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I guess I'm just curious as to how we can accurately understand the externalities of decriminalizing marijuana on a national level. I follow the argument in its comparison of marijuana being no less destructive than alcohol in terms of social cost, but I would be cautious to say that it is less, only because the comparison seemed to pit an abuse of alcohol with the recreational use of marijuana. Don't get me wrong, I believe that alcohol abuse if very serious and is a very underdeveloped externality, but I think it's important to realize that the potential for marijuana abuse can't be overlooked when measuring decriminalization. I'm reading in the news that Colorado actually is reaping enormous financial benefits from legalizing the drug and yes, I'm sure the state government is probably pretty happy about the revenue from the heavy excise taxes, but what would be Colorado's long term affects in terms of productivity, health, culture, etc. and would it be an accurate model for all the other states?
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The evidence provided doesn't satisfy all the implications of this notion. In fact, the evidence should be more clearly qualified because we are not provided with enough information about the IGE study to make a conclusive decision of whether or not the evidence is direct. What kind of sampling does this study derive it's information from? Do we know the varying demographics of the study participants? Is it cumulative of the whole United States in every state and city? Does the percentage account for inflation? 0.3 - 0.7 is a pretty big range. Also, for the AFQT, there were studies done for children in the 1970s and 1990s. That is not a progressive study and in fact doesn't account for what is happening with what's going on in the 2010s. That would not be considered "direct" evidence. Also, the AFQT doesn't measure opportunities. It measures assessment. Firstly, there was two decades of information, improved methods of teaching and education, influx of study material, and the beginning of the internet that could've provided more people with the ability to do better on the test. Secondly, the fact that someone is smart enough does not always equate with the right opportunities. That's one of the problems of the labor force today. However, even if the studies were absolutely qualified, it would still not change the fact that there are other contributive factors that could determine the connection between a wider income inequality with the decline of opportunities for poorer children by studying the effects of the inequality of income not just the measurement of income. The gap in inequality does not stop at just income but it ends up affecting a spectrum of different issues - racial, social, psychological, etc. For example, people's perspectives tend to shift about what their opportunities are like based on the kind of socioeconomic background they grow up in. This shouldn't be an excuse as to whether or not they should be complacent but I am suggesting that it is what happens. I grew up in inner city schools where more than eighty percent of my fellow classmates were put on a government subsidized meal program. There were brilliant kids at my school, some of the most poetic, intelligent, and gifted students that refused to apply themselves or even apply to college because they didn't believe in a future for themselves. I understand that little personal anecdote does not contradict the premise seeing that it's not the lack of opportunities but the unwillingness to grab it, therefore, it is does not seem applicable. However, I want to argue that it is because perspective is everything and your economic situation definitely affects your perspective. When you walk around your school and see broken bathroom stall doors for four years or carry around a tattered World History book that still states that was are in the Soviet Union while the schools in the better neighborhoods have pristine bright baby blue bathroom stalls and shiny new textbooks, the inequality kind of seeps into your psyche. You would expect that those with enough tenacity would fight through the odds and become successful but those stories are beautiful for a reason, they are rare. If those opportunities don't seem available, it will never materialize. Teachers and communities start believing that it doesn't exist either and the little that was there, will disappear. In this day and age of intense competition, not just from our fellow American peers, but from the global market, the deficit of employment and a rocky economy, there is a lack of opportunity for everyone. When it seems hopeless even for those who have successfully completed all the steps necessary for a bright future, who have a hard time securing a decent job, how much more for those who didn't hope before? That's just looking at one issue.
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Dec 5, 2013