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Author Topic: The War on Drugs  (Read 41778 times)
G M
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« Reply #50 on: November 03, 2010, 10:45:24 PM »

The Libertarian answer to this?

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=709882n

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/11/national/11meth.html

ULSA, Okla., July 8 - The Laura Dester Shelter here is licensed for 38 children, but at times in the past months it has housed 90, forcing siblings to double up in cots. It is supposed to be a 24-hour stopping point between troubled homes and foster care, but with foster homes backed up, children are staying weeks and sometimes months, making it more orphanage than shelter, a cacophony of need.

Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

Pat Childres, a volunteer at the Laura Dester Shelter, cuddling two children who are awaiting placement in foster homes.

Children awaiting foster placement were fed lunch by Leslie Beyer, left, and Theresa Boyd at the Laura Dester Shelter in Tulsa, Okla.

In a rocking chair, a volunteer uses one arm to feed a 5-day-old boy taken from his mother at birth, the other to placate a toddler who is wandering from adult to adult begging, "Bottle?" A 3-year-old who arrived at dawn shrieks as salve is rubbed on her to kill the lice.

This is a problem methamphetamine has made, a scene increasingly familiar across the country as the number of foster children rises rapidly in states hit hard by the drug, the overwhelming number of them, officials say, taken from parents who were using or making methamphetamine.

Oklahoma last year became the first state to ban over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the crucial ingredient needed to make methamphetamine. Even so, the number of foster children in the state is up 16 percent from a year ago. In Kentucky, the numbers are up 12 percent, or 753 children, with only seven new homes.

In Oregon, 5,515 children entered the system in 2004, up from 4,946 the year before, and officials there say the caseload would be half what it is now if the methamphetamine problem suddenly went away. In Tennessee, state officials recently began tracking the number of children brought in because of methamphetamine, and it rose to 700 in 2004 from 400 in 2003.

While foster populations in cities rose because of so-called crack babies in the 1990's, methamphetamine is mostly a rural phenomenon, and it has created virtual orphans in areas without social service networks to support them. in Muskogee, an hour's drive south of here, a group is raising money to convert an old church into a shelter because there are none.

Officials say methamphetamine's particularly potent and destructive nature and the way it is often made in the home conspire against child welfare unlike any other drug.

It has become harder to attract and keep foster parents because the children of methamphetamine arrive with so many behavioral problems; they may not get into their beds at night because they are so used to sleeping on the floor, and they may resist toilet training because they are used to wearing dirty diapers.

"We used to think, you give these kids a good home and lots of love and they'll be O.K.," said Esther Rider-Salem, the manager of Child Protective Services programs for the State of Oklahoma. "This goes above and beyond anything we've seen."

Although the methamphetamine problem has existed for years, state officials here and elsewhere say the number of foster children created by it has spiked in the last year or two as growing awareness of the drug problem has prompted more lab raids, and more citizens reporting suspected methamphetamine use.

Nationwide, the Drug Enforcement Administration says that over the last five years 15,000 children were found at laboratories where methamphetamine was made. But that number vastly understates the problem, federal officials say, because it does not include children whose parents use methamphetamine but do not make it and because it relies on state reporting, which can be spotty.

On July 5, the National Association of Counties reported that 40 percent of child welfare officials surveyed nationwide said that methamphetamine had caused a rise in the number of children removed from homes.

The percentage was far higher on the West Coast and in rural areas, where the drug has hit the hardest. Seventy-one percent of counties in California, 70 percent in Colorado and 69 percent in Minnesota reported an increase in the number of children removed from homes because of methamphetamine.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #51 on: November 03, 2010, 10:50:15 PM »

BBG, Fair enough, but small steps might be less controversial and more do-able.

My theory is that prisons need a class rank based on crime done, time served and threat posed.  Then we boot out the least dangerous guy each time we convict a new murdering rapist or bomb-building Islamist.  Small-time drug offenders should walk quickly.
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G M
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« Reply #52 on: November 03, 2010, 10:52:16 PM »

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1231/p01s03-usgn.html

Meat Camp, N.C. - It is a disturbing scene that plays out all too often across the hog hollows of Appalachia. Authorities raid illicit meth labs set up in rickety trailers and mountain shacks: Using hoses, scrubs, and soap, they decontaminate children on the spot and throw away tainted blankets and teddy bears.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #53 on: November 04, 2010, 07:44:45 AM »

GM: sounds like both your examples would be made far more tolerable if they involved legal substances manufactured with high quality control at low cost and distributed in a manner that caused addicts to cross paths with health care workers as has been successfully done in Portugal. During Prohibition bathtub gin produced in hollows and ghettos around the country--are we noticing a pattern yet?--lead to very similar results, results that were greatly mitigated by the repeal of a policy that was a lunatic, abject failure by any measure, just as our current drug policy is today except, I suppose, for the agencies handed billions of dollars to "combat" drug use.

Doug: agreed. I think the smart play over the next several years would be to stay on message advocating for limited government with its fiscal house in order. Trust you understand, however, that such a message covers other stuff people hold strong opinions about like abortion, gay rights, among other heated social issues.
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G M
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« Reply #54 on: November 04, 2010, 09:26:19 AM »

So as long as high grade meth was able to be purchased at Walmart, then the children of the addicted would be well taken care of?
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DougMacG
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« Reply #55 on: November 04, 2010, 09:44:51 AM »

BBG, Okay I will stay focused (for the coalition) and lay off for 2 years of the rights of liberal women to slaughter their young.  You will note however that my posts on the subject were aimed more at changing minds than changing laws.  It was the arguments back that presumed I was advocating criminalization in spite of my denials.

Back to the war on drugs, statistics and claims of high levels of incarcerations don't match my property management experience of doing criminal lookups on inner city tenants.  I see arrests and convictions but not large amounts of time served for minor amounts of possession.  Maybe our state laws are different than elsewhere?

You moved on to costs of incarceration that are true without accepting my point that, aside from incarceration, an addicts right to freely screw up his life should be linked to my right to not pay for it.  We are a million political miles away from the latter.

I am curious about prescription drugs.  Outside of proper prescription they are illicit drugs too as you see it?  So legalization (if we were to discuss it later) would have some loosening on the pharmacy industry?  I knew of a woman able to get prescriptions of strong mental health type drugs and trade them directly with a dealer for pot and cocaine which I assume means they have a high street value and that is a widespread practice(?)  Open it all up?
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GM, I don't favor legalization especially of meth but you probably could get the meth addicts kids over to child protection based on other outward signs of neglect.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #56 on: November 04, 2010, 10:22:15 AM »

Quote
So as long as high grade meth was able to be purchased at Walmart, then the children of the addicted would be well taken care of?

Your stark questions grow old. Look at the experience of Prohibition and then answer your own question. If you can't any reply would be a waste of time. If you can then I don't understand why the question was asked in the first place.

The rank, grossly counterproductive, stupidity of our current drug laws defy the type of linear analysis that is your stock in trade when arguing. Legalization pulls a whole slew of people out of an illegal subculture, you know like it did with Prohibition. It makes an expensive product that those already involved in said illegal subculture are willing to lie, cheat, steal, and kill for cheaply available, you know like it did with Prohibition. It removes the profit motive that inspires kingpins to school their minions to dominate territories in a savage fashion, you know like it did with Prohibition. It puts all these kids forced by parents to live off the grid lest they have an engagement with law enforcement back into a more mainstream setting, you know like it did with Prohibition. Women who peddle their bodies for resources used to obtain psychoactive substances that cost so much that they are forced to chose between food, drugs, contraception et al would have the economic freedom to perhaps make better choices, you know like it did with Prohibition. And so on.

