Put These Guys In Rehab

Put These Guys In Rehab
Posted by CN Staff on June 10, 2002 at 18:26:33 PT
By Geoffrey Norman
Source: Playboy Magazine 
The war on drugs has now gone on three times as long as the Vietnam war, with no end in sight and no good reason to believe it can ever be won. Richard Nixon declared the war in 1971, and its aim, as stated later by an act of Congress, was a drug-free society by 1995. If that is still the objective, plainly we have lost. In 1980 there were 50,000 people in custody for drug-related crimes. Twenty years later, the number was 400,000. The price of locking up all those people climbed above $8.5 Billion. In 1980 some 580,000 people were arrested on drug charges. 
Almost 1.6 million individuals were arrested in 2000 for alleged drug offenses, and some of them have, no doubt, joined the ever expanding prison population. Nevertheless, drugs are more available, cheaper and purer in content than ever. Inevitably, the drug warriors say they are fighting hard but they don't have the resources. What they need is more money. In this sense, the war on drugs has come to resemble many other big government programs and bureaucracies whose raison d'etre cannot be found in any mission statement. Why? Because they are interest groups, and the real reason for their existence, their true mission, is to exist. And to grow. More often than not, the best way to grow is to fail. It works for Amtrak, the Postal Service and the Department of Education (the worse kids do in school, the more lavishly Congress funds this agency), so why not the war on drugs? The drug warriors are, in a paradoxical way, fortunate to be fighting an unwinnable war. After a real war, troops are demobilized, weapons programs are canceled and generals are sent into retirement on half pay. But in an endless war, the money to carry on the fight more and more of it keeps rolling in until the end of time. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the federal government will spend more than $19.2 billion waging the war on drugs in 2003. That sum is $7.6 billion more than what it spent 10 years ago, and has increased by 7 percent in the past two years. State and local governments will spend at least $20 billion more. That buys a lot of enforcement. A drug-sniffing dog with handler runs between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. A police cruiser equipped to handle dogs goes for about $25,000. A DEA agent starts somewhere between $25,000 and $40,000. Money creates its own constituencies, and those lucky recipients tend to favor the status quo. No interest group has ever voted itself out of existence or asked Congress for less money than it received in the previous year. The people who depend on the war on drugs for their livelihood are no different. Consider, for example, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association union of prison guards that contributed more than $2 million to the campaign of the present governor of California. It has more political muscle than any lobby in the most populous state in the union. The CCPOA campaigned vigorously against a plan to send nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of prison. The union has a big stake in the war on drugs and an incentive to push for its escalation. More drug busts means more convicts, and that means more jobs for prison guards and a larger union membership and war chest. The longer the war on drugs fails, the better the union likes it. Before drug offenders can be jailed, they must be arrested and prosecuted. That, of course, costs money. Like prison guards and DEA agents, a lot of judges and prosecutors owe their livelihoods to the war on drugs. Their salaries, pensions, health insurance ( which includes drug rehab, no doubt ) and all the rest are picked up by the taxpayer who, in turn, may be picked up himself if he is suspected of fooling around with the wrong kind of drugs. Because a lot of the people who are busted for drugs can't afford to pay for their own legal defense, the state ( i.e., the taxpayer ) picks up the bill for the lawyer who tries to keep the drug offender out of jail, as well as for the one who is trying to send him there. Just about the only people involved in a routine drug trial who are not on the government payroll are the jurors who get $30 a day and a ham sandwich for lunch. The time lost to jury duty on drug cases by otherwise productive citizens is just one of a profusion of hidden costs of the drug war. When you begin to consider these hidden and ancillary costs, you come to realize the true magnitude of the waste. The official, on the books cost of this war is $609 a second. The real cost is much greater and, because the economic distortions are so large, not really determinable. For example, the zealous pursuit of drug criminals leads inevitably to a lot of bad arrests. Consider the case of the woman who was strip searched at O'Hare airport and later collected $129,750 in damages when she took the narcs to court. There will be large judgments coming in favor of the people who were stopped under racial profiling policies used to make drug busts. The drug war's failures can sometimes be too expensive to calculate in dollars and cents. Consider, for instance, the death of a seven month old girl named Charity who was a passenger, along with her missionary parents, in a plane shot down by the Peruvian Air Force as part of the U.S.financed war on drugs. In daily life, the drug war imposes more mundane costs of inconvenience on everyone. Those long lines of cars at the Mexican and Canadian borders are a cost, in terms of time lost. Time, after all, is money, especially if you are in