Curtailing Compensation of Corrupt Civil Servants

The idea that the federal government has restrictions is becoming nothing more than a wish.  In Thomas Jefferson’s mind, the federal government’s responsibility was to deliver the mail, defend the shores, and settle disputes over things like water rights on rivers that flow through or between states, and not much more. The federal government has expanded its reach to unprecedented lengths, and it needs to back off, or if nothing more, take a breather.

 

One of the most strongly-held beliefs of the Republicans has been less government and less government involvement in the lives of citizens. We now have an attorney general who is violating Republican tenets as if he was a Democrat. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared that the states that have legalized marijuana will now face strict federal enforcement. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in Gonzales v. Raich stated (in her opposing viewpoint to the court’s ruling) that the idea of federalism was to let the states do as they chose without intervention by the federal government. If what the states do ends at the borders of the state, the federal government should leave the state alone. Now, certainly, the aforementioned statement does not relieve the states of their responsibility to enforce Constitutional rights, it only means that if the states wish to experiment with certain legalizations and all of the behavior remains within the state, the feds should back off.

 

The attorney general’s move to enforce archaic drug laws is another power grab by the federal government, and someone needs to sit down and have a talk with Mr. Sessions. Mr. Sessions needs to be reminded of what Republicans stand for, and not just the enforcement of laws, but the ideals of federalism, where states are given the power to establish rules for themselves. Mr. Sessions also needs a lesson in the federal deficit, as well as the outrageous numbers of incarcerated American citizens who were sentenced to prison when no one could find anyone that they harmed. Certainly someone who has the legal aptitude to be appointed attorney general could understand the term “victimless crime.” I am becoming less and less tolerant and forgiving of public servants who have been granted power by the citizens who then pursue personal agendas, value their careers more than their service to the people that they represent, and inflict unnecessary punishment on their fellow citizens.

 

Since we cannot revoke the citizenship of natural-born Americans, perhaps we have another option. While I despise the idea that we pass more laws, perhaps one more might be appropriate. I suggest a law that forbids an American citizen from holding any public office or any position that is paid for, directly or indirectly, by any government entity. People like Jeff Sessions, or any number of the Americans who are pursuing their own agenda at the expense of citizens and causing hardship on their fellow citizens, could be convicted of violating the rights of their fellow citizens, and the sentence would mean no more public service of any kind, nor any public compensation of any kind as well. Revoke their pensions as well as make them take their skills and talents to the private sector and see who wants to pay them, as they have been stripped of the ability to hold any position where compensation is from the public coffers.

 

The self-righteous Republicans who are flagrantly violating the fundamental precept of federalism need to change their position or be removed, whichever is appropriate. Leave the states, and more importantly, the citizens of the states alone. The federal government has plenty of things to do, not the least of which would be investigating the violation of the rights of citizens by the states, instead of interfering with intrastate commerce. Mr. Sessions is taking his responsibility too far, against people who are not harming their fellow citizens, and are not committing acts that qualify as federal crimes; they do not meet the criteria of federal offenses. The federal government has lost its mission, because its leaders have led it astray. The personal beliefs and agendas have to go. They are not worthy of enforcement, nor should they hold any value in this republic.

Comments

Autumn Cote Added Jan 16, 2018 - 1:50pm
Please note, the second best way to draw more attention to your work is to comment on the work of others. I know this to be true because if you do, I'll do everything in my power to draw more attention to your articles (there is a lot I can do and would like to do on your behalf).
Katharine Otto Added Jan 16, 2018 - 5:57pm
Jeff,
The federal government is desperate for money, so Sessions is merely using the drug laws to confiscate money and assets.  This is not new.  The Constitution is an economic document, with one of its main foci to guarantee compensation for the president, vice president, Congress, and the Supreme Court.  It also put the federal government in control of all economic narrows, such as the money, roads, waterways, postal service, copyrights and patents.  
 
The whiskey tax, enacted in 1791, provided the precedent for the federal government's authority (but not the right) to enter anyone's home or business to search for contraband, and to seize it.  
 