Of course we could always keep employing people to send parents off to prisons while make kids the ward of the state who eventually get set off to gladiator academies where they are prepped to keep the dysfunctional process spinning out it's perverse incentives. It clearly works well creating the sort of social issues that you see as so dire the status quo is best embraced.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 11:59:03 AM by Body-by-Guinness » Logged
G M
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« Reply #57 on: November 04, 2010, 10:47:57 AM »

Is it possible that the dynamics of meth addiction are different than alcohol? Is the prohibition of alcohol the best example? The brits fought two wars with China to end China's prohibition of opium, with the end result of about a quarter of the chinese population addicted to the drug with all the serious social impacts one would expect from that degree of addiction.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #58 on: November 04, 2010, 11:56:55 AM »

It is possible, yet hasn't been demonstrated in the rare instance where we have first hand knowledge, i.e. Portugal. Nor does it reflect my experience involved in various subcultures. I remain very strongly of the opinion that the physical manifestations of addiction are not what's hardest to overcome, it's the immersion in the culture, or more specifically, how drug use simplifies existence. I know it's counterintuitive, but addicts wake every morning with one need, go to bed every night with one desires, have the whole of their being focussed on a single pursuit that elbows aside most existential issues. Current drug law only reinforces that dynamic, while even a poorly designed decriminalization effort could interdict that dynamic.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #59 on: November 04, 2010, 02:23:08 PM »

Doug, I got my dander on and neglected your post.

Quote
BBG, Okay I will stay focused (for the coalition) and lay off for 2 years of the rights of liberal women to slaughter their young.  You will note however that my posts on the subject were aimed more at changing minds than changing laws.  It was the arguments back that presumed I was advocating criminalization in spite of my denials.

Sorry if I came off as a weenie, but I quit hanging out on Free Republic because of their stark habits where gay rights, abortions, and other social issues are concerned. The Second Amendment is my single issue, but even it is undermined by proliferate government and out of control spending, so I've come to conclude that staying on message where bloated government and budgets are concerned is the best means to assure the long term viability where other issues are concerned.

Quote
Back to the war on drugs, statistics and claims of high levels of incarcerations don't match my property management experience of doing criminal lookups on inner city tenants.  I see arrests and convictions but not large amounts of time served for minor amounts of possession.  Maybe our state laws are different than elsewhere?

Wikipedia has the incarceration rate data if you'd like to see it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_incarceration_rate, citing 500,000 drug prisoners. Most users likely don't get incarcerated, though the cost of most drugs does give them incentives to obtain money by illegal means, most likely thefts of various sorts. Can't find stats stating how many thefts, B&Es, strong armed robberies, etc. are related to drug use. Most the folks in prison, or probation, or on parole likely took the Amway approach starting off as small time distributors and then working their way up the organization. In the areas where other economic activities are few and far between the allure of drug profits is yet another perverse incentive.

Quote
You moved on to costs of incarceration that are true without accepting my point that, aside from incarceration, an addicts right to freely screw up his life should be linked to my right to not pay for it.  We are a million political miles away from the latter.

Consider me on the same page, and note that folks getting higher quality, lower cost drugs have resources they can apply to stuff other than obtaining drugs. Haven't encountered any research on the topic, but have known my share of junkies in high paying jobs that exhibit few of the pathologies common to garden variety junkies as they had the resources to lead otherwise healthy lives. It would be interesting to see if this observation holds up say when folks are involved in long term pain management regimens, or take ADD stimulants, etc. My guess is that the drugs themselves don't do most the damage, rather the lifestyle choices forced by participation in the illegal drug culture do.

Quote
I am curious about prescription drugs.  Outside of proper prescription they are illicit drugs too as you see it?  So legalization (if we were to discuss it later) would have some loosening on the pharmacy industry?  I knew of a woman able to get prescriptions of strong mental health type drugs and trade them directly with a dealer for pot and cocaine which I assume means they have a high street value and that is a widespread practice(?)  Open it all up?

Let define drug abuse. Way back in my telephone hotline days we tried to do so; the only definition that made sense was "the use of any substance to the point that it interfered or negatively impacted your family, social, or vocational life." Occasionally snorting high quality smack does not qualify as abuse under this definition, while getting into the communal wine and pissing off your priest does. This def doesn't care where you obtain a substance, it only concerns itself with whether it's used to the point it gums up your life. I agree with this def and so make no distinction regarding from whom a psychoactive substance is obtained.

Your scenario does remind me of one of the last drug rescues I got called out on, though: a crazy young lady whose sister I use to date got released from the mental hospital and traded a fistful of psych drugs for a bag of weed. 4 boneheads proceeded to take one pill of each color--stelazine, tuinal, librium, and valium, IRC--and then split a six pack of Schlitz Malt Liquor tall boys. I got to spend the night keeping them from walking into traffic and humping trees, one of the last straws in my transition from hippy sweetness and light to the crusty old fartdom I practice today.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 04:57:40 PM by Body-by-Guinness » Logged
Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #60 on: November 07, 2010, 08:32:06 AM »

Caught behind enemy lines
Sunday, November 7, 2010 |  Borderland Beat Reporter Ovemex
By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times

It starts at the airport. A burly guy in a hoodie drapes himself over the barrier that leads out of the parking lot. Watching. Just watching.

Most taxi drivers are on the drug cartels' payroll, ordered to spy on visitors and monitor the movements of the military and state investigators. Their license plates brazenly shed, they cruise streets dotted with paper-flower shrines marking the dead. Watching.

In the main downtown plaza, in front of City Hall and the cathedral, about a dozen guys in baggy pants with sunglasses on their heads hang out alongside the shoeshine men. They eye passersby, without speaking.
This is a city under siege.

It's a city where you avert your eyes when men clean their guns in the middle of the plazas.

Where schoolchildren are put through the paces of pecho a tierra drills, literally, "chest to the ground" — a duck-and-dive move for when the shooting starts.

Where you try to remain invisible; you never know who is standing next in line at the grocery store or the 7-Eleven.

Where a middle-aged man muses that it's turned out to be a good thing, after all, that he and his wife never had children.

The Times spent a week recently in Reynosa, passing time with and talking to a dozen residents, to learn how they cope under cartel rule. All were terrified to speak of their experiences and agreed to do so only under the strictest anonymity. Most did not want to be seen in public with a foreign reporter and would meet only in secret. One insisted on meeting across the nearby border in the United States.

"You go around with Jesus in the mouth," one man says.

Meaning, you pray.

Reynosa is the largest city in Tamaulipas, a harrowing state bordering Texas that is all but lost to federal government rule.

The Burger Kings and California-style shopping malls give the city a sense — a false sense — of normalcy. Cars circulate down wide streets. Evangelical churches and donut shops and beauty parlors are open for business.

But Reynosa, with a population of about 700,000, may be the single largest city in Mexico under the thumb of the cartels.

Drug traffickers with the powerful Gulf cartel have long dominated Tamaulipas. In Reynosa, residents more or less coexisted with the traffickers, sometimes joining them, sometimes skirting them. No authority dared challenge them.

The arrangement was shattered early this year when the paramilitary wing of the cartel, the Zetas, split furiously from their patrons, and the two ruthless groups declared war on each other. It was when, as people here put it, the devil jumped.

Battles raged in the spring and early summer, with uncounted scores of people killed. The Gulf cartel fought the Zetas, and the Mexican army fought them both. Bombs and grenades exploded at nightclubs, television stations and city offices. The man who was likely to be the state's next governor was assassinated in broad daylight, along with most of his entourage.

Combat still erupts regularly. But Reynosa is as much a prison camp as a war zone. Army patrols periodically pass through — listening to the bad guys listening to them on radio frequencies — and on the outskirts man roadblocks and hand out leaflets pleading for citizens' cooperation.

The Gulf cartel has control of the city, but Zetas lurk for about 60 miles in any direction. Highways between major Tamaulipas cities are extremely dangerous, stalked by one gang or the other. People speak using terms of war, like "refugees" and "displaced." Even the mayor is displaced. (He fled to Texas.)

The cartels have infiltrated everything: from city hall and the police department, through border customs agencies and all the way down to taco vendors and pirated CD stands.

