Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Turning A Corner in the War On Drugs

As braindead and useless as the American government has become, it's still an expert at two things: 1. Capturing the Number Two Man in al Qaeda, and 2. Turning another corner in the War On Drugs. And we sure have been turning corners in the War On (Some) Drugs. If we turned these corners any faster we’d get dizzy and start keeling over.

Assuming you haven’t been living on Pluto for the past few weeks, you’re probably aware of the most recent police massacre by the NYPD. A bachelor party at a bar in Queens ended up with the death of the groom-to-be and the serious wounding of two of his companions. Their party had somehow “clashed” with an ongoing police undercover operation at that particular bar.

We don't know all the facts yet since the ongoing “investigation” hasn’t been completed yet. But this bar was a strip club, so an ongoing undercover police investigation probably had something to do with prostitution, drugs or some other “crime” which has no victims. And now a groom is dead, one or both of his companions is in critical condition and his bride-to-be is a widow even before she had a chance to marry him. Are we feeling more righteous and sanctimonious now?

And this is the “corner” our government keeps “turning” in its effort to rid America of “crimes” that offend the public taste. Have we made any progress since the Puritan days when women were publicly dunked (or worse) for gossiping?

And our War On Drugs keeps getting better all the time. The government is getting further and further into debt (that’s YOUR tax money, people), and more and more non-violent/non-threatening people are getting locked up and having their lives ruined by a felony conviction. As a famous talk-show host says, “how’s that working for you?”

From the 1960s until sometime in the 1990s, the high price of Heroin was blamed for gazillions of burglaries, robberies and muggings. Then at some point in the early ‘90s (maybe earlier, I’m not sure exactly when) the price of heroin dropped. Plummeted. And the crime rate dropped. But no silver lining was ever exclaimed about.

Overnight, the headlines went from “the price of heroin is sooo high, junkies have to commit several robberies a day just to stay high” to “Oh My God, heroin is sooo cheap, everybody can afford it now. The disease is spreading!” Boy, no silver linings anywhere. The darkest hour is just before everything goes completely black. The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Etc.

And in the last few years the latest drug scourge is methamphetamine. But what’s the root of the problem here? The harm caused by speed? (Yes it turns you into a toothless maniac. So DON’T USE IT ASSHOLE!!!)

Or does the biggest problem seem to be caused by the laws against it? Billions of dollars’ worth of law enforcement is diverted to (previously) low-crime rural areas to fight “the drug problem.” Is this a good thing?

Rural areas always used to be the easiest police assignment. Disputes between farmers, a broken fence — big deal. Now a much higher proportion of police officers are killed on duty in rural areas. The problem — Meth. Again: is speed itself the cause of these problems? Or are the problems caused by our drug laws? Our society needs to be absolutely certain that nobody anywhere will ever be offended by somebody else’s private behavior. And the results are all around us.

Now that our government is crippled by a record deficit and every state/local government is broke, it’s time — now more than ever — to prioritize our spending. Do we want to keep spending hundreds of billions of dollars to control the personal behavior of 300 million American citizens? And do we want to spend ADDITIONAL hundreds of billions for the incarceration of millions of Americans because their private behavior might offend somebody?

If your answer is yes, please explain your reasoning in the Comment Section.


Blogger Elizabeth said...

So, teen prostitution has no victims...have you considered the prostitutes themselves?

December 3, 2006 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Elizabeth: I agree that a teenage prostitute is probably a victim. Currently, prostitutes are considered criminals and locked up. Do you think a prostitute (teenage or otherwise) should be turned into a criminal?

December 3, 2006 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger frstlymil said...

I agree that meth is a scourge. The ones that make it and sell it should be prosecuted. Addicts being incarcerated for being addicts however is the equivalent of sending alcoholics to prison (and I'm not talking about alcoholics who have committed felonies while under the influence - I referring to just for being caught drinking) We had prohibition in this country and boy howdy how the organized crime went up. Went down when prohibition was ended - at least organized crime did - despite alcohol being the number one drug out there that causes the most problems, wrecked health, wrecked families, domestic violence and road deaths. I'm still not sure why they are not legalizing drugs and making them available in state run stores - its not like that's an invite to abuse it more, anymore than having a liquor store is.

December 4, 2006 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

Dont' expect any logical answers on this subject from Elizabeth. This is where our falling out started. She actually thinks it is cool that they pumped that unarmed petty criminal with 50 slugs because, "he probably would have died young anyway." There is Elizabeth's logic for you. That and illegal drugs should stay illegal because they are bad and alcohol doesn't qualify because it is used in ceromonies for "mainstream religions" (minority religions be damned) and you use it for cooking. More good logic from little miss comment deleter.

