In the “Even More Reasons to end the Stupid War on Drugs” Department.

There is no question but that drug use presents many problems for the nation. But  due to the senseless war on drugs, several industries profit. Four in particular are cited here.

The drug testing industry benefits the more drug testing takes place. Employment or welfare screening is increasingly advocated.

The addiction treatment industry benefits by pushing more people into treatment. In fact, its representatives want the government to order druggies into treatment rather than jail and to force insurance companies to cover it.

The alcohol industry fears marijuana as a rival and spends goodly sums to lobby against legalization.

The private prison industry benefits from filled prisons. What better way to keep them filled than to hand over the bodies of drug users/sellers?

I thought Jon Huntsman was an intriguing prospect as a candidate for the Republican nomination. I disagreed with a number of his policies based on his statements and record as Utah governor. But at least he appeared to be sane.

Here are some of his own views on his former rivals and the GOP itself.

Allen West recently made noise accusing about 80 Democratic members of Congress of being communists. He may have been watching this video just prior to that declaration.

If you watch that video, which is only a minute long, you will find links to anti-drug promos, SNL satires on drugs, anti-homosexual propaganda films from the fifties and a bunch of other interesting/fun stuff.

Arizona’s two-year-old immigration (or anti-immigration) law is before SCOTUS this week. Paul Kramer of Slate looks to a case from the 1870’s as a possible guide, where the state of California attempted to exclude 22 “lewd” Chinese women from entry.

In that instance the Supreme Court found that there was a combination of, as Kramer puts it:

A legislative recipe for extortion; a capricious exercise of perception and power; a dangerous usurpation of federal control: What was not wrong with California’s immigration law?

Kramer believes the Arizona law in question is analagous. This story is worthwhile reading even if only to see how the term “pestilential immorality” is applied.

This next item interests me since some aspects discussed became topics on the late, lamented Reg On Wry blog in the Post-Gazette. It is a book review, from The National Review, of a new Ross Douthat book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.

Michael Sean Winters’ review begins

ROSS DOUTHAT’S ANALYSIS of religion in America is more sophisticated than the analysis of, say, Rick Santorum—but not by much. There are many ways to be simplistic and coarse. In contending against what he sees as an America afflicted with too many heresies, Douthat’s book, like Santorum’s speeches, is riddled with mistakes of fact and interpretation that would make any learned person blush.

Winters then proceeds to provide examples.

I find this last item of great value since it offers perspective from the author of, and a not strict adherent of, The Great Divergence, the 10 part series on income inequality from  Slate in 2010 that I have cited many times.

It’s author, Timothy Noah, and Matthew Yglesias who writes on economics for Slate currently, exchange views on the meaning of income inequality and how it should be viewed.

Noah, when asked why we should care, responds in part

Why is it necessary to reward so much more today than in 1979 the effort and skill (and dumb luck) that gets you into the top 1 percent of incomes (i.e., above about $350,000)? In 1979 the top 1 percent consumed about 10 percent of the nation’s collective income. In 2010 it consumed about 20 percent. (That includes capital gains.) Sure, the economy was in lousy shape in 1979. But the top 1 percent contented itself with 9-12 percent of the nation’s collective income for three decades prior to 1979, during the great post-World War II economic boom. Indeed, income share for the top 1 percent fell a little during that period. From the early 1930s through the late 1970s incomes in America didn’t become more unequal; they became more equal. So clearly the top earners can get by on much less without undermining capitalism.

On his behalf Yglesias offers this:

It gets very easy for me to become cynical about these points of emphasis. The conservative writers seem to be sycophants to the 1 percent, assuring the investment bankers and hedge fund managers of the world that they have nothing to do with the plight of the American worker—that it can all be laid at the feet of ineffective middle-school teachers and lazy principals. On the other hand, a lot of the progressive types who complain most about inequality seem to be relatively well-compensated professionals who are rather conveniently trying to redefine an egalitarian economic agenda in such a way as to include someone at the, say, 85th percentile of the income distribution as one of the oppressed.

To me the most important aspect is that this wealth and income disparity is real, it is damaging, and we cannot relent on our focus on it and the ways to address it that are not unfair or oppressive to any segment but instead fully enable our people to strive for success. Not all will accomplish this on the same level.


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