"There is a great sense of uneasiness in the city," said Armando Javier Zertuche, a psychologist who also serves as secretary of economic development for Reynosa. "It used to be that if someone got kidnapped or killed, you knew they had something to do with [drug trafficking]. Now, with this war, everyone is at risk. It has fallen on top of regular citizens."

The Commuter

Her stomach clenched when she saw the big white cars ahead in the road, blocking the way. Maybe it's the army, her husband suggested, noting the gunmen were wearing camouflage. But she knew.

She had already been grabbed by the traffickers twice in the last few months. How she survived the third time, she doesn't really know. But survival now is the goal of every day.

She commutes regularly between Reynosa and her home city, a couple of hours away: The work is better in Reynosa. She uses all sorts of tactics to try to be safe, keeping in constant radio contact with loved ones, hiding her money in her underwear, even using U.S. roads to commute between Mexican cities.

"My life has changed totally," she says, speaking in a hotel room with a television on to cloak the conversation. "To drive on the highways is to tempt death."

She and her husband had not driven far out of Reynosa that morning in September, westward along the "Riberena" riverside highway that occasionally glimpses Texas, when they were confronted by the armed men.

The men, gruff, cursing, communicating with their comandante by radio, reeked of marijuana. One was branded, like a head of cattle, with the letter Z, for Zetas.

They threw her husband against the hood of the car, rifled through her purse and packages, demanded to know who they were and where they were going and gestured wildly with their AK-47s. They demanded to see her husband's papers, as though they were the authority. She felt herself beginning to pass out.

"You know who we are?" growled one of the men.

They stole the couple's cellphones and toiletries and CDs but, for some reason, let them go. She and her husband climbed back into their car and drove for nearly 10 miles in utter silence.

"This is out of the government's hands," says the commuter, 46 and wound tightly. "Mexico has been sacrificed and sold to the narcos. It is the narcos who have the power."

In their quiet moments, the commuter and her husband don't chat about work or movies or family. They talk about how to behave when confronted by gunmen. Remain calm and passive. Don't show defiance. Assume no help will arrive.

"The narcos rule our lives," she says. "They order. We must obey."



The Dentist

Every morning when the dentist leaves for work, her mother says a prayer: "Dear God, let my children remain invisible to the eyes of the bad men."

She rushes to finish all her tasks in the daytime, to avoid going out at night. Friends have been kidnapped, and everyone has a story of being caught in a gun battle. Her family frequently receives telephoned threats.

"The saddest part is that our authorities have washed their hands of this. If you have a problem, you have nowhere to go," says the dentist, who is 41, tall, with long, dark hair. "We are abandoned and alone."

She is seated in the back section of an empty coffee shop at a nearly deserted shopping mall. She lowers her voice when the kid mopping up comes close. She stops talking until he moves on.

She would like to open up her own dental office instead of working for the state, where she tends to those who can't afford private healthcare. But then she'd have to pay piso — extortion money to the traffickers. Her uncles, a family of bakers, pay weekly sums to the gangsters to avoid having their bakeries torched, or worse. One uncle refused, and they kidnapped and held his son until he forked over the cash.

That means the dentist's plans are on hold. That spares her one dilemma: whether to fill the cavities in the mouths of narcos.

For all the fear, intimidation and what she calls psychosis, life must go on. And so it does in fits and starts. She has ventured out at night a few times lately, always in the company of friends and usually meeting at someone's house. And always super-vigilant, watching the cars sharing the streets, casting an eye into the distance to avoid roadblocks, erected either by the military or the gangs.

Nothing is done in a casual or spontaneous way.

"You even have to be careful of your friends and workmates," she says. "You don't know who they might be related to."

The Journalist

There are other parts of Mexico where cartels also hold sway, like blood-soaked Ciudad Juarez, or drug-trafficking central Culiacan, and where journalism remains strong and active. Not Reynosa.

Throughout the state of Tamaulipas, in fact, journalists practice a profound form of self-censorship, or censorship imposed by the narcos. The gun battles and grenade attacks that raged for months were rarely, if ever, covered in the largest local newspapers.

It is also the only place in Mexico where reporters with international news media have been confronted by gunmen and ordered to leave.

"I spend all day tweeting," says a young Reynosa journalist who, like most here, is on the payroll of both his television station and the city government.

Social media networks such as Twitter have taken the place of newspapers and radio reports, with everyone from city officials to regular people tweeting alerts about a gun battle here, a blockade there. It is a kind of ad hoc warning system, but it is not journalism.

The reporter says everyone knows what can be written about and what must be ignored. Asked if his life in Reynosa is scary, he pauses for a long while, puts his head in his hands and rubs his brow.

"Not scary. Not comfortable."

Four local journalists disappeared from Reynosa in March. Only one was heard from again; the others are presumed dead. (One of those purportedly ran a news website for the Gulf cartel.)

Mexico's major television network, Televisa, has given security training to all of its employees in Tamaulipas. On-air broadcasters are told to change their clothes before leaving the building so they can't be easily identified. Everyone is told to drive nondescript cars.

Journalists know their newsrooms have been infiltrated and their publications are watched. They routinely receive telephoned warnings when they publish something the traffickers don't like; more often, they avoid anything questionable. In Ciudad Victoria, the state capital, the Zetas now have a "public information" branch that regularly sends news releases to the local papers. The papers know they have to publish the releases: editors were rounded up a while back by the Zetas who used wide planks to beat them into submission.

It is a kind of instinct, knowing at a gut level what the cartel wants divulged, the young journalist says.

"Everyone knows the limits."

The Mother

The store with the copy machines is just three blocks away, but the mother doesn't let her 13-year-old son go alone. Recruiters for the drug traffickers cruise the neighborhoods in their SUVs, armed to the teeth, "fishing" for youngsters.

A 12-year-old in her son's class was recently kidnapped. He eventually reappeared, a few cities over, but is so traumatized that he remains under psychiatric care.

Outdoor recesses have frequently been canceled; school itself is often called off or interrupted when battles break out. And in their free time, kids collect spent shells as souvenirs.

When life is so tenuous, the mother says, you seek value in agony. Her son has gotten a lot closer to her, not bothered by and in fact welcoming her frequent calls to check on him.

"That youthful rebelliousness that you would expect at his age is gone," she says.

She's a native of Tamaulipas, her 14 brothers and sisters scattered all over the state. Holidays always meant the family got together. No more.

We lost Easter week, she says, because the fighting was so heavy.

"Now we are worried about Christmas," she says. "The narcos have appropriated family activities. Even that they have taken away from us."

The Businessman

The shootout at the baseball stadium was the last straw.

The businessman was there with his wife and young children, sitting a few rows from the mayor. The wife began to sob. The 9-year-old said, "Let's move."

And so they left Mexico.

The businessman, his wife and three children moved about a mile from their home in Reynosa, across the border to Hidalgo, Texas. "How long have we been here?" he asks his son inside their new home. "Four weeks, Papi."

The only furniture in the living room is a couch, a flat-screen television and a bookcase. On top of the bookcase is a large, gold-trimmed black sombrero, a memento of home, the businessman says.

"I don't want my kids to forget Mexico."

He is a senior executive in his company, a good job with good pay and status. But it is a company with a certain public face, and he can no longer put his family at risk. He will continue to commute back to Reynosa daily, at least for the time being.

"Reynosa is a minefield," he says. "You can be threatened by a soldier or by a criminal, or just stumble upon a gunfight. Anyone who can, escapes."

No one is formally counting how many people have fled, but one city official said it could be about 10% of Reynosa's population.

"One block over, there's another family from Reynosa. And a couple blocks farther, there are four more," the businessman says. "You run into people you know at stoplights."

One time, a visitor from Mexico City came to his office. It didn't take long for the phone to ring. It was the drug traffickers, asking who the visitor was. They ordered him to stop talking to the visitor.

He has changed his cellphone number four times in the last eight months to elude threatening calls.

