  Perhaps a few Republicans could even be persuaded to do the same if they could successfully amend HB 372 to reduce the taxation aspects of that legislation.  Representative Michael Smith (R-Newark)  had suggested he might have supported the old bill had the Democrats been willing to agree to certain amendments that would have allowed past felony convictions for certain tax or drug related crimes to be considered when approving licenses.  On the face of it, those sound like reasonable amendments.  I'm not sure why Democrats in the House let HB 305 fail last March rather than adopt those changes.  Maybe there is more to the story.  I'd like to know what happened in the smoke filled room back then, because that drama is about to be replayed, and I'd like to see a different outcome this time, hopefully resulting in the passage of cannabis legalization.

 So what should we advocate for going forward?  Well, obviously we want to support legislators in the House who are already supporting HB 371 and encourage the others, both Republicans and Democrats, to join them to form a veto proof majority.  And of course, we need to urge the members of the Senate to do likewise.  If we could accomplish that, I'd be happy to see HB 372 simply fail.  Wouldn't that be a delicious bit of irony.  Legislators try to manipulate the parliamentary system to secure more tax revenue and service special interests and accidentally succeed in advancing personal liberty without scoring any of the graft.  It's almost like a Libertarian fairy tale come true.  But let's be honest.  That's not going to happen.  If HB 371 passed and HB 372 failed, the Governor would simply veto HB 371, and the General Assembly would find an excuse not to override.  

It looks like we might be pretty close to a win in Delaware for cannabis legalization. How far can we push legislators to improve these bills without the whole enterprise failing again like it did last time?  Well, the first thing to say is, if the bills aren't improved, then I for one would just as soon see them fail again.  Now is not the time to be timid.  Time is on our side.  Legalization will eventually become a reality.  There is no need to sell out to Corporate Cannabis when we are this close.  Let them want legalization more than we do.  We'll get a better bill with that mindset, even if it takes a little longer. 

So, if we aren't likely to get HB 371 without HB 372, what do we want to change?  First and foremost, I would say, add home grow.  That has got to be top of the list from the individual freedom point of view.  If it's good enough for alcohol, it's good enough for cannabis.  I can't think of any excuse but a lame one for refusing to add that.  I will never be convinced that such an omission wasn't the result of  industry lobbying.  Limit quantities if you must, but under no circumstances should we accept a bill that handcuffs aficionados of the noble herb to a product marketed by Phillip Morris or Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.  After that, legislators should be pushed to increase the number of licenses issued to grow, manufacture and sell, and to lower the costs of those licenses along with the rate of taxation applied. How can the State expect to eliminate the black market for cannabis if their taxation and regulatory structure prices the legal stuff out of the market?  And ditch the special carve outs for licensing Democrats' favored special interest constituencies.  With an abundance of licenses, they shouldn't be needed anyway.  These new laws should provide a windfall to Delaware farmers and entrepreneurs, not to the State and large corporate interests.  If Republicans can't stop legalization, and they refuse to support it, let them at least apply a more capitalist friendly structure to the regulation.  With a little bit of effort, maybe we can shame them into following those illusory free market principles they claim to believe in.  Or is that another fairy tale?  

Delaware legislators are giving Cannabis legalization a Mulligan this year.  Let's hope they don't screw it up this time.