Thursday, April 07, 2011

DARE to keep government off drugs

DARE (the cute abbreviation for Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is one of hundreds of federal tax-supported -- no, make that borrowing-supported -- federal programs that should be sent to the recycle bin pronto.

Joseph McBrennan, an editor at the Taipan Publishing Group, notes that this well-meaning scheme is so worthless that even federal agencies can't find anything to say for it. (Taipan Publishing Group sells investment advice; I am not endorsing it, although its free content, like that of Bill Bonner and the gang at The Daily Reckoning, is often entertaining if you have a taste for black humor about the U.S. economic train wreck.)

McBrennan recounts what led him to declare war against DARE:
My fight started innocently enough when my daughter, attending a private Catholic elementary school, came home and announced that my wife and I were "drug addicts."

The drug she was referring to was beer. She had learned from the DARE officer that alcohol was considered a drug, and anyone that consumed more than two beers an evening was addicted. Being a three-pint man, it was clear I was guilty as charged.
This isn't too surprising. Drug "education" has been a growth industry, having defined addiction down to the point that almost anything you do because you like it shows you're an addict, and likely soon to be a derelict, sleeping in a cardboard box and holding a tin cup asking for spare beer, spare chocolate, spare sex, or whatever you fancy.
Not wanting to appear rash before calling the school, I thought I had better do some research. It wasn't hard. Google provided more than 63 million hits. The research has shown, time and time again, that DARE is an ineffective government program (sorry, that's redundant). Yet it is currently being taught to 36 million children annually, and is now in 54 countries other than the United States.
Government program cancer is among the hardest forms of the disease to cure. No do-good effort can ever be acknowledged to have failed; at worst, it needs more funding to reach its goals. The programs are "for the children" or childlike adults. No one says it out loud, but they hire the otherwise unemployable and give members of the low-IQ underclass something to do with their hands (completing forms and entering meaningless data) and with their mouths (meetings).
Even the United States General Accounting Office said the program had "no statistically significant long-term effect on preventing youth illicit drug use."

It is always nice to have the accountants in your corner, but when even a government agency that literally has mastered the craft of wasteful spending turn its nose up at this program, you've really accomplished something. My best source comes from none other than the U.S. Department of Education.
The U.S. DOE refuses to allow any federal education funds to be spent on the DARE program because the program is completely ineffective in curbing alcohol or drug abuse.
Until the bills came due for years of government deficit spending, nobody much was bothered about DARE and the hundreds of similar boondoggles. We the People were flipping houses, the market was going up, and DARE was just part of the cost of living.

Now that the U.S. economic system depends on Fed-created vapormoney and millions of formerly productive people are on the beach, the anesthesia is wearing off.

But public employees have unions and lobbyists. Congresscreatures know they have a lot to lose and, personally, very little to gain by pruning back useless agencies and task forces. Plus -- again unspoken, but at the back of every economist's mind -- is a scary question: if we disband these government playpens, how are their employees to find other jobs? It's no secret that the private sector is deeply reluctant, usually with good reason, to hire ex-government workers except high-level ones who can transition to lobbying.

But we can no longer afford (if we ever could) to keep the federal government supplied with its drug of choice, namely, creating public sector jobs as dole money by another name and Democratic vote plantations. If there is economic pain, as there surely is, let it at least be shared while we try desperately to rebuild a prosperous economy.

Government has a valid role to play. It made possible the railroads that tied together the country in the 19th century and the highway system that did so in the 20th. It has sponsored a good deal of research and development that has been turned to beneficial and profitable purposes. Where public health and safety are concerned, there must be some institution powerful enough to stand up to corporations when the need arises. My guess is, all that could be accomplished with about 10 percent of our present non-military government workforce. Let's DARE to try it.



Van Wijk said...

The drug she was referring to was beer.

I do have to give DARE credit for recognizing alcohol as a drug. The media certainly hasn't caught on, as "drugs and alcohol" is still the propaganda term of choice. Alcohol is a drug, as are cannabis, caffeine, diphenhydramine, and aspirin. "Drug" should not be a dirty word, as the vast majority of humans on this planet are drug-users in some respect or another.

Think we'll see a sane drug policy any time soon, Rick?

Rick Darby said...

No, it's like our Byzantine tax code; too many people benefit from it. Our drug policy is popular with prosecutors looking to pad their record with easy convictions, the DEA and similar agencies, anti-drug program managers and employees, prison administrators and guards, private lock-up companies like Corrections Corporation of America, and perhaps most of all, the federal agencies who keep the money and property confiscated with no due process.

In truth, I'm not sure what exactly a sane drug policy would be, but the one we have isn't it.

Martin B said...

I had heard - this was back in the 90s - that it was common for drug dealers to sport D.A.R.E bumper-stickers on their cars.

Maria said...

The latest cause du jour is school bullying.

My daughter came home from school one day and said, "They keep talking about bullying. They keep having all these events about bullying. And I don't know anyone who has been bullied."

Maria said...

OT but Rick, did you see that the 9th Circus of appeals upheld the lower court's stay against the Arizona immigration law?

Not that I expected any different of them.

I hope that Brewer has the balls to take it to the Supreme Court. I hope she doesn't blink. I have the sinking feeling that she will blink.