More Drug War Nonsense

Alcohol prohibition failed... so why are drugs still illegal?

Libertarians have long denounced the war on drugs. I think that we see it as an attempt to dictate morality, and because morals differ for each American citizen, we see it for what it is: an affront to our inalienable right to self ownership. Some people would have you believe that we are drug crazed loonies- that we party like Caligula or Bacchus. I know many libertarians, and our lives are not filled with drug induced orgies. In fact, our lives are filled with the same mundane happenings experienced by the right and left. You know, things like laundry, grocery shopping, soccer practice and band concerts. And, on top of all, work. Efforts on which we are taxed, some of us heavily, to fight something like a person’s choice of medicine (see Kubby) or, dare I say, recreation. I wonder, though, if the extremists of any political camp look at the cost/ benefit ratio of this ill pursued war.

Apparently not. According to the DOJ, meth is our country’s biggest drug worry. According to the speech prepared for our esteemed AG, current meth users are numbered at 583 thousand. (User means that a person has used one time in the last thirty days.) The same speech tells us that more than 1.4 million people tried meth last year. I wanted to know how these numbers looked compared to population. According to the US Census report, we have 293 million people within our borders. My sub par math ability indicates that current meth users represent less than .002% 0.2% (woops, forgot to percentagize) of the US population. This is our epidemic? Obesity is a bigger killer, and according to Nemours Foundation, it affects more than 97 million American adults. I guess that gluttony is not a sin anyone cares about anymore.

Reading further into the words prepared for our illustrious AG, one finds a smoke and mirror anecdote regarding a little four year old named Romeo. It has been shown that a kid can sell the Drug War like Oprah sells James Frey’s foma.

You’re going to hear a number of compelling stories today about the tragedy of meth use. The one I carry close to my heart — especially as a father of two young boys — involves a four-year-old Colorado boy named Romeo. Romeo’s parents were running a methamphetamine lab in their home.

One day, at five o’clock in the morning, a SWAT team was making the final preparations to execute a search warrant on the lab. As the final checks were made, one of the detectives on surveillance reported that he saw a “skeleton” coming out the front door.

His fellow officers thought he must have been hallucinating. But then his colleagues got a better look and saw the same thing: It was Romeo dressed in a skeleton costume and looking up and down his street. The officers at first thought he was acting as a lookout for his parents.

An officer later approached Romeo. He asked Romeo why he was dressed in a skeleton outfit and standing on his front porch. And why was he looking up and down the street at such an early hour in the morning.

Romeo’s eyes lit up as he explained that later that day his nursery school was holding a Halloween party. As he told the story, his shoulders slumped. He told the officer that he really wanted to go to the party but he hadn’t been able to wake up his mom for the last few days and didn’t know where the bus stop was. Romeo said he thought that if he got up early enough and put his costume on, he might be able see the bus and catch it as it drove by.

At four years old, Romeo could not count to ten. But as officers later learned, he could draw a picture — in detail — of an entire meth lab operation.

As a mother, I have a couple of reservations about this account of events. First, how could a four year old, who doesn’t possess the ability to count to ten, who has fended for himself for a few days, have the ability to wake himself and dress in costume (on what is assumed to be the correct day) for a preschool Halloween party? (A side question for the mothers reading- Did your kid’s preschool have bus service? I ask because I am feeling seriously ripped off right now.) And a question for any legal minds- is it legal to question, without parental consent, a child during an investigation? Is Miranda read like a fairy tale or not read at all? And is the information obtained from the child admissible?

I think we all can agree that anyone choosing drug addiction is walking a bad path and I am certain that it is not healthy for children of any age to see an out of control parent. (Pick a poison.) I also believe that there is a real problem when public servants, in an attempt to push the morals of a vocal few upon many, create ineffective programs to stamp out “immoral” behavior. I found a neat little War on Drugs Clock. As I write this, at 5:30:45, our federal and state government has spent over $4.1 billion on the drug war… keep in mind we’re still in January of 2006. More than 128 thousand people were arrested for a drug crime this year. And after the expense of broken homes, lives and cash, the only epidemic I witness is the disease of good intention run amok. From where I sit, the cure seems worse than the disease.

11 Comments
  1. Well said, but at least on HoT you’re preaching to the choir. And yeah, that should definitely be 0.2% not 0.002%. Of course, compare that to the number of cannabis users (10% giver or take?) and you realize you have 50 times as many marijuana users. I’m thinking maybe their priorities are in the right place… or that’s what they want to make it look like at least.

  2. Thanks to both of you for catching my math goof. VanDyke left the error in for a laugh. (I am sooo happy I admitted that I haven’t a math mind.) As far as preaching to the choir, perhaps you are right. But the choir sometimes sings to the hearts of the unconverted.

  3. Depends on what you mean by “preschool” I guess. Where I’m from in MD, Pre-K is a standard part our beloved public school system. 4 year olds go there and ride the bus just like everyone else at the elementary school. I didn’t have that when I was a kid. I’m young, but not that young. I started “kindie garden” when I was 5. My younger brother and sister both went to Headstart ( like pre-pre-school)when they were 3 and Pre-K when they were 4 and all had the standard yellow school bus. I would imagine if you go to a private school, you prbably dont have bus service.

  4. I, because of my birthday, started school at 4. Not preschool or head start, but the “E, S, N/I” grade getting school. I then went to 1st grade. Since you do not mention your own children, I will assume that you haven’t any. FTR, preschool is generally a term for paid, private academic/child care. Headstart is generally a welfare type system (at least in TX and LA)which gives a head start to those from economically disadvantaged homes. In this “No child left behind” era, I would imagine that our AG would have taken full credit for the kid at least knowing the date if it were a headstart program.

  5. Thanks for clarifying.We were pretty much middle class, but I guess my siblings qualified. They actually did go to private school later,through 8th grade ( here if you actually want to go to college, it’s “better” to go to the public high school). The kid in the story could have been going to a “headstart” or a public “preschool.” So its possible he could be waiting for the bus. or perhaps there was no bus, but the kid didn’t know that. By the ages “4” “5” and so on, I meant “the calendar year when you would turn 4 or 5,etc” In some states, instead of “allowing” kids with late birthdays to start when they are 4 they make them wait until they are 6. I do not have any biological children, but I will soon gain a stepson in Ohio. He will not be allowed to enter public kindergarten until 6 because his birthday is after August 1st. Stupid policy IMO.

  6. Well, let me offer my most sincere good wishes for you and your soon to be expanded circle. Being a step-parent is a tough thing- you could ask my husband if he read this blog. ;o) Thanks again for calling me on the carpet for the math error and allowing it to be fixed without ugly comments. HS math was so long ago and truth be known, I would have earned a grade of N/I…

  7. REgardless, that’s not the only logic speed-bump in the story…If the kid’s mom was a delinquent, why and how did she buy him a Halloween costume? Also, why did the speech try to make it seem like the boy was starving when in fact he wasn’t?

  8. Nigel, did I ever tell you that I am up the road from you? And, it seems that we share the same avenue of thought. I am not a mom sleeping days at a time- and I get costumes at the last f’ing minute. (usually bitching about the cost of props) smoke and mirrors baby- if penn and teller really ran, at least we would have a real magic show.

  9. I weighed 365 pounds. The only way I could lose weight was using crystal meth. I was able to lose down to 130 pounds. The only side effects was the high cost and paranoia but I have overcome both by working 2 jobs and staying up most of the night.