Are you suggesting that government employees should work without compensation?  Since the various governments are the biggest sources of employment in the country, we would have a lot of hungry people out there.  
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 16, 2018 - 7:25pm
Katherine, you might not be aware that in the original legislation (circa 1937) marijuana was to be taxed, and selling or distributing without a tax was illegal, so the technical crime committed was not paying the tax on marijuana. There were tax stamps printed but never issued, making selling or distribution illegal but never ever offering anyone the chance to pay the taxes. Besides, the fines were probably more than the marijuana taxes.
Funny, I just did a lesson on the Whiskey Rebellion. Strange as it may seem, the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, (and Congress) chose to tax farmers who were turning their corn crop into whiskey and making money, as opposed to, say, those bankers (he was really friendly with them and arranged for a national bank, of course, privately owned so the profits could be privatized) who also made money and were probably easier to collect from than the farmers in western Pennsylvania. The bankers were right there on the East Coast, but then, Hamilton was hanging out with them, so he had to go tax someone without all of the influence. Hence, farmers. Hence, Whiskey Rebellion.
Lessee, now, things Hamilton could have taxed. Wait, I know, banks. Businesses that trade with Britain and Europe. Industries that make things or process things like cotton that are sold to Britain and Europe. The speculators that bought the war bonds at huge discounts because the government wasn't acting like it was going to pay them back. Whale oil, which was used extensively before petroleum products. Property. Imported goods from Britain and Europe, like the manufactured goods that the U.S. industry was incapable of making at that point in time. Heck, Congress could have even taxed the slave traders, and of course,as we all know, when you want less of something, you tax it. Ship builders. Cotton plantation owners in the southern states.
What do we tax now? Sales tax. Interest tax. Payroll tax. Property taxes. Gasoline tax (both state and federal). Revenue tax. I could go on. If they wanted revenue from marijuana, it is already there. They want to fine people and put them in jail. Their time could be better spent, and, as stated in the concept of federalism, intrastate commerce is not the business of the federal government. There are plenty of other things to tax. Plus, the feds have all the import export revenue all to themselves. For over a century, the federal government didn't collect taxes from citizens, save a brief tax during the Civil War. Federal income taxes were not levied until 1916. They have it. Marijuana taxation is not the issue.
George N Romey Added Jan 16, 2018 - 7:37pm
Thems big money in the so called addiction world. Growing up as a kid there were adults that loved their 3 or 4 beers a day like my uncle. He still got up everyday and went to work providing for his family. He lived to age 85.
 
Today he’d be considered a harden alcoholic in and out of very expensive rehab for an imaginary big problem. 
 
Same thing with pot. Let’s them the rich ones to rehab the poor ones to jail. Either way it’s a bonanza for some corporations.
Sam Nowaczynski Added Jan 17, 2018 - 4:21am
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared that the states that have legalized marijuana will now face strict federal enforcement.”
 
You misunderstand what Sessions did. A Federal law is that marijuana is a banned substance.  All Sessions did was announce that if the Federal Government wishes to enforce the laws of the land, it has the right to do so.  It’s unclear how far he will take this right, but as we speak the states have not faced any federal enforcement on the matter. 
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 17, 2018 - 5:05am
Yes, George, the addiction folks have gone wild, and as well, you have to be real careful what you say to them because if they claim you're addicted it can cost you all kinds of money for "rehab." Some of the power these folks have is scary. Interestingly, of the people I have met that went through rehab, none of them seem very happy. They're all just kind of smoldering, suppressing some inner anger, probably because they can't have so much as a single drink.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 17, 2018 - 5:17am
Sam, I understand that there are federal laws concerning marijuana. As in my response to Katherine, grass was made illegal in or around 1937. Until then, it was legal, and yes, lots of people knew about it. As a law enforcement official once said to me "how do you make illegal something that can be grown in your back yard?" The back yard reference is critical, as that was the case in Gonzalez v. Raich. The whole point is that federal officials are ignoring the idea of federalism, to allow states themselves to regulate intrastate commerce. There is and has always been "selective enforcement" which is where certain offenses, while illegal, are not enforced. Sessions says he will resume enforcing federal laws, imposing federal rule upon the states, something that the Obama administration, in my opinion, did correctly by ignoring the federal statutes and letting the states address this themselves. As stated, Republicans are known for letting the states do things without federal intervention. Sessions is putting an end to that, and ignoring one of the prime principles of federalism.
Bill Caciene Added Jan 17, 2018 - 8:42am
I’m all for the curtailing of the compensation of civil servants.  How much would you like to curtail the compensation of policemen, firemen and teachers?  Let me guess, not one penny?  I thought so.  So let’s cut through the BS, this is an article about Jeff Sessions, not civil servants.  Specifically, you think he should be reprimanded for following federal law. 
 
