Overall, the White House has asked Congress to increase spending next year by 3.5 percent on the broad spectrum of drug-control activities -- from curbing drugged driving and expanding drug courts to subsidizing opium and coca farmers in other countries to switch to legal crops. That increase is less than the 4.1 percent increase that President George W. Bush sought to combat drug abuse in 2002, the year his administration developed its first national drug-control strategy.
Moreover, even drug-policy experts who like the new plan's tone say they are disappointed that about two-thirds -- about the same proportion as under Bush -- of the $15.5 billion proposed for drug control in 2011 would be used to try to cut the supply of illegal drugs rather than to lessen people's desire for them.
"The rhetoric is different but the money is essentially the same," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., director of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
No, brother. The money is different but the rhetoric is essentially the same. The endless war on drugs is no more winnable the way we're fighting it than the endless war in Afghanistan. The "new strategy to fight drug addiction" is in fact the same old story that plays out daily in countless ways: money borrowed from China and squeezed out of productive citizens so bureaucrats can run midnight basketball schemes.
It's depressing to think that probably 90 percent of federal officials— not just elected ones, but the vast behind-the-scenes legions of administrative drones — could read that article and see nothing wrong with it, or even questionable.
What, am I in favor of drug addiction?
No, I want to cure it. The country's biggest drug addict is the United States government, hooked on debt. This is one blue ribbon junkie, all right. The Lords of Washington don't have to burglarize your house to feed their habit. They can issue more Treasury bills (in other words, IOUs). They can print as much money as they like. (With modern technology, I understand, they don't actually have to print anything. It's all done with a few computer keystrokes.) They can tax you in more ways than you could dream of. Actually you might prefer a burglary; you can insure against that. You can't insure against an out-of-control government.
But what's wrong here is more than just a full employment scheme for state-supported parasites, a political plum for left-voting interest groups, or even money thrown away on fantasy programs ("the plan would pay for experiments in which a network of communities would try to apply the best research evidence to prevent teenagers from starting to use drugs"). It even goes beyond the folly of spending for frivolous projects when the national government is heading for bankruptcy.
Psychotherapists have a term: "learned helplessness." Some people, for one reason or another, come to disbelieve they can do anything good for themselves without an enabler: a mate, friend, relative, therapist, protector.
Drug "education" and research on drugs to treat drug addiction sell helplessness. They are self-sabotaging: they send the message to the drug user that addiction is primarily someone else's problem, viz., the state's, and hope lies in state intervention.
Recovering from hard drug addiction is more likely with medical and psychological therapy. While I don't think anyone has a "right" to such help, a humane society should make the effort to provide it. But before they can be helped, addicts need motivation from within. They need to know that ultimately, the responsibility is theirs. And that understanding is hard to summon up in an environment where their country's government is a terrible role model — it can't wean itself from the kick of spending money it doesn't have. And teaches, by example, that people are slaves to their own foolish behavior.