What the Drug Czar Believes (What Is He, High? Edition)

|

Drug Czar John Walters recently sat down with the editorial board of The Cincinnati Enquirer, "repeatedly referred to drug abuse as a 'disease,'" said the key to winning the drug war was to cut demand, and mused

"I believe there will come a day when we'll wonder what took us so long to do drug testing in schools."

Walters also trotted out the canard that "half of the world's terrorist groups bankroll operations with profits from the illegal drug trade" without questioning how black markets affect not only profits but the sorts of folks who go into criminal activity. More, including the Enquirer's fawning characterization of Walters and a call to be even more proactive in pushing kids into treatment programs, etc. here.

urinal 2.jpg

On the very day that the House of Representatives is voting on one of the most invasive, hysteria-driven bills in recent memory–legislation that would allow school officials to conduct random and warrantless searches of students on the flimsiest of pretexts–I think the question we'll all be asking in the future is how we let the drug war become a central, structuring event in everyday American life akin to the Cold War, when every international chess match or hockey game was an apocalyptic proxy war. Think about it (at least if you're a man who uses urinals in restaurants, public places, and the like): You literally can't take a piss in this country without being reminded, courtesy of the sanitary cake holder in the pisspot, to "Say No to Drugs."

The standard figure for the direct costs of the drug war is around $40 or $50 billion at the local, state, and federal levels, but when you factor in the massive social disruption (record-setting arrests for marijuana possession, anyone? or raids on legal medical marijuana dispensaries), utter waste of time (e.g. DARE programs), and widescale institutional corruption (e.g. testilying) bred by the effort to keep people mostly from growing, buying, and selling weed (by far the most popular illegal drug), it's anyone's guess how much everything really costs.

This much is certain–as even conservatives at The American Enterprise Institute will tell you–the drug war fails the most basic cost-benefit analysis.

NEXT: Empire of the Green Sun

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Take special note of Nick’s reference to the “….Enquirer’s fawning characterization of Walters.” The mainstream media typically suspends all the journalistic ethics-and-practice rules we learned in j-school when it covers the Drug Warriors. In the name of “protecting our children,” the MSM acts as though the usual truth-vetting rules don’t apply, as long as the source is speaking out against the evils of psycho-actives. The MSM is far too often part of the government propaganda machine in the War on Drugs on U.S.

  2. I’m confused. Didn’t George W. Bush say that we were going to smoke the terrorists out? Now he’s against drugs?

  3. Think about it (at least if you’re a man who uses urinals in restaurants, public places, and the like): You literally can’t take a piss in this country without being reminded, courtesy of the sanitary cake holder in the pisspot, to “Say No to Drugs.”

    What? They’re making “Say No To Drugs” urine cakes now?

  4. Pro-drug, anti-drug, pro-drug-war, anti-drug-war, the idea that abuse/addiction is a “disease” is one of the lamest ideas crammed into the public consciousness during the past several decades.

    Maybe there’s some psychological component to the whole concept that helps certain people get through withdrawals and such. But as an intellectual notion, in and of itself, it’s really goofy.

  5. It’s not on the urine cakes. It’s on those plastic screen urinal inserts that catch cigarette butts.

    One of those things saved my life. I had been thinking of becoming a drug addict until I looked down at my stream of piss and read “Don’t Do Drugs”.

  6. Smacky, the cakes have plastic holders, many of which have the “Drugs are bad, ‘mkay” message printed right on them. I think it’s a great idea. I can literally piss on the WOD.

  7. I enjoy being able to piss all over the drug-war propaganda.

    I wish the drug czar weren’t John Walters but John Waters: “Kids, don’t do drugs (wink).”

  8. I think those screens are a great idea. I can literally piss on the WOD.

  9. I didn’t do any drugs, I didn’t drink at all, during high school. Though it was hardly a moral decision for me at the time (I just didn’t see the point until after) there is a powerful argument against drug testing in high school: that, by testing every child, you are removing their opportunity to make a moral choice, and substituting it with a fear of authority. Shouldn’t this go over well with the Christian right? In theory?

