Treaties Are Not Special Here

Treaties are no more sure to be right than statutes. A democracy needs to have laws that suit the people, so being able to get out of treaties is what the Founders had in mind when they put treaties on a par with statutes.

But treaties are confusing — a thicket. Some countries’ internal laws do make treaties superior, so their hands are tied. But ours aren’t. This infuriates countries like the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Japan, and Belgium, which are utterly stuck., p.320.

[UPDATE April 2016: That was a bad link. Here is a better one:

“There is also significant variation among monist states concerning the hierarchical rank of treaties within the domestic legal order. In Austria, Egypt, Germany, and the United States, treaties are equivalent to statutes; they rank lower than the Constitution.79 In South Africa, treaties rank lower than statutes.80 In China, France, Japan, Mexico, and Poland, (at least some) treaties rank higher than statutes but lower than the Constitution.81 In the Netherlands, some treaties rank higher than the Constitution.82 In Chile, Russia and Switzerland, the hierarchical rank of treaties is contested, but it is undisputed that at least some treaties rank higher than statutes,83 and there is some authority for the proposition that some treaties have constitutional rank.84”]

So it irritates them when we use the Founders’ rule. Understandably.

Here is an article looking way back to the Founders, and pointing out that in recent years, “the United States has drawn international criticism for overriding bilateral tax treaty obligations through changes to its tax laws.”

So as not to rub it in, Congress uses the word “override” when the time comes.  Not violate, not breach, not abrogate.   See  Tax Treaty Overrides: A Qualified Defense of US Practice.




Tax Base for Marijuana: Price Fails

They are giving the stuff away in Colorado.  Clearer proof of the inadequacy of a percentage of price tax base for marijuana would be hard to find.  If the price (the tax base) is zero, the tax rate doesn’t matter.  Of federal taxes on tobacco or alcohol, only the cigar tax uses (in part) a price base.  But all the marijuana taxes so far do.  We have a long way to go. Continue reading “Tax Base for Marijuana: Price Fails”

280E Marijuana tax: The center may hold

The marijuana industry is lining up anti-tax leader Grover Norquist and pro-legalization Democrats to support repeal of Code section 280E, says Roll Call.  I kind of like 280E because it discourages marketing of marijuana, as I wrote for Huffington Post.  And we need a federal tax on marijuana. Continue reading “280E Marijuana tax: The center may hold”

State Marijuana Monopoly under AG Holder’s Eight Criteria

Continuing to think that the best way to legalize marijuana is via state monopoly, I’m thinking that AG Holder’s eight criteria might open the door.

Only this criterion — “growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands” — might create some problem for state stores by far-fetched analogy.

There are at least three problems for state monopoly under this analysis: Continue reading “State Marijuana Monopoly under AG Holder’s Eight Criteria”

Designed by Apple in California and Taxed Nowhere

The Apple Corporation’s ad campaign is happy to associate itself with our biggest and richest state.  But when it comes to paying taxes here –or anywhere, watch out.  “Apple has been a pioneer in tactics to avoid paying taxes to Uncle Sam,” says the N.Y. Times.  This has been going on for years.  And Apple dodges taxes in the U.K., too.  And en France.   Intangible-rich companies like Apple shift income to tax havens, and the big countries haven’t mustered the will to stop them.

Cannabis Pros and Cons, “If By Whiskey” Style

Here’s a summary of the debate about marijuana legalization, using the form of a 1952 speech on alcohol by Mississippi politician Noah Sweat, reprinted at the end and here, read by John Grisham here.


If By Cannabis

My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about cannabis. All right, here is how I feel about cannabis:

If when you say cannabis you mean the Devil’s weed, the gateway to the nightmare of hard-drug addiction, the tempter of teenagers that terrifies parents, the cause of the feeling that flesh is falling off bones, the impairer of judgment and driving (causing fatal crashes), the shrinker of brains, the origin of pointless mental excursions to the artificial nowhere of a fool’s paradise, the psychologically addictive near-narcotic that stupefies the user and saps motivation, perseverance, and determination; the converter of our precious and capable young people into idle, self-indulgent, unhelpful stoners; if you mean the powerful not-your-father’s marijuana, the slow train to nowhere, the greed-driven motivation for a New Joe Camel and the big business of addiction, the carrier of molds and carcinogens into the lungs, the risky complement to alcohol, the manifestation of a “damaging level of permissiveness” in America, the threat to American economic competitiveness, the product whose illegality would push Mexican cartels to produce deadly heroin, the psychoactive trickster that creates irresistible cravings for the unhealthiest food, the undesirable attraction for rowdy tourists and penniless drifters,the aptly named “Skunk” whose smoke irritates neighbors and passersby, the precursor to legalized cocaine, the finicky and fragile hybrid whose secret indoor cultivation guzzles energy and pollutes our imperiled planet, the wrong choice between Drugs or Jesus; if by cannabis you mean the cause of cannabinoid hyperemesis, the poison scourge that brings on panic attacks and psychotic symptoms and sends thousands to emergency rooms each year, if you mean the placebo or mere pain-reliever that diverts the suffering sick from real cure, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say cannabis you mean the symbol of hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man, the miracle drug that treats dozens of diseases, the balm to humanity for millennia, the natural healer that tames the nausea of the cancer-stricken chemotherapy patient and restores appetite to the withering invalid, the safer-than-physically-addictive-opiates reliever of intractable pain, the botanical genus containing cancer-killing compounds and hundreds of chemical components we have barely begun to study and exploit, the “’herb bearing seed’ given to humanity in Genesis 1:29”; if you mean the good habit, the mild mood-lifter, the organic expander of consciousness, the instigator of new ideas, the promoter of “serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship“;  if you mean the spur to laughter, the soft, safer substitute for dangerous beverage alcohol; the aromatic plant whose legal commerce can create jobs and undermine murderous mobsters; if you mean the product whose legalization will uncrowd our prisons and enfeeble The New Jim Crow, if you mean the tested-for-safety commodity whose sale could pour into our treasuries untold billions of dollars, which could be used to ease our crushing debt, to cut counterproductive taxes, or as Mississippi Legislator Noah Sweat said in a speech about whiskey in 1952, “to provide tender care for our little handicapped children, our disabled, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools,” then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand.  I will not retreat from it.  I will not compromise.
Continue reading “Cannabis Pros and Cons, “If By Whiskey” Style”