Clearly we are in agreement about the futility of the war on drugs, so I don't need to get into it here. Drug users pay their own price (i.e. the meth quote, oh man that was a side splitter). Bust them for robbery et. al.

But from one who has seen first-hand the commando tactics of the small town sherrifs gone insane with WOD money, I can answer a resounding NO to your question.

December 4, 2006 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Frstlymil: I think if hard drugs were legalized and regulated, the dealers and illegal manufacturers would be put out of business. Our solution to the alcohol problem isn’t perfect, but it seems to be the most workable idea we’ve found yet. If drugs were legalized and taxed, like alcohol and tobacco, the government would be making money instead of spending billions on prohibition. And the price would still be cheaper than what dealers and pushers are charging.

As far as driving while impaired (or any other activity that endangers other people), that’s a different story. Driving while high on anything — booze, acid, Zoloft — needs to be severely punished. I’d also be in favor of an additional prison sentence if the person was intoxicated — on any drug, it doesn’t matter — while committing a crime.

Prague Twin: Yup, the war on drugs is total futility. I’m pretty sure most of Europe has a saner approach to drugs. I know they aren’t legal (unless you’re in Amsterdam) but I don’t think they’re spending billions of dollars trying to track down and lock up drug users.

I read Elizabeth’s post on the NYPD shooting, and noticed your comment wasn’t there.

December 4, 2006 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I am right in step with Frstlymil on this one. Putting users in jail simply for using is ridiculous, especially when it comes to marijuana. I think that IS like putting an alcoholic in jail simply for drinking... except that I don't even believe marijuana is an addictive drug or that is any more or less dangerous than alcohol. People might become psychologically dependent on it, but I don't think it is addictive as alcohol can be.

The growers/makers and the sellers are the real problem. There are a lot fewer of them than there are users... So, how to get rid of the sellers? It probably isn't possible to get rid of the sellers altogether, but it might cut the producers' profits substantially, for example, if marijuana was legalized and sold in government stores. The government would grow the pot, and there would be restrictions on stuff from other countries coming in as "imports". Would those who produce marijuana in other countries for export to the U.S. look for other ways to make money if the U.S. government was able to undercut their sales, strip them of much of their profits...? Would this result in fewer sellers? If the U.S. government grew pot and sold it for less than street value, what would happen?

If our lawmakers decreed that private use in one's own home was not a crime, and that laws concerning public use (i.e. smoking a joint on the street) were no different than those for public consumption of alcohol (i.e. drinking a beer on the street), would there really be that many more stoners running around than there are already? I doubt it. And I am sure our scientists could come up with something similar to a breathalyzer test to determine if someone was driving while high.

I like to believe our government could also make money from growing and promoting the growing of hemp.

I also like to believe the money generated from pot and hemp production could be put toward providing health care for those who can't afford it, toward preventing meth from being made and sold, cracking down on heroin and cocaine coming into the U.S., and toward programs for helping those jailed for victimless crimes to get out of jail and back into society.

Would I support selling cocaine or heroin in government-run stores? No. However, I would support a system in which addicts who were certified as such by doctors could get the stuff via prescription as long as they were participating in a program designed to help them recover. I have heard from people I know that methadone is kind of a nightmare, but that it can help in some cases. If the government had more money coming in from the sales of a soft "drug" such as pot, maybe it could put dollars toward research on better ways to help people off of things like cocaine and heroin. What about setting up more residential facilities for people to stay in during treatment?

I'm tired of "war". Revolutionary, 1812, Civil, Spanish-American, First World, Second World, Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm... The "war on terror". The "war on drugs". The "war on poverty". The "war on crime". And thanks to Bill O'Reilly, we now have the "war on Christmas". The list of things in our society we refer to as "wars" on one thing or another just goes on and on. I'm not only a peacenik in principle, I am a semantic peacenik as well.

Punishing individuals is one thing, and I think we need to be sure the punishment matches the crime, and that people aren't being punished needlessly. I think automatically punishing people usually is part of a conservative approach. A more progressive approach is not just to TELL people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, but to provide them with some support so they can first FIND those bootstraps.

December 4, 2006 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Driving while on Zoloft? Whoa! LOL

Any time I drive anywhere I am driving while on Zoloft.

