Socialism is Good for your Health

April 16, 2009 | By | 32 Replies More

A new study from the Cato Institute finds that Portugal’s policy on drug decriminalization is paying health dividends. Portugal decriminalized possession of all drugs on July 1, 2001, including heroin and cocaine. Trafficking in drugs is still a criminal offense.

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies. © Cato Institute

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies. © Cato Institute

The author, Glenn Greenwald, notes that “decriminalization has become increasingly popular in Portugal since 2001. Except for some far-right politicians, very few domestic political factions are agitating for a repeal of the 2001 law.” He also highlights that “none of the nightmare scenarios touted by preenactment decriminalization opponents — from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for “drug tourists” — has occurred.”

One comment caught my eye: Greenwald states (my emphasis)

Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.

In other words, the study clearly finds that one of the foundational anchors of this success has been the availability of rehab to users.

The study clearly indicates rehab is a major component of the success of the decriminalization policy, and that such rehab needs to be available to all. Successful rehab is thus only possible when health is a public service. Without a public health program, most users (who are poor) would be unable to afford rehab (which tends to be relatively expensive), thus removing any possibility of improved public health outcomes – users will remain as users with increasing incidence of STD & death.

Unfortunately, the US would rather spend untold sums on the War on Drugs, and on the incarceration of users. Apparently it is still un-American (to some) to invest those sums in public health.

Is it that public health is socialism, while war is not?

This is yet another instance where US policy demonstrates a foundation built on ideology, not facts. I’m hopeful that the Obama Administration can transform US healthcare into a form more suitable for a first world nation. One that provides health services for all, according to need. That’s not socialism. It’s common humanity.


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Category: Addictions, Culture, Current Events, Education, Health, Law, Politics, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

I’m a technophile with an enduring interest in almost anything real or imagined. I suffer fools badly, and love trashy science fiction, plot-free action movies, playing guitar, and baking (especially scones. You haven’t lived ’til you’ve eaten my scones. I’ve recently undertaken bread, and am now in danger of gaining in a matter of weeks the 60 pounds I’ve lost in the past 2 years). My wife & I are Scottish, living north of Atlanta, GA, with two children, one dog, and a growing collection of gadgets. I work for a living.

Comments (32)

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  1. Karl says:

    I agree that the drugs, "a material piece of the universe" are not the problem in and of themselves. Even possessing them is not the problem.

    Using them in a socially destructive way and giving/selling them to other people with the intent to be involved in an addictive trade business is wrong.

    The problem is the collective hidden untaxable market and the addictions created by the unscrupulous, immoral lovers of money amd power (they are not capitalists, but rather criminals because they don't respect what they do enough to be transparent about their lifestyle) who would rather destroy their fellow human beings than educate them about the addictive nature of the life destroying path they are about to embark on.

    Most illegal activities all tend to run along these same lines. If you are willing to render unto Ceasar his fair due for providing you an opportunity to carry on the business activity you are engaged in then you understand the nature of what an anti-social business activity is, one which believes they have a right to make all manner of money that is not reported or regulated.

    Those who want pure profit at the expense of those they are doing business with should be taxed to the point where their business is shut down.

    Remove their money making abilities if they prey upon other people and their criminal power positions from society.

    Then the only issue becomes, who decides which money making activities are harming society and which ones are morally justified.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    The reason we have gang activity is mainly because drugs are illegal.

    It is actually a supply and demand issue. Making something illegal is an attempt to restrict the supply. The effect is that the price increases, drawing in more suppliers, but not enough to keep the price down, and violent crime rises as the smugglers , dealers and users protect their stashes.

    It is much more effect to reduce the demand, by educating those that aren't addicted and helping detox those that are.

  3. Karl says:

    Your don't reduce demand when the behavior is of an additive behavior and the people want it bad enough. That is the whole point behind the gang (mass action of people) they'll find anti-social ways of getting it.

    Gangs are not caused by drugs, gangs are the result of additive or anti-social behavior that the people involved in behavior don't want any outside help to enable them to get out of the activity.

    They figure the only way to get what they want (materialistic goods or emotional feelings)or to keep what they have (materialistic goods or emotional feelings)is to form a social network that provides them with power and protection from what they fear – which would be losing their (materialistic goods or emotional feelings).

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Karl, I did not say gangs are caused by drugs. The trading of contraband gives gangs their appeal to those who feel disenfranchised.

    A gang is any group of people who come together to perform illegal activity. The reason they do thiese things is that there is a lot of money to be made "off the books" and it doesn't matter if the illegal activity is smuggling, dealing dope, gunrunning, pimping, loan sharking, or selling liquor in a dry county. What does matter is the risk to reward ratio. The risk involved illegally selling something that is also illegal to buy is pretty low. The addict needs a fix, and is not likely to rat out his connection. The dealer won't rat out is supplier.

    The problem with attempting to control through legislation the supply of drugs is simply that it makes it more profitable for the criminals and more expensive for the government.

