For a fraction of the cost of drug enforcement, we could fund drug treatment facilities to help people get off meth, crack, heroin, etc., and meanwhile allow marijuana to become a taxable commodity like cigarettes.
There are no perfect solutions obviously but the war on drugs has proven to be probably the worst of the lot.
It's also an eye-opener in revealing the historical origins of the expansion of police powers like wiretapping, and IIRC, overreaches of the Interstate Commerce Clause.
Once you've watched it, it's easy to draw some very damning "learn from history of be doomed to repeat it" parallels between Prohibition and the War on Drugs at a more detailed level than "drug prohibition doesn't work, just look at Prohibition."
There's a healthy bit of conspiracy theory that says the real motivation for the marijuana prohibition was a Dupont family political move against Henry Ford, who was looking at alternative fuels based on hemp. Certainly, Harry Anslinger, the primary campaigner for anti-marijuana laws, was a Dupont in-law, lending credence to the theory. Still, it's conspiracy theory and should be taken with a grain of salt.
But in the longer political run, marijuana makes an excellent nuisance crime for harassing social undesirables - blacks, latinos, and white hippies and artists who were unduly influenced by black culture. That's not a matter of research, it's just plain obvious. And since it's kind of hard to actually show that marijuana causes black men to rape white women or that it leads directly to heroin and communism or whatever, there is quite a cottage industry in faux-science to "prove" the dangers of a basically harmless herb.
The bigger problem in modern years, imho, has been the rise of the private drug testing industry. It doesn't hurt the self-image of big businesses to demand that potential employees pee in a cup to prove their competence, but it's completely shameful socially. It's ridiculous.
the KKK started out as an Anti catholic group
The 'second' Klan was originally a merchandizing effort surrounding the movie "Birth of a Nation." It quickly turned into an actual political organization which adopted the white nativist views which were in vogue at the time. It was largely anti-immigrant focusing on Catholics, but also targeting Jews and Eastern Europeans.
It's worth noting that in all of it's incarnations, the Klan was racist and anti-black. It wasn't until the 1960s that this became the center-point of their politics, but it was always there.
It's on Netflix
Here's a quick review from the Guardian to get you a taste: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryCfjX7DRqM
Until then, we're still living primitively... in the jungle as a savage, infant race.
Physical pain is also important. It keeps you from doing stupid things that end up with you getting hurt.
Both mental and physical pain can be modulated/reduced somewhat through psychological training (one form of which would be meditation). I think making pain reduction any easier could cause more problems than it solves.
It goes through the horror of what that implies.
A politician's career should be based on reconciling principle with reality. Their livelihood should be linked directly to their ability to do this successfully.
That comes with a certain level of idealism, true, but without that we have to concede that our lives are in the hands of people we don't even expect to care.
Ending the drug war is important to some people, but there are tons of people who support the drug war for moral reasons, on both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile, with an aging populace people are much more concerned with Medicare, Social Security, healthcare, pensions, etc, than the justice or injustice of the drug war.
Even a politician who does care sincerely about ending the drug war wouldn't waste his political capital actually doing it, not in face of all the more important things that people want done.
That mother showing pictures of her 4 missing boys in the article this thread is about, I think she would argue the war is immoral.
I think the people who think the drug war is moral, would change their mind if they spent more than 30 seconds thinking about it.
Baffles my mind, and when pressed in person, even pious blowhards admit there are serious violent death problems with their methods --- but the people who support them seem totally oblivious to the violent oppressive death that their war causes.
How the fuck is it a moral war?
Some people further think that bad habits like drug use can be controlled through legal means. I don't think they believe it can be eliminated, but I think they believe that if we did not have a drug war, drug use would be a lot more common.
Furthermore, those people can justify the damage caused by enforcement on the grounds that it happens to people who bring it upon themselves, by participating in drug use and drug trade. Even this proposition isn't totally divorced from reality, at least within the U.S. There is lots of collateral damage, but by and large the people dying in gang wars are involved in gangs to begin with, and the people in jail for drug crimes did use or deal drugs.
You don't have to agree with any of this to concede that these ideas are rooted in some sort of moral framework. Not a particularly compassionate moral framework, but there is nothing about moral frameworks that requires them to be compassionate.
My concern is, they think, and argue that their framework is compassionate --- but they are ignorant of reality and what's actually going on with their war.
But "I don't want my daughter to meet X" is something that you need to handle within your family, not by asking armed men to forcibly remove X from the community. In your given example (daughter visits friend whose parent is high) you can punish cases if your underage daughter gets offered drugs, as currently would happen if she'd get offered alcohol or sex; but saying that your neighbor should be imprisoned for what he's doing in his own home simply because "my daughter might visit..." seems a bit ridiculous reason.
It's perfectly okay for your neighbors (and parents of your daughters classmates) to do all kinds of wierd sh*t that you wouldn't allow your underage daughter to do - they can practice crazy religions, have freaky sex including blood and bondage, do near-suicidal acts for thrills, implant horns in their foreheads, whatever. If you don't like that, then that is a valid reason for you to avoid them, but it's not a valid reason for requiring them to stop.
Even more people feel that way when it comes to other drugs, which is why they are still mostly illegal.
I'm not saying I agree with their position. I actually largely agree with you. I was just trying to explain to proksoup (the commenter who I originally responded to) how others view the world. He was baffled how people could support the drug war. I think it shows a real lack of imagination and empathy to not see other people's point of view. You don't have to agree with it, but I think it's pretty easy to understand where they're coming from.
