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rizzom5000 529 days ago | link | parent

The current situation in Mexico is a quintessential example of a direct side effect of prohibition. The US's War On Drugs has been a failure, completely and all the way across the board (well, except for those who profit from the industrio-prison complex).

It's interesting how little coverage the US media gives the situation in Mexico. Then again, the US media currently gives very little coverage to its own war(s).



rndmize 529 days ago | link

"Unsurprising" is the word I would use. Darfur got minimal coverage at the time when mass killings were going on, and Mexico is an even worse story - not only do you have a country approaching a degree of civil war, but the US public is effectively funding the criminal side. This is not something that's likely to play well on CNN.

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tehayj 529 days ago | link

What I think simply sucks is that the US brings democracy to countries if those countries want or not for whatever reasons but do not do anything about the civil war next door.

The next step in human evolution is to wake up and for people to at least try to see things as they are.

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berntb 529 days ago | link

>>the US brings democracy to countries if those countries want or not

Per definition -- when a country is not a democracy, it is controlled by a junta that steals lots of resources and control the information to the citizens.

So, just for my information, how do you decide that a country does not want to be a democracy...?

Ask the (misinformed) population, which know they will be in trouble if they have the wrong opinions...?!

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tehayj 529 days ago | link

How do you decide that a country wants to be a democracy? There is no easy answer to this as well.

Iraq: A guy you know has a chronic illness and he will suffer more if he doesn't move more instead of just sitting at home. He doesn't think being more active is necessary. Is it proper that you force him to work out every day? (You also make some money if you force him to work out every day)

Mexico: You put dangerous trash in front of your house and the neighbor's kids use it to hurt each other and also throw it at your kids and sometimes hurt them. Is it proper to do something about that?

There is no right or wrong but I believe some things are obviously less wrong or more right than others.

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slurgfest 529 days ago | link

The US didn't make a dime from invading Iraq, it was a huge net loss.

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jackpirate 529 days ago | link

The US taxpayer didn't make a dime. The military industrial complex made a metric shitload.

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chii 528 days ago | link

you have to hope that the benefits of the war would somehow trickle down to the general populous.

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nitrogen 528 days ago | link

Unfortunately this is an example of the broken window fallacy. Sure, lots of people are put to work, but they are destroying real value instead of creating it.

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tehayj 529 days ago | link

Yes that's what they found out after they invaded.

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berntb 529 days ago | link

You could tell people about statistics for rule of law, protection of human rights and economic development in different types of societies -- that is, informed decisions in a secret voting process?

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Volpe 529 days ago | link

That ignore's a whole lot of culture. Democracy is part of western culture. It is a biproduct of individualism, and individual rights... These are not universally agreed concepts and a lot of people don't agree with them.

Essentially the "Democracy is a universal good" is just US propaganda that furthers its own interests.

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berntb 529 days ago | link

Democracy is, more or less, the only way to get human rights for citizens (a little simplified, but not by much).

So you're saying that rule of law, women's right, etc (see e.g. the UN declarations) are just Western propaganda -- other people don't want it?

Afaik, everyone and their dogs try to emigrate to where they can get these rights and the good economy that comes in an open, democratic society... (and/or bleed in the streets for them.)

Thanks for a good laugh. I'll still assume you're a troll or from the 50 cent army.

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powertower 529 days ago | link

Democracy does not come before Culture; though Democracy can certainly influence Culture.

Only when the Culture is compatible with Democracy can you have it.

Not only is this logical, but it's also demonstrated over and over in the world.

What worked for America 300 years ago, does not translate to what will work for Iraq or Lybia today.

Even things like georaphy, rivers, and the type of soil you have can influence the type a government or system the country subscribes to. Not even mentioning the big one, Religion.

And when you have a miss-match... Instability replaces a stable structure (even if that structure was based on strong rule, it at least keept things working "better").

You should also refrain from name-calling other people on HN just because you don't agree with their opinions. It doesn't really help you ... unless you're looking to impress the anti-Microsoft or KimDotCom crowd here (just a helpful tip someone once told me).

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Volpe 529 days ago | link

> Democracy is, more or less, the only way to get human rights for citizens (a little simplified, but not by much).

I'll just correct your line a little, it is one of the most efficient ways to get individual rights.

> So you're saying that rule of law, women's right, etc (see e.g. the UN declarations) are just Western propaganda -- other people don't want it?

No, I wasn't saying that, those were your words. The UN declaration of human rights, is not incompatible with the notion of collective rights. That is, you don't need to have individual rights, to still provide human rights.