Maybe that's why I never seem to remember I'm driving, or why I don't remember how I got from my house to work, from work to the store, etc. 8-)>

December 4, 2006 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: Yeah, it’s totally useless and inhumane to incarcerate people for marijuana use (or for any drug). I think the dealers and growers/manufacturers would be put out of business if these drugs were legalized and regulated. As far as selling heroin and cocaine in government-run stores, your suggestion might work: having prescriptions available for certified addicts. I’ve also heard suggestions that if hard/addictive drugs are sold legally, they should be sold in the same building as the rehab clinic. So if you’re buying heroin you have to be right there with all the junkies going through withdrawal. If you’re buying speed you have to be there with a bunch of toothless maniacs while they’re babbling incoherently. (Or you have to watch reruns of Requiem For A Dream while you're buying your speed.) Etc.

As far as I know, none of these illegal drugs are expensive or valuable per se. It’s only the illegality that drives up the price. So if any drug is legalized and taxed, it’ll still be much much cheaper than it is now. And I don’t think legalizing drugs will make them easier to get, or encourage people to go out and try them. I know that’s a fear that lots of people have, but I don’t think there’s any validity to it.

December 4, 2006 at 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog.
Intrstd in Link exchange?
comment/mail so that i can link to ur blog!
-Hill stations in India

December 5, 2006 at 2:00 AM  
Blogger frstlymil said...

I'm in complete agreement that the economy would get a mighty boost if drugs were legalized and sold in state stores. The sin tax alone (like those presently on alcohol and cigarettes) could provide welcome additional revenue - not to mention what would be saved in terms of the money wasted out there on War on Drugs policing that could be put to better use. The problem I believe is that presently the government needs the illegal drug trade and the whole "war on drugs" is an expensive sham. That's really the only thing that makes sense.

December 5, 2006 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Would you all mind giving your backgrounds on these subjects? Which of you have been substance abuse counselors? Which of you have been law enforcement officers? Which of you have worked in corrections? Do you have any expertise on the subjects you have so many opinions on?

December 5, 2006 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

by the way--do any of you do work to help teen prostitutes? Or do you just write self-righteous blog posts from the comfort of your living room? Do you do anything to help people addicted to drugs? To help minority youth in poor neighborhoods? To help convicted criiminals?

I've spent my career helping the kinds of people I've listed above. I know what I'm talking about. I appreciate reading blogs written by people who write about what they know about--isn't that the oldest rule of writing? Not that very many people follow it.

December 5, 2006 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

I went back and deleted all my comments on the active page. I figure, take them all or delete them all, but dont' pick and choose.

December 5, 2006 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Traveling Soldier: Yes, I’ll link to your blog. Looks interesting. I was in India for awhile in the mid-’70s. I’ve been to Simla and I think a couple of hill stations in Kerala (the interior is mountainous).

Frstlymil: I’m afraid you’re right about the reasons for the War on Drugs. It serves too many purposes for our government to keep drugs illegal and expensive. The prison-industrial complex, funding for various illegal/quasi-legal government projects, etc.

Elizabeth: What’s this, a job interview? You forgot to ask me where I see myself in five years. Nope, I don’t have any Ph.Ds and I’ve never done any kind of social work. Just me and my blog and my humble opinions. Oh, and the fact that each post has a link to the news article where I got my information.

Well, I guess that wraps up our I’m-Better-Than-You contest. No more calls, we have a winner.

Prague Twin: That’s one way to look at it. Take the whole package or leave it.

December 5, 2006 at 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear tom,
Thanks a lot for considering my blog.
I have linked ur blog under Linkers section.have a look at that & if you need any changes regarding name/place of the link, i will do that.

December 5, 2006 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Travelling Soldier: That looks great. Thanks.

December 5, 2006 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

Well, I guess that wraps up our I’m-Better-Than-You contest. No more calls, we have a winner.

Well done. I couldn't have said it better myself. See, that is why I always lose those constests! DOH!!!

December 5, 2006 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger frstlymil said...

In answer to your question, Elizabeth, yes and yes. In addition to working with at risk youth (which includes child prostitutes) through the shelter system in Los Angeles, I am also a recovering drug and alcohol abuser myself with 17 years plus clean and sober and a lot of work under my belt dealing and working with others with respect to all of the encompassing issues that deal with this and it is because of this background that I can say the current system does not work, nor quite frankly does there seem to be a lot of actual interest in changing the system to a way that does. While I appreciate your asking the question with respect to opinion posters practical knowledge - in terms of posting an opinion on the subject, one does not actually have to work in the field to be informed, or to have an informed opinion.

December 5, 2006 at 4:15 PM  

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