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The Litmus Test

Politicians who are wrong on this one issue are evidently corrupt and can not be trusted.

by James Leroy Wilson
January 22, 2009

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The Litmus Test

I don't recall the writer, but someone recently noted that Barack Obama is a blank slate on which many Americans project their own hopes and beliefs.

Not me. That Obama is so unlike his predecessor in so many ways doesn't, by that fact, indicate to me that he's someone to put one's trust.

Yes, his election comes as a relief, considering the alternative. But there are too many policy differences with which I disagree. And one issue goes deeper than "honest disagreement," it's a matter of character.

There is one issue which, if a politician gets wrong, you have every reason to doubt whether he is ever acting in the people's interest.

Obviously, I believe those who disagree don't have valid arguments, because otherwise I'd agree with them. But on most issues, I understand that they at least have valid concerns.

So when I say there should be no gun laws, they raise concerns about safety and murders.

When I say separate school and state, they will wonder how children will learn to read.

When I say America should mind its own business, they will invoke the words "appeasement" and "genocide."

When I say the government shouldn't take away our liberty in the War on Terror, they will raise concerns about security.

When I say that the the civil government's jurisdiction does not legitimately include what's inside our bodies, they'll raise concerns about drug addiction, obesity, or the moral status of the fetus.

In other words, they're accustomed to government providing certain services and imposing restrictions. That they would raise objections to one who wants smaller government is understandable. That they would agree with the small-goverment agenda on some, but not all issues, is also understandable.

Likewise, those who embrace the small government agenda entirely will disagree with each other in priorities and implementation.

But what is shared among people who disagree with each other on these and other issues is a desire to do what's best for the people. There is one, issue, however, in which one side is clearly right and the other so clearly wrong, one would have to wonder about the motives of those on the wrong side.

Presidents tend not to believe in smaller government. So for advocates of small government, expressing a preference for one candidate or the other comes to the "least-bad" option. But that doesn't mean one dislikes both candidates. I don't dislike Obama. In 2000, I didn't dislike Georege W. Bush.

But in 2000, I made the mistake of having some "hope" in Bush that he would lead the country in new, better directions - particularly in his stated goal of a "humble foreign policy." While I disagreed with him on several issues and didn't vote for him, I more or less trusted his judgment at the start. That didn't work out so well.

And recently it occurred to me why it was a mistake. It wasn't because he was wrong on so many issues - I could live with that. But he was wrong on one particular issue.

And all but maybe a handful in Congress are also wrong. That is why they can't be trusted to do the "right thing."

It is why Obama can't be trusted either. Because he's wrong on this one issue, you can never be sure he has the best interest of the people at heart.

What distinguishes it from all other issues and policies is that, not only are arguments for it invalid, there isn't  even an understandable point to be raised. As a matter of morality, it's neutral; as a matter of compassion, the government's position is un-compassionate. As a matter of economics, the government's position is against our interests. Environmentally, the government[s position is harmful.

So what is this issue?

Industrial hemp prohibition.

Wikipedia describes hemp's many advantages:

Industrial hemp has many uses, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, health food, and fuel. It is one of the fastest growing biomasses known,[citation needed] and one of the earliest domesticated plants known. It also runs parallel with the "Green Future" objectives that are becoming increasingly popular. Hemp requires little to no pesticides, no herbicides, controls erosion of the topsoil, and produces oxygen. Furthermore, hemp can be used to replace many potentially harmful products, such as tree paper (the processing of which uses bleaches and other toxic chemicals, and contributes to deforestation), cosmetics, and plastics, most of which are petroleum-based and do not decompose easily.


Yet, the U.S. Government refuses to distinguish non-psychoactive industrial hemp from marijuana.

Not only is there no "good" reason it doesn't distinguish between them, there doesn't seem to be any reason at all. The conclusion is inescapable: domestic production of industrial hemp products is prohibited in order to protect domestic lumber, petroleum, and agriculture industries from competition.

The result is fewer jobs and higher prices for the American people.

What's Obama's record? Enthusiastic support for subsidizing agribusiness with corn ethanol subsidies, although hemp "produces up to ten times more ethanol per acre than corn."

Hemp prohibition is proof that the federal government is essentially a racket to enrich a few people at the expense of the rest of us. Politicians, like Obama, who support this status quo are likely involved in this racket. Which, by definition, means they don't have the people's interest at heart.

Now if Obama comes out and publicly supports an end to hemp prohibition, I'll gladly change my tune. But I don't see any evidence that he will. And if he won't, why should I trust him?

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