Archive for the ‘drugs’ tag
So, out of sheer boredom and mostly for entertainment value, I watched about five minutes of Glenn Beck on FOX News tonight, for that’s about all I could stomach and, coincidentally, it only took Beck that long to begin quivering over some rags to riches tale of a fellow who was about to oust himself by overdosing on sleeping pills when, wouldn’t ya know, as he was walking into the drug store, the guy heard over the radio a quote from one of Beck’s books, The Christmas Sweater (available in fine bookstores everywhere).
According to a letter read from the man to Beck that he read on the air, the man immediately fell on his knees in tears and vowed to pull himself up and get his life together. He had fallen into drugs, lost his job, started living with his economically disadvantaged mother, you know the bit. First, and this isn’t what I sat down to write about (I’m getting to that in a minute), how egomaniacal does one have to be to shill your own book, of which he’s apparently performing some sort of stage show across the nation, at the expense of some poor sap’s tale of ascension, as if to say, “Sure, this man’s story is all about redemption, and that’s what the Christmas season is all about, but look who inspired him to turn things around? Me.” Also, Beck, most humbly, didn’t fail to mention that he plays eight different characters by himself. Viewers also saw clips from the production during this five minute segment. How many more self-advertisements viewers were forced to suffer through during the entire show is anyone’s guess. But, no matter. They probably think, ‘The more Beck the better’.”
The main observation that I wanted to make was that immediately following all the quivering and Beck nearly tearing up over the man’s story came a commercial about Beck’s often touted sponsor, Goldline International, Inc, and another shorter spot about U.S. Gold. So, essentially, if you are Beck, you are on the air telling all these stories of folks in need, some people just plain worried about the economy and others who have managed to pull themselves out of the gutter, what better way to tell people you are rooting for the common man by encouraging folks to stockpile gold, a la, a pirate on the high seas. The oxymoron of all this was so stunning that I nearly tossed my weiner dog through the window. But, of course, it’s only an oxymoron when you look at the content of Beck’s show. When you look at the viewership, yeah, it’s folks who have sipped the FOX News Kool-Aid from Day One, but it’s also the Reagan trickle down economic crowd, who somehow think that the upper 99 percent of the population’s wealth is going to flow like a graceful, cooling stream down to the proletariat masses.
But, of course, Beck’s obsession with the gold industry won’t be news to regular viewers. He’s been talking up gold for quite some time now, while framing it in the context that the American dollar might be on the verge of a collapse. After all, he’s got to make up some frame of reference. Here’s a full piece on this by Think Progress. To read this article is to see just how pathetic, and desperate, Beck has become after losing the lion share of his sponsors with his fringe notions that, contrary to what he contends, are quite at odds with that of the real Thomas Paine, who was a progressive if he was nothing else. It’s entertaining that so many on the fringe right, the Tea Party crowd, and the like, summon Paine every chance they get while forgetting, or probably without knowing in the first place, that Paine was a deist and certainly not a Christian. Further, he was most likely against nearly everything for which they stand. Again, he was one of the most progressive men of his day. Any serious student of history knows this.
Here’s a comparison of Beck to Paine by Chris Kelly, in the piece, “Glenn Beck is Thomas Paine, Except for Everything“:
Do you like estate taxes? Paine was pitching them in 1791.
How about progressive taxation? Paine wasn’t just for it, he made charts and graphs.
Government make-work programs? Yep. Pay for them with the estate tax.
Public education? Yes, please.
International organizations? Paine said we needed them. Thought they might be useful for preventing wars after we disarmed.
If a woman were to defend the cause of her sex, she might address him in the following manner … If we have an equal right with you to virtue, why should we not have an equal right to praise? … Our duties are different from yours, but they are not therefore less difficult to fulfill, or of less consequence to society … You cannot be ignorant that we have need of courage not less than you … Permit our names to be sometimes pronounced beyond the narrow circle in which we live. Permit friendship, or at least love, to inscribe its emblem on the tomb where our ashes repose; and deny us not that public esteem which, after the esteem of one’s self, is the sweetest reward of well doing. — T. Paine
Compare and contrast:
OK, so anyway, I was talking about ugly people. Ugly people, if you’re a guy, you can get past it. I don’t think you can as an ugly woman. I don’t — no, I don’t. If you’re an ugly woman, I apologize. Oh, you’ve got a double cross, because if you’re an ugly woman, you’re probably a progressive as well. –G. Beck
Animal Rights Nuts?
