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The War On Drug-Related Civil Liberties


There's at least one religious aspect of the federal government that never changes, no matter whether the governing administration is Democrat or Repugnican: The "War on Drugs." It's long been clear to anyone familiar with the United Kingdom's drug policy before 1968, when they adopted America's pleasure paranoia, that the concept of allowing physicians to prescribe for their heroin-addicted patients' needs, which could be purchased at the local pharmacy for roughly a buck a day, was working phenomenally well. British heroin addicts often worked regular jobs, petty crime was minimized (since addicts no longer had to rob and steal for their daily "fix"), drug smuggling was virtually non-existent, police officials didn't need to be corrupted (bribed) to look the other way, and the nearly non-existent "pushers" eager to create new customers weren't importuning kids to try the stuff ("It's fun and it won't hurt you!") as they do in this country.

The only "down side" to the British system, at least from the moral crusaders' point of view, was that the heroin made its users feel better - sometimes lots better ... maybe even better than converting to Christianity or praying or listening to a rousing sermon .. so, of course, they couldn't have that.

Hence, here in the Good Ol' U.S. of A., the "underground economy" of various types of drugs is a multi-multi-billion dollar business; whole government agencies spend millions of dollars annually to fight the import and sale of drugs (except of course the addictive legal drugs: Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol); all major cities have a significant petty crime problem, thanks to drug addicts, that will not go away; the vast majority of the state and federal inmate population is in prison for drug-related offenses; HIV from sharing needles is on the rise (with religious groups shrilly opposing needle exchange programs); citizens' constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure are continually violated (since nothing in the Constitution gives the government the power to target drug use) ... and every once in a while, drug enforcement agents bust into the wrong house or apartment and kill the innocent occupant(s).

For a long time, I couldn't figure out why the congresscritters didn't understand that it was costing their constituents billions of dollars a year to keep some of their constituents from enjoying themselves in ways that, while not officially approved, would not be harmful to them - the question of whether addiction is a "harm" or a "lifestyle" is still open for discussion - if the same safety measures the FDA uses for, say, aspirin or cough medicine were applied to currently-illegal opiates. The savings to the "system" from fewer prison inmates (and hence, more tax-paying workers), fewer people in court-ordered rehab, fewer man-hours spent on interceptions of illegal drug imports (since companies could now import the stuff legally), fewer diseases caught from dirty needles or contaminated drugs, fewer deaths due to overdoses from shooting drugs of unknown strength and a host of other savings are just mind-boggling.

And then I realized, after dismissing the (fun but paranoid) idea that some key legislators were being paid off by drug smugglers to keep the stuff illegal, that it's all about "sin": That people shouldn't be allowed to experience pleasure for its own sake without what their religions say are the "inevitable consequences" - and by Jove, if the addicts won't suffer those consequences all on their own, we'll just create entire government bureaucracies to make sure they suffer them!

Frankly, I think this attitude goes a long way toward explaining why so much government (and theocon) energy is devoted to suppressing porn, too.

Oh, by the way: Remember Afghanistan, where a few years ago we fought those horrible Taliban Muslims - the ones to whom we'd given $43 million the previous year to fight the cultivation of opium poppies - and installed a "democratic" form of government, headed by Hamid Karzai, for the country? Well guess what: The U.S. troops mostly pulled out of there to go to Iraq; the ones who are left are suffering massive levels of addiction; the Karzai government is fast losing support to a resurgence of the Taliban ... and the country is expected to produce a record opium poppy crop this year, accounting for 95% of the world's opium production.

Now, that's progress!







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