  10. the drug war fails the most basic cost-benefit analysis.

    Not if the benefit is “giving cops excuses to be more invasive and overlook basic civil liberties.” If that’s the presumed benefit, the drug war is an outright bargain.

  11. School officials already conduct massive warrantless searches on the flimsiest of pretexts and have for many, many years.

  12. All this talk about urinals and the drug war reminds me of this story:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
    dyn/content/article/2006/03/26/AR2006032600880_pf
    .html

    It’s going to get to the point that we’ll all be keeping our piss in jars like Howard Hughes.

  13. If anybody wants to put John Walters’ face on urinal cakes, I’ll definitely buy a bunch for the office. They’d be a hit around here.

  14. I wonder if the drug warriors realize they’re encouraging millions of men to literally piss on their message?

    Also, this reminds me of a minor controversy when I was an undergraduate: the Women’s Center conviced the University administration to put urinal screens with “You hold the power to stop rape in your hands” into all of the urinals in the student union and other major campus buildings. It didn’t last long.

  15. My favorite urinal screen message was “Johnson Urinal Sentries. Quality Products since 1973.”

  16. Furthermore, there’s nothing better than to get a little too tipsy, head to the nearby porcelain throne, and see the word “Church.”

    Sly, that Church toilet corporation! Sly!

  17. Gillespie said, “I think the question we’ll all be asking in the future is how we let the drug war become a central, structuring event in everyday American life akin to the Cold War…”

    This answers the often asked question concerning why many of us in the Libertarian Party saw the Drug War as THE key issue: before the War on Terror, it was the dominant catchall motivation for attacks on individual liberty across the board. The Drug War, in fact, paved the way for a lot of the worst in the War on Terror.

    It is fairly well established now that neither the GOP nor the Democrat party will end the Drug War. So people who understand the corrosive nature of today’s Prohibition had better start lobbying Congress to end it now, as a prelude to a major sanitization effort at the polls in November.

    I propose that we use the Drug War just as the government did: as a staging platform to perfect our approach to the War on Terror. But in our case, we should concentrate on ending the Drug War, and using lessons learned to increase our chances of success against the War on Terror.

    Shock and Awe will be necessary, I think. Starting in November, fire all incumbents and, wherever possible, select their replacements from independents and worthy third-party candidates. Even better, if we can install people who are pledged to ending the drug war. But here is the most important message to send to Washington: “You Can Be Replaced, No District is ‘Safe’ — Signed, Your Bosses, We the People.”

    Doing this at the ballot box is going to be much cleaner and easier than doing it any other way. So let’s prove that American voters CAN choose a path that isn’t painful and bloody, while they still have such kinder and gentler options.

  18. And no, I’m neither soft on terrorism nor a “blame America firster.” But I am convinced that the War on Terrorism will not eliminate the scourge of terrorism any more than the War on Drugs has eliminated the scourge of drug abuse. In both cases, a more sophisticated, realistic approach is needed to make progress. But we’ll never even stop to consider such alternatives, as long as there’s a “war” on.

  19. just coz Im a generous guy, & cant scrape up the captital to make my first million (and because this is the first time Ive ever seen such a subject in such a forum)….
    my million $ urinal screen/cigbuttcatcher thingie.
    It has a public school type 1 ft measuring stick, but 1/2 scale, with a crown at the “12” in . end, (that the end away from you) and the slogan: “Every Man A Ruler”
    Go ahead. Rob me.

  20. Did we smoke the terrorists out? It’s been, like, 5 minutes since I posted here….

  21. Nick,
    Thanks for continuing to read the Sinincincinnati Inkwar… it’s a tough job, but a few of us have to do it.

  22. I think the question we’ll all be asking in the future is how we let the drug war become a central, structuring event in everyday American life akin to the Cold War, when every international chess match or hockey game was an apocalyptic proxy war.

