Sunday, May 30, 2004

Heroin and Other Drugs

There are a lot of people in jail in the US and the whole world for using heroin. This is interesting because heroin makes people drowsy, docile, harmless and inoffensive. The addictive nature of heroin is only a social problem when the drug is difficult to obtain. We are all totally dependent on oxygen and water but we don't need to commit crimes to get the air we breathe or the water we drink. And don't think we are morally superior because we aren't criminals. If air were $5 per breath we'd all be stick-up artists...

The user of pharmacologically pure heroin suffers problems only after decades of use. The liver may not stand up to long term heroin addiction and life may be shortened. This is a relatively minor problem, compared to the problems caused by other drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

Overwhelmingly, the problems occur only because heroion is illegal and would not occur if heroin were legally available:
  • Illegal heroin is impure and is therefore medically dangerous.

  • Illegal heroin is expensive and motivates addicts to commit property crimes and prostitution.

  • Illegal heroin fills the jails with expensive-to-maintain criminals that create a heavy tax burden.

  • The war on drugs corrupts our government and law enforcement officials.

  • Heroin is more of gateway to other drugs because it is popular in the criminal subculture.

  • Illegal heroin spreads AIDS and other diseases because addicts are forced to share needles. Legal heroin could be sold in single-use injectors.

  • Illegal heroin fosters an atmosphere of street crime and mugging that pollutes human relationships, promotes racism, and wreaks economic devastation on cities.

There a couple of caveats that must be understood. First, people don't like dealing with addicts on a day to day basis. It might be necessary to segregate the addict population from the general public with a new form of civil commitment.

Also, the situation with other drugs differs. Cocaine, PCP, crystal meth and even ecstasy are stimulants and encourage or stimulate all sorts of anti-social and dangerous behaviors that society will not tolerate. Sexual stimulants in the age of AIDS constitute chemical warfare agents. Even marijuana can act as a stimulant (especially to eating and to sex) and is in a different class.

Heroin isn't good for you. I don't recommend it or use it. But taking the profit out of heroin should reduce it usage, not increase it. The problems of the Dutch, who have effectively decriminalized heroin, are related also to their decriminalization of marijuana and of prostitution, and the particulars of Dutch society. At the very least, more study is needed.

The situation in the black community in the US is probably influenced by decades of exceptionally poor medical care, especially in the last half of the 19th century and the earlier decades of the 20th century, a period when opiates were available, the black community were no longer slaves and drug education truly primitive. Painful conditions were treated in an ad hoc manner. The presence of sickle cell disease, which is very painful and was undiagnosed for centuries, probably contributed to the culture of drug use, especially of pain killers, such as opiates. Sickle cell disease occurs in about 1 in 500 black births, which seeded the society with a population in significant pain for no known reason. An increase in the availability of good medical care should also reduce drug addiction.

The Religion of Peace

If a bunch of nutcases, holding aloft sacred copies of Winnie the Pooh, had killed 3,000 New Yorkers one day in September, we would go to war against the Winnie-the-Pooh sect, and win. Some pointy-headed intellectual would point out that indeed the book Winnie the Pooh was Peaceful. So what! We aren't interested in the true meaning of their religion, or even whether it is really peaceful. We need to take care of the cult that did the killing. And in fact the Quran has a lot more violence than Winnie the Pooh, but that's a blog for a different day.

Seize the Oil Fields / The Power of Ideology

The sensible next step for the Imperial USA, would be to simply seize the oil fields of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Let the local Arabs and Persians return to their original state of harmless poverty. It's solution to Islamic Terrorism. Eventually, Osama will run out of money. No money, no bombs. After all, we are at war.

It wouldn't be a very nice thing to do, of course. The radical students at our finer Universities would have a fit. And the UN would explode. But the material benefits would more than compensate. And we could give the Europeans a cut, to quiet them down. That's all it will really take. Instead of appeasing the Arabs, they'll appease the Americans. Anybody with oil.

The point isn't that it can happen. It can't happen, it's politically unacceptable in domestic US politics without some larger provocation. Morality and all that. Private property, of all things. A President who seized mideast oil fields would be forced to return the property by an outraged Congress. It's just that the failure of the US Empire to seize the mideast oil fields is such a glaring deficiency. It's a deficiency in the administration of the world economy (from the Imperial point of view). And it's a deficiency in the theory of the left, which is always complaining how terribly Imperialist is the US. And it's a deficiency in the imagination of the public, that nobody has suggested it until now.

The US can't keep South American drugs out of the country. The US can't keep Mexican illegals out of the country. The US can't keep terrorists out of the country. Do we think we are keeping foreign money out of the country? Anonymous political contributions, anyone? How about all those soft money campaigns? Internet fund raising my foot. Corruption is an American tradition, fortunately, so are crusading prosecutors.

President Franklin Roosevelt made a deal with the Saudi Royal family in February 1945, and for some unknown reason the deal has held. What realpolitik reason could there be for the West in general, and the US in particular, to send shiploads of money to the mideast? The Iranians build nukes and support the terrorism of Hezbollah and Hamas. Saudi Arabia builds the worldwide radical Muslim movement and funds politicians, professors and media all over the developed world. And Iraq (until recently) built weapons, invaded many of its neighbors and supported Palestinian terrorism, at least.

The Muslims must look at this Western largesse in the face of the hostile blowback it creates and conclude it's just a miracle of Allah. After all, God gave oil to the Muslims (including Indonesia), didn't He?

In practical terms, the money paid for oil is a massive society-wrenching subsidy. If crude oil were a commodity then competition between the various suppliers would drive the price down to subsistence levels, supported at the bottom only by the cost of production. Instead, billions of unearned dollars goes to unreconstructed social primitives who make mischief as if there is no tomorrow. What happens to Islamic Radicalism when the oil money dries up? Wouldn't that be wonderful?

The Key
The key to winning a war against a superior force is to convince the superior force that there is no war. It's just vandalism, or "Troubles", maybe even "Terrorism". But not war. If there is no war, then don't fight. War is bad, so don't fight. It's only a few troublemakers, so don't wage war. Do anything but defend yourself. Think small, think inside the box. We're only losing a few dead -- we have millions. Maybe we can pacify them by understanding them. Keep on funding your enemies in the interest of "Market Stability" and "Engagement". Wait until the Melting Pot Effect takes hold. War is Peace. There is no war. Ignore the war behind the curtain. Do not fight. Keep those payments coming. The best defense is diplomacy. Forty dollars a barrel and climbing. Forget that we are paying our enemies. Prince Bandar is our friend.