An Epidemic of Despair, Part II

My Recent Posts

In conversation with Stone earlier this week I had promised another topic for my next post. That will have to wait for another time due to sad news I have received from a friend since.

 

 

This is penned at the behest of a good friend of mine. It concerns a subject that I have been aware of but have deliberately steered clear of.  The chief source of my aversion to the topic is that it has become something which hits rather close to home for me.

 

It is, in some small way, an ode to a young man named Jason.  My friend informed me that Jason had died of a heroin overdose one evening in the past week.  Jason had been an employee, a valued member of a team, as well as a friend who was always willing to provide help and support in situations outside of the workplace. Unless you were in frequent close contact with him it might never be known that he was an addict. I'm told that as the addiction tightened it's grip it became more and more obvious that the young man had a problem. I never met Jason in person, yet I know him as well as I know his story. Jason died at the age of 28, leaving a pre-school aged daughter behind.  I myself have an adult child of the same age group who is likewise afflicted with this scourge. I have for some time been prepared to meet similarly tragic news regarding his fate. I have accepted the fact that it is not a question of if, but only when I shall receive such news. The circumstance has moved well beyond any point at which I might have any impact upon the outcome.

 

To the vast majority of people living in this country today Jason’s case is only a statistic. One more in the daily rising toll of people, young and old alike, who have fallen victim to the needle. They don’t know his name or his face or the first thing about him. He is just another number in one of many categories of statistics.  Human beings may comprise a part of any set of statistics, but being a statistic is dehumanizing.  Usually when I write about matters of current public concerns I like to be able to cite some numbers, provide some factual support for any argument I may try and make for or against anything. I could do that in this instance, for surely there are a wealth of statistics available on the war against heroin trafficking, addiction and yes, alas, fatalities. I won't do that. If you want statistics you can find them on your own, it won't be difficult. This a human problem so I will try to relate it in human terms.

 

This is a challenging topic for me in more ways than one. Aside from my own personal connection to the problem there are other elements that create a difficulty in addressing the issue. As a libertarian I have views concerning narcotics that will not square well with many people and families who have had their lives upended by the explosion of availability, affordability and lethality of this drug.  I have always been deeply troubled by the hypocrisy inherent in the drug laws of this country.  The multi-billion dollar industry of alcohol makers have managed, through their well funded lobbying efforts and their contribution in tax revenues to the public coffers, to purchase for themselves a legitimacy. Do not mistake me. I have no ax to grind with these companies. They make a product that has been around a very long time, it is legal and in steady demand. I don't begrudge them making a profit from it nor do I begrudge any citizen’s right to consume the product. Of the many follies of federal legislation in our history the Prohibition looms as one of the most colossal in its failure and consequence.

 

Many of the substances which have also been banned by governments, state and federal alike, were at one time, although perhaps frowned upon, entirely legal to possess and consume. At the federal level the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 was the start of legal controls and prohibitions over many of these substances. This was born out of the same era that saw the rise of the Women’s Temperance League and other popular movements which ultimately provided momentum to the passage of the 19th Amendment. Pharmacology was by our current standard of measure a science still in it’s evolution. As the name of the Act itself would imply it was concerned more with matters of food, labelling and standards of purity. Where this law began to address drugs was the requirement to list in labelling the presence of any of ten drugs which were deemed under the Act to be “addictive” and/or “dangerous”.  Included in this list were morphine, opium, cannabis and…? Care to guess? Why yes! Alcohol also made the list. A little over a decade later came the Prohibition.

 

Thirteen years, millions of dollars and thousands of deaths from organized crime later the Prohibition came to an end. Alcohol was once again legit and quickly became a boon of tax revenues while still greater restrictions were placed upon the rest of the 1906 roster of ten.  Thus resumed and expanded the long history of the public treasury being enriched by the vices of the populace.  Further evidence of the governing philosophy that organized crime is not so bad when one considers the alternative.  Alcohol was still recognized as being addictive and dangerous, but since it was in demand and presented such an attractive opportunity as a generator of tax revenues it was given a pass. More than a pass: a blessing from the State.