The businessman and his family aren't sure how many people were killed at the baseball stadium that day. No one ever knows these things with certainty. But the shooting forced the businessman into exile, a huge decision to leave his home of a lifetime.

The adjustment is clearly difficult. The children mope about, friendless, unsure of what to do. The wife is despondent, nervous. "You have to learn to start your life over," she says.

He says exile will last just two years, because after the Mexican presidential elections in 2012, the next government will make a deal with the narcos and "this war we did not ask for" will be over.

It will be back to the norm: the narcos, peacefully, in charge.

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/11/caught-behind-enemy-lines.html
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G M
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« Reply #61 on: November 07, 2010, 08:44:38 AM »

Free access to drugs, no government authority. Sounds like a Libertarian paradise.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #62 on: November 07, 2010, 02:23:03 PM »

Driven by the illegal profits on both sides of the border and and the law abiding being unarmed in Mexico.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #63 on: November 07, 2010, 05:35:15 PM »

Hey BBG, Going back to your link regarding incarceration rates.  I get the concept - that the profits from illegality support the criminal industry which supports the violence, burglary, territory wars, etc.  I don't see politically how you get to full legalization.  The failure of legalization of just marijuana in just California means that we aren't headed toward full legalization of everything everywhere even if that was the best solution.  I also don't quite get what happens to the former drug gang underworld if we did.  Do they go to trade schools and become welders and programmers and raise families in the suburbs or do they continue in crime.  At the borders, it sounds like human trade is a big part of it too, so that would continue without the drugs or maybe escalate.

There are exceptions pointed out in the incarceration figures.  Countries with laws far stricter than ours also have lower incarceration rates, so our incarceration rates are partly a part of some other dynamic.

There is a third world country within American inner cities that people outside these areas don't see.  It is based mostly I think on the long term effects of welfare dependency but everyone has their own theory of why it exists.  Girls/women have babies before they grow up and get a free pass for it.  Men are unneeded and available for whatever the temptation is that comes their way.  What we call juvenile crime includes 13-17 1/2 year olds that haven't reported to a parent authority for years, if ever.

I know a lot of drug money comes from executives and rich kids in rich suburbs, people in any walk of life, but a whole lot of it also comes from free money that we pass around.  If women with children did not get a free pass, men would have to shape up and get a job, a car, a home and maybe a marriage in order to knock up women. Not so much hit and run.  George Gilder among others wrote books on this subject.  If you hold people more personally accountable for productive behavior, they have less time and inclination for the rest of it.

One thing I don't like about legalization is the sanctioning aspect.  What might be a sweet or pleasant smell to me in one situation is not something I want to run across out with my daughter or advertised on prime time television.   Another thing I don't like about it is government control.  Why do you think the price would go down?  The authorities we have now will not allow that to happen.  They argue for higher sin taxes on beer supported by studies that as we keep raising the price, the quantity that gets to underage drinkers goes down.  That would only widen and deepen under 'legalization'. That is not legalization (IMO).  Tax laws alone would be enough drug deals to stay underworld.  http://www.ehow.com/list_7289139_minnesota-marijuana-laws.html  "States such as Minnesota, failure to comply with the state’s drug tax law may result in a defendant facing an additional fine of up to $14,000 and seven years in jail."

I favor limited decriminalization and the lowering or rightsizing of prison sentences to match the damage or cost to society.  I could see how full legalization might fit acceptably into a lower taxed, personally accountable, otherwise free society, but I don't see how it would work in ours.  

I agree with your definition.  Drug use becomes abuse as soon as it starts to screw up other important aspects of your life.  
« Last Edit: November 07, 2010, 06:04:48 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #64 on: November 08, 2010, 09:32:10 AM »

Quote
Free access to drugs, no government authority. Sounds like a Libertarian paradise.


Hmm, I dunno. Which shoe fits?

authoritarian |əˌθôriˈte(ə)rēən; ôˌθär-|
adjective
favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, esp. that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.
• showing a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others; domineering; dictatorial.

libertarian |ˌlibərˈte(ə)rēən|
noun
1 an adherent of libertarianism : [as adj. ] libertarian philosophy.
• a person who advocates civil liberty.
2 Philosophy a person who believes in the doctrine of free will.
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« Reply #65 on: November 08, 2010, 09:56:04 AM »

Doug, I full well realize that abandoning the current, failed drug prohibition regimen is not in the political cards, but that don't mean I can't call a failed policy a failed policy. Think the CA effort was too big a bite at the apple, as I understand it the proposition included elements that would impact private businesses that employed pot smokers and so on. Not aware of any studies examining what happened to rum runners post Prohibitions, but I assume some assimilated into the new, legal structure, others focussed on other illegal activities and duked it out w/ those now in a more crowded field, while others threw in the towel for more mainstream pursuits as the high profits were no longer there. Heck, what happened to milkmen, blacksmiths, glass blowers, et al when faced with a change to the economic structure? Expect Hayek has an answer.

No doubt there are plenty of nuances to the incarceration figures, though one strikes me as pretty darn stark: the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Strikes me that a beacon of democracy might want to do something about that stat.

No debate about the third world nature of some areas of the US, to which I'd add we are such a beacon that we attract third world elements to enter the country illegally. Gun crime studies I'm aware of, when controlled for race/ethnic origin, show a lot of the pathologies lie in narrow demographic slices. As that may be, accountability is an ethic I certainly hold dear.

I think decriminalization could occur without explicit sanctioning, though understand the argument. Flip side is current non-sactioning efforts are quite counterproductive. I remember sitting in 8th grade drug education class and being shown a film where a kid smoked dope, bought a hotdog at the fair, which turned into one of the little red head trolls found in vending machines of the day, that proceeded to talk to the kid, to the point the kid walked into traffic, if I remember correctly. Alas, when verifications efforts failed to produce talking hotdog trolls it tainted all the other non-santioning horror stories being told back then. Indeed, my experience is that a lot of the "say no" or whatever efforts inspire eye rolls at best, with abject disbelief being a common result.

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« Reply #66 on: November 08, 2010, 10:45:41 AM »

Today's edition of Pravda On The Beach/Left Angeles Times/LA Times has a fairly big article on how the Prop 19 folks were encouraged by just how many votes they got from across the spectrum and are planning to try again in 2012 with a better crafted version.
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« Reply #67 on: November 08, 2010, 11:01:35 AM »

lawlessness - Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Lawless \Law"less\, a.
     1. Contrary to, or unauthorized by, law; illegal; as, a
        lawless claim.
        [1913 Webster]
 
              He needs no indirect nor lawless course. --Shak.
        [1913 Webster]
 
     2. Not subject to, or restrained by, the law of morality or
        of society; as, lawless men or behavior.
        [1913 Webster]
 
     3. Not subject to the laws of nature; uncontrolled.
        [1913 Webster]
 
              Or, meteorlike, flame lawless through the void.
                                                    --Pope.
        -- Law"less*ly, adv. -- Law"less*ness, n.
        [1913 Webster]
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DougMacG
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« Reply #68 on: November 08, 2010, 11:12:27 AM »

BBG, Enjoying the discussion and very much appreciate you correctly pointing out failure and challenging the status quo.

We are today so far away from living in a free society.  I would like to examine all the laws that make it illegal to open a lemonade stand first before tackling more difficult areas.  You didn't address my point (I don't think) that in this government-centric world, the cost of drugs if legalized would not decrease, and thus not remove the underworld profit structure.  I'm sure you oppose the excessive sin taxes but they would most certainly accompany or follow legalization.

"I think decriminalization could occur without explicit sanctioning":  This I think is more do-able.  More simply would be to allow certain organic products, the ones no more dangerous than beer, to be home cultivated on a hobby scale and shared narrowly with no large transactions or cross border movement.  Give the responsible user some outlet for safe recreation or relaxation, more decentralized and at zero cost to weaken the incentive and control of the underworld industry that seems to be concentrating into a very sophisticated organized crime structure.

