Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Record High

Here's a little piece of news from the US that seems odd from here: Democracy Now! reported yesterday that in 2005, more than three quarters of a million people in the United States were arrested for violations of marijuana laws.

This is, ahem, a record high.

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, enforcement costs US taxpayers up to $12 billion per year, a sum that (according to figures from the National Priorities Project) could provide more than:
2.5 million people with health care or
100,000 affordable housing units or
1,300 new elementary schools or
2.1 million univesity scholarships or
190,000 music and arts teachers or
19.5 million homes with renewable electricity or
173,000 port container inspectors.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it!

[recommended soundtrack: "Smokey" off Funkadelic's Hardcore Jollies, 1976]


JOS said...

A record high...excellent.

Anonymous said...

A record excellent.....
That's high!

vlad said...

Look, of course we could get all these wonderful things.. but the ruling elite would lose billions of dollars of free, self-righteous propaganda. And we know whose priorities win out in the end.

But if we're going to debate the pot thing I'd like to bring up a point. Of course the illegalization is a scandal; we should all be ashamed that this is happening. But what about LEGALIZATION? How would you feel about full legalization of marijuana as a (corporately marketed) commodity?

Keir said...

Since I am vehemently against capitalism, I would feel the same way about marijuana as a commodity marketed in a corporate-controlled capitalist economy as I do about most anything in that same economy. But it's a silly question. Just because I believe water (for example) should be "legal" doesn't mean I think it should be a corporate-controlled, market-based commodity.

As for "self-righteous propoganda" for the ruling elite, look into what they would have to be proud of on this. I remember reading (Tim Wise, I think) that in the US, a far higher percentage of blacks than whites go to prison for non-violent narcotics infactions, even though a far higher percentage of whites use drugs than blacks. What does the ruling elite have to be proud of? The "war on drugs" produces (hard) drugs like the "war on terror" produces terrorists. Backwards, ineffective, wrong, stupid, immoral and nothing to feel self-righteous about.

vlad said...

I guess I didn't make myself clear.. of course illegalization is nothing to be proud of. But the ruling elite clearly are proud of it, and use it for political capital; I think that it's mainly an excercise in propaganda - and, indeed, racism and oppression. For them, (not for everyone else), it's money well spent.

As for the pot/water analogy, good point. Although it only goes so far; I don't think that drugs and water are the same kind of commodity. This is obviously not a discussion forum for "drug policy" (whatever that means)but I'd still like ask two questions, while trying to remain on topic:

- Why have drugs played such a huge role in the culture and economy of the 19th/20th centuries (in the global capitalist economy, in other words)?

- How would a post-capitalist society deal with commodities which are problematic, or carry the potential for individual damage?

The word verification that blogger is asking me to type is "pardy".. amusing!

Keir said...

It's "money well spent" because their misappropriation of public funds is granted by a citizenry that fails to understand (or fails to act on the understanding ) that failed drugs policy is nothing to be proud of.

The water was an example. I don't think anything (clothes, pencils, means of transportation, medicine, land, food, etc etc etc) should be a corporate controlled, market-based commodity.

I don't really have an answer for your first question. As for your second question, it leads me to wonder why people in a participatory economy would choose to produce the means to their own destruction. It's just not likely to happen.

I am certainly no expert on this, but I don't think that tobacco-smoking indigenous tribes in North America suffered the same rate of lung cancer, emphazema, and heart problems that the marlboro smokers of the world do now. I don't think coca farmers in Bolivia use the substance to blow their faces off or otherwise destroy themselves a la famous coke users like Pryor or Belushi. But I could be wrong.

michael the tubthumper said...

don't talk to me about dodgy lungs at the moment