 

Even though the dangers of alcohol were recognized these were somehow diminished when it could, under the wise and benign regulation by the State, be controlled by the State. If one wished to sell the product legally it became necessary to pony up the price of admission in the form of licensing fees. As a bonus the sale of the product could provide an ongoing revenue stream with the addition of excise taxes upon every sale. Maybe alcohol wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Of course it was still necessary to counsel moderation, but once the coins had landed in the treasury not much further thought was given to this.

 

One may argue that if the revenues were the sole motivation in lifting the ban shouldn’t the same logic and motivations have extended to those other banned substances?  It is a valid question and it is easily answered following the simple laws of economics. Supply and demand. These other substances and their effects were not as well known, thus they were not in demand. This and the fact that the long, slow poisoning by alcohol might pass unnoticed until such time as the damage was done.  Morphine, opiates and cocaine were substances where their abuse carried with them greater and more immediate lethality. Drink too much liquor one night and in most instances the greatest consequence might be the dreaded hangover. Overindulgence of these other substances would often leave their users dead, or given their more virulently addictive qualities would put them on the fast track for the same result. Certainly more quickly than could be accomplished with alcohol. The other reason for this inconsistency of reasoning was that unlike opiates or cocaine, which typically required some importation of raw materials with a knowledge of and facility for their refinement, alcohol could very easily be produced in one’s basement, kitchen or barn. Too many opportunities for the State to be cut out of it’s share of the action.

 

That leaves the question of cannabis on the list. In those times the knowledge of cannabis and it’s effects were nowhere near as widespread as today, so there was nothing even remotely like the demand for alcohol. So why the continued prohibition and increased penalties associated with it? There were two reasons primarily, one climatological and the other sociologic.  Cannabis could be fairly easily cultivated throughout much of the continent.  Where it was largely unknown in many quarters of the country there was a certain familiarity with the effects in the south. The south where the descendants of slaves were familiar with it’s use and where segregation and racial bigotry were not only practiced, but state sanctioned. There were a handful of redneck dixiecrat politicians, devout segregationists all, who didn’t much cotton with any of them coloreds gettin’ all hopped up on the “reefer” and running around raping the white women. It happened folks. Look it up. The chief consideration in placing prohibition on cannabis was rooted in the racism that was still approved and exercised in the American south of the time.

 

Though there is more reasoned debate on the subject today the fact remains that our modern day drug policies are the bastard children of those formulated in the ignorance and greed of the early part of the last century. Couple this with the trend over the past 40 years or so of creating multiple bureaus and agencies with overlapping authorities, each determined to justify and sustain their existence with ever more tax dollars fed to their respective budgets, and you have the bloated and largely impotent State mechanism referred to collectively as “the war on drugs”.

 

If the growing rise of heroin abuse and deaths are any indicator one might suspect that this war, if not already lost, is certainly not going in our favor. The reward and results for the dollars spent are severely wanting. The conduct of this battle seems to overlook the most rudimentary laws of economics at work here.  There is a demand for the product and a supply to meet or exceed the demand that has driven the cost of the commodity downward. Lots of product, readily found and easily affordable. All of the requisite parts for a dynamic economy. The heroin trade has emerged like a deadly but smart virus. It is potentially lethal to its hosts, but not so much so as to bite off the hand that feeds it.

 

I’ll let you all in on a little secret. I was a teenager in the 70s. In those years before the age of “just say no” marijuana was plentiful and it was cheap. It wasn’t (usually) any where near as good as a lot of today’s product, but a healthy ounce could be had for 35-40$. There was a steady demand and a more than adequate supply to meet it.  Like a lot of other people my age in those years between 1975 and 1981 I consumed bales of it. I grew up not in California or New York but in one of the most waspish corners of the Midwest. Flyover country. Young people, not all but many, liked smoking dope. We had no interest in heroin, wouldn’t know where to find it and quite frankly I think most of us were scared of it. That was something that you only found in places like New York or LA. It was something you saw portrayed on TV cop shows like Kojak and The Streets of San Francisco, or in movies like the French Connection. There was no demand for heroin and, at least to best of my knowledge, there was little if any supply of it. At least in my part of the world there wasn't.

