Sunday, January 14, 2007

Snitch of the Week: 12/31 - 1/6 (The War On Drugs)

(Daddy's on the horse)

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I love The Wire.
That is part of the reason why I've been so off my blog grind. (Peep the If Hip-Hop was The Wire comparison.)

Rather than watch old episodes of the Wire repeatedly I've been exploring the world of David Simon and Ed Burns, the two creative forces behind that show.

Their depressing world view and precise dissection of the anomie that cripples the modern American city fascinates me. One angle of that dissection that really captures me is their take on the "War on Drugs."

I went back and watched the 6 episode miniseries they did for HBO called "The Corner." It was about the drug epidemic that swept through Baltimore in the mid 90's and how that addiction worked in the confines of one family. It is the micro examination to the Wire's macro.

As I expected it was thoroughly depressing while being incredibly well-acted and written and it got me wondering how much the face of the nation's drug problem has really changed since then and lo and behold there were two articles in the NY Times about how fucked the fuck up the War on Drugs is.

Peep the realness of this article on the drug war's failure (Link here if that one is dead.)
And a more recent one here about the effects on the 3rd world countries (Alternate link.)

From the first article,

  • While Monitoring the Future, an annual study that depends on teenagers to self-report on their behavior, showed that drug use dropped sharply in the last decade, the National Center for Health Statistics has reported that teenage deaths from illicit drug abuse have tripled over the same period. This reverses 25 years of declining overdose fatalities among youths, suggesting that teenagers are now joining older generations in increased drug use.

    What the Monitoring the Future report does have right is that teenagers remain the least part of America’s burgeoning drug abuse crisis. Today, after 20 years, hundreds of billions of dollars, and millions of arrests and imprisonments in the war on drugs, America’s rate of drug-related deaths, hospital emergencies, crime and social ills stand at record highs.

It's obvious that the government has been trying to spin drug usage stats for a while now to make it seems like they're winning.
They're not.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Americans dying from the abuse of illegal drugs has leaped by 400 percent in the last two decades, reaching a record 28,000 in 2004. The F.B.I. reported that drug arrests reached an all-time high of 1.8 million in 2005. The Drug Abuse Warning Network, a federal agency that compiles statistics on hospital emergency cases caused by illicit drug abuse, says that number rose to 940,000 in 2004 — a huge increase over the last quarter century.

    Why are so few Americans aware of these troubling trends? One reason is that today’s drug abusers are simply the “wrong” group. As David Musto, a psychiatry professor at Yale and historian of drug abuse, points out, wars on drugs have traditionally depended on “linkage between a drug and a feared or rejected group within society.” Today, however, the fastest-growing population of drug abusers is white, middle-aged Americans. This is a powerful mainstream constituency, and unlike with teenagers or urban minorities, it is hard for the government or the news media to present these drug users as a grave threat to the nation.

    Few experts would have suspected that the biggest contributors to California’s drug abuse, death and injury toll are educated, middle-aged women living in the Central Valley and rural areas, while the fastest-declining, lowest-risk populations are urban black and Latino teenagers. Yet the index found exactly that. These are the sorts of trends we need to understand if we are to design effective policies.

So now whitey has the drug problem huh?

Let's see what happens.

For pointing out the realities of the 35+ year drug war that America doesn't want to hear, the NY Times is the Snitch of the Week.


  1. I wonder how much of the drug epidemic in the white community is due to crystal meth. I heard that stuff is doing to them what crack did to blacks in the 80's and 90's.

    It's ironic that the drug epidemic is getting less media play now that it's affecting whites so badly. You'd think it would make them care more. Denial runs deep, I guess.

  2. Yea, crystal meth is not playing with white people.

    Like the article said, no group to demonize, no coverage.
    Unless they try to demonize the white trash hillbilly as the only meth user.

  3. I never trust those initial studies after working under Department of Labor for 5+ years. Nothing ever get's reported to the fullest extent. Like dropout statistics are usually calculated by the number of youth who actually try to get their GED.

  4. The numbers are always worse than they seem.