No matter how much you wish it not to be so, marijuana is a banned substance and we are a nation of laws.  Lawlessness, no matter how unjust you find the law to be, is not something we can allow.  It’s not Sessions fault the law is in place, it’s the fault of a previous Congress for passing it and all other Congresses afterwards for not eliminating it.  Can you imagine what this country would be like if people got to pick and choose which laws they wanted to follow?  Sessions is guilty of doing one thing…his job.
 
As for Federalism, even if you were right about this issue, one issue doesn’t determine which party is pro-federalism or not.  There are countless issues where Republicans have advocated for more state responsibility, while Democrats look for more Federal oversite. 
Dave Volek Added Jan 17, 2018 - 11:34am
Good article and great comments.
 
I think the marijuana laws are a good example of how difficult is to unravel previous legislation that has been proven to be ineffective. Even though there still is a strong enough social force to keep the current laws in place, the big obstacle is that our legislatures are only designed to handle a few bills at a time. This may have been OK in 1800, but 2018 is a much more complex and interconnected time. The social engineering tools of around 1800 aren't working so well anymore. And that is why we need to consider alternatives to governance.
 
Right now, Canada is making marijuana legal. While there has been a lot of public discussion on how to do this, whatever laws we create are going to be found somewhat lacking. And when the new laws have been passed, it will take 20 or 30 years to make changes.
 
 
Katharine Otto Added Jan 17, 2018 - 11:44am
Jeff,
The 1937 law you refer to was later overturned as being unconstitutional.  Marijuana was made an absolutely illegal drug in the 1970 drug classification schedule by the FDA.
 
I'm not saying taxation is the issue.  I'm saying search and seizure is the issue.  The Whiskey Tax and drug laws generally give the federal government the legal (but not moral) right to confiscate everything they believe is contraband, or which was illegally obtained.  
 
I believe we  have too many laws, and the federal government is overstepping its bounds, big time.  I suspect that if Sessions gets too predatory, we will have a states' rights showdown, and he will be the loser.
 
Finally, I'm interested in your take about the whiskey tax and the Whiskey Rebellion.  The tax was closely linked to formation of the first central bank and was the guaranteed income source Hamilton wanted to make interest payments on the national debt.  This was the same tactic used in 1913, with the income tax used to provide for interest payments to the Fed under the Federal Reserve Act.  The Federal Reserve Act essentially put Congress in the debt-creation business, with interest payments going to the privately owned Fed.  
 
Now, the federal government, with debt now 106% of GDP, cannot afford the interest on its debt, so it wants to step up search and seizure, using the legalized marijuana as a pretext.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jan 17, 2018 - 1:09pm
Jeff, I must admit that I am confused by the central point of your piece. You say:   I suggest a law that forbids an American citizen from holding any public office or any position that is paid for, directly or indirectly, by any government entity
 
