Pain and Relief

I am really disappointed that reason chose to publish Melinda Ammann's "The Agony and the Ecstasy" (April), an intellectually and morally challenged article on OxyContin. Please understand that I strongly favor elimination of most drug laws. I would welcome the over-the-counter sale of laudanum. I think heroin and opium should be made readily available to hospitalized patients, and that heroin in particular should be generously administered to the terminally ill. Society has little to fear from a bed-ridden, terminally ill addict.

If people choose to ingest opium, heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana, or any of the dozens of uppers, downers, and hallucinogens in common use, let them. Put a warning label on the drugs. Sell them cheap. Take the money out of drug distribution. If some people, even millions, suffer and die, they have themselves to blame.

But so long as drugs are illegal, and so long as the vast majority of reputable, decent doctors choose to abide by the law, it seems to me to be unconscionable and unreasonable to validate or excuse the behavior of an avaricious handful who profit mightily by cheating. To portray these creeps as humanitarian heroes is just beyond the pale.

Ammann may think she understands them; she may believe their professed motives. I too think I understand them, and I think they are quacks, hacks, and lying charlatans motivated solely by greed. Lacking real evidence to the contrary (as opposed to a handful of anecdotes), reason should apologize to its readers.

Ed Beneville
Tustin, CA

As one of the sources for "The Agony and the Ecstacy," I wanted to thank you for a wonderful, objective article. I hope that Melinda Ammann's message reaches far and wide and finally gets our pleas for help heard by those in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Congress. I hope that it will help ease the concerns of the few brave doctors we have left to treat our pain.

I plan to forward Ammann's article to many of my fellow chronic pain sufferers so they may show it to their loved ones and their treating physicians to get the word out to everyone. Thank you so much for shedding some light on our fight for proper pain management and treatment. God bless you!

Tammy Alender
Hastings, MI

Thank you for the balanced reporting in "The Agony and the Ecstasy". My husband died of pancreatic cancer, a horribly painful malady. His doctors at a major teaching hospital refused to prescribe adequate pain medication because they were fearful of the DEA. Fortunately, he was ultimately able to find a doctor who was willing to prescribe OxyContin so that he could live his remaining days in comfort and coherence. The OxyContin crackdown has been a great tragedy for millions of people suffering pain.

Kathryn A. Weiner
American Academy of Pain Management
Sonora, CA

Boob Tube Power

In "Lust-See TV" (April), Nick Gillespie claims there is no relation between TV and the action of young people. I hear his argument every time I go complain to the station manager: TV can't affect behavior; it's simply entertainment.

Yet when I stop in at the station's marketing department, the story changes. There I'm assured that my TV advertising dollars will move teenage behavior in any direction desired.

I actively parented my five through those years and watched the impact of TV. There is no coursework in human behavior equivalent to guiding a bunch of your own. Perhaps therein lies the disconnect. America's small intelligentsia has decided they no longer want large families. How sad. There's nothing quite like reality training to improve understanding.

John Keeler
Phoenix, AZ

Comic Warrior

I would like to say how much I enjoy Peter Bagge's pieces. In fact, it was his work that inspired me to resubscribe to the magazine after a hiatus of a number of years.

I thought "Observations From a Reluctant Anti-Warrior" (March) was outstanding and paralleled my doubts about the wisdom of going into Iraq while at the same time finding myself as wary of peace activists as I am of the Bush administration. Just about all Bagge's pieces have been dead-on; they are usually the highlight of each issue. I hope you are able to retain his services for a good long time.

Robert Fisher
Corona, AZ

If Peter Bagge is so disturbed by the lack of libertarian presence at anti-war protests, why doesn't he help to organize a contingent at every one? Why not ask the local Libertarian Party to pull together its own protests? "Piggybackers" supporting every cause from animal rights to free markets to communist revolution will always be a presence at any march—indeed, any public gathering. That's not so bad; that's democracy. The solution isn't to ask them to go away (or to waste time complaining) but to raise your own voice. And if leftists are the ones with the guts and the skills to do the hard work of pulling anti-war marches together, then they should get credit for that.

Jeremy Smith
San Francisco, CA

Porous Border

Thanks to Cathy Young for "Guilty by Association" (March). There are some points she may wish to consider.

It may be correct that illegal aliens who have sneaked into our country are not terrorists but poor people looking for work—but there's no way of knowing that. The fact that the known terrorists come here legally does not preclude the possiblity (likelihood?) that others have filtered in through our porous borders. They do try to establish sleeper cells. How do we know they haven't taken advantage of our "good neighbor" border policy? If they have not, do we know they will not? What does prudence suggest?

Young implies that we must anticipate an ongoing flow of illegal aliens because of the need we have for low- paid, low-benefit workers. The money we spend trying to keep them out is wasted, and, she suggests, immigrants take jobs with working conditions so absurd that Americans refuse them. Yet it's evident that illegal aliens are taking jobs from American workers. American companies—Tyson Chicken for example—import illegal aliens, which keeps wages and general working conditions depressed and weakens unions. The workers are jammed into hovels and the benefits are nil.

Young, out of legitimate concern, argues that the law should change to permit workers to come into this country legally. But she misses a crucial point: It is the fact of illegality that makes the current system work. Illegal workers have to accept terribly low wages, miserable working conditions, and essentially no benefits. If they complain, it's easy to get them deported. If they became legal, they'd immediately demand higher wages, proper working conditions, and benefits. If they didn't get them, they could seek employment elsewhere. One can bet (though apparently no one knows) that the illegal aliens given amnesty in the 1980s didn't continue in their miserable jobs but moved up, making room for the next wave of their compatriots.

Finally, there is the issue of the significance of our borders. If we accept and tolerate the people who illegally swarm our country with impunity, we also accept that immigration policy is no longer in our hands. This means the nature of our society could change without discussion or debate. Perhaps one could argue that such changes are desirable, but the arguments should be made, not passively accepted as an inevitability.

Bertram H. Rothschild
Aurora, CO

reason news

With this issue, we welcome frequent contributor Michael Valdez Moses as a contributing editor. Michael's latest piece, "Back to the Future," can be found on page 48.

We're also happy to announce that Georgetown University senior Kerry Howley joined the staff in late May as this summer's Burton C. Gray Memorial Intern. Kerry will spend 10 weeks reporting from our Los Angeles offices.