Friday, March 27, 2009

Yeah, This is Smart...

Lawmakers in at least eight US states are considering legislation to force the weak, the poor and the disaffected, who are also the economically, socially and legally disenfranchised (i.e. those on welfare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc) to take mandatory drug tests in exchange for receiving that massive amount of largesse from the state.

Okay then. Let's look at this with the jaundiced eye of reality. Let's say one of these poor saps flunks the test because he has marijuana in his system. He's immediately cut off whatever poor excuse for a living stipend that he has coming in, which means that in order for him to get some money to make up for that loss, he'll most likely turn to crime of some sort (if it's a male, it's usually burglary and if it's a female it's usually prostitution, but sometimes they go to something more hostile and with more potential for mayhem, like armed robbery) to make up for it. Immediately you have created a real criminal where only a "paper" criminal existed before.

And to go a step further, let's say that his neighbor is smart enough to know that marijuana stays in your system and is drug-testable for something like four weeks. So, knowing that he's going to be drug-tested in order to keep his unemployment benefits, he turns to something that metabolizes and disappears out of the system in 24 hours or less. Something like crack cocaine or heroin. He gets to keep his benefits as long as he's more than one day away from the test (and who isn't smart enough to pull that one off?).

Now it comes down to this: Who do you want living next door to you? That pot smoker who is always laid back and groovy, or the guy on the other side who's cranked up on crack cocaine and thinks that your dog is working for the CIA and your cat is taking secret spy-camera x-ray photos of his testicles?

This is what the so-called War on Drugs has gotten us after 40 years: A bad investment in time, money and resources. If you ask me, we should just do what Paul Harvey (yes, that Paul Harvey) suggested about Vietnam, also 40 years ago: Declare a victory and get out.

I don't know how many billions of dollars, all told, are squandered on this phony "war", but it's a hell of a lot when you count up all of the time and equipment and salaries and man-hours squandered in the areas of Coast Guard interdiction, on-land law enforcement, the overworked court system and the overcrowded prison population. We'd have a much small budget crisis if we diverted all that cash into something where we actually had a chance of making the money work for us. Like universal health care or expanded Head Start programs.

It's about time that we realized that after 40 years of stalemate, the so-called War on Drugs is over. We lost. It's time to take a new direction, and penalizing the poor, the weak and the disaffected even more is a losing proposition from the get-go. Legalize drugs, tax the hell out of them, and recognize finally that no one -- I repeat NO ONE -- has EVER died from a marijuana overdose.

Because there ain't no such thing...


david said...

Your right but it'll never sell. Despite the cost to the taxpayer and the cost in human terms there's too much money being made by too many people. We've created a criminal enterprise thats worl-wide and on the other side how many people pay thier bills fighting the evil scourge of drugs. The religous right will continue to support prohibition until victory is had which means never. Just an opinion from a retired 26 year law enforcement officer.

Anonymous said...

Well, let's look at this realistically. It's not a stalemate - it's yet another enormouse and pointless expenditure of money that serves only as a record of demographic statistics using the best methods available.

When they finally DO legalize drugs as they ultimately will, they will know exactly who to deal with and how to transport things and exactly who their customer will be.

That's not something gained from a stalemate. That's something gained from the simple fact that people will do what people will do and you can point your finger to the sky and claim magical overlords or point your finger to prison and claim earthly punnishments or point your weapon at someone and claim control.

And when you realize that all you're doing is denying the reality of the situation, perhaps it will dawn on you that people will do what people will do regardless.

What is the alternative conversation? Seriously - what do you have to offer someone whose situation is so screwed up that drugs are a viable alternative? Whether they be rich or poor - working at mcdonalds? Owning a mcdonalds? Or ten?

Where is there adventure? Where is there that overwhelming, exciting challenge that so consumes a person both physicall and intellectually there is no room for anything else? Where is the passion that drives people to exhaustion?

You don't get that from laying roads, joining the army or listening intently for the bell telling you the fries are ready.

What you DO have is an astounding amount of intelligent, creative yet bored people with nothing to do but show up at a job (if THAT!) to be a sprocket in a gigantic engine. All they can hope to do is move their part of the crank just enough but not too much.

This crap is all about control - and about a group of people who refuse to be controlled. The deeper they make the grab for power, the further they drive people to violence and drugs.

This has been repeated for thousands of years. And it always - ALWAYS - ends in disaster.

It is a disgusting waste of life and treasure.