> Afaik, everyone and their dogs try to emigrate to where they can get these rights and the good economy that comes in an open, democratic society... (and/or bleed in the streets for them.)

This is simply untrue, who is 'everyone'? The majority of the world's population don't live in the west, and aren't trying to migrate to it.

Those that do migrate, are motivated by security and economy. Though these things can be related to democracy, the motivation is not related.

> Thanks for a good laugh. I'll still assume you're a troll or from the 50 cent army.

Unnecessary to degrade the discussion like that. I am merely providing an alternate point of view. I know that can be confronting, but it's the point of view that is confronting, not the person providing it.

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berntb 529 days ago | link

First you wrote: "[Democracy] is a biproduct of individualism, and individual rights... These are not universally agreed concepts and a lot of people don't agree with them."

For individual rights I brought up human rights from UN etc.

You answered: "No, I wasn't saying that, those were your words."

That is wrong.

You did say "individual rights" yourself -- I just answered with the general rights which are (more or less) supported in democracies. But you knew that.

I wonder a bit what you mean with "collective rights"? (Clans? The communist party? Your church/mosque?) Not enough to really care. Your position seem too much like an abstract (sophistic?) defense for oppressing people by claiming rights for groups. Not new in history.

A fun read, anyway.

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Volpe 529 days ago | link

Hmm, a dishonest response, that ignores what I said. There is little point in this discussion continuing.

Collective Rights is a popular concept that a quick google would reveal to you. It is not about Clans, Communism or Relgion.

Democracy is not a cure to oppression.

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berntb 528 days ago | link

I called you dishonest -- and showed how. I saw no reason to touch your comment after that.

You lack references. If this is what you talk about, I don't see the problem with democracy (or relevance to what I originally wrote):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individual_and_group_rights

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Volpe 528 days ago | link

Collective Rights:

- http://library.thinkquest.org/C0126065/isscollective.html

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

You'll see the the above is not incompatible with Human Rights[1]

As per my original comment, democracy and the spread of it at the hand of the US is entrenched in its history[2] and serves its religious and economical agenda.

You may want to look up the following for your own benefit (in future discussions):

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

In particular:

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

[1] http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Hu...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_of_Liberty

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berntb 528 days ago | link

>>You'll see the the above is not incompatible with Human Rights[1]

From your original comment:

>> [Democracy] is a biproduct of individualism, and individual rights... These are not universally agreed concepts and a lot of people don't agree with them.

You claimed there that many people disagreed with individual rights, which I questioned -- using the Human rights from UN as an example.

Again -- you seem to be arguing something else now. Or your point of claiming a contrast is too trivial.

Thanks for the links to "collective rights", they were clearer than Wikipedia.

>>As per my original comment, democracy and the spread of it at the hand of the US is entrenched in its history

American exceptionalism is afaik something you find on the quite extreme US right? Also, the definitions of democracy in western Europe etc is quite accepted in the US so it isn't that extreme even there...

(Re child labour -- we had that in the West, until we could afford not to. It is a stage in economic evolution, which is best left as quickly as possible. Re alternative economic models -- please show me some that work and are tested, there should be better ways of doing economy.)

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eru 529 days ago | link

> Per definition -- when a country is not a democracy, it is controlled by a junta that steals lots of resources and control the information to the citizens.

Strange definition. That would make Singapore a democracy.

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berntb 529 days ago | link

Singapore is weird, quite autocratic and not that corrupt. Maybe the city state should be seen as a corporation?

I can't give three more counter examples, can you?

(I might add -- the problem with kings are that even if the present one is a genius, you don't know how crazy the next one will be...)

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eru 529 days ago | link

Your observation might be valid empirically without too many exceptions. (Thought there are corrupts democracies, too.) But it's rubbish as a definition.

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berntb 529 days ago | link

See it as (a very simplified model in) game theory: What is the interest of some game players, given their positions on the board?

Here is an interesting take:

http://reason.com/archives/2006/03/01/why-poor-countries-are...

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seanmcdirmid 529 days ago | link

Well, there is always what happened in Bhutan, which went from an absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy by the King's own initiative (who abdicated after the transition) without any demand for it from the (Bhutanese) people.

Small country though, maybe isn't a good example (they also have lots of ethnic problems with Nepalese that cause disharmony).

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dimitar 529 days ago | link

Another economic explanation is that the US a country with an expensive currency with many poor people and other potential customers for your drugs. Even if your poor and your life sucks your few dollars can buy the passage of drugs from abroad. Maybe sometimes its too hard to resist.