the transportation business. There is also the cost of the fuel burned by all those idling engines. Not to mention the pollution they produce. Drug tests are required by many companies that conduct business with the government, and the drug test industry is worth some $5.9 billion. Does that money represent an efficient use of resources? If you're smoking a powerful substance, the answer might be yes. The fact is that in 1990, 38 federal agencies spent $11.7 million on tests for 0.5 percent positive results. Each drug user, then, cost about $77,000. We also have to consider what is not done with the money that goes to wage war on drugs. If you spend money on a prison instead of a school, the long-term cost comes in the form of uneducated, unskilled kids who might just turn to selling drugs to make a living. Or using them to ease the boredom. But, hey, you have a prison, so you'll have someplace to put them when the bill comes due. And there is the cost of wasted opportunities and undeveloped resources. It costs about as much to imprison someone as it does to send him to a good college. But factor in the lost wages ( and taxes ) of what might otherwise have been a productive citizen. Add in the cost of welfare for the dependents of the jailed person and the salary of the parole officer who will supervise that person after he is released. Taking someone prisoner in the war on drugs costs a lot of money ( as much as $450,000, according to one estimate ), and it is not a onetime expense. In the most extreme case, society loses a taxpayer ( a productive resource ) and gains at least one, and maybe several, long term dependents. This may be good for prison guards and social workers. But it isn't much of a bargain for the remaining taxpayers who pay the bill. Then there is the cost of crimes committed by the violent felons who should be in prison but are released early because the space required to house them is taken up by drug offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences. A few years ago, the state of Florida released murderers, among others, according to a formula called gain time, because it needed the beds to handle drug offenders serving long sentences. Gain time isn't always the same as good time. In some cases, in fact, it was nothing more than time served. Some of the murderers who were released returned to violent crime, including murder. Finally, there is the cost of putting our law enforcement energies into the war on drugs instead of, say, the war on terrorism, where the return could have been much more satisfying. Between 1992 and 1998, the FBI increased its number of convictions by almost 70 percent. After September 11, one could reasonably ask if the FBI might have been fighting the wrong war. If the priorities of the FBI had been different, perhaps events might also have been different on September 11. That is one of those imponderables, like the actual economic costs of that terrible day. One small cost of the drug war that has been documented is the more than $3 million that went for ads during the Super Bowl. Rather than concede the possibility that a full scale war on drugs might not be the best use of the nation's will and resources, the drug warriors spent all that money to propagandize for their war and piggyback on the public's support for the war on terrorism. According to the ads, if you do dope, the money you spend on drugs goes into the pockets of terrorists. Ah, yes. And marijuana is a gateway to hard drugs, LSD causes birth defects, and so on. The $3 million plus is chicken feed in the big scheme of things ( and the war on drugs is a big scheme, if ever there were one ). The heavy handed pitch is pretty much in line with what we have come to expect. Of course, you could point out that Osama bin Laden is a Saudi of considerable wealth. Saudi money comes, directly or indirectly, from oil. So maybe someone should have created an ad about how if you drive a gas guzzling SUV, you are financing terrorists. Such an ad would have provoked outrage, and rightly so. But the drug warriors didn't take much criticism for their Super Bowl spots. Probably because we have all grown weary. The drug war has been going on so long that we expect it, like farm subsidies, to go on forever. The difference, of course, is that when you pay farmers not to grow crops, you are just wasting money. When you pay for a war on drugs, you waste lives. If we are going to pay so extravagantly for such meager results ( the drugs keep coming in and people keep using them ), then maybe it is time to pay off the drug warriors. Give them the money, but only if they do nothing. The only other solution, after such a long exercise in futility, is to recognize that what we really need to do is declare war on the war on drugs. Complete Title: Put These Guys In Rehab: The Government's Hooked On The Drug WarNews Article courtesy of Mapinc: Playboy Magazine (US)Author: Geoffrey NormanPublished: July 2002Copyright: 2002 Playboy Enterprises, Inc.Contact: edit playboy.comWebsite: Article from Playboy:Guilt Trip - One Toke Over The Line?
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Comment #14 posted by Lehder on June 12, 2002 at 09:22:48 PT
in defense of mein Homeland
BUSH'S HOMELAND DEFENSE proposal is really a proposal for a national police
     force. The new federales won't waste much time expanding their role. They'll soon
     go from ferreting out terrorists to ferreting out killers and kidnappers and bank
     robbers and heroin dealers and pot smokers. Some day some unsuspecting
     motorist will make history when he becomes the first person ever to be stopped by
     a Homeland Defense cop for speeding.