 

We look at where we are today and have to ask just how in the hell did we arrive here? Another component in modern economic activity is marketing. Good marketers are people who couldn't scare up the jack for law school. They are professional bull shit artists whose sole purpose on the planet is to convince people that they need and want things that they didn’t even know they wanted or needed. Maybe that is a little bit of an oversimplification, but hopefully you can appreciate the spirit in which it is given. Another function of marketers is to make a careful study of the demographics and dynamics of a given market, be it geographic, generational or otherwise. From this study they try to identify where their greatest number of prospective buyers reside and where and how they do business. Now given the magnitude of today’s heroin trade one has to conclude that somewhere in our population there was that latent demand for the product. From there it is not a giant leap to figure out that there was some keen marketing at work to identify and then exploit that target market. It all stands to reason, doesn’t it? Would we be where we are today if this were not so?

 

If we continue to connect the dots in this exercise we can begin to find some of the answers. Not all, but some.  The vast majority of heroin around the world originates from southwest asia, though there are now significant amounts produced in Mexico and other central American countries. I don't suppose that it is any coincidence that since this plague has descended upon us we have been in a state of perpetual war in….where? Southwest asia. You know, places like Iraq, Afghanistan. Surely you’ve heard of them? Then there are our nominal yet suspect allies in the region. Places like Turkey. Couple this with an administration of the last eight years whose enforcement on our southern borders was suspect at best. Mexico has a nominal government in Mexico City, but it is common knowledge that vast segments of the country are run by drug cartels. And who knows how many there are in the Mexican government that are in the pocket of those same cartels? More than a few, I suspect.

 

These are your shrewd marketers. They have been making a handsome living off of their drug exports to the US for decades. They have no love for our federal authorities. Our agencies are a clear and present danger to their livelihood. They have a common distaste for the Norte Americanos shared with the growers and producers of heroin in the aforementioned southwest asian countries. From the sheer standpoint of economics this is a marriage made in heaven.  The growers need to move their product to sustain their revenues, many of which we must suspect will go to fund their asymmetrical campaign against the west. The cartels have the distribution system in place to one of the single largest markets for drug export on the planet. Heroin usage had reached a point of a nearly all time low. The cartels continued trucking marijuana and cocaine, but those demands were also shrinking. The popularity of the cocaine derivative, crack, and domestic manufacture of crystal meth and the growing popularity of prescription opioids was really beginning to put a drag on the potential of continuing to grow their American market.

 

In the commerce of any commodity when sales grow soft marketers begin looking for other sales opportunities. So what did the cartel’s marketing department see in us? A contracting economy, or at best a stagnant economy. An administration who demonstrated no will for a vigorous enforcement on it’s southern border. A population with growing segments deprived of opportunities, beneficiaries of government handouts to sustain them at a level just above despair. More and more people out of work, on disability or some other form of assistance. And an increasing number of older Americans, many of them even high profile, demonstrating a tendency for addiction with prescription pain killers. This was the product of a pharmaceutical industry and medical community that, intended or not, created a demand for the product. So much so that there became a growing trade in the trafficking of these. The problem inherent in this was that these were already items subject to federal regulation and control. Once the lid was off of that bottle the authorities already had some mechanisms in place to effect a crackdown.

 

Now enter the heroin producers. The cartel provides a steady client in wholesale distribution to supply the retail market. They have found a solid customer with established credentials and capital liquidity. The cartel can flood the market with so much supply that the market price is driven downward by fierce competition between so many retailers. Now all of those people who had fallen prey to opioid addiction could find a much cheaper and much more readily available fix in heroin. As the competition for the growing market grows more fierce retailers start looking for that edge. That brings us to these increasingly lethal additives like fentanyl.