What exactly does that mean? I understand your point about the overreach of the Federal government, but I'm hazy on exactly what you are suggesting here.  Thanks.
mark henry smith Added Jan 17, 2018 - 3:23pm
As someone in government pointed out to me, the point of drug laws is not to outlaw drugs, but to create criminals, since there is more money to be made in locking people up then in taxing drugs. Sessions is a shill for the private prison industry that would basically disappear if drugs were decriminalized. We live I a sick system where poverty is a crime, and some sick bastards have figured out how to bleed the poor by making them criminals. I had the state of Pennsylvania turn a tax bill, that all I asked for was some answers before I paid it, to a collection agency that charges 39% interest. I told the state that I would pay the bill when I got answers, but that's how the right treats the poor, like criminals, or cows to be milked. I'm gonna fight this through the media. I'm writing a letter to my paper. The whole story should make great reading.  
George N Romey Added Jan 17, 2018 - 7:43pm
Fleecing the poor has become a big money maker. And since many in our middle class are being shoved into the ranks of the poor business has never been better. Ten years ago the payday industry was barely known. It has soared during the past ten years opening never ending locations throughout Middle America not just the “hood.”
 
So if the economy and jobs have recovered why are loan sharks that at one time would have been locked up doing so well?  Yes the now “Trump” economy. Same as the “Obama” economy.
 
BTW, these loan sharks funded by Wall Street should be taken to city squares and be publicly beheaded.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 17, 2018 - 7:52pm
Katherine, your information, and my thanks, only makes the government look worse. Things made illegal not by law but by regulation, only make the government look even more irresponsible! I know that the DEA or FDA had the chance, for like the fourth time, to lower marijuana to a lower-class drug, and they, again, refused. They are making it more than it is, and they keep doing it.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 17, 2018 - 7:54pm
Even, what I am suggesting is a law that will make corrupt government officials unable to hold office after doing something that is against the better judgement of the people. Sure, we need to identify the violation, take them to court, and then strip them of any ability to hold any public office in the future.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 17, 2018 - 7:55pm
George, I'm with you. They're bleeding the middle class dry because the wealthy have the power to hire expensive legal talent. In some cases, the government is so afraid to prosecute the wealthy they don't even try.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jan 18, 2018 - 2:52am
Jeff - The republicans gave up on the idea of limited government long ago. They still pay lip service to the concept and little more.
 
Smoke if ya got 'em :)
Katharine Otto Added Jan 18, 2018 - 10:56am
Jeff,
Thanks for the acknowledgement.  It occurs to me that one-third of Congress is composed of lawyers.  Every law creates jobs for at least two lawyers, especially when they keep making unfunded, vague, unenforceable laws that by their nature discriminate against the lawyer-less, like poor people.
 
The drug laws have proven to be unenforceable and discriminatory.  And as corroboration for what Mark Henry Smith states above, the US has more prisoners than any other country, with 1.2 million people  behind bars, most non-violent and drug-related.  The prison industry is enormously profitable and its stocks do very well on Wall Street. 
mark henry smith Added Jan 18, 2018 - 12:54pm
Follow the money. And the legalese of the American system is a travesty for democracy. I heard a report on NPR about how judges don't want people defending themselves because they make bad lawyers, not understanding the system enough to do an adequate job defending themselves. So they want them to get public defenders who are so overworked and underpaid, generally, that they just advise all clients to plea down, guilty or innocent. What a system.
 
And we're all advised to sue about anything to give the lawyers work. I'm with George. Time to start striking some fear into the hearts of these shitholes, and I can use shithole now because it's been approved by the press. But I don't think taking out a few of them will change anything. Kill one shithole and another shithole fills the void, like ISIS, or a drug cartel, or major banks and investment firms.
 
Take the money. Why does Jeff Bezos need a 100 billion? Why does anybody need more than a billion? All the excess money does is become a pool of investment money that attracts more money until next year Bezos will be worth 200 billion. How does that help democracy?
 
