CO121 Jared Moffat on the Legacy of Prohibition

Jared Moffat is campaign coordinator for the Marijuana Policy Project.

I mentioned that Ferguson, Missouri gains an extrordinary amount of its revenue from motoring fines.

Black people make up 27 percent of the population, but represent 71 percent of drivers pulled over by police officers. Last year, the town issued 29,072 traffic citations, according to statistics from the Missouri attorney general’s office.

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A couple of weeks back an international group of scientists announced that they had detected a black hole swallowing a neutron star.

I say a couple of weeks back, but the detection made last month was actually of something that happened 900 million years ago, long before the dinosaurs walked the earth. It was detected last month because that’s how long it took the gravitational waves to arrive at earth from where this event happened, 900 million light years away.

I’m reminded of the observation that the length of time between the first powered flight, the Wright brothers, in 1903 and the moon landing in 1969 was just 66 years. It’s likely that a child who observed the first flight in Kitty Hawk would have watched the moon landing on TV. That’s an incredible advance in technology in the span of one lifetime, without even counting the invention of television.

Black holes were proposed by Einstein in 1915, barely a century ago, but he didn’t say that they existed, he thought that they may not; he just calculated that the physics of relativity made them theoretically possible. Those calculations, by the way, were made with pencil and paper, or sometimes chalk and a blackboard. There was no high-powered computers to work these things out on.

In barely a century, we have gone from those hand-written calculations to building equipment that can peer into space and detect objects and events from hundreds of millions of years ago at unimaginable distances.

These are amazing achievements, but even more amazing is that we have developed our technology so fast. Life was basically unchanged for tens of thousands of human generations, and then within the blink of an eye, in historical terms, we went from scratching a living out of the earth, to standing on other worlds and solving the mysteries of the universe.

Also in under-reported news, Zimbabwe is on the brink of famine. Zimbabwe is one of the most fertile and resource-rich countries on earth, with a very low population density. It is insane that the people should be so poor, let alone facing famine. I won’t get into all the reasons for that, enough to say that it is because of the stupidity of man, not the misfortunes of nature. It’s depressing to think of how much we can achieve, how much we do achieve, and how much we could but don’t.

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