 

Any questions? There are no doubt some other details left out here. I never said I had all the answers, but this pretty well explains how we arrived here. I don't know the way out, I’m sorry.  The libertarian in me says that ultimately the responsibility lies with the individual. Whether its alcohol or crystal meth or crack cocaine or huffing spray paint, the addictive personality is going to find something to feed the addiction. Some people can drink and some people can't. Usually they are the same people who should avoid drugs and, impaired or not, getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Not for their own sakes, but for ours. I think part of the solution is to be found in a total rethinking of our drug policies. But that is only part of the equation.

 

I am sorry for your loss, my friend. The only thing that could save Jason from himself was Jason himself and sadly the same can be said for all of those who have fallen to this epidemic.  My only other suggestion would be to appeal to their patriotism. Instead of pissing away your hard earned dollars, or benefits as the case may be, lining the pockets of foreign drug lords you should instead support your hemp growers local and keep that money right here where it can do more good. It may be a lot more than $35 an ounce these days, but we’re growing some pretty good shit right here in the US of A. There are some individual states coming around to this, a hopeful sign.  Legalizing heroin is an idea that is a long way from being accepted.  As much as I may agree with the emotional argument that it is a substance too dangerous to be legalized, I also understand that prohibitions do not work. They only create criminal elements who will fill the demand on an assessment of risk/reward.  Legalization might remove part of the reward, but in this instance we'd only be exchanging one drug lord for another. 

 

One possible part of the solution, and it is only part, is if not to legalize then at least to decriminalize possession.  Make it so that the medical profession (private practice; not government clinics) may legally administer the drug under controlled and monitored conditions.  I don't mean to suggest that these would be opened as a profit center sustaining long term use, rather this could be performed in conjunction with a legitimate treatment program to help the addict recover from their addiction. The monies being spent on the DEA, ATF, FBI and a whole host of law enforcement agencies both federal and local would be dollars better spent towards resolving the problem. When you have too many laws you end up with too many cops. But then that is a whole other issue...

Comments

Cliff M. Added Jul 15, 2017 - 2:30pm
Thanks for your time and wisdom on this article. I am in total agreement on everything you stated. I'm from just outside N.Y.C. in North Jersey where growing up in the 70's was very similar. Now the opioid epidemic in the area has become a huge problem.Get started on the legal pain killers and wind up on the dirt cheap dangerous stuff from the streets.
Jim Perlow Added Jul 15, 2017 - 2:35pm
Here's the rub.  I too agree that everyone should take responsibility for their choices and we do not need the government to regulate it beyond their constitutional obligation of weights and measures.  However, when those choices impact the lives of others, via, car accident, rehabilitation clinics, abuse of family members, those of us who make better choices should not be forced via taxation to pay for the poor choices of others.  The Affordable Care Act directs mega bucks toward substance abuse thru Medicaid.  You can not have it both ways - if you want the government to pay to correct a problem, you have to let the government regulate the problem.  I served on a federal grant committee several years ago.  When I asked what the return rate of substance abuse patients was, the answer was 80% within a year.  I followed with another question, when answered, shocked me.  I asked what studies are underway to improve or reduce the rate of returning patients, to hear them say, we shortened the tracking time to 6 months to improve the numbers.  This is big business and the people running these clinics depend on return business to earn some large salaries which would probably not surprise many.  Welcome to self serving bureaucracy.  It should also be noted here, I was scolded by a city official for the question I posed, after the meeting.  They did receive the grant by a vote of 5 - 2.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 2:37pm
Jim -
 
Somehow none of that surprises me
Bill Kamps Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:14pm
TBH, it is a sad story, with plenty of blame to go around.  The US government has manipulated the drug trade in Colombia and Mexico.  It has at least been complicit picking winners and losers in those countries. 
 
