One of the reasons why The Drug Problem always seems to get worse is that the major media, parroting their government puppetmasters, never really tell us what the "Drug Problem" actually IS.
So "On the Other Hand..." will break the mold, again; let's take a look.
One might suppose, first, that The Problem has to do with an increasing use of illegal narcotics. NOT SO! In America, the consumption of all drugs now illegal has stayed more or less constant, at about 8% of the population, since 1905.
It wobbles up and down a bit, by a percentage point or so, but the big picture is that there is no long-term trend at all. No matter what laws get passed or drug busts are done (and no matter how high the price goes, which astonishes me) about one person in 12 goes on regularly smoking or shooting or snorting.
So The Problem has nothing to do with rising consumption. But how about rising, resultant deaths? Is not the younger generation killing itself by using drugs?
Once again, the figures tell a different story. According to the D.C.-based Drug Policy Foundation, between 3,000 and 4,000 Americans die every year as a result of using illegal drugs, and that number, also, isn't changing much.
Now, I'm not going to belittle the tragedy of 4,000 wasted lives. But I am going to set that number in perspective, because of the enormous emphasis placed on The Problem by those in government.
Those 4,000 compare with nearly 400,000 annual deaths from using the (properly) legal drug, tobacco (which government even pays farmers to grow!) That's about one hundred times less. No cause there for a panic button.
They also compare with a further 150,000 annual deaths resulting from alcohol use - another drug which is (as the disaster of Prohibition demonstrated) very properly legal.
Now, my position is that it's no business of government ever to protect us from ourselves - whether we drink too much, smoke too much, or snort too much. But at least we should insist that it devote 100 times less attention to pot, coke, heroin, opium, LSD etc than it does to alcohol and tobacco! - for in comparison, those drugs are simply NOT dangerous. The figures prove it.
Before leaving the tragedy of overdose deaths, we should note one more factor: the 3,000-4,000 figure quoted includes about 1,500 people who die because the illegal drugs they bought were wrongly described by the seller; because the trade is underground, there's no way to trace and prosecute him for false representation or "cutting" the powder with something poisonous. Once it's made illegal, contract-enforcible quality control goes out of the window.
So about half of all illegal-drug O.D. deaths are caused by the fact that they are illegal. Something else for the knee-jerk Drug Warriors to reflect on.
Crime and Tyranny
By "crime", I mean those acts which harm real victim(s), against their will. That would include selling drugs with misleading advice ("It's absolutely not addictive" or "Use as much as you want, it can do you no harm") and selling them to those (feeble-minded, or young children) who cannot reasonably be expected to follow the wise Latin principle of caveat emptor ; Let the Buyer Beware. But mostly, the referenced crime is: MUGGING FOR A FIX.
Absent prohibition, the price of street drugs would approximate to that of aspirin - and one result of that is that nobody would find it profitable to sell them on the streets; they'd take their proper place on the drug-store shelves. With warning labels of course, in the vendor's self-interest.
That price reduction would be truly massive - between 100 and 1,000 times. All those addicts who today go robbing passers-by and store clerks to get money for their next fix, would "need" to do it 100 to 1,000 times less often.
That's a fact of arithmetic, and I believe it's the most important single fact in the whole subject of violent crime in America today. It's so important, and so obvious when you think about it, that it's even penetrated the minds of some in government, like the hastily-silenced Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders.
To repeat: repeal drug prohibition, and overnight, real crime like muggings would decrease massively. It's been estimated that HALF of all such violent crime is rooted in the high price of drugs. Repeal prohibition, and that 50% would almost completely vanish. Overnight.
There's one other, REAL aspect of The Drug Problem: tyranny.
The public's perception that government "needs to do something about the Drug Menace" writes them, in effect, a blank check. They can, and do, go ahead and ignore all those priceless protections we have in the Bill of Rights.
In the alleged interest of fighting drugs government agents today get away with siezing unusual amounts of cash, without trial or recourse; confiscating homes and vehicles when (unknown to the owner!) a visitor has brought in some illegal drug; scrutinizing all bank accounts via your SS number - even though it bears no interest (lest it "launder money"); incarcerating harmless people, for carrying some trivial quantity of pot; and ripping to shreds our rights to own and carry guns, on the ridiculous pretext of disarming drug sales teams.
That's what The Drug Problem really is: obscene government power, aimed at controlling all that all of us do and own. It's high time to end the nightmare.
|© Copyright Jim Davies 1999|
Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.
The above is Edition # 41
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