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February 2005
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Mark Souder, drug warrior buffoon

I haven’t talked about Rep. Mark Souder for awhile. For those who don’t know, he is the one who came up with the notion of adding a question regarding drug convictions to student financial aid forms. The stupidity of this is obvious — it makes no sense to deny aid to a student who made a mistake when they were younger and paid for it. You should be encouraging education. Souder now claims he only intended it to apply for convictions while going to school, but it still doesn’t make sense to kick poor students out who have a conviction for marijuana. What will they do? I guess they can go and sell drugs for a living.
Anyway, a fabulous group called Students for a Sensible Drug Policy has been working hard for years to overturn this provision, with help from others in the drug policy reform community. As others have reported, there is good news in that a congressional committee has recommended eliminating the provision. We still have to see what Congress will do.
Anyway, what got me going this morning was this statement in today’s MSU State News:

But [Souder spokesman Martin] Green said because students are using federal money, they should obey federal laws.

“The reasoning behind the law is simple. Students who receive taxpayer money to go to college have to obey the law,” Green said, adding it was Souder’s belief that if students are using drugs, they probably are not making the most of their education.

So transparent. If it really had anything to do with obeying the law, why is it that the only law involved is drug law? Why doesn’t it ask “Have you been convicted of breaking any law” and deny aid to those who committed violent acts or tax fraud? It’s not about obeying the law. It’s about Souder’s own personal counterproductive war against drugs.
And Mark, there are lots of students who don’t make the most of their education. Maybe it’s the purchase of an Xbox, or being hooked on soaps, or blogging, or hanging out, or… But you see, Mark, there’s already a way to measure that. It’s called grading. Students are graded on their work and if they don’t do well, they flunk. If their overall grades fall too low, they lose their financial aid.
It may not be perfect, but it’s a whole lot better than your cockamamie ideas.

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