I know there is truth in it, but I don't like the logic that the man robbed or stabbed because of the high cost of drugs.  Seems to me (intuitively) that the blacksmiths migrated into other legal trades and the drug gang profiteers will move into armed robbery, kidnapping and hostage taking, or crimes I haven't thought of yet. 

I don't know what to make of our high incarceration rates.  So often certain incarcerations seem too minor in terms of horrible offenders freed and re-offending.  I shouldn't digress here, but I personally like Singapore-style caning as an option for effective deterrence (for thuggery not usage) with less time serviced.   smiley
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G M
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« Reply #69 on: November 08, 2010, 11:22:24 AM »

When you fly into Taiwan's main airport (Taoyuan) there is a large sign in both Chinese and English warning you that possession of illegal drugs is punishable by death. Funny enough, Taiwan has a very low rate of drug addition.
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« Reply #70 on: November 08, 2010, 11:37:11 AM »

**What? The magical Libertarian policy hasn't worked? This couldn't be right, could it?**

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/01/10/20100110mex-drugs.html

Drug law changes little for life in Mexico

by Dennis Wagner - Jan. 10, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

AGUA PRIETA, Sonora - A few blocks from the municipal police station, on the morning after a cartel gunfight took four more lives in Sonora, drug dealers cruise the streets of La Zona Roja with cellphones in their hands.

Addicts in a local treatment center say these "carros alegres," or happy cars, bring crack cocaine to consumers with all the speed and reliability of a pizza delivery.

The happy cars are one more sign of Mexico's growing drug-abuse problem and serve as a backdrop to the government's decision in August to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of narcotics. When the measure was adopted, President Felipe Calderón and Mexico's Congress said they wanted to concentrate law-enforcement efforts on the ruthless cartels that are blamed for an estimated 13,000 deaths since Calderón declared a war on drugs in December 2006. Calderón also said decriminalization of personal-use quantities would thwart corrupt Mexican cops who sometimes shake down drug users for bribes.

The measure incited controversy from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. Legalization advocates suggested that America's closest neighbor and ally in the drug war had finally recognized the waste of filling prisons with non-violent addicts who need treatment rather than punishment. Drug-enforcement hard-liners warned that eliminating criminal charges for drug abuse would lead to increased public consumption and addiction, perhaps even spawning narco-tourism by Americans looking to get high legally in Mexico.

That the happy cars still cruise about Agua Prieta suggests that critics and supporters overestimated the law's possible effects, both on drug violence and the scourge of addiction.

The reform seems to have had more impact in the rhetorical war over drug decriminalization than it has on Mexican streets. Rather than claiming victory, legalization advocates say the new law may even make things worse because of the way it's written. Conversely, anti-legalization groups condemn the measure because it appears to legitimize drug abuse.

Beneath the lofty debate, cops, treatment counselors, government officials, researchers and addicts interviewed last month said there have been no discernible changes related to the new law.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #71 on: November 08, 2010, 12:11:22 PM »

GM: 

A plausible point, but many other variables are present too.  For example, Taiwan (I have been there btw) has a coherent family culture and is a country of economic growth.

As for the Mexican law,

a) the US market and its huge profits remain,
b) honest coverage of drug issues in Mexico often leads to people getting shot/decapitated etc, all we have here is an author opining
c) there do not seem to be many Americans practicing narco-tourism cheesy
d) not much data yet, the law is quite new
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G M
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« Reply #72 on: November 08, 2010, 12:19:12 PM »

So, unless the US legalizes all drugs, the problems with the narcos in Mexico will continue? Will Canada have to legalize all drugs as well?
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G M
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« Reply #73 on: November 08, 2010, 12:24:35 PM »

GM: 

A plausible point, but many other variables are present too.  For example, Taiwan (I have been there btw) has a coherent family culture and is a country of economic growth.



So rather than legalization, would developing the family and economy be a more effective policy? You have certainly noticed that Taiwan and Hong Kong are big on the rule of law and also have high levels of economic freedom, especially Hong Kong. I can say HK is one of my favorite places in the world.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #74 on: November 08, 2010, 04:50:04 PM »

Quote
**What? The magical Libertarian policy hasn't worked? This couldn't be right, could it?**

I don't think Mexico has enjoyed a libertarian moment since Europeans started recording history there in the 1500s, so I'm not sure what your point is, though your authoritarian streak certainly seems to chafe when libertarian principles are mentioned.
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« Reply #75 on: November 08, 2010, 05:05:16 PM »

Quote
You didn't address my point (I don't think) that in this government-centric world, the cost of drugs if legalized would not decrease, and thus not remove the underworld profit structure.  I'm sure you oppose the excessive sin taxes but they would most certainly accompany or follow legalization.

I dunno, Doug, all this stuff is so dirt cheap to produce, and so much of the markup involves getting the product from the dirt cheap production area to the proscribed distribution area that I expect substantial sin taxes could be imposed while still keeping costs well below current levels. A fix that kept the structural problems in place certainly wouldn't be much of a fix.

Quote
I know there is truth in it, but I don't like the logic that the man robbed or stabbed because of the high cost of drugs.  Seems to me (intuitively) that the blacksmiths migrated into other legal trades and the drug gang profiteers will move into armed robbery, kidnapping and hostage taking, or crimes I haven't thought of yet.

All my years in the restaurant biz informs my thinking here. Lotta folks on the fringe of society straddling lines back and forth between honest employment and various scams. I think it boils down to raw benefit/cost evaluations: folks teeter over into the outlaw side of things 'cause it looks like more money for less work, and teeter back when risks outweigh rewards. Lotta pretty convincing data that concealed carry laws cause criminals to reevaluate the b/c ratio; crimes where one has to confront the victim like strong arm robberies go down, while one where you don't like auto theft go up. Remove obscene profits and my guess folk will migrate elsewhere.  

Quote
I don't know what to make of our high incarceration rates.  So often certain incarcerations seem too minor in terms of horrible offenders freed and re-offending.  I shouldn't digress here, but I personally like Singapore-style caning as an option for effective deterrence (for thuggery not usage) with less time serviced

Criminal justice system is another can of worms, one I neither have the tools or energy to open.
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G M
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« Reply #76 on: November 08, 2010, 05:21:06 PM »

Quote
**What? The magical Libertarian policy hasn't worked? This couldn't be right, could it?**

I don't think Mexico has enjoyed a libertarian moment since Europeans started recording history there in the 1500s, so I'm not sure what your point is, though your authoritarian streak certainly seems to chafe when libertarian principles are mentioned.

Mexico legalized possession of drugs for personal use and as Crafty pointed out, honest coverage of drug issues in Mexico often leads to people getting shot/decapitated, but as the shootings/decapitations seem to increase, I think a fair argument can be made that it hasn't worked. My personal experience seeing the real ugly consequences of the drug subculture cause me to chafe when I see simplistic sloganeering on the topic. I will add that the bulk of the substance related horrors I've seen are related to the legal drug, alcohol. I don't buy "Just legalize everything and all the badness will go away".
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« Reply #77 on: November 09, 2010, 12:33:48 PM »

Quote
I don't buy "Just legalize everything and all the badness will go away".

Which isn't the argument I've made, perhaps more fairly characterized as "the current regimen has failed by any sensible measure, let's take the lessons of Prohibition and see if we can work our something better." Sorry if this seems like sloganeering, though your insistence that the founding principles of this country in this and privacy contexts amount to some sort of wild eyed idealism certainly inspires cognitive dissonance on my end. Does one really need to describe why preferring liberty to other options is a good thing?

I'm also confused by the syllogism that legalization in Mexico somehow speaks to libertarian principles in view of the violence endured there. The violence endured there is a direct result of the obscene profits available through involvement in the illicit drug trade. It would seem the experience of decriminalization in Portugal and some Scandinavian countries--countries without 500 year histories of oligarchic corruption--might be seen as more germane.

