Monday, August 20, 2007

The Thirty-Six Year, Hundred Billion Dollar War Nobody Talks About

I really hate politics, and I try to keep this blog free of it, but this brilliant article in the Washington Post is so good - the best thing written on this subject I've ever read - that I simply had to comment on it.

Basically, Richard Nixon started the "War on Drugs" thirty-six years ago - I don't care if you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, conservative, liberal, or libertarian, you ought to believe that Tricky Dick was an asshat: All people with functioning brains and IQ's above 85 ought to agree - and what do we have to show for his asshattiness all these years later? According to the article above, adjusted for inflation, most drugs are less expensive now than they were then, some by a factor of three.

Not in that article, but something I've read previously, is that over 40% of all inmates in the Federal Penetentiary System are incarcerated for drug violations. What that means, in essence, is that some of the money pumped into the War on Drugs provides jobs for 40% of the employees of the Federal Penetentiary System and justifies the existance of 40% of all Federal Prisons. Did you know that prison guards have a very powerful union? Wonder which side they're on in this matter? Even though closing down prisons and reducing the prison work force would be a positive economically - remember, this is money out of your pocket they are paid with - they wouldn't want to see the laws changet to endanger the jobs of their union members. That kind of self-serving blindness is absolutely immoral.

Then, of course, there are entire federal agencies dedicated to the War on Drugs: The DEA is the one most dedicated to the debacle, but the FBI, ATF, CIA - and others, I'm sure - all benefit from the fire hose of cash spewing their way from the bowels of Washington. Has a Federal agency ever been abolished? Seriously, I don't know, but I'm pretty sure the US could survive just fine without the DEA and ATF - the FBI and CIA I believe we obviously need - and how much would their annual operating budgets put back into the treasury? A veritable buttload, I'm sure. What do you bet that lobbyists for these agencies would fight hard to keep them from being closed. It's all about the filthy lucre to these guys.

But the firehose of cash doesn't stop at the shores and borders of the US either, it just turns into a flush handle. As the above article explains, the United States has flushed billion, after billion, after billion down the Crapper and through the pipes to countries like Colombia and Venezuela (To name but two), and the money does, literally, end up in the human sewer due to corruption, which is endemic in central and South American governance - I use the word governance loosely. We sell them helicopters, which they use to spray powerfully toxic herbicides - where are the meanie, greenies on this, anyway? - on crops of coca. We've been doing this on and off for coming onto four decades. This is really, actually what insanity looks like - doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to change - only in this instance it's worse, because the production of coca continues to rise while the efforts at erradication are stepped up. Perhaps there's a causal link? (Gee, do you think? (A rhetorical question at this point, since thinking and governmental politics don't seem to go hand-in-hand anymore)).

In previous decades, the US was fairly well insulated from repercussions due to its retarded drug policies overseas, but this is not the case anymore. Starting with the US efforts in Aghanistan, the head-up-butt idiocy of the drug warriors had a bright, bright, light shined onto it (It didn't help. Or hasn't yet, anyway). See, Afghanistan's main cash crop is the opium poppy. There really aren't any viable alternatives for the locals at this time. So, what does the US do? Well, they sweep the Taliban out... and then they destroy all of farmer Mohammed's poppy crop. Guess what Mohammed says? "To hell these buttholes, I need to feed myself and my family." What do the Taliban do? (Those who survived and went to ground: Probably quite a few), they say, "See, Mohammed, we told you these Americans were evil idiots bent on the destruction of you and your family. Come back to us and we will offer you protection." Oh, and guess who gets the lion's share of the profits from the next crop? The Taliban. Am I the only person who thinks this is so senselessly stupid as a policy that each and every person responsible for it ought to be beaten with a clue-bat until they wake up? That policy is so stupid that it actually borders on being evil in my mind.

The alternatives I've heard proposed are that the US either buys the poppy crop and destroys it - this is another stupid idea: There are not enough medical grade opiates in the world - or, alternately, use the poppys to make medical opiates. The US Government's response to that second idea? "Frack that, there might be some profit in it. We're the government. We only waste your money justifying our existance. We never make any money to support ourselves." That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the Bush Administration has recommitted itself to destroy all the Afghan poppies it can. Self-lobotomized tossers.

The real problem with the US Government today is hubris: These politicos actually think they are smart. Well, I have some bad news for them: They're lawyers. Lawyers are just glorified accountants. They are mediocre intellects by definition. There is no such thing as a "great lawyer" or a "brilliant lawyer." Great and brilliant men are inquisitive and creative, and would be bored to tears being lawyers. I know I sure as hell would.

Let me ask you: Who were the world's greatest lawyers during the life of Palestrina?... Bach?... Haydn?... Mozart?... Beethoven?... Brahms?... Let's try again: Who were the greatest lawyers in the world during the lives of Michelangelo?... DaVinci?... Rembrandt?... Monet?... ... How about Shakespeare? - A man who's spelling was worse than even mine, I might add - or Newton?... or Einstein?... Even if somebody knows the answers, I assure you, nobody fracking cares! I rest my case.

Used to be, people in government service recognized their limitations and shortcomings, and so they consulted with people outside of the mainstream/conventional wisdom world who could - in today's parlance - think outside the box. My favorite early example of this was Benjamin Franklin. Any guy who would tie a key to the tail of a kite and fly it during a lightning storm - with no vanishingly small possibility that he was high on cannibis at the time, since he grew it - probably can't think inside of any boxes. Franklin also invented the Glass Harmonica - which Mozart composed for - the lightning rod, bifocals, swim fins, and many other things. He was a genius, but he wasn't a lawyer. Jefferson was a lawyer, but he was no genius: Just a particularly bright wordsmith who had a nice gardening hobby (OK, I know that's overly dismissive, but Jefferson was less than nothing next to a man like Franklin, and he almost certainly knew it. After all, Jefferson said something along the lines of, "My grandfather was a farmer, so that my father could be a businessman, so that I could be a lawyer, so that my son could be a poet." IOW, Jefferson knew his place. Lawyer-politicians today do not).

Point is, by and large, lawyers do not create anything and they don't produce anything, and so they are left to provide to justify themselves. Let's face it, every dollar that goes into the pocket of a lawyer is like a little handkerchief parachute on the economy. Nothing wrong with that at all: A world filled with duplicates of me would resemble the chaos obtained by attempting to heard five billion cats while riding rodeo bulls. I recognize this. Would that the lawyer-politicians recognize that their primary jobs are to provide security for us citizens and an environment where we can thrive to the best of the diverse abilities that God has blessed us with. But no. They're just a bunch of concieted posers drunk on spending money that belongs to us. Any wonder why Congress' approval rating is the lowest it's ever been in all of US history? No.

As the article mentions, the War on Drugs is now causing real security problems for the US and Europe because the cartels are infiltrating ports of entry, throwing bribes around, and corrupting those on the front lines. Nice.

In so many ways, we can't afford this ancient, lost cause of a war anymore.

So, I hereby offer myself in service to my country:

Dear Mr. President, Senators, and Congressmen: It has recently come to my attention that, evidentally, the Lord has blessed my crap with a higher IQ than any of you posess, and I just wanted you to know that I'm available for consultation should any of you get a freaking clue. My fees are reasonable... not that it matters.

After all, I'm a descendant of Lorenzo "Il Magnifico" de Medici.

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