Whether these things should be legal or not is complicated, as Jim describes.  On face value I think more should be legal, however it does impact the rest of use.  Legalization at least gets the criminals out of the game.  The criminals have a greater impact in the foreign countries, taking over towns and governments, and turning regions into narco states.  Colombia has finally gotten a handle on things, but parts of Mexico is still in the abyss.  Legalization wont do much to save the lives ruined by taking the drugs.
 
I dont think laws stop very many addicts from getting what they want.  If people are of an addictive mind, and want to get high, they will find a way to do it, whether it is heroin or some other substance.  I know enough about drugs to know when you want to get high, how you do it matters less than that you get it done.  I knew people in High School who died of heroin. 
 
These people of course should be treated as patients rather than as criminals.  The laws that put people in jail with mandatory sentencing are a disgrace, especially given their racial bias.  Crack is dealt with much more harshly  than powdered coke, and being more prevalent in minority areas, puts far more of them in jail, than should  be the case.
 
Sadly some percentage of people will become addicts, just like some of us will commit suicide or do other destructive things.  There is a lot we dont know about human psychology  and behavior and how to treat those who are marginally mentally ill.  That is the only real way I can characterize an addict is that they have some psychosis, or chemical imbalance that makes them susceptible to this kind of behavior. 
 
Just like there are huge differences between alcoholics and people that drink a lot, there are huge differences between drug users, and addicts.  When you are around both users and addicts you can instantly see the difference.
Leroy Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:31pm
You have my sympathies for both your friend and your child.
 
I've been relatively isolated from the drug culture.
 
In my youth, my thoughts were to legalize it.  I also believed in open borders.  I believed that we couldn't have true capitalism without the free movement of labor and capital.  That was before terrorism became local.  That was before our culture was overrun by immigration.   It was before immigrants were entitled.  I suspect that drugs will be legalized one day to solve the budget crisis that most every state has.  After all, gambling was a sin until the states needed money.  It's a form of a voluntary tax.  Whatever we are doing today, it has not been successful.  I am all for trying something else.
George N Romey Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:31pm
Here is the issue.  First, too many Americans are suffering at the hands of an unproductive economy and too few good jobs.  Financial problems lead to bad practices and habits in order to cope with something that is out of their hands and they can't control.  Second, we have been led to believe all life's problems can be cured now by a little pill. Third, technology is isolating us too much.  People just do not personally connect like they used to, and that includes in the workplace.  I've written about how where I work all of the mostly under 40s never want to discuss anything-its always send me an email and a spreadsheet (which promptly almost always gets ignored).  Through personal connection we gain strength and create bonds that reinforce us.  
 
The opiate addiction is also impacting the over 50 crowd as their economic prospects are dimming and they have too little time to make up ground and no safety net of parents in which to depend upon.  
 
We've always had substance abuse and always will but the recent economic and social events in this country have turned it into a crisis. A crisis all but ignored.  My heart goes out to anyone effected by this horrible epidemic.  
Bill Kamps Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:34pm
George, doctors arent helping the opiate addiction, rather freely prescribing it without the proper monitoring and caution.  Too many people with legitimate temporary pain, are becoming addicted because they stay on the pills too long.  Yes other things come into play, but these are very powerful drugs, they arent just valium, and there is not enough caution being exercised.
George N Romey Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:46pm
Bill when I was young living in NYC and on the weekend club scene I did my share of recreational drugs but never to the point of ignoring my responsibilities.  Eventually I grew older and let go of the phase.  I think back to what bad could have happened for example if I was caught with drugs.
 
I believe in most cases these people have other things going on in their life.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:54pm
George -
 
You reinforce a number of my points. Are there any Dead Kennedys fans in the audience tonight?  Bill some of your observations remind me of a song ( well, its sort of a song, I guess ) by the Dead Kennedys called Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Around. Despite this rather provocative title it had absolutely nothing to do with any of that. With various nightmarish riffs and sound effects in the background the whole of this recording was a phone call to Margaret Thatcher from a representative of " The Companies ". Among the other pieces of advice offered to the PM ( as you could hear her moaning with delight in the background ) was ...
 
