Out with Barry, In With Common Sense

Out with Barry, In With Common Sense
Posted by FoM on October 25, 2000 at 07:31:24 PT
By James N. Markels
Source: Liberzine Magazine
Last week, Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey announced his resignation, effective January 6, 2001. The highly-decorated four-star general will be leaving behind 40 years of public service in order to join the private sector and write a book about his heroes of the War on Drugs. It's too late, though. The lessons the private sector would have taught him will never make him effective him in his post. In truth, McCaffrey could have hardly been less effective. 
His main accomplishments have been to shovel billions of dollars into wasted media efforts to scare children to not do drugs, pump over a billion more into Colombia's military to wage war against the local drug lords, and effectively bribe the major creative media to echo the government's line. None of these initiatives are likely to reap much fruit. Children just don't respond much to media moralizing, and drugs are as cheap and plentiful as ever. A Department of Health and Human Services annual survey shows an estimated 14.8 million Americans older than 11 were users of illegal drugs last year, compared with 12.8 million in 1995. The Colombian drug initiative has even graver consequences for the future. As Colombian drug lords often cross the border to Ecuador for business, when the Colombian military pursues them the spread of violence into neighboring countries will hamper local stability, and the fact that America's money is fueling the escalation will create more resentment against our paternalistic foreign policy. Not to mention that McCaffrey's relentless waging of the War on Drugs claimed First Amendment casualties, as not only were media outlets forced to sell airtime for anti-drug messages on the cheap, but McCaffrey's office would look over scripts and reward those who toed the line. Tack that on top of racial profiling, the whittling of the Fourth Amendment and a militarization of police forces, and we see how the "win at all costs" mentality has pervaded every aspect of the drug war, resulting in corners being cut and rights being shrugged aside. It's easy to see how this approach has become popular since those in charge of the War on Drugs see drugs as absolutely evil. When something is demonized enough, you're willing to do anything to stop it. Consider McCaffrey's mindset: When asked to describe the scope of the problem, he responded, "I understand this is not a city problem. Poor people, black people, brown people -- it's a problem that affects every part of our society." He left out the "rich" and "white people." McCaffrey says that drugs affect every part of society, but it seems to me that he sees certain parts that are more affected than others, namely poor and minorities. Whether that's true or not, McCaffrey would learn the most about drugs from those he didn't mention. What about the highly successful professionals that do drugs? Most movies in Hollywood wouldn't happen without amphetamines and cocaine. Forget the music industry. Big business, politics, media, all of them have top-notch people with either drug dependencies or recreational habits. Do the drugs help those people succeed? Probably not, but the lesson still filters down through our society: Doing drugs isn't the end of the world.It's pretty hard for a kid to heed a commercial featuring a Gen-Xer describing how drugs will ruin your entire life and the lives of those around you when a classmate can smoke a joint on Saturday and then ace the mid-term on Monday. I was never into drugs in college, but there were potheads with much better GPAs than mine. Of course, there were also potheads who lost control of their habit and flunked out. Being a pothead won't help you accomplish anything, and if anything it's an impediment, but some people are able to manage their lives productively even while getting high, and the private sector understands that. As McCaffrey writes and publishes his book, the odds are that at least one of the people in the production or promotion has either used or uses illegal drugs, and McCaffrey won't be able to tell the difference. This is part of the dissonance between the government's strategy to fight drug use and the real-life experiences of people who use drugs. Drugs can ruin or end lives, but they donít always, just like alcohol or cigarettes. Common sense will see through the hard sell every time. Perhaps if Gen. McCaffrey had spent some time in the private sector he would have learned that the government's pitch doesn't make sense to the general public. A successful drug czar must be honest with Americans about the potential dangers of drug use instead of bullying them with horror stories and apocalyptic rhetoric. A successful drug czar should work to preserve individual liberties first and advocate nondiscriminatory enforcement of the laws. If the American people aren't yet willing to drop the War on Drugs yet, at least it should be fought honestly and fairly. Gen. McCaffrey did not do either, and for that I'm glad to see him go.James N. Markels is founder of the Constitutionalist Party.E-Mail: jmarkels earthlink.netWebsite: Liberzine.comAuthor: James N. MarkelsPublished: October 24, 2000Copyright: Liberzine.comWebsite: Articles:Bye Bye Barry General's Farewell McCaffrey Says He Will Leave White House Post
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Comment #1 posted by military officer guy on October 25, 2000 at 20:09:46 PT
excellent article...
now that was a well written article...i'm so sick of the crap we get from the man...
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