On August 27th, I caught a remark by President CalderÃ³n buried in the Honduras Weekly and the Latin American Herald Tribune:
If Americans â€œare determined and resigned to consume drugs, then look for market alternatives that cancel out the criminalsâ€™ astronomical profits or establish clear entry points for the drugs distinct from the border with Mexico, but this situation can no longer continue unchanged,â€ he said.
A powerful and provocative statement. I also noted that mainstream media seemed to be ignoring that part of the speech entirely.
On August 30th (three days later) another blogger named Tim Padgett somehow found out about CalderÃ³n’s statement (maybe on his own, maybe somebody pointed out my post, I don’t know) and also wrote about it.
Well, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowski has responded to the story by writing to… me? No, he wrote to Tim.
So what’s the deal, Gil? Don’t you like me? Why does Tim get the love? He was a little late to the game – you should have been writing me.
Is it something I said? Did your secretary lose my address? Just ask Michele for it – she probably has it.
I’ll admit that it may have something to do with the fact that Tim’s blog happens to reside at Time.com, providing a significant automatic boost in readers compared to DrugWarRant.com.
Could it also have anything to do with the fact that I might not be a particularly easy audience for your letter? And that you thought you might be able to pull one past the mainstream media guy (it’s always worked in the past)? Well, it’s a different world now, so if that was the case, it only half worked.
Certainly the high and mighty Czar, General of generals in the Crusade against anything that may make you feel better, would NEVER deign to speak to such lowly peons as we. And never in such a grimy forum as the Drugwarrant.
He would NEVER be seen addressing a bunch of stoners sitting around on a smelly old couch.
“He would NEVER be seen addressing a bunch of stoners sitting around on a smelly old couch.”
Yeah, just ignore those 46 percent of Americans just sitting around getting high all day:
â€œIf legalizing drugs were to magically eliminate the black market (which is doubtful given the persistence of black markets for other legal products) it would do nothing to deprive criminal organizations of their revenue from extortion and other crimes.â€â€”Kerlikowske
A black market is an alternative to a legal market. â€˜Legalâ€™ in this case implies non-criminal, realistic and easy access to the commodity in question. Legal drugs that get diverted to an alternative black market arrive there because a realistic, or non-criminal access to the drug, is somehow lacking in the legal market. Costs may be a factor in restricted access. Lack of medical insurance is another. Big Pharmaâ€™s insistence on supplying patented, synthetic analogs of natural ingredients alone, instead of the much superior natural product, is a really big factor driving illegal activity. So yes, it is possible to eliminate black markets by eliminating diversionary motives and opportunities.
Gil Kerlikowske is basing his anti-legalization argument on a religious societyâ€™s anachronistic assumptions about human behavior. â€˜Thou shalt notâ€™ doesnâ€™t work when any number of minor factors are present. I prefer the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinozaâ€™s non-religious assessment: that people yearn for that which is denied them. Yearning and scarcity seems to be a universal constant in the mammalian world.
Cats yearn for that which is denied them. If a door is closed, they want it open. If a drawer is open, they want to explore whatâ€™s in it. Once the cat has what it wants, it’s no longer such a big deal. Curiosity did not kill the cat, BTW. Curiosity is a highly adaptive evolutionary response that educates creatures like cats and humans alike about the details of their immediate environment. Knowledge acquired by curiosity provides water, food, avenues of escape or protection. Curiosity has also provided some really excellent medicines for homo sapiens.
Spinozaâ€™s ideas about scarcity and coveting explains much of what drives a lot of marketing strategies for consumer products. A Lamborghini is desirable because it is expensive, rare, and provides a unique, sensual driving experience, and so forth. Weâ€™ve seen this theory at work in the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and other happy locales where drug tolerance and easy availability lowers the desirability of drugs and produces no increase in drug usage, with per capita rates of domestic drug usage lower overall when compared to the U.S.
With Spinoza in mind, we might expect drug legalization to create an initial curiosity blip resulting in a rise in drug usage, immediately followed by a reduction and leveling out as the thrill is finally gone from acquiring forbidden fruit. Hard drugs will be left to follow the harmfulness-versus-desirability model of behavior, which through proper use, truthful education programs and cultural wisdom can go a long way toward achieving harm reduction. This is how the crack craze declined in black neighborhoods, despite the CIAâ€™s best efforts to make it a way of life. In todayâ€™s world, tell a kid in South Central LA his mother smokes crack and youâ€™ll probably get your ass kicked.