"Don't worry about all those protestors....JUST PUMP UP YOUR DRUG SUPPLY!"  
 
I thought it was funny back in the day. Now I'm thinking there is a little more truth in it.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:55pm
BTW I feel obliged to mention...
 
I have previously mentioned my gay son. The junkie is not the same boy, he's the eldest.
Dino Manalis Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:02pm
That's terrible, drugs are a serious problem, both legal and illegal narcotics have to be tightly regulated by the government; doctors; and/or pharmacists and used only sparingly for medical treatment.
George N Romey Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:08pm
I think much of this goes to we are moving to extremes.  Pot is not enough anymore. I agree back in my youth despite our recreational drug use, heroin was very scary and none of us would have touched the stuff.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:30pm
If, as I said, we even knew where to find it...
Jeff Michka Added Jul 15, 2017 - 5:51pm
Several months back, I had leg surgery that was more than a bit painful.  Was given a very small scrpit by the surgeon, but when I went to my primary care doctor to have the staples removed, he would not renew the pain meds, suggest aspirin and excercise to make it easier to sleep through the pain, I almost couldn't walk, let alone hard excercise, being told "I don't want to contribute to the nation's opiod problems."  HUH? I asked, "Why must I personally take the burden for the Nation's addiction problems? This going to 'string me out'"?  He explained the DEA was looking at doctors who prescribed any scheduled meds, but agreed it was unfair to me, so reupped the script, bless 'em.
Jeff Michka Added Jul 15, 2017 - 5:54pm
I really don't care about the strung out coal miners, steelworkers and their families.  They spent years demonizing poor, inner city minorities as junkies, want them to all die.  Now it's their turn. "I need more pills! My coal mining job that was pointless by 1910 is not coming back!! so?
George N Romey Added Jul 15, 2017 - 5:59pm
The big difference TBH was that in the 60s-90s young people used drugs to have fun.  Today young people use drugs to escape a grim reality.  Even if they use drugs for "recreational" its no longer a joint they are smoking or a hit of "X" to make them feel a warm and wonderful.  Its a shot of smack to take them off this Earth mentally.  
 
And I repeat, its not just young people.  Rates of overdose and suicide by opiate use is soaring for middle aged and older particularly white men.  Unfortunately, the old adage of "treatment" won't work for people using heavy drugs to alienate their mind from very harsh economic realities.  Until this country faces up to the real failing economy (not the made up one by the Fed and our government) and restores a vibrant middle and upper middle class drug overdoses will continue to soar.
John G Added Jul 15, 2017 - 6:08pm
Austerity economics and rapacious predatory capitalism is driving people to drugs and psychological illnesses.
So called 'fiscal conservatism' is a blight on society.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 6:31pm
yep. preachin to the choir, George. Well aware of it.
 
If you have read other postings or comments from me you would know that I am a staunch believer in the forces of nature, that there are things that will occur which are simply beyond our control. Nature always finds her balance. There will no doubt be those to read what I am about to say and cry that I am being callous or cold-hearted. Oh well.
 
As we have advanced our civilization we have created conditions which are not the intended "normal" state for human beings. We have developed medicine and treatments for various maladies that used to be fatal, diseases, viruses that nature in her quest for balance would periodically introduce to "cull the herd". Our mastery of these things is seen as progress. I dont care to belabor the point that it is or it isnt, but here is the price we pay as a species for that progress.
 
Left undisturbed nature would winnow out those genetic traits that were less than optimal for the survival of the species. We have thwarted that process and have not only preserved but helped to perpetuate these non-desirable traits. Little by little over time we have compromised our gene pool. At some point nature will  even her ledger.
 
