How Much in Taxes Would New Zealand Make From Legal Cannabis Sales?

With the repeal of cannabis prohibition rising higher and higher in the national consciousness, it seems like a good time to assess the economic impact of a change. The figure of $180,000,000 per year has been touted as the potential savings from a repeal, but how much tax revenue would it bring in?

The paper linked above suggests that the figure ought to be around $150,000,000 per year, but an argument can easily be made that it ought to be more.

In the first ten months of 2016, Colorado sold over USD1,100,000,000 of cannabis. This figure was so high that the total tax receipts for 2016 on cannabis sales in Colorado look set to be more than those for 2014 and 2015 combined.

USD1,100,000,000 over ten months works out to USD1,320,000,000 over twelve months or NZD1,830,000,000 at the current exchange rate. Colorado has a population of 5,400,000 compared to New Zealand’s 4,700,000, which means that New Zealand is 87% as populous as Colorado. Assuming that the total cannabis sales per person is equivalent in New Zealand and Colorado, we can assume from this that the market in New Zealand would be 87% of the Colorado one, or $1,592,100,000 per year.

Rounding this to $1.6 billion, we come to the figure of about $340 per person per annum. Hardened stoners might scoff at this figure, as it represents about one ounce per year, and New Zealand very likely has more hardened stoners than Colorado, but let’s assume this represents a conservative lower figure.

Simply taking 15% GST on this volume gives us $240,000,000 per year. So it’s fair to say that the $150,000,000 touted above is a very, very conservative figure.

This figure of $240 million is assuming that cannabis is not subject to some kind of vice tax in the way that alcohol and tobacco are. In Washington, the State Government took a 40% cut of the total sales.

The Washington market is not as well developed or planned as the Colorado one, and is thus much smaller. But if the New Zealand market developed like Colorado, a 40% tax would (even allowing for a 10% reduction in total sales on account of the tax) reap $500,000,000 per annum.

The likelihood is that someone on the Government side will end up making the argument that legal cannabis will reduce legal alcohol sales and thus alcohol tax income, and therefore a vice tax will have to be placed on legal cannabis to make up for the shortfall.

The majority of the country will find this logic entirely reasonable, which is in fact regrettable but this is outside the scope of this article. It will probably get pushed through.

In any case, the chances of a cannabis tax up to or even exceeding Washington’s 40% are very real, as New Zealand has a lot more inbred, out-of-touch, sanctimonious wowsers than Washington.

Realistically, then, we could count on tax money from a mature legal recreational cannabis market bringing in half a billion to Government coffers every year. This figure would be considerably higher if we did so now and got the jump on Australia, as there are legions of Aussies who would happily fly a few hours to New Zealand for a weed holiday.

How Low Does Turnout Have to Get Before Voting Loses Legitimacy?

illusionofdemocracy

The obvious smartarse answer is “It never had legitimacy”, but this merely ducks the question. The question of when a democracy can lose enough of the perception of legitimacy that it stops working, not by being usurped by authoritarians but from the populace simply not caring about it enough, is worth exploring.

The logic goes something like this. It’s reasonable to assume that if no-one voted at all, not even the politicians themselves, then no-one would care about democracy. So there is a clear limit case as votes approach zero.

If everyone votes (or at least everyone eligible), then it stands to reason that democracy has the biggest possible buy-in. Probably in a culture where 100% of the population votes there would have to be an exceptionally unusual degree of philodemos – a degree never seen in practice.

If a hypothetical democracy starts with 100% participation and this falls over time towards 0%, at some point along the line representing that descent the democracy will fail.

But where exactly?

The most recent American presidential election does not have an official turnout rate yet, but BetFair appears to be sure that it will be somewhere around 58%. This is low by the standards of Western democracies – but there appears to be no way to tell how much of this is due to disenfranchisement and how much is due to people seeing through the system and protesting by not voting.

This already highlights a problem with democracy – bombs dropped by American forces do not do 58% damage, and sentences for non-violent drug offences are not 58% as long as they would otherwise be. No matter how much the population wants democracy, they will get it good and hard.

