Dominating the top links on r/Politics today is another story about the legalize marijuana movement, this time brought to us in the form of a blog post written by the communications coordinator for NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.  The blog reports on a move by over 300 economists, including 3 Nobel Laureates, to open up a serious debate on marijuana prohibition.  It includes the full petition which argues that the tax revenue generated through government regulation would be between $2-6billion.  As well as pointing out this and various other positives, the petition argues that the prohibition policy does more harm than good and, if nothing else, a debate is necessary to discuss the usefulness and consequences of marijuana prohibition.

The 561 comments responding to this article include redditors pointing out previous negative or lack of responses from the government on this issue and advise us not to get too excited.  A debate is sparked about the use of jury nullification, with people discussing the effectiveness of this tactic.  Some redditors share their experiences with the law when caught in possession, which generates predominantly sympathy from other users.  A large number of comments also make fun of and insult politicians because of their refusal to deal with the issue.

The second top scoring link of today is a strikingly socialist-sounding article from The Cagle Post entitled ‘Five reasons why the very rich have NOT earned their money’.  The author argues very strongly that the rich should be paying more in taxes as currently the middle classes work harder and take most of the tax burden.  It seems to be in support of Obama’s Buffett rule (see below post).  Paul Buchheit, the author of this piece, expresses in really strong terms 5 reasons for his belief.  He argues that since 1980, workers productivity has tripled in worth.  In line with this, the top 10% have tripled their share of income while workers’ pay has remained nearly unchanged (taking inflation into account).  He points to the richest members of US society mismanaging banks, corporations and companies at the expenses of the less well off, while still rewarding themselves with huge bonuses.  Buchheit points out how the rich have taken advantage of public research, turning it to their own gain by privately marketing and selling products developed publicly.  Citing data from the Centre on Budget and Policy priorities, he explains how the rich have avoided paying as much tax as they should, calculating that taxes make up 22% of the poorests’ income, whereas the top 1% only pay a total of 10% of their income in taxes.  Finally Buchheit recounts instances of public fraud and deceit on the part of banks and stock exchanges and accuses rich US companies of a sobering amount of environmental and human rights abuses, highlighting their negative contribution to American society.

I’m no economist but this article was clear enough to make me angry at the unfairness of it all.  Its not surprising then that there has been such a large response from Redditors, with over 1550 comments on this link.  People respond with different opinions, most agreeing with the article, some against it.  Not surprisingly, being such a politically charged issue, the comments slide into a political debate about the government, the influence of big business and corporations over the governments fiscal policies and whether the government will ever stand up for the people rather than rich donors and powerful corporations.  There are discussions on economic policy and whether tax breaks for the middle and poorer classes would benefit the economy as a whole.  Overall most of the comments seem to agree with the idea of taxing the rich more and easing the pressure on the less well-off.

Today’s third most popular link is a mildly self-congratulatory article from the Ottowan Globe and Mail, reporting on the influence of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Signed 30 years ago yesterday, the Charter has been proclaimed as the most influential constitutional document for other nations when designing their own laws.  A study undertaken by two US academics has argued that Canada has overtaken the US in exporting constitutional law, causing others to comment on the outdated nature of the US constitution which some argue is not useful or relevant for modern day problems, contrasting it with the Canadian charter.  One commentator is quoted as saying that the Canadian charter enshrines goals and values shared by other countries, such as prohibiting any form of discrimination while protecting individual rights.  The Canadian and US constitutions are compared, with Canada being portrayed in a much more positive light both in terms of its protection of the people and its legislative system.

Many of the 844 comments analyse the claim in the article that the charter is widely admired, with some comments criticizing areas of the Canadian charter.  However, many of the contributions use specific legal cases to back up the claim that it enshrines personal rights and freedom, while still others heavily criticize the US system.  Many of the comments convey a sense of pride in the Canadian charter.

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