Everything of cruelty to animals is a violation of moral duty. — T. Paine
Religion is under attack! — G. Beck
Priests and conjurors are of the same trade. — T. Paine
Thus, it’s quite a sideshow at this point that Beck and others know so little about the history they so often summon, or spin the Founders’ words to bolster their own ill-conceived arguments. But if they actually knew a wit about the Founders, they would realize that the Founders could take intellectual backstrokes around the current lot of fringe-crowd conservatives who are only attempting to elevate themselves, unjustifiably so, by calling up Paine or Jefferson or whichever Founder is, unbeknownst to them, their intellectual superior.
But, I was talking about gold wasn’t I? As noted, it’s sad and pathetic that Beck has so few sponsors left. It’s contemptible how he got to this point. He does have National Review, but wait, that’s a conservative outfit too, isn’t it? Real companies, like General Mills, AT&T, Walmart and Bank of America have all flown the coop. No matter. Beck still has his fringe crowd and others to ride the gold-colored Kool-Aid machine through some mythical history and future of their own making. Which makes me wonder. Did the aforementioned beneficiary of Beck’s sweater book become a client of Goldline as well? I’m willing to bet so. That would have been an entertaining twist to the story, but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.
A fellow blogger and frequent reader/poster to this site posed a question back in November 2008 — it’s a pity that I just now found it — but the essence of the question was this: What should the government’s role be when it comes to certain issues of our day, including drugs, abortion, gay marriage, etc. When I read it, I then replied on his site that I implied that each issue could be taken in turn because each, I think, is unique. In other words, I don’t know that the role of government would be the same in each case. Here is his original post for more information.
Given that he lists these specific issues — drugs, guns, gay marriage, abortion, welfare, war — let me begin with the first, and perhaps, in subsequent order, I will take the others one-by-one. At the risk of clogging up his blog with a 5,000 polemic, I suggested a piecemeal approach. So here we go.
I don’t necessarily side with Libertarians on all points, but on the War on Drugs, I certainly do. As the indispensable “Drug War Clock” tell us, the country has funneled $34,008,082,858 into this pretend, metaphorical war, a number that is growing daily, this year alone. Like the failed Prohibition of the early 20th century, I think this war breaks down at, not only the constitutional level, but at the practical level. From the 18th Amendment, we have these words:
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
But after organized crime rose and after legislators, and surely the country, realized that A) prohibiting substances that folks will consume with or without government approval is a waste of time and energy, and B) organized crime tends to rise when said substances are driven underground to the black market seem to me to be salient points, which can carry over to other substances. Let’s take the case of pot. Marijuana has been shown to be at least as destructive to the body as nicotene, if not less destructive, because regular users don’t consume as many joints as nicotene users do cigarettes in one day. Needless to say, inhaling smoke is a bad idea whichever way you slice it.
In all honesty, I think drinking alcohol is at least as dangerous to society and individuals as smoking pot, if not more. It impairs users more than marijuna does, and this fact is undeniable. I know this from research and from past personal experience. According to this Time magazine article, one in 25 people worldwide die from alcohol-related deaths. How many die from marijuana use? That number escapes us. We don’t know, but it certainly doesn’t kill people who overdose, as does alcohol, heroin, cocaine and others. To the contrary, there is no such thing as overdosing on marijuana.
So, to come back around. Constitutionally, what should we do about drugs from the governmental level? Clearly, there is nothing in the country’s great, foundational works about substance abuse that I’m aware, so Prohibition was purely a conjured, and probably unconstitutional, scheme that did not work, unless we want to summon the “promote the general Welfare” statement in the preamble. We do know that drug use in America was rampant before the powers that be decided to put a clamp on it. It’s clear that we had opium, laudanum and others users in the 19th century and before.
I think I would fit the War on Drugs in the unconstitutional category with regard to the powers granted the federal government. Education about the dangers of drug use and the ill effects in schools and other civil areas seems to me to be the best approach, for when you prohibit something, anything, we might as well bank on the fact that people will try it … simply because it’s prohibited. In fact, the Obama administration represents a shift on the “War on Drugs.” This camp has said it would not refer to it as such, and the new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, would not refer to it as thus, according to The Wall Street Journal. I feel this reader comment by David Dimston should be lauded for its truth and frankness:
That the War on Drugs has been a complete failure is not even a question anymore.
Thus, the folks who have addictive tendencies, will, of course, become addicted, but those who don’t may try it once or twice, and probably conclude it’s not for them or that it’s hard to function in any “real” life using such substances. There’s no sense in jailing non-violent offenders, at all. And this is a gross misuse of public resources. Indeed, as Prohibition shows clear as day, violent crime actually increases when governments intervene and attempt to legislate the usage of substances that folks will use, one way or the other, legal or not.