Guns, Drugs, and the Prison Industrial Complex
On Drugs and the Prison Industrial Complex:
The war on drugs has been going on for a long time. I think a lot of things need to change and/or be made better or more effective. I support the movement to end mass incarceration and the so-called prison industrial complex in general but also do believe in holding individuals accountable and responsible.
Here in Kansas for instance, the penalties for repeat offenders of simple marijuana (or paraphernalia) possession charges are in my opinion, a bit ridiculous and antiquated and end up crowding jails and too harshly punishing people. Certain offenses carry too harsh of punishment (especially unto simple users) while others sometimes carry not harsh enough penalties (possibly but generally not as much of a problem). A lot of now-legal things/activities especially when it comes to money, I believe, should be made illegal and carry pretty harsh penalties while some illegal things are too harshly punished - effectively it is or ends up being class warfare to an extent (in effect, and in effect and actuality, money solves a lot of problems, which shouldn't be the case). A lot of these kinds of issues relating to drugs are very specific, debate-able, and relative I believe as far as policy/law should go.
I don't believe in decriminalizing all drugs, especially at the federal level. I do think individual states should be able to do so if they want (see below, like how Oregon decriminalized small amounts of drugs) and that they should have more autonomy from the federal government (as with a lot of things, more democracy, and less top-down control and over-reach). I would personally vote for decriminalizing marijuana in my state of Kansas to mimic that of Colorado but believe leaving marijuana illegal at the federal level is fine (for federal employees, federal property, at the borders, etc.).
I believe in fighting the drug war more at the source; such as the cocaine trade and methamphetamine use and production. I believe changes need to be made at the federal level on drugs like experimental psycho-active drugs like LSD (less harsh of a penalty but still pretty serious) and mushrooms (that is happening already as they are allowing more research into beneficial uses). To focus more on the highly addictive drugs that are a drain on society is most important, including attempting to address the opioid epidemic properly.
Oregon recently passed a law that decriminalized all drugs. Some great information about that here and here. I think it is great individual states have that power but believe the federal government should have laws against drugs else the consequences could be very bad on society with drug prices then getting so cheap and drugs can and do ruin lives. Drugs are illegal everywhere and our consumption results in much violence and problems in many other countries. We don't have a culture that stands on its own against drug consumption (prevention) but one that revels in having a good time (work hard play hard) and in the individual and consumption (we also have for a for-profit healthcare system and lack of community and community supports).
Generally, I believe the federal government should work for the good of society and the people. That means federal enforcement (and spending and laws) for that good is a good option then that's appropriate. More democracy and trust - I believe, on a micro-level (cities and businesses) and more trust in people and our elected officials such as judges to rule fairly and have more options for punishment - doing away with many of the mandatory minimum's or using the federal government to enforce new and sane policies onto States relaxing some of them would or could be good (I think having some guidelines for judges is okay as well and provides them with some mental and public safety, that that is and can be good as well). There are benefits to harsh penalties but we also should have trust in common sense and rational thinking - looking at the situation as a whole and also individuals, their situation, etc. and their behavior, actions, and thoughts after punishment as well, which we do to an extent, which is good. We have systems in place and great foundations and all laws we're developed over time and made for a reason or reasons but the execution within punishment could be much better at the minimum I believe and more responsive to society, culture, and information (science). We should look to improve and should look at how other countries handle crime and punishment. I only know so much and am no expert on the subject.
While I do like guns a bit myself, I still support restrictions on assault rifles and high-capacity pistols. Some of my why and my thinking (am a veteran myself who's had mental anguish and some hard times): I bought a ~$420 dollar pistol a few years ago - an FNS9 - that holds 17 rounds in a magazine and comes with 3 magazines. Very easily done with a simple federal criminal background check meaning even if I was dealing with an extreme mental "disorder" or whatever, that I could still have bought the pistol. There are very easy, online ways of buying used guns as well. There are tons of guns in the United States. Anyway, a decently skilled shooter could potentially wreak havoc if they wanted to with just a little pistol like this or anything similar to it. Weapons are tools. In themselves, they are just pieces of engineered metal and plastic, yes, but I don't believe there is a good reason for the average citizen to so easily obtain weapons so powerful and dangerous. Our communities and schools should not have to be subject to such senseless acts of violence and hate, so easily wrought. Especially in our current society where we are so desensitized to killing and death via our media (movies, T.V., videogames, etc.). At the same time, our little (or big) guns are really no match for modern military power (and air superiority).