    Anyone who read Reasons love fest of Reagan a bit o’ time in the past doesn’t wonder this. Even Libertarians love a pro-big gov politicians who wage massive drug wars if they wink at them. Hell, Imagine what SCOTUS would look like without so-called Libertarian support of republicans.

    Nick, maybe a historian years from now will notice that the drug war couldn’t have happened without the stalwart support for the starters of the “war”. Provided by supporters of anti-constitutional politicians, supporters like Reason and CATO.

    Come on, there isn’t a Libertarian here on these boards, the only one at CATO might be “The Agitator” and over here, only you Jesse and Julian, even pretend to like liberty. Most would, and do, through thier support to anyone who hates Social security. Even though, weirdly enough, among politicians one can determine how much one opposes simple liberty and the 10 amendments by measuring a seemingly unconnected beliefs.

    If you are “pro-life” you usually also vote against the constitution. If you are anti-social security you also usually vote against the constitution. If you are a Libertarian hero/republican…

    You always vote against the constitution.

    Funny that.

  23. I think the question we’ll all be asking in the future is how we let the drug war become a central, structuring event in everyday American life akin to the Cold War, when every international chess match or hockey game was an apocalyptic proxy war.

    Anyone who read Reasons love fest of Reagan a bit o’ time in the past doesn’t wonder this. Even Libertarians love a pro-big gov politicians who wage massive drug wars if they wink at them. Hell, Imagine what SCOTUS would look like without so-called Libertarian support of republicans.

    Nick, maybe a historian years from now will notice that the drug war couldn’t have happened without the stalwart support for the starters of the “war”. Provided by supporters of anti-constitutional politicians, supporters like Reason and CATO.

    Come on, there isn’t a Libertarian here on these boards, the only one at CATO might be “The Agitator” and over here, only you Jesse and Julian, even pretend to like liberty. Most would, and do, throw thier support to anyone who hates Social security. Even though, weirdly enough, among politicians one can determine how much one opposes simple liberty and the 10 amendments by measuring a seemingly unconnected beliefs.

    If you are “pro-life” you usually also vote against the constitution. If you are anti-social security you also usually vote against the constitution. If you are a Libertarian hero/republican…

    You always vote against the constitution.

    Funny that.

  24. If you are “pro-life” you usually also vote against the constitution.

    Er, not really. I’m not “pro-life”, but I don’t believe that there is a Constitutional right to an abortion. I also don’t think the federal government has any enumerated powers that would enable it to ban or regulate abortions. State governments probably have the inherent power, but their constitutions may or may not guarantee a right to abortions.

    If you are anti-social security you also usually vote against the constitution.

    Weird. I don’t see anything in the Constitution that gives the federal government the power to run anything like a national retirement funding/wealth transfer program. Could someone point me to the enumerated power for this?

    And don’t point to the General Welfare clause. It doesn’t grant any powers, but merely states the purpose for which the enumerated powers may be exercised.

    In my book, being pro-Social Security in anti-Constitution.

  25. I think Johnny is saying that being pro-life or anti social security are not anti-constitutional. Rather that people who hold these beliefs happen to be anti-constitutional for other reasons. I’m not sure why he is saying that though.

  26. Let me redo that first sentance.

    I do not think Johnny is saying that being pro-life or anti-social security is anti-constitutional.

  27. You realize that 80% of kids in upper middle class suburban NJ and NY will fail said mandatory drug test? I graduated in 04 and our (public) HS sent many many kids to ivy league schools…and almost every one of them was regular pot smoker.

  28. Holy Christ, Johnny, can you even read? Because your comment shows either that you have exceptionally poor comprehension skills or that you have just never actually read Reason at all.

    Either that or you’re just a wilful liar.

  29. James Anderson Merritt,
    The best we can do is what you’ve done: conflate the wars on terror and drugs.
    Not that I think it’s an insignificant thing to do.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.