Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bust: How the Republicans Lost the War on Drugs 1/4

by Nomad

Starting with President Nixon, the War on Drugs has been a series of costly mistakes. Sadly, most of the misjudgements might have been avoided if only officials had listened to the experts and to the people most affected.

Part 1. Nixon, Drugs and the Hippie Removal Scheme

Nixon and the Mandate of the Silent Majority 
To understand what went wrong with America's War on Drugs, we have to go back to the days of President Nixon and the time before Watergate. In this turbulent moment in US history, there was a fundamental difference of opinions about the causes of the upheaval in the 60s.
Taking a look at the nation in turmoil at colleges and universities, President Richard Nixon not long after taking office, said:
It's not too strong a statement to declare that this is the way civilizations begin to die... The process is altogether to familiar to those who would survey the wreckage of history. assault and counterassault, one extreme leading to the opposite extreme; the voices of reason and calm discredited.
(As it turned out, it was a oddly accurate assessment and it is even more true today than then.) 
At the time many people, especially conservatives, considered the liberal policies of the 1960s, particularly, domestic programs of the Great Society, to be a failure. The Supreme Court decisions, on abortion and civil rights, combined with liberal idealism had opened a Pandora's box. That was what a lot of middle class people across the country genuinely believed.   

The rebellious counter-culture, which included the hippies, the yippies, the anti-war protesters, the bra burners, the liberationists, the anarchists, the Communists,  was fueled not by resentment or by anger at injustice. Drugs had to be behind it all. What else could make kids from well-off backgrounds, drop out of society, throw away all of the material advantages and live like gypsies? What else could make them so wild and violent?
That view was both widespread and often propagated by the mainstream news media. The conventional wisdom said that the widespread use of illegal drugs was just another example of the general breakdown of law and order.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Never Waste Your Time....

by Nomad

I wish I had read this years ago. I'd be a lot younger.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dick Cheney and the Lessons of Unlearned History

by Nomad

Few Americans have heard of George Frisbie Hoar. This is the story of  a man who, after seeing most of his country's history first-hand, had the courage to denounce its imperial aspirations. He represents, in other words, the opposite of another familiar politician of our time.

Remembering The Words, the Things He Did
On the summery Friday afternoon of June 26th, 1908, crowds gathered together in front of Worcester City Hall. Massachusetts. As if to remind every one there that an era was passing, only a few days, the former president Grover Cleveland had died. Thoughts were therefore already on the mortality of famous men and their memorials.
The attendees had come to dedicate a statute in honor of a locally-beloved political figure who had died four years earlier. The man's name was George Frisbie Hoara man who had been called a "crusader for  the rescue of free thought in a free land."

The dedication ceremony commenced with a prayer by the Unitarian minister, Edward Everett Hale. The crowds fell into a respectful silence. "Father of life, Father of love" Hale said, "we thank Thee for him. We thank Thee for his life."  
Father, we renew our vows and promises and hopes and petitions, that we may repeat his life, in remembering the words that he taught us — in remembering the things that he did. We cannot thank Thee in words for what he did for his State and for his Country.
It was, sadly, a promise not kept and outside of that memorial, few people today have ever heard of this Republican New Englander. 
Admittedly, it's not a name most people today would recognize. For that reason, that memorial statute may seem as remote and as mysterious as Stonehenge.
Sad because this is a man with so much to tell us now.

His most famous speech was a condemnation of the imperialist approach to and the subjugation of the Philippines Islands. To understand that speech's importance to our time, it's important to understand the parallels of two eras separated by a century. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

America's War on Illegal Drugs: The Shocking Scope of the Failure

by Nomad

If the War on Drugs has been a failure, it's time to ask what exactly went wrong. That's a question we will be taking a closer look at next week.
Firstly, in this post, we will look at the scale of the problem.

The noted economist, Milton Friedman, once remarked:
I'm in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal.
Of course, Friedman ignores the very serious consequences of drug addiction, such as wasted lives and destroyed families, the increase in crime and poverty. and generations of young people who might have contributed to society being turned into veritable zombies. Doing nothing, no matter what Uncle Milt might thing is not an viable option. In that light, Friedman's notions strikes one as being cold and pitiless.  

Still there is a tiny kernel of truth buried in the idea.   

If wars are ever moral in any sense, the War on Drugs was depicted in its opening salvos, as a battle of good against the evils of addiction. In fighting this particular war, however, one of the problems was understanding exactly who the enemy was and who were its victims.

Of course, it was clear something had to be done. However, at some point after President Nixon officially kicked off the War on Drugs in 1971, the anti-drug policy jumped the tracks and then coasted along with nobody at the wheel.

Today  after four decades of fighting, the drug war has, at least according to one source,  cost the taxpayers over $1 trillion dollars.