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Comment #13 posted by el_toonces on June 11, 2002 at 14:15:35 PT:
Government types......
....make me think of Brian Robbins song, "Now the Government wants to test me when I pee", which can be heard at 
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Comment #12 posted by 2Spooky on June 11, 2002 at 06:37:37 PT
Great article
Too bad it isnt on the wire services =(.Can it be forwarded?
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Comment #11 posted by Lehder on June 11, 2002 at 06:17:51 PT
It will all lead to genocide.It's already underway.
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Comment #10 posted by Lehder on June 11, 2002 at 06:12:20 PT
Yes, cltrldmg, I've heard that even the discount cards that many people use at the supermarkets are used by corporations to keep track of what you eat and whatever else you buy, and records are kept for the long term. It's ridiculous. It will all lead to genocide. No one will know about the genocide either. The genocide will certainly not be reported on TV, therefore it will not be considered real. When people do hear rumors and reports about genocide they will choose not to believe them. That's exactly how it worked sixty years ago. Back then, even Jews chose not to believe the stories. Poland wasn't real, and if it's not on TV then today it's not real. I gave some links yesterday to Kalle Lasn who is real.
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Comment #9 posted by cltrldmg on June 11, 2002 at 04:50:14 PT
(This is a bit off the topic, hope nobody minds)Lehder, it's worse than that. They're expanding it now, want to give free access to every state agency including the health services, local councils, even the fucking food standards agency. That gives almost anyone in a government agency, any basic civil servant the chance to check you out. Without your knowledge, there are no checks, no reasons are needed. Funny thing is you'll never know, so 'ignorance is bliss' right? Today's report:,7369,731074,00.htmlIt's scary how this story suddenly kind of jumped out from nowhere. It's been happening for a while, especially in the UK since 9/11, and usually they were talked about and there were a few objections that died away when people lost interest. This time, something really big is happening, and I only find one story about it in the news. I read the European press regularly, and a couple of days ago in the Guardian was the first time I heard about this story, the Commission just scrapped the whole data privacy act which they'd showed off to the citizens as a great democratic progress. Why is nobody else aware of this, why is it almost always only the Guardian that comes up with these front page stories? Are they just crazy or making it up? Although nobody's saying that yet... maybe a court-case would be too dangerous.I can see why they might get a little worried: "The draft order has also raised concerns that it might undermine investigative journalism. Editors are worried that the identities of sources may become impossible to protect. " That's the remaining freedom of the press going down the drain (not that there was that much to begin with).New Scientist had an interesting column a couple of weeks ago where they described a scenario in 2015, where basically Britain has turned into a police state, the entire country is being filmed by CCTV, the government has access to all the information about you including your genetic code, and all this is kept in a giant database shared by every government agency. Anonymity and privacy are no longer part of the vocabulary. If you commit a crime you'll be tracked down within a few minutes, they know where you are at every moment in your life, when you go into a shop or take the train you'll be identified and entered/checked with the database, in the name of Security. I thought this was science fiction but these recent developments make me less sure.Having all this new technology without any checks destroys all personal responsibility, it makes anything possible for those in power. And when you have so much power, as everyone knows, temptation brings out the worst in human nature.Is this message going to be intercepted? Lol, maybe certain key words are being detected as you read this and another entry is automatically being entered into my file, in some giant underground computer in London.
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Comment #8 posted by WolfgangWylde on June 11, 2002 at 04:13:38 PT
But they like it....
...The stats on the growing number of people locked up for drug offenses is unlikely to sway any Drug Warriors. I'm not talking about cops, DEA, and prosecutor types, I'm talking about average Joes and Janes who LIKE the fact that "druggies" get locked up. They GET OFF on it. I've debated them many times on the web, and they see the ever increasing numbers of people behind bars as a GOOD THING.