European countries with where recreational drugs are still illegal are generally abuse less drugs because they have less income inequality. Even when you have only a few euros, you can afford to go to university and lead a pretty comfortable life.

This may all change with mass unemployment and poverty austerity will cause, although. I really hope this will not be a race to the bottom.

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AJ007 529 days ago | link

Crystal meth and crack are one thing, but the consumption of cocaine and prescription medications is very wide spread among the upper working class -- lawyers, finance, sales, etc. These are the same people who pretty much run the US.

My friends that are middle and lower class don't do drugs, although they do drink a considerable amount of alcohol.

I went to high school in the city. It was common for kids to smoke weed after class and came to school drunk. As for the kids who went to school in the upper middle class town I grew up in, their problems included ODing on heroin. The kids that smoked weed might not have the most balanced careers, but that is a whole lot better than being dead because you ODed on heroin.

Of course that is all anecdotal. However, I think it is a major stretch to believe drug abuse has something to do with not making enough money.

The drug problem needs to be fixed first with ending prohibition. After that happens the vast resources being spent antagonizing a war can be redirected to figuring out how to fix the core problem -- people being more concerned about getting high than what the rest of their life is going to look like.

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yummyfajitas 529 days ago | link

While income inequality is a popular trope to blame things on, I don't think it really applies here.

In the US, the poor live quite comfortably. Even people with income of zero have consumption of about $20k/year.

ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/ce/standard/2009/income.txt

For comparison, Hungary has a GDP per capita of $21k, the Czech Republic of $26k, France and the UK of $35k.

Further, inequality in the US is higher mainly because the rich earn more. That doesn't cause the life of the poor to suck, unless they get jealous or something.

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king_jester 529 days ago | link

> In the US, the poor live quite comfortably.

Uh what? That individuals consume some amount of resources to live doesn't mean that they live comfortably. There is going to be some kind of minimum amount you have to pay to live, as you can't get everything for free even if you are homeless. That even those with the lowest incomes use up resources equivalent to $20k per year doesn't mean that those people are living comfortably, but we can see for Americans that there is some kind of minimum cost to living even if you can't make enough to pay for it all outright.

Drugs and poverty are intersectional. Laws for drug offenses involving substances most prevalent in poor communities have and continue to have harsher penalties than for drugs that are prevalent in more affluent communities. Drugs are highly available in poor communities, both for addicts and for those that want to sell them since economic advancement through traditional channels are denied to them. Police agencies in many cities enforce crime in the poorer parts of town that are inhabited primarily by people of color much more often than in more affluent areas.

The effects of drug prohibition amplify exiting social and economic issues in US society, so we know that US drug policy has been a total failure and must be changed.

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yummyfajitas 529 days ago | link

I'm not disputing that we should end the war on drug users.I'm only disputing the idea that income inequality somehow makes the lives of poor Americans suck, and they turn to drugs as a result.

If you want to argue that the lives of poor Americans suck, look at absolute consumption levels, or better yet, look at the actual basket of goods available to poor Americans.

Here is some data to get you started: http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/h150-07.pdf

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yesbabyyes 529 days ago | link

There is actually a lot of research suggesting that inequality in a society is itself the cause of many problems. This is not surprising to me, since, after all, it is ridiculous to speak of wealth in absolute terms. $20k doesn't mean anything.

You may call it envy if that's how you see it -- if you indeed are interesting in learning about the many problems of economic inequality, I recommend the book The Spirit Level (http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resource/the-spirit-level).

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yummyfajitas 529 days ago | link

$20k has a very well defined (albeit complex) meaning: it means that the sum of the prices of goods consumed by the individual adds up to $20k. (Note that the figures I gave for other nations were adjusted for PPP, so price levels are adjusted.)

I can think of no mechanism besides envy which would cause income inequality to harm anyone. It's not as if the US poor lack some good or service which is available in other, more equal societies.

Note that the Spirit Level only provides a correlation between inequality and other problems. It does not show the direction of causality.

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jakeonthemove 529 days ago | link

How much is "a few euros" exactly? Because you won't go anywhere without food and shelter, and last time I checked, the cheapest bread was E1.70 and a bus ticket E1.50, and it adds up pretty fast...

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cies 529 days ago | link

Living in the Netherlands, uni-fees are roughly 1500e/yr (ex books), you receive a grant of 250e/mth grant possibly increased by a 500e/mth student loan and free public transportation during either the week or the weekend -- all during the nominal length of your study.

Cheapest bread is .5-.8e, a cheap room is 200e/mth, take out meal is 5-10e and a beer costs 2-3e. Your student job easily pays you 10e/h.

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