Radley Balko: A Few Questions for Barack Obama

I enjoy Radley Balko's articles in Reason about threats to civil liberties. Today in his FOXNews.com column, Balko presents a list of 11 questions he'd like to ask Barack Obama.

Here are three of those questions:

-- You continue to support ethanol subsidies despite the fact that corn-based ethanol is inefficient, environmentally unfriendly, and part of the cause of rising food prices. Even liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls ethanol "[b]ad for the economy, bad for consumers, bad for the planet." Perhaps your support stems from you representing a corn producing state. But is supporting a wasteful policy to win votes "change we can believe in," or is it a good sign that you're just another politician?

-- In your autobiography, you admit to using marijuana and cocaine in high school and college. Yet you largely support the federal drug war -- a change from several years ago when you said you'd be open to decriminalizing marijuana. Would Barack Obama be where he is today if he had been arrested in college for using drugs? Doesn't the fact that you and our current president (who has all but admitted to prior drug use) have risen to such high stature suggest that the worst thing about illicit drugs is not the drugs themselves, but what the government will do to you if you're caught?

-- In a speech to Cuban-Americans in Miami, you called the Cuban trade embargo "an important inducement for change," a 180-degree shift from your prior position. The trade embargo has been in place for 46 years. Did denying an entire generation of Cubans access to American goods, culture, and ideas induce any actual change? Wasn't the real effect just to keep Cubans poor and isolated? In communist countries like Vietnam and China, trade with the U.S. has ushered in economic reform, and vastly improved the standard of living. Why wouldn't it be the same if we were to start trading with Cuba?

A Few Questions for Barack Obama (FoxNews.com)