 I am not suggesting that the drug epidemic is the force of nature to effect that balance. I will, however, suggest that a perpetuation of an addictive gene may very well be a part of that force. Its something worth pondering.
George N Romey Added Jul 15, 2017 - 6:44pm
I tend to look at the fact that we are living a life we are not mean't for. We as humans beings are not made for never ending work and the mental stress. We can adapt to physical stress but mental stress isn't something we are programmed for.  We are not naturally programmed for this hyper competitive world in which fewer and fewer are comfortable.
 
Look at the "Green Zones" in which life expectancy is so high.  They all have in common much more simple lives, far less social and mental stress, lives full of physical rigor, laughter and enjoyment of community, and personal connections.  Unfortunately in an Internet age those communities have probably already changed and since they are getting economically left behind by the global economy their human tranquility is being replaced by financial and social hardship.
Jeff Michka Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:11pm
John G sez: So called 'fiscal conservatism' is a blight on society. -Whoa, now you'll get the WB rightists and Econoweenies upset!!  They will all claim they are "fiscal conservatives".  Notice Geo decries everything, but ever see a solution or action taken to change ANYTHING?  IF IT WAS OKAY FOR THE POOR AND MINORITIES TO DUE FROM HUNGER AND DRUGS, then it should be okay for the now-worthless white folks to go the same route. aw...those pooooor white folk. LOL
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:19pm
Jeff -
 
Dude! That is seriously lame. I dont see where anyone entered race into the discussion....oh, wait.
You did. WTF? Uncalled for, really
George N Romey Added Jul 15, 2017 - 8:11pm
Ignore Jeff he is a moron.  Drug abuse hits hard people with little hope, black or white.  And by the way, this new economic order hits minorities even harder then it did years ago.  I've met so many young black men frustrated because their parents couldn't afford to send them to college (you know just being middle class) and they were afraid, and rightfully so, to take on thousands in debt with no perceived return.  
John G Added Jul 15, 2017 - 10:25pm
George wants more austerity and for the economy to crash!!!
Yeah that'll fix it. Destroying the village to save the village always works.
Saint George Added Jul 16, 2017 - 2:14am
John G wants hyperinflation! Yeah that'll fix it. Destroying the economy to save the economy always works.
John G Added Jul 16, 2017 - 2:36am
Yeah this is stalking now, Corey.
Saint George Added Jul 16, 2017 - 2:56am
You're obsessed with two things: hyperinflation and Corey. 
 
Paranoid, too, perhaps?
Phil Greenough Added Jul 16, 2017 - 6:37am
“At some point nature will even her ledger.”
 
I agree with that except as it relates to humans.  Humans have largely outsmarted nature.  For example, we live in places where our skin couldn’t keep us warm enough to survive.  We’ve developed drugs to prevent us from dying from diseases that would otherwise decimate the population.  The list is endless.  The concept that nature will ultimately destroy us, could be true (although I don’t know how or when), I’m far more worried about us killing ourselves.  So we really should prioritize our concerns, but sadly we seem to do nothing about the threats fellow man presents to itself.  Such as terrorist or crazy regimes obtaining nuclear weapons. 
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 16, 2017 - 7:33am
Phil - 
 
I am certainly with you there and you have hit upon what I guess one could say is my general theme, not just in this posting.
 
Going across the globe, as a species, we do not spend that much time anguishing over what may or may not happen as regards events which are clearly beyond human control. In western society, however, it has become en vogue to exhibit a mass public hand wringing over these things.
 
Ask our friend Stone, Im sure he can speak to this. Do you think the people in Africa spend that thought and emotional energy on these things? I doubt it, but Stone Eater is in a place to say.
 
I am not trying to say that nature will destroy nor am I trying to wish that this were so. What I am saying is that when and if nature dictates that our numbers be reduced to maintain a balance, regardless any defenses we may have contrived against it, nature will act in some way that will restore that balance. Where it concerns these things it matters not what we do, but indeed we can and should do those things to counter threats that we impose on each other. If one looks at every other species on the planet is that not how they perform as a part of nature?
 
