Monthly Archives: April 2013

Let’s experiment with drug laws

Anyone who has watched writer David Simon’s HBO television series The Wire is familiar with the term “Hamsterdam.” Hamsterdam refers to a section of Baltimore where the sale and consumption of drugs are legal on the show.

Hamsterdam came about because the drug trade on mainstream street corners became too disruptive to everyday citizens. People were murdered and taxpayers moved out of the city to the neighboring county to avoid violence and drug culture. As a result, a rogue cop created Hamsterdam, comprised of empty row houses where the drug trade is legal and regulated for violence.

Hamsterdam was incredibly successful. Street corners were peaceful. Crime decreased by 14 percent in the district. Groups that distributed clean needles and condoms set up in Hamsterdam and reached people in the shadowy underworld of the drug trade that were once unreachable. Narcotics Anonymous set up in Hamsterdam and saw an influx of members looking to stop drug use. Cops even started charging all mid-level dealers a tax in order to continue operating in Hamsterdam. They used this tax to buy a basketball hoop for the kids of Hamsterdam who were no longer needed to help dealers complete illegal deals.

Obviously this is a TV show, and it may not reflect what would happen if drugs were legalized, but it forces one to consider if drug prohibition does more harm than good. Continue reading

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Let’s re-evaluate the way that the United States does taxes

Almost everything about the way we do taxes in this country is wrong. Taking for granted that it’s beneficial for our society to force people to pay money for collective services, the way we pay for those services can, and should, be done much better than it is now.

I don’t claim to have any answers to this issue, but I aim to point out a few problems in our current system and to encourage others to think outside of the box about ways that we — as a society — can make taxation more efficient. Continue reading

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Obamacare unable to keep all of its promises

Three years after its passing, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — commonly referred to as Obamacare — is just as bad of a law as Republicans always thought it would be. When the bill passed, President Obama laid out three criteria that it would fill. First, if you like your insurance, you can keep it. Second, premiums will decrease by about $2,500 per family. Lastly, it won’t add a penny to the deficit.

Obamacare fails to keep all three promises. According to a study by the University of Chicago, over half of the individual insurance plans on the market right now don’t meet the standards for basic coverage that Obamacare sets.

This means that if you’re a young, single individual, you can’t buy an insurance plan that just covers catastrophic care. You need a plan with all the bells and whistles that Obamacare mandates; think of it as a car insurance policy that covers gasoline costs and routine maintenance. Single catastrophic care insurance buyers won’t get to keep their insurance, even if they like it. Continue reading

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