Money, the equitable distribution of money and wealth is the basis of democracy, not all of this shithole talk about freedom. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, like poverty. It's just bullshit. People need to have a standard of living that is based on services provided equitably, basic healthcare, basic education, basic decency in how the justice system treats them, and the right to a fair wage. Thank God for Trump, now everywhere I go I can curse like a choirboy. What a shithole that guy is. Gotta love him though, he's so oblivious, so incompetent, and so sure of himself. Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator.    
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 18, 2018 - 5:47pm
Brughal, you are right, of course. My upbringing compels me to think of my ethics and beliefs, while I have come to realize that believing that others use the same template of ethics is not reality. Too bad. We were a nation based on ethics and values, but those values seem to have gone by the wayside.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 18, 2018 - 5:49pm
Mark Henry, of course, the lawyers have it. The prosecutors love those guys that try to defend themselves. In my neck of the woods, they love those guys because they can make mincemeat of them. Kinda like the big guy on the playground pounding the poor little ones.  I can say one thing, though. If they get a big kick out of beating up those smaller than themselves, there is a special place in Hell reserved for them.
Dino Manalis Added Jan 19, 2018 - 8:51am
Federal and state pot laws shouldn't overlap, they have to be separate and clear and the federal government should respect state rights.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jan 19, 2018 - 10:24am
Jeff, thanks for the further explanation. It was not clear to me in your original text.
Ari Silverstein Added Jan 19, 2018 - 10:46am
Excellent comment Bill Caciene.  I'm not surprised one bit that Jeff Jackson decided to ignore it.  
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 19, 2018 - 2:37pm
Surprise Ari! Bill Caciene: Policemen, firemen and teachers who breach to public faith? As a person on a public payroll I can say you "not a pennny" is nowhere near my sentiments. Those that violate the public trust need to be severed from the resources.

The Obama adminstration for years ignored enforcing the federal "regualtions" not "laws" because, as our contributor Katherine pointed out, the early marijuana laws were discarded and what we now have are "regulations." In case you didn't know, the "regulations" concerning marijuana were not devised by legislators. You know, legislators, those people who were elected to represent the citizens. "Regulations" are created by bureaucrats, the people who do not make this "nation of laws" of which you take such pride and which have such faith. While I respect laws, I do not respect bureaucrats, especially bureaucrats who use their office to pursue personal agendas, or who created problems where there are none. The bureaucrats have done both; personal agenda and useless regulations. Their egocentric beliefs and goals and the priority of their careers over the public well-being has not made this "nation of laws" a better place. If police, firemen, or teachers put their own personal ambitions above public service, I think they should be removed from their position with no more jobs in the public sector and all pensions, retirement, etc. be rescinded.

We seemed to have survived quite nicely without wasting time, money and energy on enforcing laws that have overnight become important. I say overnight, and that is the case of Mr. Sessions, who has now taken it upon himself to enforce laws that only have an impact on his personal agenda, and not on the public, and yes, this are just the sort of people that should be banned from public office. If you choose to use the descriptions to identify the essay as a means to disparage Mr. Sessions, I will not object. But I will object to your wrapping yourself in the flag and portraying Mr. Sessions as some sort of "patriot," or devoted civil servant. Things were fine before he began this personal witch hunt, and he can crawl back into whatever hole he came out of.
He intends on wasting precious time and money on a victimless crime whose regulations were devised by some bureaucrat, not someone representing the people.

We are a nation of laws. We have selectively enforced those laws since they were first on the books, so the argument that we have suddenly ignored the law and allowed "criminals" to run amok is an argument about as deep as the paint on the prison walls, and reflect the depth of your understanding. For example, the national law called the Sedition Act had less than two dozen people convicted of violating it, and they were pardoned with their fines paid back by the government. Many victimless "crimes" are rarely enforced or not at all. Law enforcement has more things to worry about, not to mention the money spent on enforcing and incarcerating citizens who have harmed no one.

