Wednesday, August 01, 2012 2:57 AM
Fascism Lives—And It’s Just Saying ‘No’
When Fascism first hit the world stage, it was hailed by many as an absolutism that would remove the unsightly wrinkles from our modern nations by insisting that each nation’s government had a right to categorize and control all the citizens of their nations. Today we call ‘categorization’ by its true name, ‘genocide’. We still fight governments over control of our lives, which has a tendency to creep up—but more importantly, we see few governments reversing their policies on surveillance and control—always creeping forward, but never moving back to the former, less-rigorous condition.
The governmental control over the Nazi’s lives was ultimately defeated, but it was defeated in part by America’s patriotic love of our ‘free’ way of life, which manifested itself as Americans’ willingness to cede control over their own fate and pull together to fight the enemy. Not only were military personnel expected to take orders without question—even the home front bought into the need for rationing gasoline, rationing food, blackout curfews, the Japanese-American concentration camps, metal and rubber drives, and even the presumed sacrifice of part of ones paycheck to buy ‘war bonds’ to support the government’s war activities. This was quite a different picture from the public response to the Viet Nam war, when our government’s military actions weren’t so fervently supported by its citizens.
The modern ‘Free World’ is a more sophisticated arrangement. Firstly, while we roundly condemn any hint of genocide, we have nevertheless become a culture which clearly separates the rich from the poor, with the resulting effect of making us all 2nd-class citizens whose laws and activities are unilaterally determined by the smallest upper-class, proportionately, that history has to offer.
In this respect, western civilization has returned to fascism with but the one caveat—that we are all Jews now, at least insofar as our needs are being addressed by those in power. And I use the phrase ‘in power’ advisedly, since we can all agree that we live in a democratic nation in which no elected office-holder was given less votes than any other candidate. (Most of the time, anyhow.)
But those in power are not these elected officials. The powerful are the super-wealthy, and the top management executives from the major corporations (domestic or otherwise), and the owners of mass-communication companies. Any one of the powerful may well be all of these things, but no one without at least one of these points of access is in a position to make a sea-change in the way our culture operates.
As a private citizen of no great notice, I will agree that I can vote for whoever I like at each and every election. But I will not concede that I am, therefore, influencing my country in any meaningful way. The candidates that make their way onto the ballots are chosen for me by both parties’ internal systems and are carefully chosen so as to play one against the other in frivolous, superficial arenas—while never brushing up against any substantive issue that might pit the citizens of our country against the wealthy-and-powerful’s established business and finance policies. The surface roils with issues of a personal nature, which entitle everyone to have an opinion, and to argue, before, during, and after any important choices are surreptitiously made for us by the ‘boys in the back room’.
Secondly, our control over our own fate is tamped down severely by the incessancy of mass media, an entertainment industry that still pretends to inform us objectively and thoroughly. This ‘mass-media-amalgam’ has chosen to buy into the two-party democracy story-line, in an era during which neither party has done much in the way of serving the public, i.e. at a time when we need third-, fourth, even nth- party, candidates in our politics—local, state, or national. The Nazis called this ‘propaganda’. We call it ‘cable’ and pay for it every month.
Nothing is changed more than by narration. The rich and powerful decree to their enthralled news-reporting businesses what POV is to be used, and all the news is told to us as it is perceived by the powerful. No, it’s worse than that, it is couched in language that purposely presents an audience with a biased POV—not sharing the elites’ misperceptions, but misleading us as to the reality behind the news events. And while we are barraged daily with this drenching of nonsense, no substantive public debate can begin on the issues our elite would like to keep any attention from.
Take this example. The gigantic downfall of the derivatives market was presented in the media as something that happened on the day they reported the plummeting of global markets that triggered. We are expected to believe that dedicated journalists had been haunting the offices and hallways of the executives in control of our financial institutions, and those running their corresponding governmental overseers. We are not expected to ask why none of this Credit Armageddon was reported on in the previous years, months or even days.
Here’s another example. DEA administrator Michele Leonhart recently responded to the question: “Why is marijuana bad?” with “Well, all illegal drugs are bad.” This condescension is meant to imply that all these bothersome details are above reproach, and always were, and always would be. The bitterest part of this ‘positioning’ is it’s implication that authority should not be questioned.
No, I take that back—even more embittering is that we citizens seem to stand still for them while they fit us with their ‘little peon’s’ driving-harnesses of oppression (Patent Pending). We are seeing employment figures rise by tiny increments over years of time. We are finding minimum wage employment, and being grateful for it. We have lost that American tradition of walking out on a job when our boss is too big of an ass. The only fear we need to fear is Unemployment—Liberty, sadly, takes the Silver in that race.
