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Jonathan Westminster: "The 15% Solution," Serialization, 4th Installment: Chapter Three

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Dear Karl,

   First let me note the quite remarkable fact that in his In­augu­ral, Pine ad­dressed in no way, even from the Right-Wing Reac­tionary perspec­tive he personifies, the real problems facing the country: the declining standard of living for most Americans; the increas­ing economic and personal insecuri­ty, both present and future, and the declining stan­dard of health care and educa­tion for most Americans; deindustrialization and the gradual crum­bling of the public infrastruc­ture; the ever-growing cancer of racism; the ever-growing intolerance for "difference."  But then again, how could he, really-  It is the poli­cies of his party that ei­ther cause, abet, or exploit to the full for its own political purposes, all of them.

   Turning to the side, thoroughly distractive, subject Pine did ad­dress, I know that you know my private fears about Pine's "Real War on Drugs," and I think, I hope, that you share many, if not most of them.  I also know that you know that given complete Republican control of the three branch­es of the American Federal government (capped off by a "filibuster proof" majority in the US Senate) there is little hope of stopping the Right-Wing onslaught, on drugs and every­thing else.

   As you know only too well, I cannot write about any of my true views and feelings on these matters in my column and hope to keep my job.  Thus, as we have discussed, I have de­cided to commit some of my true thoughts to paper from time to time, in private to you, to have them on the written, if un­published, re­cord, at least.

   It is strange but I suppose highly appropriate that Pine should choose to start off what is bound to be the most Right-Wing Pres­iden­cy ever in the US with a renewed "War on Drugs."  Of course, his "War" will be no more successful in reducing the use of those drugs against which it is aimed, marijuana, her­o­in, and cocaine, than the Bush-Bennett, Reagan, Rockefeller, or Nixon versions were over the previous 30 years.  And of course like its predecessors, it fails to address those two "legal" drugs, tobacco and alcohol, which not only cause the vast ma­jority of drug-use-related illness and death in the U.S., but al­so, through their use by kids, lead to almost all use of the "illegals" in the first place.

   (But heaven help the Right-Wing Reactionaries if they were ever to go after the real drug demons in the United States, the tobacco and alcohol industries.  The Republicans actually go out of their way to protect those devils incarnate.  They have to.  They get too much in the way of cam­paign contributions and oth­er goodies not to.)

   But, again like its predecessors, the "Real Drug War" is in any case not designed to deal with the real drug problem.  Like that of its pre­deces­sors, its primary purpose will be to reinforce politi­cal racism by framing the "drug problem" as a black one, when in reality 75% of illegal drug use is among non-blacks.  And it will be useful for contin­uing to maintain a high level of drug trade, not drug-use-related, vio­lence in the black com­mu­ni­ties.  Among other things at this time, this violence will sap the strength from a black community which might otherwise be pre­pared to offer real resistance to the on-coming fascist regime which as you know I see getting ever closer.

   It amazes me, although I suppose it shouldn't, that Pine is turn­ing back to programs that failed and failed badly the last time around: "mas­sive inter­diction" and "supply-side strate­gies."  Of course, it is the new ones he has added that have me the most worried.  First, the wild Gingrichian proposal for deal­ing "drug smug­glers."  Then, the open sus­pension of civil liber­ties for drug deal­ers/users on the "drug exception" devel­oped over the years by the Supreme Court.  Remem­ber that fine pa­per by our mutual friend Steve Wisotsky (1992)-  Steve pointed out that over the years Supreme Court justices from left (Wil­liam O. Douglas) to right (Antonin Scalia) have been pre­pared to abrogate the Fourth Amend­ment when it came to drugs. Well, this now has become national policy.  Mark my word, as they say, it ain't going to end here.

   Then, the building of that string of camps advocated so many times over the years by so many "Drug Warriors."  Now, add­ed to all of this is the new emphasis on (forced) "moral rehabil­i­ta­tion" under which the Right will finally get its chain of camps, on those aban­doned Army bases, just like Phil Gramm proposed back in the '96 campaign (Berke).

   Among other things this program will revive local employ­ment which had been eliminated by the "liberal campaign against the military," and further build support for the "Real War on Drugs."  In this way it will be very similar to the role played by prison construction in rural and semi-rural areas in the 1980s and 1990s, creating that which what is left of the oppo­sition now calls the "prison-industrial complex" (Davis).  Of course, you know what I think those camps (and all that wonderful local employment) are really going to be ultimately used for. [3]

   I know, I know, I'm nothing but an alarmist.  As so many say, "the ge­nius of America is that somehow it always rights itself at the last mo­ment."  Well, my friend, not this time, I'm afraid.

   By the way, where are those so-called "libertarians" of the Cato Insti­tute now that we need them-  I'll tell you where.  As in 1995, after the Repub­licans first took control of Congress, so caught up are they in the "free-market capital­ism/anti-government/anti-government regulation (of business)" act that Pine is going through, that just as the Milton Friedmans have always done, they are willing to overlook "a few limitations on civil lib­erties" in exchange for the enshrinement of the myth of the "free mar­ket."

   "Few limitations," my foot.  Civil liberties in the US are go­ing, go­ing, soon-to-be-gone, my friend, the soon-to-be-gone American Civil Lib­erties Union to the contrary notwithstanding.  But the "libertarians" will have their "free market," which failed to work when Reagan gave it to them, and their "free­dom from govern­ment red tape," which will just lead to ever­more degrada­tion of the environment, more white collar crime, more bankrupt­cy, and so on and so forth.  But once again, as is my wont as you know, I digress.

   Thanks for bearing with me.  I hope, hope, hope, that I'm wrong about where this country is headed, but sadly I don't think I am.

All the best sincerely,


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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS, is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the School of Medicine, Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books on health policy, health and wellness, and sports and regular exercise. In (more...)
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