I'll note in closing that by many measures alcohol is one of the more damaging drugs out there. I'm of the opinion that people are hardwired to seek mind altering experiences; perhaps allowing more menu options would steer folks away from worse choices. I'll point out that I've recently posted pieces about two long term drug users--Keith Richards and Ozzy Osbourne--in other sections of this forum who both manage productive lives despite Rasputin-like consumption habits. Though not arguing for that sort of gross overconsumption, I think a case can be made that the sad cases--as both Doug and I have touched on--are a result of decision making outside the scope of substance abuse. I've mentioned already my belief that a lot of pathologies can be traced back to people who need a single touchstone in their lives that inform all decision making, be it a substance, religion, online gaming, or whatever. In view of the fact there is no shortage of high performing drug addicts, I think it would be more productive to look at what makes the sad cases embrace failure in all aspects of their lives.  
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G M
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« Reply #78 on: November 09, 2010, 12:51:47 PM »

Alcohol has a long history within western civilization and certain social structures and laws evolved to address it's use and abuse. Illegal drugs have a legal status as well as a social stigma attached to their use. Were these no longer present, I fear the impact to our already frayed social fabric. I will clarify that I do not fail to distinguish the difference between marijuana and hard drugs.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #79 on: November 09, 2010, 01:07:52 PM »

"I will clarify that I do not fail to distinguish the difference between marijuana and hard drugs."

Making that distinction and moving toward decriminalization over legalization, maintaining some stigma, maybe we could come to some kind of cease fire here.   smiley

Couple that with a recognition that very small personal amounts in your home, growing on your property or even in your personal vehicle if not connected with another driving error or crime would be out of the jurisdiction of an officer or prosecutor of a limited government.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #80 on: November 09, 2010, 05:21:01 PM »

As an empirically oriented man I would be completely comfortable with a compromise that decriminalized pot but not the hard drugs for a reasonable amount of time to see how things worked out.
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G M
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« Reply #81 on: November 09, 2010, 05:35:07 PM »

What I don't get is California not legalizing it. It's quasi-legal now and I can't imagine a population deciding to vote Jerry Brown back into the Governor's office without being very, very high.
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« Reply #82 on: November 09, 2010, 05:46:59 PM »

There was quite a surge of practical oriented criticisms near the finish line:  e.g. the implications of no-testing and people driving, the rights of employers to have employees who were stoned at work, etc.  Lots of people said, there were open to the idea but this Proposition was badly drawn.  It very much looks like a better crafted version will be attempted in 2012.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #83 on: November 10, 2010, 12:34:41 PM »

Quote
Alcohol has a long history within western civilization and certain social structures and laws evolved to address it's use and abuse.

As does cocaine--and original ingredient in Coca Cola and other fountain drinks--various opiates--paregoric was available in drug stores well into the '70s--various stimulants such as dexedrine--I remember drug companies mailing out samples of biphetamine to the general public--and so on. Heirs to prohibition have certainly done a fine job of demonizing these substances over the past couple decades--I read a story yesterday where a pregnant women in PA had eaten a poppy seed bagel prior to delivery of her child only to have the child seized by Family Services when a unrequested "standard" test for drug abuse imposed on all postpartum women in the state revealed opiate precursors--and their perverse incentive can be found just about any direction you point.

Some claim these polices are a racist vestige as much drug use was ascribed to black culture, others claim that mainstream medicine has sought to prevent being cut out of business by self-medication, while there are certainly plenty of modern day puritans underfoot embracing the ethic of earlier killjoys. Bottom line is that I think there are a lot of other forces at work here besides libations and their history.
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G M
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« Reply #84 on: November 10, 2010, 01:17:11 PM »

http://www.livescience.com/culture/beer-helped-rise-of-civilization-101104.html

Archaeological evidence suggests that until the Neolithic, cereals such as barley and rice constituted only a minor element of diets, most likely because they require so much labor to get anything edible from them — one typically has to gather, winnow, husk and grind them, all very time-consuming tasks.

Hayden told LiveScience he has seen that hard work for himself. "In traditional Mayan villages where I've worked, maize is used for tortillas and for chicha, the beer made there. Women spend five hours a day just grinding up the kernels."

However, sites in Syria suggest that people nevertheless went to unusual lengths at times just to procure cereal grains — up to 40 to 60 miles (60 to 100 km). One might speculate, Hayden said, that the labor associated with grains could have made them attractive in feasts in which guests would be offered foods that were difficult or expensive to prepare, and beer could have been a key reason to procure the grains used to make them.

"It's not that drinking and brewing by itself helped start cultivation, it's this context of feasts that links beer and the emergence of complex societies," Hayden said.

Feasts would have been more than simple get-togethers — such ceremonies have held vital social significance for millennia, from the Last Supper to the first Thanksgiving.

"Feasts are essential in traditional societies for creating debts, for creating factions, for creating bonds between people, for creating political power, for creating support networks, and all of this is essential for developing more complex kinds of societies," Hayden explained. "Feasts are reciprocal — if I invite you to my feast, you have the obligation to invite me to yours. If I give you something like a pig or a pot of beer, you're obligated to do the same for me or even more."

"In traditional feasts throughout the world, there are three ingredients that are almost universally present," he said. "One is meat. The second is some kind of cereal grain, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, in the form of breads or porridge or the like. The third is alcohol, and because you need surplus grain to put into it, as well as time and effort, it's produced almost only in traditional societies for special occasions to impress guests, make them happy, and alter their attitudes favorably toward hosts."

The brewing of alcohol seems to have been a very early development linked with initial domestication, seen during Neolithic times in China, the Sudan, the first pottery in Greece and possibly with the first use of maize. Hayden said circumstantial evidence for brewing has been seen in the Natufian, in that all the technology needed to make it is there — cultivated yeast, grindstones, vessels for brewing and fire-cracked rocks as signs of the heating needed to prepare the mash.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #85 on: November 10, 2010, 02:08:19 PM »

That is quite fascinating! , , , but I can top it cheesy

Terrence McKenna in "The Nector of the Gods" posits that human consciousness was triggered by eating psilocybin-like mushrooms. 

As those of the psychodelic generation can tell you these shrooms grow from the dung of cattle.  With the shift of the tectonic plates eons ago in Africa which gave rise to the savana, came the rise of herds of animals of the cattle family e.g. wildebeasts.  McKenna hypothesizes that early man ate the shrooms growing therein and thus triggered consciousness.

Ha!  Top that!  grin
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G M
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« Reply #86 on: November 10, 2010, 02:17:12 PM »

Well, Terrence McKenna was quite the fan of hallucinogens, and I think it would require a lot to make his theory seem viable.
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« Reply #87 on: November 10, 2010, 02:39:15 PM »

 cheesy
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« Reply #88 on: November 10, 2010, 02:40:34 PM »

http://www.justice.gov/dea/demand/speakout/06so.htm

Fact 6: Legalization of Drugs will Lead to Increased Use and Increased Levels of Addiction. Legalization has been tried before, and failed miserably.

