Saturday, March 29, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 4: Problems of Population Control Segment 5/11
Previous segment |Next segment | Contents | Overview |

3. The Contours of the Crisis

A closer look at the drug crisis is instructive. There can be no doubt that the problem is serious. "Substance abuse," to use the technical term, takes a terrible toll. The grim facts are reviewed by Ethan Nadelmann in Science magazine.28 Deaths attributable to consumption of tobacco are estimated at over 300,000 a year, while alcohol use adds an additional 50,000 to 200,000 annual deaths. Among 15- to 24-year olds, alcohol is the leading cause of death, also serving as a "gateway" drug that leads to use of others, according to the National Council on Alcoholism.29 In addition, a few thousand deaths from illegal drugs are recorded: 3,562 deaths were reported in 1985, from all illegal drugs combined. According to these estimates, over 99% of deaths from substance abuse are attributable to tobacco and alcohol.

There are also enormous health costs, again, primarily from alcohol and tobacco use: "the health costs of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin combined amount to only a small fraction of those caused by either of the two licit substances," Nadelmann continues. Also to be considered is the distribution of victims. Illicit drugs primarily affect the user, but their legal cousins seriously affect others, including passive smokers and victims of drunken driving and alcohol-induced violence; "no illicit as strongly associated with violent behavior as is alcohol," Nadelmann observes, and alcohol abuse is a factor in some 40% of roughly 50,000 annual traffic deaths.

The Enviromental Protection Agency estimates that 3,800 nonsmokers die every year from lung cancer caused by breathing other peoples' tobacco smoke, and that the toll of passive smoking may be as many as 46,000 annually if heart disease and respiratory ailments are included. Officials say that if confirmed, these conclusions would require that tobacco smoke be listed as a very hazardous carcinogen (class A), along with such chemicals as benzene and radon. University of California statistician Stanton Glantz describes passive smoking as "the third leading cause of preventable death, behind smoking and alcohol."30

Illegal drugs are far from uniform in their effects. Thus, "among the roughly 60 million Americans who have smoked marijuana, not one has died from a marijuana overdose," Nadelmann reports. As he and others have observed, federal interdiction efforts have helped to shift drug use from relatively harmless marijuana to far more dangerous drugs.

One might ask why tobacco is legal and marijuana not. A possible answer is suggested by the nature of the crop. Marijuana can be grown almost anywhere, with little difficulty. It might not be easily marketable by major corporations. Tobacco is quite another story.

Questions can be raised about the accuracy of the figures. One would have to look into the procedures for determining cause of death, the scope of these inquiries, and other questions, such as the effects on children of users. But even if the official figures are far from the mark, there is little doubt that William Bennett is right in speaking of "drug-related chaos" and an "appalling, deepening crisis" -- largely attributable to alcohol and tobacco, so it appears.

Further human and social costs include the victims of drug-related crimes and the enormous growth of organized crime, which is believed to derive more than half of its revenues from the drug trade. In this case, the costs are associated with the illicit drugs, but because they are illicit, not because they are drugs. The same was true of alcohol during the prohibition era. We are dealing here with questions of social policy, which is subject to decision and choice. Nadelmann advocates legalization and regulation. Similar proposals have been advanced by a wide range of conservative opinion (the London Economist, Milton Friedman, etc.), and by some others.

Responding to Friedman, William Bennett argues that after repeal of prohibition, alcohol use soared. Hence legalization cannot be considered. Whatever the merits of the argument, it is clear that Bennett doesn't take it seriously, since he does not propose reinstituting prohibition or banning tobacco -- or even assault rifles. His own argument is simply that "drug use is wrong" and therefore must be barred. The implicit assumption is that use of tobacco, alcohol, or assault rifles is not "wrong," on grounds that remain unspoken, and that the state must prohibit and punish what is "wrong." Deceit, perhaps?31

Radical statists of the Bennett variety like to portray themselves as humanists taking a moral stance, insisting on "the difference between right and wrong." Transparently, it is sheer fraud.

Go to the next segment.

28 Nadelmann, "Drug Prohibition in the United States: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives," Science, Sept. 1, 1989. See also letters, Science, Dec. 1.

29 Catherine Foster, CSM, Sept. 18, 1989.

30 Philip Hilts, NYT, May 10; Reuters, BG, June 26; AP, NYT, May 21, 1990.

31 Friedman, WSJ, Sept. 7; Bennett, WSJ, Sept. 19, 1989. See also Anthony Lewis, NYT, Sept. 24, 1989, noting the absurdity of Bennett's argument. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 4:01 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home