Accountability

by Jason Alan

Sometimes when I think about politics and the law, it seems as if the policies were designed right in Bizarro world and exported right over here with little to no modification. Wouldn’t it make sense to hold politicians to a higher standard? They are supposed to be our leaders, so they should abide by the law, but all too often they use their money and influence to get around the laws or break them altogether. In many cases, there is little to no consequence.

No accountability.

So what kind of message does this send to the rest of us? To some, it says that if they can do it, I can too. So they do drugs and bang hookers, get caught and since they don’t have money or power, they are held accountable in more ways. It seems that the poorer you are, the higher the standard you are held to and the rift between the powerful and the powerless grows ever larger.

Meanwhile, most of the so-called civilized world holds on to the dated concept that locking people up somehow fixes everything. If you actually live in the real world with your eyes open, it is quite obvious that it certainly does not.

Let’s use crack cocaine as an example. Many people do not agree with me, but I don’t think that crack should be illegal, at least not in the way that it is now. The act of smoking crack in and of itself only hurts the person who is doing it. The accountability and consequences are built in. If you smoke crack, especially if you do it a lot, there are health risks. Making the argument that people on crack rob liquor stores or whatever other crimes doesn’t work, because even if the person gets arrested, much of the blame goes not to the person, but to the drug itself. Sorry to break it to you if that is your argument, but there has been zero reported cases of a crack rock actually robbing a liquor store. None.

This isn’t an argument for people to smoke crack, either. I think it’s dumb, but like I said, the consequences are built in, and locking the person up in most cases doesn’t solve anything. If we are to keep it illegal, then the punishment should focus on helping the person to realize they should stop doing it. Giving them community service and making them go to some kind of support group where other people in the same situation talk each other through it would help much more than spending taxpayer dollars to put them in jail. It’s called education, and it works.

Jail, and especially prison, should be a last resort that is mainly for perpetrators of violence. Those that sell drugs of any kind to willing adults should not be fed, housed and clothed using our money.

Another outdated practice is fining people for offenses such as traffic violations. Giving a millionaire a $200 ticket is nowhere near the same as giving the ticket to someone who lives paycheck to paycheck. Community service, however, is basically the same. Nobody likes to spend their time picking up trash on the side of the road, but it is consequence on a more equal level, and it helps the community. That’s why they call it community service.

The sooner the law treats adults like adults, the better off we will all be. Legislating morality only leads to more division because moral codes are not set in stone. The major laws should be sensible, applying to what all sane people agree on. Like we shouldn’t kill people in cold blood, we shouldn’t rape, we shouldn’t beat children, we shouldn’t steal money or property from others. We can agree on those aspects of human behavior on a global scale. The more minor laws such as those pertaining to drugs and traffic violations, et cetera, we don’t all agree on and we have to not only understand that but address it in a more sensible manner if we are to move forward in a civilized society.

Capitalism can be abused, like anything, but if done correctly, it has the potential to benefit everyone. If our tax dollars weren’t constantly wasted, then what is paid in can easily cover what we all agree is important for society. Proper medical care for everyone, a military that is used for defense of the citizens instead of strongarming other countries for their resources in the guise of bringing democracy, proper education instead of indoctrination using fear and guilt. These examples would benefit everyone. Healing sick people, not locking them up and helping to educate them keeps more people working, safe and happy. Bottom line.