Thursday, October 04, 2007

Don't Take Any Odds In This Fight

Today’s fight: on one side, Muhammed Ali in his prime; on the other, some random weak guy in a suit. The results are sure to be grotesque. But the fight is not nearly as one-sided as the next match-up: famed Chicago-school economist Milton Friedman vs. federal drug Czar John Walters.

In a recent interview, San Diego Herald Tribune blogger Chris Reed asked the Czar to refute Milton Friedman’s criticisms of the drug war. Friedman, who some call the father of the conservative movement (but who is an ideological ally of liberals on some social issues), wrote an important article for Newsweek in 1972 criticizing Nixon’s emerging “drug war”:

Legalizing drugs would simultaneously reduce the amount of crime and raise the quality of law enforcement. Can you conceive of any other measure that would accomplish so much to promote law and order?

But, you may say, must we accept defeat? Why not simply end the drug traffic? That is where experience under Prohibition is most relevant. We cannot end the drug traffic. We may be able to cut off opium from Turkey but there are innumerable other places where the opium poppy grows. With French cooperation, we may be able to make Marseilles an unhealthy place to manufacture heroin but there are innumerable other places where the simple manufacturing operations involved can be carried out. So long as large sums of money are involved -- and they are bound to be if drugs are illegal -- it is literally hopeless to expect to end the traffic or even to reduce seriously its scope. In drugs, as in other areas, persuasion and example are likely to be far more effective than the use of force to shape others in our image.

A well-reasoned blow from Friedman. Czar Walter has some explaining to do - after all, the drug war is what puts tax-payer money in his piggy bank. Reed transcribes his flimsy response:

he said what "the facts really say" is that Milton Friedman's criticisms of the drug war were "untrue -- demonstrably untrue."

This is what happens when you match-up a heavy-weight thinker with a mindless bureaucrat who’s profession is an embodiment of unfair, irrational laws.

Time to end with a joke:
Q: What did George Bush say when asked why he opposed the position of drug czar?
A: “That job is far too important to trust to a Russian”

1 comment:

JT Barrie said...

Has anyone noticed that Milton Friedman was never invited to debate the issue with any drug czar? It won't happen. If you don't have any evidence whatsoever that can stand up to any semblance of scrutiny why would you want to debate? Besides, the news media laughs at anyone who thinks willingness to debate is any barometer. They don't have to debate!
As long as absolutely no scrutiny is given to any statements by advocates facts are irrelevant. Those facts can be cherry picked to suit whatever political agenda is desired. Of course, as gatekeepers for information the corporate owned mass media can also cherry pick the political agendas to protect those in authority. The logic is: where there is smoke [and mirrors?] there is fire! Inundate citizen taxpayers with all sorts of scary stories and they soon believe that cherry picked personal accounts are the norm. Who cares if the overall facts belie the message? Who cares if the "evidence" doesn't add up or even remotely make sense? If it is repeated enough times it becomes fact in the public domain.
Even respected conservative and liberal icons like Milton Friedman and Walter Cronkite can be blithely ignored. Just don't publish their statements or stick them in the back pages. Better yet, confine them and any hard evidence to the editorial page. Then those irrefutable facts can be lumped in with holocaust denial rants as "opinion". It's all about false associations. If holocaust deniers and drug policy reformers are on the same page, they carry the same political weight.