Stacy Ndlovu recently graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Government and French. She has previously interned for the Human Rights and Democracy Program at the McCain Institute for International Leadership. Originally from Zimbabwe, Stacy is interested in the place of libertarian theory in international relations, specifically regarding international law, rethinking the “just war” tradition and African development. As Managing Editor, Stacy will be Young Voices’ primary programs officer, editing and pitching our Advocates’ commentary to media outlets around the world.
Lower oil prices help poor and middle-class families. In June 2014, oil traded at approximately $115 a barrel. Now, the price of a barrel is about $47.76. There were many reasons for the collapse in oil prices. For example, OPEC, a cartel of top oil producing countries, continued drilling for oil even though prices were dropping. But, equally important was the fracking boom. Fracking allowed for oil to flood the market lowering its price.
Drilling for more oil helps poor and middle-class families, and the U.S. must do more of it. Additionally, CNBC reports: “The US holds more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia, the first time it has surpassed those held by the world’s biggest exporting nations, according to a new study.”
Low oil prices and more oil reserves make U.S. families richer without them receiving an increase in their income. If families spend less on gas, they are able to save or spend more on other goods—making them richer.
Yet, with all its benefits, groups and presidential candidates want to stop fracking. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said: she would regulate it so thoroughly that “I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.” Banning fracking and other methods of extracting oil from the ground will increase the price of energy.
If fracking was banned, supply of natural gas would fall dramatically and prices for gas and electricity would increase. Natural gas makes up 33 percent of energy produced in the U.S making it a top energy source. In 2014, families spend about 20% of their income on energy. Oil prices have remained low even with tensions between oil-states Iran and Saudi Arabia. As the Daily Caller reports: “There remains a lot of excess supply on global markets right now, thanks to increased production from unconventional sources like fracking.” Not drilling means higher gas prices.
Newer renewable energy is unaffordable to poor and middle class families. The rich can absorb energy price increases, but the poor cannot. For example, the new Tesla models cost $70,000.and more. Middle class families usually make that in a year.
Forcing the poor to pay more for energy is unfair and regressive policy. U.S. energy policy should make citizens wealthier—not poorer. Any person or policy aimed at making energy more expensive is taking money from people who need it most.
Political correctness doesn’t have brakes. Its restless claws reach for everyone, including elementary school kids. Last week, police were called to an elementary school in New Jersey. The alleged crime? A third grader said the word “brownie” in class at an end of the school year party. Various news sources report that the brownie remark was in reference to the baked good, not a person.
After making a comment about the brownies in class, the student was promptly interviewed by police. The mother of the perpetrator, Stacy dos Santos, said that the experience was traumatic for her nine-year-old boy. The child was interviewed by police without anyone by his side. Police are not known for their empathy when interviewing suspects. Now, imagine a child trying to articulate their defense of the word “brownie” to an officer with a gun in his holster.
This situation is not unique. The superintendent of the school estimates there are approximately five calls a day to police in the “district of 1,875 students.”
Over-criminalization has been in the news recently, but this one takes the cake— brownie. Criminalizing a nine-year-old for referring to a dessert brownie is not just a new low but also an indirect effect of school administrators trying to manage freedom of speech. Banning free speech or certain words on college campuses led to this situation. Schools are no longer the place for intellectual discussion — or brownies.
It is not the job of the police, school administrators, or government to police words. “Brownie” is not a bad word, but if you ask the child-suspect, he might now say police and school are bad words. It is easy to see the phrase on cop cars “protect and serve” as ironic. Who was protected? Who was served? Political correctness hangs the most defenseless in society, children, out to dry.
- As a California resident, when I hear public policy news from my state making the headlines, it’s usually bad. This week was an exception. In November, California residents will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use. The initiative, Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would let people age 21 and older purchase, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants for recreational use.
Marijuana, to an extent, is legal in California. To buy marijuana, one only needs a medical card which is prescribed by a doctor. Residents can tell a doctor that they have one of many symptoms, and you can receive a recommendation for a medical marijuana card. The whole process does not take more than a short visit.
Marijuana legalization has many potential benefits. It can save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in spending on prisons and law enforcement. A study by the Tax Foundation found: “If all states legalized and taxed marijuana, states could collectively expect to raise between $5 billion and $18 billion per year. If marijuana is made legal, it will also drive down demand for importing it from Mexico, reducing the crime and violence that comes with the drug war there. There are also unseen benefits. It is difficult to find a job with a drug conviction. If persons are allowed to use marijuana freely without a drug conviction on their record, they may find employment more easily.
The War on Drugs disproportionately affects minority populations. Richard Nixon began the War on Drugs in 1971, calling drugs a major public enemy.Yet, his former domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman said recently, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.” Not only did the War on Drugs fail, it incarcerated men and women, ripping them from their family, and forcing a cycle of poverty and oppression on everyone it touched.
This marijuana initiative is not perfect. If passed, it is expected to bring $1 billion dollars of revenue to the local and state annually.
It is laudable that California looks to take a step toward legalizing marijuana and embracing all the benefits of legalization. Whether it’s increasing revenues for a state or reducing its nonviolent prison population, marijuana legalization is a win for everyone.
This is the first issue of Young Voices’ monthly newsletter. You can subscribe here to receive future issues via email.