    *

      Legalization proponents claim, absurdly, that making illegal drugs legal would not cause more of these substances to be consumed, nor would addiction increase. They claim that many people can use drugs in moderation and that many would choose not to use drugs, just as many abstain from alcohol and tobacco now. Yet how much misery can already be attributed to alcoholism and smoking? Is the answer to just add more misery and addiction?
    *

      It’s clear from history that periods of lax controls are accompanied by more drug abuse and that periods of tight controls are accompanied by less drug abuse.
      In 1880, many drugs, including opium and cocaine, were legal — and, like some drugs today, seen as benign medicine not requiring a doctor’s care and oversight. Addiction skyrocketed.
    *

      During the 19th Century, morphine was legally refined from opium and hailed as a miracle drug. Many soldiers on both sides of the Civil War who were given morphine for their wounds became addicted to it, and this increased level of addiction continued throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. In 1880, many drugs, including opium and cocaine, were legal — and, like some drugs today, seen as benign medicine not requiring a doctor’s care and oversight. Addiction skyrocketed. There were over 400,000 opium addicts in the U.S. That is twice as many per capita as there are today.
    *

      By 1900, about one American in 200 was either a cocaine or opium addict. Among the reforms of this era was the Federal Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which required manufacturers of patent medicines to reveal the contents of the drugs they sold. In this way, Americans learned which of their medicines contained heavy doses of cocaine and opiates — drugs they had now learned to avoid.
    *

      Specific federal drug legislation and oversight began with the 1914 Harrison Act, the first broad anti-drug law in the United States. Enforcement of this law contributed to a significant decline in narcotic addiction in the United States. Addiction in the United States eventually fell to its lowest level during World War II, when the number of addicts is estimated to have been somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000. Many addicts, faced with disappearing supplies, were forced to give up their drug habits.
    *

      What was virtually a drug-free society in the war years remained much the same way in the years that followed. In the mid-1950s, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics estimated the total number of addicts nationwide at somewhere between 50,000 to 60,000. The former chief medical examiner of New York City, Dr. Milton Halpern, said in 1970 that the number of New Yorkers who died from drug addiction in 1950 was 17. By comparison, in 1999, the New York City medical examiner reported 729 deaths involving drug abuse.

The Alaska Experiment and Other Failed Legalization Ventures

    *

      The consequences of legalization became evident when the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that the state could not interfere with an adult’s possession of marijuana for personal consumption in the home. The court’s ruling became a green light for marijuana use. Although the ruling was limited to persons 19 and over, teens were among those increasingly using marijuana. According to a 1988 University of Alaska study, the state’s 12 to 17-year-olds used marijuana at more than twice the national average for their age group. Alaska’s residents voted in 1990 to recriminalize possession of marijuana, demonstrating their belief that increased use was too high a price to pay.
    *

      European experiments with drug legalization have failedBy 1979, after 11 states decriminalized marijuana and the Carter administration had considered federal decriminalization, marijuana use shot up among teenagers. That year, almost 51 percent of 12th graders reported they used marijuana in the last 12 months. By 1992, with tougher laws and increased attention to the risks of drug abuse, that figure had been reduced to 22 percent, a 57 percent decline.
    *

      Other countries have also had this experience. The Netherlands has had its own troubles with increased use of cannabis products. From 1984 to 1996, the Dutch liberalized the use of cannabis. Surveys reveal that lifetime prevalence of cannabis in Holland increased consistently and sharply. For the age group 18-20, the increase is from 15 percent in 1984 to 44 percent in 1996.
    *

      The Netherlands is not alone. Switzerland, with some of the most liberal drug policies in Europe, experimented with what became known as Needle Park. Needle Park became the Mecca for drug addicts throughout Europe, an area where addicts could come to openly purchase drugs and inject heroin without police intervention or control. The rapid decline in the neighborhood surrounding Needle Park, with increased crime and violence, led authorities to finally close Needle Park in 1992.
    *

      The British have also had their own failed experiments with liberalizing drug laws. England’s experience shows that use and addiction increase with “harm reduction” policy. Great Britain allowed doctors to prescribe heroin to addicts, resulting in an explosion of heroin use, and by the mid-1980s, known addiction rates were increasing by about 30 percent a year.
    *

      The relationship between legalization and increased use becomes evident by considering two current “legal drugs,” tobacco and alcohol. The number of users of these “legal drugs” is far greater than the number of users of illegal drugs. The numbers were explored by the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Roughly 109 million Americans used alcohol at least once a month. About 66 million Americans used tobacco at the same rate. But less than 16 million Americans used illegal drugs at least once a month.
    *

      It’s clear that there is a relationship between legalization and increasing drug use, and that legalization would result in an unacceptably high number of drug-addicted Americans.
    *

      When legalizers suggest that easy access to drugs won’t contribute to greater levels of addiction, they aren’t being candid. The question isn’t whether legalization will increase addiction levels—it will— it’s whether we care or not. The compassionate response is to do everything possible to prevent the destruction of addiction, not make it easier.
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JDN
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« Reply #89 on: November 10, 2010, 03:10:19 PM »

Quote
Alcohol has a long history within western civilization and certain social structures and laws evolved to address it's use and abuse.

As does cocaine--and original ingredient in Coca Cola and other fountain drinks--various opiates--paregoric was available in drug stores well into the '70s--.

A momento I keep on my wall (it's rather colorful) is my late Grandfather's (Physician/Surgeon) Special Tax Stamp; dated 1949.  Cost for the stamp; $1.00.

In bold print above his name and Wisconsin address, it says,

"Practitioner Dispensing Opium, Coca Leaves, Etc."

It makes for good conversation...    smiley
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G M
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« Reply #90 on: November 10, 2010, 03:45:53 PM »

Given that pre-human bipeds, like modern humans today, were often the prey for a variety of african predators, being detached from reality in that environment wouldn't have been optimal for a slow, weak primate species with no natural weapons. "Fear and Loathing in Olduvai Gorge" would probably have been a really short book.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #91 on: November 10, 2010, 03:50:40 PM »

You crack me up  cheesy
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G M
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« Reply #92 on: November 10, 2010, 04:07:48 PM »

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-09/cameron-risks-spat-with-chinese-by-wearing-poppy-during-visit-to-beijing.html

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron resisted a request from Chinese officials yesterday to remove the poppy symbol that Britons wear every November in memory of their war dead during his visit to Beijing, according to two British officials familiar with the matter.

Poppies have been Britain’s symbol of remembrance since World War I, when the flowers grew on battlefields. The Royal British Legion sells paper poppies in November to raise funds for veterans in the run-up to Armistice Day on Nov. 11.

The flower has a different resonance in China, which fought and lost two Opium Wars with Britain in the 19th century. Those resulted in the U.K. forcing the Chinese to open their borders to trade, including in the narcotic derived from the Asian variety of the poppy. Britain also gained the territory of Hong Kong, which was not handed back to China until 1997.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #93 on: November 10, 2010, 08:05:14 PM »

Quote
The compassionate response is to do everything possible to prevent the destruction of addiction, not make it easier.

Not surprised to read the hodgepodge of panic mongering in this report--marijuana use goes up when it's legal, sh!t oh dear--as our current, failed drug laws amount to a full employment act where the DOJ is concerned, but to clothe these counterproductive practices in the word "compassion" is damn near well stroke inducing. "Compassion" is not much on display where drug warriors are concerned, and claiming it as a fig leaf in the face of the 500,000 in jail et al full well demonstrates the disconnect where law enforcement and drug policy is concerned.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #94 on: November 11, 2010, 10:41:16 AM »

Obamacare and the War on Drugs

by David Rittgers

If the generation of "limited government" lawmakers freshly chosen to man the trenches in Washington wishes to be taken seriously, the butcher's bill must include some of the social conservatives' sacred cows.

Starting with the War on Drugs.

Many conservatives have long argued that the federal government is broadly empowered to prosecute the drug war under Congress's authority over interstate commerce. In the name of the drug war, they have been willing to allow federal law-enforcement officers to prosecute seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana in compliance with their states' laws.

Many of those same conservatives are now finding that the terrible, swift sword of expansive federal power that they endorsed in the name of drug prohibition has now been turned on them in the form of Obamacare's individual mandate.

The Justice Department is defending Obamacare by asserting that a 2005 Supreme Court case, Gonzales v. Raich, permits such a broad reading of the Commerce Clause that the federal government can tell individual citizens that they have to buy health insurance.

The Raich case was about medical marijuana. Angel Raich, a resident of Oakland, Calif., used medical marijuana to deal with the debilitating pain caused by an inoperable brain tumor, a seizure disorder, and a life-threatening wasting syndrome. California law allowed her to do so, but the Drug Enforcement Administration claimed that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) made no exception for those in Raich's position.

