“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Sunday, October 16, 2005

sell or smoke dope, get out of jail free

LI’s recommended read: In the LAT today, there is a piece by the ex police chief of Seattle Washington, Norm Stamper, that lays out the case for legalizing drugs. Not just pot – heroin, meth, etc. Cops aren’t usually this sensible. But occasionally a man comes forward who can add and subtract.

“As a cop, I bore witness to the multiple lunacies of the "war on drugs." Lasting far longer than any other of our national conflicts, the drug war has been prosecuted with equal vigor by Republican and Democratic administrations, with one president after another — Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush — delivering sanctimonious sermons, squandering vast sums of taxpayer money and cheerleading law enforcers from the safety of the sidelines.

It's not a stretch to conclude that our draconian approach to drug use is the most injurious domestic policy since slavery. Want to cut back on prison overcrowding and save a bundle on the construction of new facilities? Open the doors, let the nonviolent drug offenders go. The huge increases in federal and state prison populations during the 1980s and '90s (from 139 per 100,000 residents in 1980 to 482 per 100,000 in 2003) were mainly for drug convictions. In 1980, 580,900 Americans were arrested on drug charges. By 2003, that figure had ballooned to 1,678,200. We're making more arrests for drug offenses than for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault combined. Feel safer?”

One of the reasons for LI's sporadic crusade to dig the moderate wing of the Republican party out of the grave in which lies buried deep is that there are issues on which moderate Republicans can act as unique brokers. Between Hillary Clinton's It takes a village to jail your ass for vices we don't like and the moral majority Republican party's lets execute drug dealers, a logical drug policy doesn't stand a chance. Only some combination of libertarian thinking and concern about the incredible gulag the U.S. has burdened itself with is going to work, here.


Brian Miller said...

But....But....Saint Hillary will SAVE US, roger. Don't you know? (If the Democratic Party should happen to nominate her, I WILL NOT vote for that party next election!!!)

As a government worker, can't say I fully agree with the libertarians most of the time :), but they are really out front on some key issues right now.

Most people still don't get this. There is still belief out there that somehow selling pot is far more immoral than say, raiding a corporation's pension funds in exchange for a huge golden parachute.

roger said...

Brian, the oddity of attitudes towards drugs never ceases to amaze me.

I gotta admit, I sorta cheated in the above post, however. The moderate Republicans that I've been touting actually have a pretty piss poor record about drugs -- Rockerfeller, for instance, passed a series of draconian laws against drug use in NY that have spread untold misery. The last national politician to have a sensible view of such things was Jimmy Carter -- and one of the factors in his loss in 1980 was his softness on pot. Have you read Don Baum's Smoke and Mirrors? A great little history of the drug war.

An anecdote. I was once working for my brother doing some construction. My bro had a small job to do and hired a carpenter, who came to the site every day stoned or drunk. And while he worked, he told us stories about being stoned or drunk. Very annoying. Anyway, so one day I said something about how stupid it was to make pot illegal. And the guy, who surely that morning had woken up to a joint, told me and my open mouthed bro how important it was to keep pot and other drugs illegal. It was important because otherwise, society would lapse into immorality.
I don't think that contradiction is uncommon. The conflict between the human desire for freedom and the human desire to wear chains is endless.