The same goes with seizing assets of "suspected" drug dealers, another legal move that Sessions wants to see, as long as he gets credit for it.  We don't take cash from people who drive cars too fast, or people who are caught fishing without a license, and certainly not bankers who have hoards of cash, just because they might have cash available and are suspected of committing a crime. We have a Constitutional right to due process in the seizure of our property. Some bureaucrat, who is, by the way, not impeachable by public vote, should not be given the authority to make such decisions as to what can be seized from who. Sessions is trying to do this as well. These people are an abomination on this society. I personally do not care if marijuana is legal or not, and that is not the issue, the issue is the spending of federal money on an issue that has been resolved and needs no more attention. If Sessions cannot see anything else in the nation that needs legal attention, that alone should disqualify him from office. 
opher goodwin Added Jan 20, 2018 - 6:39am
Jeff - what I want is better government that makes a positive difference to people's lives, that isn't too intrusive but provides brilliant services in health, education and social care, protects worker's rights and protects the environment.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 20, 2018 - 7:21am
I think all of us would like to see that Opher. There are some very bright civil servants, and then there are those who are pursuing personal agendas. As I have said before, America needs another Teddy Roosevelt.
George N Romey Added Jan 20, 2018 - 10:50am
Jeff in many cases it’s not more laws but abiding by existing laws and carrying out a proper investigation. As I said in one of other articles Bernie Madoff was handed to the SEC several times on a platter. And what did the SEC do? Did it assign its most experienced and mature agents? No it sent in kids just out of school more interested in the Manhattan night life.
 
Could it be regulators are allowed to be friends of the regulated? Prime example the friendship of Jamie Dimon and Obama which meant Chase Bank got a free pass in the fraud they helped to occur.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 20, 2018 - 7:17pm
Yes, George, the revolving door between regulators and those regulated is a whole book by itself. The industries claim that they are so sophisticated that no one without inside knowledge of the industry could possibly regulate it. As far as the banks and the regulators of the finance industry, they should have been locked up forever after the 2008 meltdown, but, you know, they're all pals. It was all good as long as the American people paid for everything, which we did.
The Fed is holding several trillion in "securities" that they say they will be "releasing" on to the markets soon. The trillions will add up to pennies, they're just waiting until everyone forgets. They wouldn't have bought all that junk from you or me, but they couldn't let their buddies down, now could they?
George N Romey Added Jan 20, 2018 - 7:30pm
Exactly Jeff. The Fed is still sitting on billions of near worthless bonds. The entire balance sheet unwinding is nothing more than a PR stunt. Just like normalizing interest rates.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 20, 2018 - 9:09pm
Jeff,
Sessions is a bureaucrat, too, as you know, un-elected and now without the support of the President who appointed him.
 
Have you ever wondered what happens to the loot that is seized in these drug busts?  I hear of these busts from time to time but never learn what becomes of the assets.  When major assets, like property, are seized, often without real evidence of criminality, people have to fight to get it back.  It costs them lots of time and money, and the police, IRS or DEA don't even get their hands slapped.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 20, 2018 - 10:01pm
Yes, Katherine, I documented this behavior in another WB essay entitled "Grab the Money, Ignore the Law" in August of 2016.  I can't get a URL to go there. A few highlights: "According to an article in USA Today, August 11, 2016, it has come to light that federal drug agents are “mining the profiles” of Americans who travel, for the purpose of seizing cash. The DEA has operations separate from those of the Transportation Security Administration, and the DEA is reviewing people who travel by train or airplane, especially those who might show signs that they are smuggling drugs or, even better, cold hard cash.
 
Around two years ago, it came to light that DEA agents had paid, over the span of two decades, an Amtrak secretary $854,460 in exchange for passenger information. Certain DEA agents (who, strangely enough, insist on remaining anonymous) stated that some informants are “paid a percentage if their tips lead to a significant seizure.” So much for taking the train home after burying grandma and taking the cash she had stashed under her mattress. Carrying cash makes you a suspect, and the government can take the cash, even if they don’t press any charges or even question you. If you want the cash back, you better have money for a lawyer, and, in most of the cases, the government will keep some of it. Wearing a badge and having a “suspicion” is not a valid reason for “confiscating” cash from citizens. Without the badge, we would just call them thugs, muggers, thieves, and the DEA, by their behavior, has earned that condemnation. The more the government participates in unfair practices and abuses the rights of citizens, the less respect the government gets, and at present time, the government isn’t getting much respect, and rightfully so."
As always Katherine, thanks for your comments.