Not even 58% buy-in is necessary in any case. Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP won the 1933 German Federal Election with under 44% of the vote, and this was enough to get rid of the Communists and pass the Enabling Act which paved the way to total fascism.

You could even argue that – if you take the example of the United States in its infancy, where only white male landowners could vote – even with support for democracy in single digits, it can still function as long as all other possible organisational approaches are prevented from taking form.

The tricky thing is that this line of reasoning exposes the truth at the bottom of the political system: the plebs were never in charge and any impression given to that end is simply a useful illusion.

Ultimately it’s whoever controls the loyalty of the Police that is in charge, because then anyone who disagrees that they’re in charge can be taken by the Police and put in a cage (replace Police with Army in many non-Western countries). This was all that Hitler needed to ensure to take power in Germany.

One has to then ask, if the ruling classes just took all the ballots and dumped them in the ocean, invented some election results that both sounded plausible and ensured the interests of said classes were protected, and then divvied up the remaining jobs among themselves, how much wiser would we all be?

Because the ruling classes doing so wouldn’t even be much different from the way the con is already played.

We can take heart that not all New Zealanders have fallen for the ruse – 63% of the electorate did not vote for a politician in last week’s Mt. Roskill by-election, which means that 63% of potential suckers did not give their power away to a shyster by consenting to the democratic charade.

Indeed, Dr. Richard Goode of Not A Party successfully claimed victory in attracting the non-vote, declaring himself Not A Member of Parliament for Mt. Roskill. This obligates him to not attend Parliament, which means that he is not responsible for levying taxes to spend on flag referendums, and nor is he responsible for putting non-violent drug users in cages by setting the Police on them.

I think we can all agree that this is a better deal than what we are getting from our current crop of MPs.

Faith in democracy will, however, have to get much lower before philosopher-kings such as Dr. Goode can be returned to their true position in society.

Are You a Coincidence Theorist?

conspiracy

If a paranoid person earns themselves the title “conspiracy theorist” by seeing connections where they do not exist, then a coincidence theorist is someone who does not see connections where they really do exist. There are various reasons why patterns are not seen: stupidity, naivety, or simple lack of data are some.

The subject is discussed at length in Ben Vidgen’s State Secrets, in which he notes the contrast between the scientific approach which is concerned with truth, and the political approach taken by the political classes and the corporate media, who “try to lull the public into believing that things happen by accident – the so called ‘coincidence theory’.”

It promulgates a state of mind akin to actually being a sheep, which is perhaps why it is so common in New Zealand. As George Carlin said, “Think of how dumb the average person is. Well, half of them are even dumber than that.”

However, it is the average intellect who, by the sheer weight of their numbers, sets the public discourse in this country. They are the ones who buy the products advertised in the gaps of the mainstream media.

But if the public is too thick to join the dots then the mainstream media will not discuss the subject with them. There is no obligation to enlighten, to illuminate or to elucidate: short-term profit is the only prerogative.

The mainstream media is McDonalds, soccer, Hollywood – it is the lowest common denominator of culture. This lowest common denominator serves as a gatekeeper that excludes all subjects too complicated for the plebian hordes. Thus, any intelligent discussion of issues is naturally driven underground.

stuffisshit

Above is an example of the kind of mindless drivel the mainstream media promotes – this from the 7th most popular website in New Zealand cyberspace.

Vidgen in State Secrets notes that a belief in coincidence theory is “a bit like thumbsucking. It is non-threatening, it doesn’t require any thinking or stressing out…”

It’s hardly surprising, then, that the mainstream media has, by 2016, completely abandoned any pretensions it may once have had to investigative journalism. Apart from one notable Kim Hill interview of Anne Tolley, they seem to have given a free pass to the establishment pedophile rings who have been revealed in Britain and America.

Perhaps a belief in coincidence theory is the natural thing for people who still have a childish and naive approach to life? After all, it takes a particularly cynical and adult mindset to properly grasp the volume of malicious lies spewed out by the political class and their tools in the mainstream media – not all have the grit for it.

For decades, dumb people have been able to shut down intelligent points by saying “Hurr, durr, conspiracy theory.”

Perhaps this needs to be turned on its head. We need smart people being able to shut down stupid points by saying “coincidence theory.”