I know it’s a profoundly difficult situation for countless emotional, practical, economic and life-threatening reasons to leaders etc, I am sure, but the following approach to the so-called War on Drugs, whether somewhat necessary or not, is still symbolic of our collective myopic thinking. From the Vancouver Sun:
Tens of thousands of workers at B.C. airports and ports are among 100,000 people nationwide who may be affected by a security crackdown announced by the Conservative government.
The initiative comes through a new deal signed this week by the federal Transport Department and the RCMP to weed out organized-crime [re: drugs] operatives from restricted areas, Canwest News Service has learned.
And then this:
Government [re: state] officials were not immediately able to explain how the new Transport Canada-RCMP agreement would improve individual privacy risks, nor could they provide cost estimates of running the detailed background checks.
Of course. And then this:
The RCMP released a report last year that warned there were more than 60 employees with links to organized crime at the country’s eight largest airports, and many organized gangs were found to be using the airports for some of their activities.
The full article is here. My views need not be repeated. And I don’t even expect change, but I would love true and honest, non-fear based conversation in the highest echelons of power and corruption. And you can be sure, excessive drug use within a culture—including alcohol and cigarettes—is a terrible yet instructive expression of a society’s health as a whole (or lack of whole).
Gabor Mate writes, with pages explaining this on either side, before it’s sloughed off as bleeding-heart etc:
The drug addict is today’s scapegoat. Viewed honestly, much of our culture is geared towards enticing us away from ourselves, into externally directed activity, into diverting the mind from ennui and distress. The hardcore addict surrenders her pretence about that. The rest of us can, with varying success, maintain our charade, but to do so, we banish her to the margins of society.
And could it be, with this denial, our social policies fail accordingly, ongoingly, and expensively? Granted, there is no cure for all ennui, all dislocation. But should we not seek, with inelligence and compassion, it’s overall improvement?
Just imagine the military force, security, incarceration and all out war that it will take in a so-called capitalist society to shut down one of the most extreme profit-margin commodities known on the planet—oil, gambling, pornography and other blatant addictions notwithstanding? And, just as we see in Mexico today, a ridiculous portion of the society will end up scarred, killed, interrogated and violated by state edicts, by the process—common citizens, you and I, our children.
Who are we kidding? What’s the deeper purpose? Or deeper ignorance?
I will quote, once again, Kash Heed, former Chief Constable of West Vancouver, who lays out the extraordinary market potential of opium. In short, as a profit-making venture in a profit-oriented world—in a world in so many places of inconceivable inequity—the lure of narco-trafficking profits are overwhelming.:
“The price paid to a Pakistani farmer for opium is approximately $90 a kilo. The wholesale price in Pakistan is almost $3000. The North American wholesale price is $80,000. On the street at 40% purity, the retail price is $290,000 (World Drug Report, 1997)…
Hear that. Ninety dollars a kilo to $290,000 on the street at 40% purity. Heed goes on to say:
“…People making vast profits from the drug market distance themselves from the activities on the street. They do not commit the crimes themselves, they manage criminal enterprises…Cutting off the supply at times is hopeless. The drug business is simply too profitable.”
Even Milton Friedman, in Newsweek Magazine in 1972:
“Why not simply end the drug traffic? That is where experience under Prohibition is most relevant. We cannot end the drug traffic…
So long as large sums of money are involved—and they are bound to be if drugs are illegal—it is literally hopeless to expect to end the traffic or even to reduce seriously its scope. In drugs, as in other areas, persuasion and example are likely to be far more effective than the use of force to shape others in our image…”
It’s so intoxicating, if you’ll excuse the pun, vast numbers of policemen in NYC in the early 70s were paid off—and paid more—for being involved or turning a blind eye.
Do we believe this doesn’t happen today? Us against them? And non-addicts against drug-addicts? Excuse me while I have my eighth cup of coffee etc. And just wait till after work and the fun starts, so I can really forget my day, our collective predicament…
Big money is difficult to turn down, virtually impossible, I would guess, under certain circumstances of stress, envy, poverty and/or greed.
From Friedman again:
“I readily grant that the ethical issue is difficult and that men of goodwill may well disagree [i do too]. Fortunately, we need not resolve the ethical issue to agree on policy. Prohibition is an attempted cure that makes matters worse—for both the addict and the rest of us. Hence, even if you regard present policy toward drugs as ethically justified, considerations of expediency make that policy most unwise… ”
When I’m quoting economist Milton Friedman, I must be desperate. We are all addicts in one way or another. Some legal. Some not. Some destroying ourselves. Others praised, yet destroying relationships. Others praised and destroying the environment, and the lives of countless others. And a mix of all I’ve said.
PS: The quotes from Friedman and Kash Heed, and their links, can be found here, and followed accordingly.