Overall, I believe it is a fine line of discipline versus forgiveness within the judicial system but also a fine line between personal freedoms and what is healthy and good for society (kind of obvious! that is what our judicial system is for). I believe in harsh punishment so people would have very serious consequences for high, heinous crime, which should discourage such crime in the first place and prevent it from happening again. Especially against violent and sexual crimes against children. I believe in the death penalty in some cases (and that it should not be made to cost a ton of money to perform an execution). I think in a lot of cases sentences should be made more forgiving for individuals especially teens, and just other types of treatment as punishment in general other than putting someone in jail, which I believe, that it is a fact that it often has a bad effect on people and their chances of ending up back in jail. It also heightens anxiety in general as people are so fearful of going to jail in the first place. Fear and anxiety have bad negative effects on society and how we interact with each other. High anxiety people are not as likely to communicate and deal with their problems or issue on an individual level. Things can escalate too quickly and guns and death are too much in the collective consciousness. We should have more common sense and decency and personal freedom and trust, such as that in our judges, police departments, elected officials, etc., etc.
With a Universal Basic Income (UBI), I think a good idea would be to compensate victims of trauma from the perpetrator via monthly payments from the perpetrator, which would be effective until the perpetrator passes away or if they do pass away unexpectedly beforehand, setting the length of the payments to the average life expectancy or some other agreed-upon length of time. Trauma can have very serious effects on a person's life, possibly throughout their life.
With that said, I do believe sexual harassment and assault and related cases should have to be quite positive for rulings to be handed down. People should be held accountable for their own actions as well and obtaining this kind of charge against a person is a life sentence and carries with it, great mental and very real consequences for the accused as well. There should also be punishments for knowingly making false accusations against someone and wasting people's time and energy and putting so much stress and possibly, micro-trauma, against the alleged perpetrator, that the person making accusations that they know are false or malicious, should face harsh penalties as well.
Even without the issue of a UBI, I believe the labeling of individuals as "sexual predators" should be more scrutinized and refined, especially in this age where these accusations are so widespread. This is a very serious issue and the effects on the individual and thus our society and their ability to contribute to society (life path/progression) are too unforgiving and heavy, especially for young people. I think, and it is dependent on circumstances and the crime (some crimes should be very consequential), that minor offenses should be more of a warning (say, 1-2 years), that 2nd offenses should be with the individual for a decent length of time such as 5-10 years (a long time in one's life having such an indictment and one's ability to gain gainful employment and/or higher positions within) and 3rd offenses should then carry that lifetime label (or close to that) - the label should carry some significant weight and baggage (not be made common and/or be made close to "normal"), for sure, but also shouldn't be a life sentence.
We should not be running for-profit prison systems (obviously!).
I think lying, to certain degrees - like to the public/the American people or a big audience, and/or making false accusations should be more punishable in the court of law and carry with it appropriate punishment(s). That is - especially those of public servants, elected government officials or those assigned important government jobs should be punishable if tried in the court of law with regards to the scale and effectiveness or result of the crime(s). Along with doing away with Citizens United and much corporate involvement in politics, I believe we also need to do away with CEO's of companies not being able to speak the truth (currently, it's illegal for a CEO or high-level business person to say anything negative about their company which could hurt the companies stock price).
Lawsuits are also a large reason why healthcare and things like that cost so much. Why can't we just implement some common sense and fair punishment(s)? Why not possibly come up with ideas like instead of jail for some people (which can have very bad effects on individuals), why not put them in a hard labor position (like hard construction, therefore getting productivity out of them and allowing a break for individual workers, with an everyday rotation so it is fairer to the workers) with strict supervision for a period of time, and restrict them to a small hotel room or similar (people often become ungrounded from reality, especially in our society); let them think on their actions but also, not such harsh punishment and contact with a bunch of other criminally charged individuals.
Why do we, as a society, only deal in black and whites and money as the end all be all? This is theoretical/ideological and could say, "fanatical" or "fiction-based" but seriously...all our laws, economic systems, etc., etc. are just made up by people, like you and me. We do have some good founding principles but times change as well.
Our country has just so many social problems stemming from "freedoms" and "rights" when actually much of the problem lies often within ourselves and reflecting back upon society (I'm aware of my issues at times and as a write this). The U.S. is the most incarcerated, most sick (prescriptions for mental and physical issues), most lonely society possibly in history. I think it's time for common sense and decency to prevail and for people to come together more and not be so afraid, or have the media influence us to believe that we/people are so different and "independent" from one another.