Kerlikowskeâ€™s problem is that he works for the government. Heâ€™s obligated to listen and conform to the governmentâ€™s many fawning mediocrities dedicating themselves day-in, day-out, to preserving their jobs. If he could just hang out with reformers for once, maybe smoke some weed on Peteâ€™s couch, it might clear his head.
His mind is anchored in the government trough and cannot be removed.
Besides taking his oath of office(would love to see a copy of that oath)he is defending about 2/3 of his budget,,,threatened by legalization of his number one target is not going to be welcomed.
“Custer was a pussy.” And so is Gil!
Late 1800 hundreds addiction rate 2-3%. 2011 addiction rate 2-3%. Good work gil and cronies. Sado-moralistic,dogmatic,puritanical pile of shit.
The Drug Czar’s fear in speaking to the drug legalization community really speaks volumes. If he won’t speak to a key, majority portion of his audience out of ego, he is not serving the public.
This tact just proves, once again, that the only two groups of people who benefit from the War on Drugs are the drug barons and the drug warriors.
Neither of those groups wants the War on Drugs to end, because that is how they get paid. In the end, the seemingly noble and honorable drug warriors are nothing but sellouts.
Time is unlikely to shred his argument point by point in a rebuttal.
Pete, what is preventing you to give Kerlikowske a robust answer, and perhaps send it to Time Magazine, too.
I meant Time.com
Time.com erased all of the 27+ comments posted on Tim Padgett’s blog, which means some of us did a too good of a job shooting down Gil Kerlikowske’s arguments.
Perhaps we neglected to notice the name of the blog….”Global SPIN”. But is anybody surprised? (disappointed, yes, but surprise? Not in the the slightest)
I think it might actually be a temporary problem with Disqus:
Hey, the comments are suddenly back. Gart asked Padgett to provide the entire text of the letter. As long as they are going to let us comment, we may as well all ask for the entire letter to destroy, so go back there and “Like” Gart’s request. Maybe we can have a little more fun!
What an extraordinary group of intelligent and well-informed comments at that page. Great job everyone!
Powerful stuff, and you can bet that there are quite a few people out there reading those who just learned a whole lot.
It almost looks like a Drugwarrant.com comments column.
Our boys are pushing the most popular posts. Go team.
I think Jake’s a regular here too.
Jake’s one of ours.
Hey Duncan20903, if you’re going to discuss cocaine, make sure you work in a reference to the Esterene story:
Can’t have cheap treatment for arthritis now can we, how would big pharma make their astronomical profits?
Thanks Strayan :-).
Also, with Cocaine, it is worth noting some of the suppressed evidence (at the US’s demand) the WHO/UNICRI Cocaine Project (1995) http://www.tdpf.org.uk/WHOleaked.pdf . From Transform’s page (http://www.tdpf.org.uk/Policy_KeyReports.htm – about 2/3rds of the way down the page):
Not the “genuinely harmful, ravagingly addictive substance” Tim is making it out to be.. but in any case just more reason for sensible regulation!
The Buenos Aires Herald is also reporting that CalderÃ³n seems ready to try something new:
Calderon has begun to soften the hard-line rhetoric that won him allies in Washington, stressing his readiness to discuss the merits of drug legalization.
“I’m completely open to this debate. Not just on consumption, but also on movement and production,” he told a meeting with victims’ families in Mexico City yesterday. But he added: “This issue goes beyond national borders. If there’s no international agreement, it doesn’t make sense.”
Top level Mexican drug boss found slain on highway
Samuel Flores Borrego, also known as “Metro 3,” was found shot to death, along with the body of a local police official, in a pickup truck on the highway between the border city of Reynosa and the industrial hub Monterrey, the military and federal attorney general’s office said in a joint statement.
New tally at Time.com:
We’re tearin’ ’em up, guys. Not if we could just lure the Drug Czar out of his safe little hidey hole out here into the light….
How come a senior official in the government doesn’t write to you?
Because, as clearly desperate as you are to be important, you aren’t.
You really didn’t understand the post, did you, Rolly? In fact, the lack of basic comprehension skills makes me assume that you’re probably a senior official in the government.