We shouldn't put people "in power" in the first place.
Maybe it's naive, but I think it's possible to have a society where most judges are genuinely obsessed with being just.
I'm sure that the judge who recently disallowed a mother from naming her child "Messiah" felt like he was being just, but that justice was undoubtedly colored by his religious faith.
The judges who uphold "traditional marriage" also probably felt like they were being just, as their justice is shaped by what they personally consider to be 'right' and 'wrong'. The law itself, in too many cases, offers too much ambiguity.
We want states to have the right to do things their own way on issues we want, but not on issues we don't. If we, as people, support the right of gay marriage, we think that states should be required to allow it. However, if we support marijuana is relatively harmless, we think that states should be allowed to legalize it.
These are just examples, but it's hard to come up with a 'pragmatic' solution for what is or isn't just. If justice is based on morality, then whose morality do we base it on? If it's based on whether or not it causes harm to others, then what level of harm do we allow? Freedom of speech is generally harmless, except when it isn't -- except when it's "fire" in a theater, or when it's your neighbors yelling at 3 am, or when it's someone preaching [religion/anti-religion] in contrast to what I want to hear.
In short, it's a very complicated thing, justice, with blurry edges, multiple middles, and an infinite list of value substitutions that muddy the issue. Even those doing the very best things for the most noble of purposes can be considered harmful by others who are also doing the very best things for the most noble of purposes.
There are certain issues (drugs prohibition is a big example) where politicians often 'come out' about their true position after leaving office. They don't want to be the "weed guy," so they don't publicly support legalization while in office. This is different from genuinely disagreeing about the correct policy.
Even just honesty would be an improvement. "I think marijuana/gay marriage/whatever should be legal, but I don't think the majority want that/it's not worth pursuing right now/insert real reason they aren't pushing this." I don't think that's impossible. It requires a change from us. We need to be willing to let politicians openly hold a position while not pursuing it in legislation.
For example (I'm not American, so this is contrived), my view on the American gun issues is that widespread ownership of firearms for self defense is bad, but it's going to be very difficult to pursue disarmament effectively when so many people disagree so strongly.
You're completely not wrong about political integrity being key to the process. At least speaking as an American, we don't seem to have any. I watched a neighboring state's election last night and the result was very close. Very close. Out of over 2 million votes, the opponents were separated by less than 60,000 votes in the outcome.
Of the two primary candidates, the winner was a notoriously corrupt politician who is well-known for being a political fund-raiser and (basically) morally bankrupt, while the other is more intellectually honest (at least, as comparing his statements to his voting record), but openly disapproves of things like gay marriage, and wanted to ban blowjobs. Even the libertarian candidate (and I'm a libertarian party member) was sleazy in too many ways.
Ultimately, the contest was won (predictably) by the one who spent the most money. Which means that fund-raising was critical, which means that getting in bed with money is necessary, which makes it nearly impossible to get intellectual honesty in elections. There are pretty noble efforts to eliminate, make transparent, or in some way normalize election contributions, but that just shrinks the list of viable candidates down to the rich, which isn't meant as an indictment of the rich, but isn't necessarily good for the interests of the hoi polloi either. Michael Bloomberg is rich, and he's been objectively horrible for New York City on a few landmark pieces of legislation (not meant as a comment on his entire term, but banning sodas? Really?).
As pertaining to firearms, that issue is, I think, more cut and dry. Our Constitution says we have the right to bear arms, and the job of our federal government, and its employees, is to uphold the Constitution, or to ratify it where it is wrong. The latter point is important, I think, because while I disagree with the notion that "guns are bad" (which is an argument for a different day, perhaps), I would abide the law if the Constitution were amended in the Constitutionally prescribed process. I wouldn't love it, but I am far more offended by those who would sidestep the Constitution to ignore its tenets.
Either there's support to ratify it, or there isn't. There currently isn't, but even if there were, none of the legislation proposed makes any attempt to uphold the Constitution, and all of the legislation, even that which I support, runs afoul of our governing tenets, and such be dismissed out of hand as such.
The way the question is posed to people can have a big effect on support. For instance, saying, "The war on drugs is counter-productive because it increases addiction rates and increases the harm caused by addiction, and should be replaced with a well-funded addiction-minimization and education regime," is different than saying, "Drugs should be legalized because adults should be able to choose for themselves what they put in their bodies."
When I mentioned "real leadership" above, I meant leaders that would make a case and design an alternate policy that would convince voters who are afraid of legalization as such, but who recognize that the drug war is a failed policy.
Remember, the relevant population here is the population of voters, not the population as a whole. Voters skew older and suburban/rural.
The two problems are that drugs are much too ingrained in society as something incredibly dangerous and that sound-byte politics don't lend itself well to the distinction of wanting an activity to be not prohibited without actually endorsing the activity itself.
Some elements of it obviously aren't, as we see marijuana legalization advancing (in some places, at least nominally, restricted to "medical" use, in other places more generally.)
Granted, Kofi Annan was not a politician in the same way as the folks I'm really aiming this comment at, but still.
For example in France there is no private incarceration industry, prisons are overpopulated and in inhumane condition, underground drug economy in suburbs create all sort of problems and yet there is no sign of even depenalizing consumption of marijuana.
Why ? I don't know.