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Comment #7 posted by Lehder on June 11, 2002 at 03:50:21 PT
article on privacy 
In a vote last week the European parliament approved measures that will
          allow the 15 member states of the European Union to force telephone
          and Internet companies to retain detailed logs of their customersí
          communications for an unspecified period. The security services and the
          police can then access these records, which are presently kept for only a
          couple of months for billing purposes before being destroyed. The law
          will be formally adopted by EU governments within a few months and
          implemented by the end of 2003.          Although police will still require a warrant to intercept the content of
          electronic communications, the new legislation means that they will be
          able to build up a complete picture of an individualís personal
          communications, including who they have emailed or phoned and when,
          and which Internet sites they have visited. With access to mobile phone
          records police will also be able to map a personís movements because
          the phones communicate with the nearest base station every few
          seconds. In urban areas, the information is accurate to within hundreds of
          metres. With the next generation of mobiles, accuracy will increase to
          within a few metres. What you can do nothing
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Comment #6 posted by p4me on June 10, 2002 at 22:39:12 PT
I spent about 5 minutes trying to remember the word and even checked the spelling at The definition at is a little lacking and the definition I wish they included was- the prime example.About a week ago I watched the show at pot-tv called the "Cannabis Culture Tokers Bowl 2002." This was when people paid $350 (Mark Emery doesn't say American or Canadian) and joined the party from May 2nd through May 5th with Mark Emery furnishing the finest of BC bud. I would put up a link but the Realplayer button is not appearing tonite.Anyway you can imagine the facts that Mark Emery and his guest know about marijuana trivia and history. Now the quintessential example of how money affects marijuana laws was said in this video by a toker in a garb that must have been from Nepal or Tibet or somewhere out there. He said that the last nation on the planet to have legalized marijuana was Nepal. Then in 1973 Nixon paid the ruler of Nepal $50 million and millenniums of cultural history disappeared overnite because the ruler is going to take the money and to hell with the people. He then went on to say that there are a half a million heroin addicts and the country has gone to hell using my terms. Plain and simple money counts and people do not if the people does not include you.That was a pretty good show and one night they went on ship tour of Vancouver Island and had a Sultan type theme to it. They had dancers and everything. Vancouver is famous for its strip clubs too by the way. It had a bong hitting contest and a tulip joint rolling contest. But anyway that Chris Bennett was telling a joke on the Arabian theme about I guy that found the bottle and had a gracious genie grant him three wishes. The stoner asked the genie for an endless supply of killer pot and magically a sack of premium bud white with pleasure chrystals appearred. The toker would reach in and pull some out and the sack would majically replenish itself. The stoner was puffing away when the genie said "What would you like with your remaining two wishes?" and the stoner replied, "I will have two more of these."Anyway, the war on marijuana is much more about people's financial interest than anything in marijuana. I mean Richard Cowan's piece today was about police getting drunk and rowdy at their party and more relevant was the health problem asociated with over the counter medicine in Scotland. The codiene cough medicines that a large percentage of people might start out using legitimately because of the foul Scotish weather can have severe health consequences. And marijuana won't put you in a seizure- just in jail.1 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on June 10, 2002 at 21:13:45 PT
Bill Maher's Official Web Site
Hi everyone, I'm watching PI and Bill Maher mentioned his new, under construction, web site. He said he will check in on the message boards. I thought you might want to check it out. I think he said his last show is June 28th.
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Comment #4 posted by goneposthole on June 10, 2002 at 20:52:13 PT
agony, agony, agony
The drug war is like beating your head against the wall. It feels so good when you quit.
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on June 10, 2002 at 20:04:48 PT
Rah Rah Rah.
Boom Chicka BoomBoom Chicka BoomBoom Chicka Licka DickyBoom Boom Boom
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Comment #2 posted by Industrial Strength on June 10, 2002 at 19:13:56 PT
Oh my
I was reading this and my spirit started soaring, getting higher and higher with every line read, and then the crash ... No one reads the articles!
All kidding aside, one of the best articles on the subject that will find an audience in need of having the wool pulled off their eyes. And that really is key, finding that audience.
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Comment #1 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on June 10, 2002 at 19:10:07 PT
The Endless war
What a great article. It could have more plainly stated that without Cannabis Prohibition there is NO war on Drugs.Orwell talked of the need for perpetual war. Operation Northwoods AND Breshinski's "Grand Chessboard" both talk of the need for the maintainence of percieved threats to keep flags waving and sheep content to give away their liberties.Reagan escalated the War on cannabis as first a way to push the Morality-based ideology of his social group, then it was great to have the scourge of "drugs" once the Soviet Union fell, so that a new insidious enemy was here...nebulous, ever-present....Now we get al Queda, and Bush, and Cheney and Ashcroft... Ashcroft talked of wanting to escalate the war on drugs. The Endless War thinly hides the reality....The Conquest of Empire.
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