The Raich case closed out a decade's worth of rolling back the scope of Congress's power. In 1995, the Court held in United States v. Lopez that the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act exceeded the limits of Congress's ability to regulate interstate commerce. United States v. Morrison in 2000 invalidated a federal civil remedy for victims of intrastate gender-motivated violence. Raich reversed this pushback. By a six-to-three majority, the court held that the aggregation of individuals' small-scale cultivation and consumption of marijuana in compliance with California law would substantially affect the market for the drug, a market that the federal government had outlawed.

Raich cemented the legal foundation for the individual health-insurance mandate that has so many conservatives outraged.

Not all states took Raich's broad claims of federal power lying down. Deep blue California, Maryland, and Washington State filed an amicus brief contending that Congress had intended only to interdict large-scale drug traffickers, not to bar states from accommodating those in Raich's position. The attorneys general of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, drug warriors tried and true, nonetheless objected to what they saw as an alarming disregard for federalism and state sovereignty. (Disclosure: The Cato Institute also filed an amicus brief.)

Several conservative drug-war supporters in the House joined a brief in support of a limitless reading of Congress's Commerce Clause power in the Raich case but have since denounced the application of that power in Obamacare — the unintended consequence of a shortsighted focus on maximizing drug enforcement. Indiana Republican Dan Burton was one of those who signed on; he has since sponsored a bill to repeal Obamacare's "government-run" health-care solution. Burton and fellow drug warrior Mark Souder signed on to another repeal measure before Souder resigned amidst an adultery scandal. Georgia Republican Jack Kingston took up the charge to repeal the individual mandate as well. Former representative Ernest Istook (R., Okla.) has been on the warpath, phrasing the issue as "Obamacare vs. Limited Government."

The Justice Department has found Raich an exceedingly useful tool in battling the legal challenges to Obamacare. In the Florida lawsuit, the DOJ claims that "Individuals who self-insure engage in economic activity at least as much as the plaintiffs in Raich." The same goes for Michigan, where a federal judge recently upheld the individual mandate as a legitimate exercise of Congress's Commerce Clause power: "As living, breathing beings, who do not oppose medical services on religious grounds, they cannot opt out of this market." The words "Gonzales v. Raich" kick off the government's Commerce Clause argument in the Virginia litigation. (Disclosure: The Cato Institute has filed briefs in support of Virginia attorney general Kenneth Cuccinelli's challenge to Obamacare.)

The jump from Raich to Obamacare is a short one, at least in the government's eyes. The dissenters in Raich predicted the expansion of Commerce Clause authority. Justice Thomas warned that if the federal government could override a state's licensing of medical marijuana, "then it can regulate virtually anything — and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers." Justice O'Connor noted the "perverse incentive to legislate broadly pursuant to the Commerce Clause" — the more broadly Congress writes a law, the more likely Raich's logic is to uphold it. O'Connor discussed how the Court's logic would allow the government to regulate (and ban) non-commercial activities that would detract from regulated markets, such as home-care substitutes for daycare. This would be funny, if a federal judge had not just ruled that being alive and breathing means you must buy health insurance or face the consequences.

A principled stand on the limits of federal power does not begin and end with health care. The Commerce Clause is a double-edged sword: Conservatives cannot wield it in the drug war without making it a useful tool for advancing progressive visions of federal power.

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12546
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #95 on: November 11, 2010, 10:45:23 AM »

Good point. 

Similarly, Bush's AG Ashcroft imposed the Feds into Oregon's Right to Die issues.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #96 on: November 13, 2010, 12:41:32 PM »

Powerful stuff, Rarick, that does an authoritative job of outlining the idiocy of our current drug policy.

Let me second the speaker in the video: Check out the HBO series The Wire to see a realistic depiction of the folly of the WOD.
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G M
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« Reply #97 on: November 13, 2010, 04:11:14 PM »

Can anyone explain why the Chinese are so bitter about the end of their prohibition of opium? You'd think that they would have thanked the Brits, given how wonderful having free access to large quantities of addictive drugs was for them.
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G M
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« Reply #98 on: November 13, 2010, 05:28:54 PM »

**Should we let China freely import opiates here, turnabout being fair play and all.....**

http://www.victorianweb.org/history/empire/opiumwars/opiumwars1.html

British and American merchants, anxious to address what they perceived as a trade imbalance, determined to import the one product that the Chinese did not themselves have but which an ever-increasing number of them wanted: opium. Before 1828, large quantities of the Spanish silver coin, the Carolus, flowed into China in payment for the exotic commodities that Europeans craved; in contrast, in the decade of the 1830s, despite an imperial decree outlawing the export of yellow gold and white silver, "only $7,303,841 worth of silver was imported, whereas the silver exported was estimated at $26,618, 815 in the foreign silver coin, $25,548,205 in sycee, and $3,616,996 in gold" (Kuo, p. 51). although the Chinese imperial governed had long prohibited the drug except for medicinal use, the "British Hong" (companies such as Dent, Jardine, and Matheson authorized to operate in Canton) bought cheaply produced opium in the Begal and Malwa (princely) districts under the auspices of the British East India Company, the number 150 lb. chests of the narcotic being imported rising from 9,708 in 1820 to 35,445 in 1835. With the British government's 1833 cancellation of the trade monopoly enjoyed by the East India Company, cheap opium flooded the market, and China's net outflow of silver amounted to some 34 million Mexican silver dollars over the course of the 1830s.

67th Foot taking [a] fort. [Clock on thumbnail for larger image/]

As the habit of smoking opium spread from the idle rich to ninety per cent of all Chinese males under the age of forty in the country's coastal regions, business activity was much reduced, the civil service ground to a halt, and the standard of living fell. The Emperor Dao guang's special anti-opium commissioner Lin Ze-xu (1785-1850), modestly estimated the number of his countrymen addicted to the drug to be 4 million, but a British physician practising in Canton set the figure at 12 million. Equally disturbing for the imperial government was the imbalance of trade with the West: whereas prior to 1810 Western nations had been spending 350 million Mexican silver dollars on porcelain, cotton, silks, brocades, and various grades of tea, by 1837 opium represented 57 per cent of Chinese imports, and for fiscal 1835-36 alone China exported 4.5 million silver dollars. The official sent in 1838 by the Emperor Dao guang (1821-1850) of the Qing Dynasty to confiscate and destroy all imports of opium, Lin Ze-xu, calculated that in fiscal 1839 Chinese opium smokers consumed 100 million taels' worth of the drug while the entire spending by the imperial government that year spent 40 million taels. He reportedly concluded, "If we continue to allow this trade to flourish, in a few dozen years we will find ourselves not only with no soldiers to resist the enemy, but also with no money to equip the army" quoted by Chesneaux et al., p. 55). By the late 1830s, foreign merchant vessels, notably those of Britain and the United States, were landing over 30,000 chests annually. Meantime, corrupt officials in the hoppo (customs office) and ruthless merchants in the port cities were accumulating wealth beyond "all the tea in China" by defying imperial interdictions that had existed in principle since 1796. The standard rate for an official's turning a blind eye to the importation of a single crate of opium was 80 taels. Between 1821 and 1837 the illegal importation of opium (theoretically a capital offence) increased five fold. A hotbed of vice, bribery, and disloyalty to the Emperor's authority, the opium port of Canton would be the flashpoint for the inevitable clash between the governments of China and Great Britain.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #99 on: November 13, 2010, 06:42:44 PM »

If you need us to enumerate the differences between the two situations then the discussion isn't worth having in the first place. Clearly you didn't watch the video: addiction rate the same, quality up, cost down, 70 billion dollars spent on law enforcement, 500,000 in jail, a million marijuana arrest annually, and so on ad nauseam. Where in that set of circumstances is anything but abject failure? What have we purchased with the estimated trillion dollars we've thrown at this rank buffoonery? Why are the folks most resolutely in WOD corner those who stuff their pockets or finance their war against America with the profits from the same?
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