‘Dead hand’ in Idaho

In Victorian novelist George Eliot’s masterpiece “Middlemarch,” a dying old man adds a codicil to his will that she, Eliot, calls “the dead hand.” Edward Casaubon’s will prohibits his younger wife, Dorothea, from remarrying Casaubon’s resented cousin Will Ladislaw, upon penalty of being disinherited of all her property and made penniless and homeless.

In the words of Eliot scholar David Clifford, “It has a sinister ring to it. The notion that the dead can manipulate the living by means of the law is a distinctly chilling one.” Fast forward to 2021, where the Idaho legislature is attempting to create a dead hand in our state constitution such that marijuana and its by-products can never be made legal, even long after these small-minded legislators are gone from the earth.

The justification for this god-like exercise of power is that they know best. Never mind all the boasting about Idaho being more freedom-loving than any other state, never mind the enormous lost tax revenue. Never mind that alternatives to medical marijuana are by all measures vastly more dangerous: opiods, alcohol, suicide. Never mind testimony of veterans living with chronic pain, who know the superior effectiveness of cannabis as versus highly addictive and overdose-prone pharmaceuticals.

And never mind the rest of us who work hard, try to be good neighbors, and simply want to be left alone by self-righteous know-it-all legislators and their religious enablers. Big government nanny-state paternalism notwithstanding, has anyone checked for campaign contributions from liquor and pharmaceutical lobbies?

Chris Norden


Opinions, butno knowledge

Scotty Anderson’s latest column (Daily News, Feb. 6) shows that he is a man of many opinions but very little knowledge. He makes the foolish assertion that the left supports big corporations and the right is for “the people.” He tries to buttress this claim with campaign finance data.

Apparently he doesn’t know that most of the campaign money for more than 20 years has not gone to individual candidates but is spent by political action committees, as well as their cousins, super pacs, 527 committees and 501(c) committees. These groups set up their own advertising campaigns, file lawsuits, and try to shred the images of people they oppose and improve the images of people they prefer. In recent elections, the money controlled by these “independent” efforts has far outstripped the money spent by the candidate campaigns.

Here’s the punchline for Mr. Anderson’s column: in recent years, most of the money for these “independent” efforts has come from major corporations and extremely wealthy individuals, and most of it has gone to assist Republican candidates and undercut Democrats. For readers more interested in facts than in opinions, see Marjorie Hershey’s “Party Politics in America,” 16th ed., Chap. 12.

David Nice


Recommended for you