Im sure there will be those on the side of climate change orthodoxy that will try to twist my words to say " see! You just admitted that nature will incur her wrath upon us for what we are doing" In part this is true, but I am not ceding the argument to them. Whether we do one thing or another, no matter what it may be, if it upsets the balance of nature then nature will restore the balance. Period. We have no control over that.
 
For all of its feel good aspirations to altruism that modern liberalism purports to represent their instincts are counterintuitive. Let us liken it to rival species of ants in a remote tropical setting. One species encroaches upon the other. There was no provocation; it is simply the instinct of the more aggressive species. The attacked species, if they are in possession of a biological imperative for survival, will counter the aggression to assure their own survival. Now if the attacked species acted from an instinct like that which is reasoned by the liberal mind one can be assured that the colony would be decimated. 
 
You cant live in the world you want. You have to live in the world that is. You only have some degree of control in your immediate surroundings, or as in the case of the ants your "colony". If the jungle floods or a volcano erupts? Too bad for you. Game over. But if another of your species attacks you? There you have a chance to impact the outcome. If you dont then nature's solution for you is simple: extinction
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 16, 2017 - 7:37am
But now we are way off topic, arent we? ☺
Dave Volek Added Jul 16, 2017 - 11:36am
TBH: Well written article indeed!
 
I don't watch much sports, but in 2004, my local professional hockey team--the Calgary Flames--were making a serious run for the Stanley Cup. I watched about 25 games: about 100 hours--or 2.5 working weeks--in all.
 
When it was over (the Flames lost in Game 7 of the last round), I asked a friend, who has some biology training, about why I became so hooked. He said that when we emotionally attach ourselves to a sports team, we get a high when it scores a goal, which then triggers a release of chemicals in the brain to give us pleasure. When the other team scores a goal, we get a withdrawal--which then increase our incentive to see our team score. We get hooked!
 
This pleasure/withdrawal cycle happens in so many other avenues of life than mind-altering substances:  shopping, recreation, professional sports, entertainment, computer games, irreligious religions,  etc. Even posting articles and comments an Writers' Beat has its own internal reward for its writers.
 
In the 1973 version of Rollerball, the masses are occupied by a very brutal sport which keeps them away from discussing and acting on what is really important to better our world. The corporations have, essentially, supplied them with a drug--which keeps the corporations in control of the world.
 
Politics is another one of those drugs to give both the players and watchers a little high and the illusion that such discourse is actually creating a bettering of the world. One needs only a minimal investment,like posting an article or comment on WB (or other internet places), to get that high.
 
As you know, I have an ulterior motive for being on WB: I am promoting my book on an alternative version of democracy. But our addiction to politics keeps most WB contributors from investing the time to inspect this new system (the TDG). Even within my own life, I have many family, friends, colleagues, and  acquaintances who have lots to say about the sorry state of our political affairs, yet cannot come to spend three hours to read my book. It seems the addiction is more important than a possible solution.
 
 
 
 
 
Jeff Michka Added Jul 16, 2017 - 11:48am
"Mr. economic troll," Geo "I'm really a coward" romey sez:  Ignore Jeff he is a moron.  Drug abuse hits hard people with little hope, black or-Why can't you just be a junkie, Geo? "Geo the junkie" would be a neat screen name for an intellectual fraud and economic troll like yourself.
opher goodwin Added Jul 19, 2017 - 2:43pm
I feel the sadness connected with your words for both your colleague Jason and your son.  My condolences.
I have known a number of casualties of alcohol, opiates and dope.
My own view is that the drug laws do not help. We are dealing with a health issue and not a criminal one. If we had less propaganda and more facts that might be helpful.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 19, 2017 - 3:16pm
That is indeed so my friend

Recent Articles by Writers The Burghal Hidage follows.