Britain’s Guardian newspaper just published two very astute articles on different topics which both relate to our collective economic future. The first post, “Germany is Right to Opt Out of Nuclear“, details the European country’s recent rejection of nuclear power for primarily financial reasons. The newspaper explains that clean renewable energy is not only much safer and more affordable than nuclear, it is also a far more sustainable and reliable source of energy:
“If we could open up just a part of the world’s deserts for solar energy, we could satisfy the energy needs of the whole of civilisation. No one can take possession of sunlight; no one can privatise or nationalise it. Everyone can open up this source of energy for himself or herself and profit from it.
Users of energy produced by a nuclear power plant have their electricity cut off if they fail to pay their bills. This cannot happen to people using electricity generated by the solar panels installed on the roofs of their houses. Why, of all nations, do the Americans, the French and the British – nations that value freedom so highly – persist in remaining blind to these emancipatory consequences of the coming change in power generation?”
Legalize Weed, Revitalize the Global Economy?
Another smart column centered on economic issues in today’s Guardian newspaper,”The Fiscal Case for Legalising Marijuana“, makes a strong and cogent argument for the legalization of cannabis, not only for medical treatment, but also on financial grounds:
“While the advantages of legal medical marijuana are clear, the potential benefits of full legalisation should also be considered, especially when evaluating the economic advantages of its regulation and taxation. Currently, Americans face dim economic prospects. Since the market crash of 2008, unemployment has remained staggeringly high as businesses have either closed or moved overseas. The US’s debt has doubled in the past ten years, the poverty rate is the highest it has been in 15, and, adjusted for inflation, the median income has hardly moved since the 1950s.
Meanwhile, New York City spends $75m per year to enforce the prohibition of marijuana. A recent study by the Drug Policy Alliance shows that between 2002 and 2010, New York City spent between $350m and $700m to arrest and charge people with low-level marijuana possession. Against this background, the city presently debates which schools to close and which public employees to lay off – decisions that will only deepen the impact of the recession.
Another report estimates that nationwide government spending on enforcing marijuana laws costs $7.7bn per year. A look at Montana, however, shows how the state has been given a much needed bump from the legalisation of medical marijuana. Since 2004, investors have put millions of dollars into the newly legalised medical marijuana sector, creating jobs for professional horticulturists, construction workers and electricians put out of work by the recession. This small marijuana industry created 1,400 jobs last year – this in a state with less than a million people.
A change in US marijuana policy would mean significant savings. Full legalisation would bring in an estimated $2.4bn annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods, and $6.2bn annually if it were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco. In fact, legalisation of marijuana – the cessation of prosecutions and tax revenue – could put more than $13bn into government coffers. That would equal the entire budget of the department of labour. Maybe with a budget twice as large, it could focus on creating jobs and getting Americans back to work.”
You can read the entire Guardian article on the fiscal case for legalizing cannabis here.