Friday, August 03, 2012
Let me come at the drug problem in a pragmatic way—maybe then I can change your mind… Are drugs dangerous? Yes. Without question. And, even, really dangerous, deadly dangerous—yes, drugs are dangerous.
Do we fear for our children’s safety? Yes, again. Yes we do. Ours are grown now, but all through middle school and high school we lived in fear of their safety. We still do, but it has become a more amorphous fear, the yang to the yin of our hopes for their success. But back in those school days—every night was a horror movie—no, a veritable Cineplex of horror movies running through our parental minds as we waited for the phone’s ring or the car’s headlights swerving across the ceiling, signifying that both of them were still breathing for one more day. And it wasn’t just drugs we feared for their safety’s sake, there are plenty of other fear-options—ask the parent of a teenager.
To recap: Drugs are dangerous. They put our youngsters at risk every day, not to mention several types of adults—and the children they parent. It would appear obvious that drugs should be illegal. What is there to discuss?
I should like to discuss that which isn’t obvious—criminalizing drugs makes the problem worse. The drug problem has nothing to do with the law—well, no, that’s wrong—the drug problem has even bigger problems because of the law.
One of these additional drawbacks is the acquisition of great wealth by criminal organizations. The second drawback is that this black market economy is outside of both the domestic economy and the various governments’ (local, state, fed) taxation. When black market drugs are booming, none of that cash flow interacts with established businesses and NPOs. The money lost to drug lords is money that won’t be taxed by the government trying to control drugs with Customs, ATF, and DEA.
A third drawback of criminalized drug policy is the surreptitious distribution methods that black markets require. By using secret, compartmentalized means of distribution, the destinations are unlimited—they include schools, social venues, bars, restaurants, and residential neighborhoods.
Taxed, controlled drugs sold only to adults (as with alcoholic beverages) would make the acquisition of drugs by minors more difficult. Plus, the loss of income suffered by black market drug suppliers would put them out of business, curtailing the flow of uncontrolled drugs to the ‘street and schoolyard’ locations. Plus, it would be difficult for them to match the prices on officially sanctioned drugs—so, even if they kept going, we would soon price them out of business. Their serpentine methods of harvesting, processing, smuggling, and dealing would cost far more than an aboveboard operation of the same commodity.
We are afraid of drugs. We are especially afraid of drugs getting to our children. We want drugs to be illegal—they are too dangerous to allow the public to have legal access. It seems to make sense—but it doesn’t. What makes sense is for us to face the drug problem and stare it down. We need drug users to be visible, we need kids doing drugs to be visible, we need to treat addicts, we need to inspect the quality and purity of drugs being used. We need to study drugs as a part of our society.
Drugs are here. I could easily find a source for any illegal drug, if I wanted to. And everyone who wants to, finds a source. That drugs are criminalized doesn’t make them go away—it only drives them into the shadows where good people never look. Illegal drugs isolate the drug user from normal society—addiction isn’t treated until the most advanced condition presents them to the ER, half-dead already. And these separations of the drug-user/-abuser from the rest of us turn a mere black market into a full-fledged underground society, with pocket concentrations in the most underserved of neighborhoods.
Would making drugs legal give our children the idea that we condone hard drugs? Not necessarily. The businesses would still have drug tests—getting a job, particularly one requiring responsible behavior, would still be out of reach for drug abusers. Traffic cops would still arrest drug abusers who drove while under the influence (just as with alcohol). Licenses, much like liquor licenses, would control the number of retail drug sales establishments and, more importantly, would be accompanied by regular inspections by the drug control authority (just as bars and nightclubs are inspected and restricted in the manner of selling and the rules of permissible customer behavior). The children themselves would be barred from any place that sells drugs or any venue that offers drugs for use, which would tell them, just as the liquor and tobacco rules do now, that these are dangerous substances that only adults can be responsible for.
But it would tell them one other, important thing—that the government doesn’t tell people what to do, even if it is dangerous. It would tell them that liberty includes the right to be an idiot—a truism that we see proved virtually daily on the news. Prohibition gave us a lesson in banned substances—it creates a criminalized society, it empowers outlaws and organized crime, and it doesn’t ever stop the flow of the commodity to market, because the market never goes away.
One other benefit would be to relieve the enormous pressure of inmates being held in prisons—releasing every non-violent drug ‘criminal’ would create a much needed reduction in our national prison capacity. I think it is high time we ‘grasped the thistle’ of drug abuse—to forgo our fantasies of a drug free society and begin the real work of having drugs in our society.