Trey Radel and the Drug War

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2013
Naples, FL – The Libertarian Party
of Collier County is extremely saddened to hear about the October arrest of
Representative Trey Radel on a charge of possession of cocaine. We are happy to
hear that Rep. Radel has said that he will be seeking treatment to help him
through this trying time. We wish him the best and hope for a speedy
recovery.

There is something that simply cannot be ignored or glossed
over with this issue. It is the complete and utter hypocrisy that our elected
officials continue to engage in over drug policy in our country. Even our three
most recent presidents have openly admitted to using drugs during their youth.
All the while, many young men and women in our country are sent to jail under
the policies that our elected officials continue to put in place and fund with
our tax dollars.

It was abhorrent to hear Representative Trey Radel come
out against the legalization of medical marijuana in the 2012 Republican primary
or for him to vote in favor of drug testing of food stamp recipients all the
while struggling with his own alcoholism and drug abuse. Why do we continue to
allow for a different set of standards for our elected officials compared to the
rest of the American people?

The War on Drugs is an abysmal big
government failure. It is a Republican and Democrat failure. Our country has
spent roughly one and a half trillion dollars on the drug war since 1970 while
our drug addiction rate has remained unchanged. In addition, 48% of those in
U.S. prisons are there for drug crimes (and an overwhelming number of those are
in prison for “crimes” of a non-violent nature). Even more alarming, drug policy
is nowhere to be found in our U.S. Constitution.

If you’re a limited
government constitutionalist, you know the power to wage the war on drugs is not
an enumerated power of the federal government. If you’re a liberal, you know the
war on drugs is a violation of our civil liberties. If you’re a pragmatist, you
know the war on drugs simply is not working. We must accept this reality rather
than continuing to throw money at a problem that cannot be fixed through
government force while having our elected officials engage in completely
hypocritical actions without consequence.

As individuals, we own our
lives and it is our decision to make regarding what substances we ingest so long
as we do not cause harm to another by violating their rights. This does not mean
that using drugs is a good thing or that it should be encouraged, in fact, in
most cases quite the opposite is true. However, the best way to reduce the usage
of drugs in our country is not through a bloated, inefficient, failed government
program. It’s through common sense, treatment and education through the
marketplace of ideas.

We are a free people and as a free people we must
learn to accept that others may do things we don’t agree with. As a free people,
we must also accept personal responsibility for our own actions.

As
Libertarians, we call for an immediate end to the War on Drugs and a pardoning
of all non-violent drug offenders in the United States.

For additional
information on the Libertarian Party of Collier County, please visit www.CollierLP.com,
contact us at 775-LPF-VOTE, or visit the party’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CollierLP

Impossible To Fire

  Okaloosa County Commissioner Nathan Boyles reported that he recently caught an Emerald Coast Convention Center “vehicle and staff in the furtherance of an outside catering event.” It was luck and observation, not good management, that caught another inappropriate use of taxpayer resources.
  To find the root cause of problems like these, Mr. Boyles and his fellow commissioners need look no further than the mirror.
  At the Obamacare hearing, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said, “The only thing I can conclude is it’s impossible to do something in this administration that gets you fired. It’s impossible.”
  The same could be said of Okaloosa County government.
  Take the TDC scandal. What did commissioners do? They circled the wagons and attacked the messenger (the Gaetzes).
   Commissioners repeatedly blamed the scandal on “just one man,” Mark Bellinger (deceased), and they made certain no county employee was held accountable.
  “One man” could not have perpetrated the crimes at the TDC had others been doing their jobs. The auditor general’s report made it clear that county employees were not properly dispensing funds. The governor removed one commissioner from office.
  Commissioner inaction reinforced the wrong message — that it’s impossible to get fired. And that isn’t the only problem.
  Commissioners dole out raises across the board. That rewards the slackers and demoralizes the productive, driving down performance.
  Commissioners disrespect citizens whom they are supposed to serve, often in front of county employees. That sends another wrong message.
  Commissioners can make changes, or voters can.
  — DAVID SHERRY
  Okaloosa Island

The Budget

Every year in every government on planet earth a solemn ritual is carried out known as creating the budget.  Florida is no exception.

It is true budget talk makes most people’s eyes glaze over, but it is also true that the budget is the heart of government.  It is the place where all that campaign rhetoric gets turned into reality, and where the average citizen gets bribed with their own tax money.

When the legislature turns to the budget this year, they should recognize three adverse trends in it right now; it is unsustainable, uncompetitive, and unjust.

Take a look at the size of it.  Last fiscal year’s budget was $74 billion dollars.  That is about $3900 for every man, woman and child in the state.  Contrary to all the “conservative” fiscal talk from representatives in the news, the Florida budget actually grew 6% last year.  If the same thing happened this year, the individual cost will be about $4100 per person per year, or $16,400 for a family of four.  If it continues for 5 years it will be $4520 per person, or $18,800 for a family of four.  If it weren’t for outside help the budget would be unsustainable right now.

A lot of that outside help comes from the Federal government.  About one third of the 2013-14 budget ($24 Billion) came from the Feds, and most of that went to assist with paying for Medicaid.  For the last five years or so the share of the total budget paid by the Feds is clearly in an uptrend, and currently hovers around 32%.  According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida as a whole can “boast” that it receives more overall funds from federal sources (pensions, projects, grants and the like) than any other state, a whopping $578 Billion in 2011 alone.  Should Floridians ever decide to buck the welfare state, or assert state rights, it will be tough when one third of the yearly budget and apparently a lot of other personal income depends on the Federal government.  What will Florida do the next time something unconstitutional happens?

The budget shows how Florida is its own worst enemy in other ways too.  Government has come to believe it actually should be a “partner” with industry, and that it has the right to determine who the economic winners and losers are.  At least $106 million of the last budget was dedicated to economic development partners, ostensibly to provide funding for projects that will increase employment and encourage business to come to Florida.  What is unseen and unheard are all those businesses (usually small ones) that are hurt by special government favors, or how the free market gets skewed in expensive directions by government that uses one businesses tax dollars against another business that competes with it.  Incredible as it sounds, local governments have the legal authority to give tax breaks, in secret, to one business over another.  In the end, what happens with this goodfella kind of regime is that if you are close to the government you do OK.  But if you aren’t, well, you just don’t matter.

It gets worse.  Education in Florida is a state monopoly, funded by the budget.  Like it or not, the legacy of monopolies always has been greater costs and less quality.  State run Citizens Insurance, intended as an insurer of last resort, is now the largest insurer in the state.  The  medical industry also enjoys monopolistic protections such as certificate of need laws that prevent the construction of hospitals because other established hospitals think there would be too much competition.  Is it any wonder Medicaid costs are the fastest growing part of the budget?

Until legislators stop the fiscal habit of favoring one citizen over another, this situation will only continue.

The Florida Legislature needs to stop playing favorites, free up the free market, and use the savings to cut taxes across the board.  Individual rights would be better protected, and just watch how the economy takes off.

But that’s not part of the ritual.

Pete Blome is Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party, and an At-Large Rep for the Libertarian Party of Florida