Response to "Appalachia: Under the Gun"
Update to article (8-2013): Several years ago I changed my opinion and attitude concerning this issue. I used to believe drug laws helped society and kept individuals from 'doing bad things to themselves and others'.
I no longer support this opinion nor the drug laws in the U.S., not because I use drugs or believe they benefit everyone, but simply because the drug laws and enforcement fail at the intended purpose. Just like the Prohibition Act, which banned alcohol, it did nothing to prevent it's manufacture, sale, transportation, consumption or criminal and addictive side effects. What the laws did do was create a profitable environment for thugs like Al Capone, among others. They amassed a fortune and killed many people in the process. Had the substance, alcohol in this case, never been made illegal, Al Capone and his ilk would have remained poor, petty crooks. He and his kind would still have committed crimes, probably even murder, but they would not have profited as they did with illegal contraband nor committed the magnitude of destruction and death. This is speculation of course, but I strongly believe in this. A growing number of people in the U.S. have caught on too.
I believe the same occurs with the prohibition of various illegal drugs today. The very act of making an object (or substance) illegal only benefits the criminals and government. Both criminal enterprise and government make a profit and seize power for their own due to the illegal nature. Criminals profit from contraband by selling it on the 'black market' which is typically much higher than if the same were sold on the 'free market', and government pockets money via the penalties and punishment associated with drugs illegal nature (fees, fines, seizures, probation, court orders, repossessions, etc.).
Drugs of all types have been illegal for decades now thanks to the "War on Drugs"; yet, has any societal transformation occurred? Has drug use or addiction lowered? No and no. Things have only grown worse.
Each and every year, we throw more and more tax dollars hoping this monster will go away but without success. This is nothing but a hole in the pockets of taxpayers as more lives are lost due to criminal activity. Drug addicts will stay drug addicts until they really want to change. All the while, criminals and government figures dance in the profit and power.
Hopefully I'll be able to write in depth about this subject in the future. I went from believing drug laws helped society to understanding they only create more harm than good.
My original article, which I completely disagree with now, is left below. Why? It depicts my early thoughts of drugs and drug laws, and it's interesting, at least to me, of how my intellectual progress advances and changes over time. Perhaps it might persuade someone of a similar mindset to think outside the box.
The full article can be read at http://www.november.org/razorwire/rzold/09/0901.html
Author: Erick, Patriot Fire founder (U.S.) September 29, 2007
Drugs, gangs, crime, and violence correlate with one another. This is not an opinion, but a blatant fact. Blaming drug laws, which restrict these actions and behaviors, for causation of limited financial development, poverty, and lack of jobs is a careless observation. In "Appalachia: Under the Gun", this article attempts to blame drug laws for these types of problems. In fact, when these laws are enforced, communities prosper greatly with reduced crime and a boom in the local economy.
The writer of this article, Paul Lewin, said, "...people are poor, locals are not that concerned about residents who are doing this[dealing or using drugs], and people are not informing on their friends and neighbors to the extent that the government desires." He made this seem as if the locals accepted the drug dealers and buyers. In reality, residents are greatly concerned about this problem. Illegal drugs have always been a large part of gang activity, violent crime, murder, theft, delinquency, vandalism, and domestic problems. Most people are afraid to provide police with information for fear of retaliation by these criminals; not because they accept this for a way of life. This article also stated that in 1996, 48.6% of civilians were unemployed in West Virginia. However, my research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate at about 4.5% for 2007. This number is not high compared to other states.
The article also rambles on about infant deaths and low income; obviously trying to connect a sinister relation between drug laws and infant deaths. "Poverty and Little Economic Opportunity Cited As Reason" tries to establish that drug laws are the reason for these problems. However, illegal drugs are the cause for these societal issues, not laws. The high number of infant deaths can be related to a
high number of drug addicted parents that neglect and abuse infants. The high number of poor families can be attributed, to some degree, to drug addicted mothers and fathers without jobs. The number of unemployed can be explained because some people choose to deal or use
illegal drugs; both resulting with little to no income.
"The New War on the Poor" section blames little investment and no development on current drug laws. Who would want to invest in an area with drug addicts roaming the streets? Who in their right mind would
develop land where crime is rampant due to drugs? Development and investments only occur when a profit can be attained. Replacing drug limits with drug allowances will only further worsen these problems.
Mr. Lewin goes on to say, "...federal government intends to respond by arresting fathers and mothers, seizing family homes, cars and businesses, creating a whole new generation of Drug War Orphans." Mothers and fathers are arrested when a crime is committed. If the mother or father were responsible, he or she would have chosen responsible decisions. The parents that indulge in drugs are to blame, not the laws. People that use or deal drugs with children nearby are not suitable parents.
The last section of this article in "Citizen Observation Groups Can Work" contains this comment, "Elected officials are there to serve the local people, not the federal government." Mr. Lewin is attempting to say if enough people want drugs legalized, the government must give in. People do have a right to influence the government, but elected
officials must respect State and Federal law; State laws cannot super cede Federal laws.
An overwhelming majority of Americans do not agree for legalized drugs. Parents want a safe environment for their children. This majority also agrees with the numerous State and Federal laws that prohibit drugs. So Mr. Lewin, "Elected officials are there to serve the local people, not the federal government." And that's exactly what they are doing. The mission of your website is crying out for the "prisoners of the drug war". Where is your sympathy for the thousands of addicts that want sobriety and the children in danger due to drugs?