The war on (insert the latest government cause here)
In their arrogance politicians assume that only they solve social problems. Their programs fail, so they pass new laws to address the failures. It's one reason that 22 million people now work for government.
Take the drug war. It's true that some Americans destroy their lives and their families' lives by using drugs. Others struggle with addiction. But if illegal drugs are as horrible and addictive as we've been told, how come the government's own statistics say millions try those drugs but only a small percentage continue using?
Columbia University psychology professor Dr. Carl Hart, author of “High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery,” says “hard” drugs are not as dangerous as the media make them out to be. For 15 years, he's studied the effects of marijuana, methamphetamine, crack cocaine and more on users.
“The data simply shows that the vast majority of people who use these drugs don't go on to become addicted,” he said on my show.
Society has grown more accepting of marijuana but many people believe crack and meth are far more dangerous and addictive, and that they quickly lead to violent criminal behavior.
“The same thing was said about marijuana in the 1930s,” Hart cautions. “People said you use this drug, you go on to commit murder, you go on to use heroin.” New drugs always frighten the authorities.
To learn what drugs really do, Hart advertises for drug users on Craigslist, and then, with government approval, he gives users drugs at his lab at Columbia. He's discovered that drug users' brains react in similar ways to the brains of alcohol consumers.
“The vast majority of people who use drugs like cocaine use it on weekends, monthly or every six months,” says Hart. “Most hold jobs. Pay taxes. They do those things, in a similar way that we use drugs like alcohol.”
Government's anti-drug crusaders think they protect kids by hyping the threat but Hart says they actually make it harder for people like him to educate the public about real dangers.
After the hype over marijuana, young people no longer trust warnings about other drugs.
In fact, Hart says, the drug war is worse than Prohibition. It costs more, has lasted longer and doesn't just kill people in the U.S.: From Afghanistan to Colombia, American helicopters try to destroy drug crops. Foreigners gain one more reason to hate Yankees.
John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of “No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Salvation Army kicks off annual kettle campaign
- Deer processing fee waived for Hunters Sharing the Harvest participants
- Black Friday trends, tactics change, but Americans still love bargains
- About convention idea
- No federal funds to help enforce Pa. ban on texting by drivers
- Bushy Run Battlefield upgrades to include trail, signs, landscaping
- Pipeline project could bring thousands of construction jobs to Burrell Township
- Retailers court web customers with free shipping
- Company seeks to reopen coal mine in Nottingham, Washington County
- Nonprofit plans to keep Blairsville WyoTech campus open as part of $24 million purchase
- Flurry of business activity enlivening quaint Saxonburg