    On the other side of the argument, legalizing and regulating the drugs will take the profit out of it. It won't go away, but it will reduce the violent crims and put the users in a social context where they will more likely to kick the drugs.

  5. Mindy Carney says:

    I have yet to understand why this is not considered more seriously. I am well aware of the horribly detrimental effects of drug abuse. I've been there. I've worked with families ripped apart by a parent's addiction. There is nothing easy about it.

    But the criminal aspect of it is vastly different, and our since our criminal justice system rarely focuses on rehabilitation of any kind, the system we have now doesn't work, really, for anyone.

  6. Karl says:

    Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    "The reason we have gang activity is mainly because drugs are illegal."

    You can legalize drugs but that will not do away with those who supply the drugs with the intent purpose of destroying aspects of the individuals/society that purchases them.

    Many in Afghanistan and South America have a dual purpose, monetary for sure but also the weakening of American Culture. This is criminal by moral standards, but economic warfare in its simplest sense.

    • Tony Coyle says:

      Karl – you don't know what you're talking about. please – try to proof-read your posts, because you seem to have difficulty with language. Are you sure you're a science teacher? I feel for your students.

      1) if we 'legalize' drugs, then we would also legalize and license the supply chain – and legal is cheaper than illegal (see prohibition, alcohol, etc)

      2) if we decriminalize drugs, on the other hand, we do still have an issue of an illegal supply chain – but we have now freed resources in law enforcement to engage those i that chain, and we also have a supply of people, undergoing rehab (remember it's a dual action principle) who would likely be willing to identify their sources.

      The challenge for the us at the moment, is that users are also criminals, therefore they have no interest in 'selling out' their supplier, nor any support for rehab should they wish to change their life (unless, of course, they happen to be a media personality).

      To address your 'economic warrior' argument – would you care to cite any peer-reviewed (i.e. reputable) study that suggests such a statement is at all true? From everything I've read, there is no 'economic warrior' perspective – there are simply 'warlords' who wish to get rich and retain power, and dirt poor farmers. Perhaps this is simply another right-wing meme that I have not yet encountered?

  7. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Thanks Tony.

    That was the point I was making.

    When I used the term "gangs", I was referring not only to the current crop of mostly ethnic gangs, but to all gangs current and past.

    As for the sources, most of the farmers who grow the poppies or the coca plants are either just trying to make a living, or are being coerced by the drug lords.

    I recall a new story from back in the late 80's about a fast food chat was actually paying farmers more to grow potatoes for fries than the drug cartels were paying them to grow poppies.

    I have seen some reports stating that in 2005 heroin was going for $300 per kilo where potatoes were selling for $0.20 per kilo, but you have to consider that it takes a powerful lot of poppies to produce a kilo of heroin and one potato vine can produce 3 or 4 kilos of spuds. When you compare the yield per acre, the potato story begins to sound plausible.

  8. Karl says:

    Since when are WarLords only concerned with their little piece of the puzzle?

    While the Taliban were supposedly "left alone" they curtailed as far as wek know the illegal supply chain of opuium in Afghanistan, however they were still at War with their women and the rest the moderate Muslim world. They are and have been at war with anything that that does not give them absolute control of their will over other people. It's also how they view who Allah is. When they were given control and power over their people they were happy as clams. When they were linked to the exportation of Islamic extremeism they quickly saw their need to get back into illegal opium business of finance their war.

    Like Allah, so His servants shall be.

    They are in an all out war which includes economics and cultural domination, to believe otherwise is just plain wishful thinking – Like Chamberlain's ideas of appeasing Hitler, you can't ignore the potential threats of anyone who by their actions is known to be an Islamic extremist.

    The amazing thing is that the big bucks are not made in America or Afghanistan they are made by the exporters and importers who some how manage to get around the international observers who may as well also have their hands in the business, not because they want illegal money, but because of their overall religious orientations as well.

    Noriega is a prime example of how the middle-man that plays both sides of the game, export and import makes the money and ends up in control with so much power, that others who know the full story don't dare discuss because of their connections to the illegal nature of the business.

    Unless every nation followed the same laws and regulations, legalizing possession only approaches the problem from one direction. Without a moral purpose behind the elimination of the supply side of the equation that suits the power hungry warlords and dictators the attempt is entered with blinders on.

    We need approach the matter first from a need to encourage education and rehab in all nations, but the

    illegal nature from a point of view of cultural domination can't be simply ignored and wished away by hopeful thinking.

    Whatever can bring down the infidels is fine with Islamic extremeists, and if it makes them money as well who can criticize that.

    You want a few references. try these:

    • Tony Coyle says:


      responding to your links.

      You seem to be confused by the findings in the first article you linked.

      (1) The taliban supported a reduction in opium farming, as a consequence of eradication of non-taliban warlords in their midst, and in an effort to increase native production of foodstuffs.

      (2) Subsequent to the removal of the taliban due to the war, and a resurgence of local warlords, the production of opium has increased.

      So where does that contradict my (or Niklaus) statement that the supply chain for drugs engenders criminal gangs: isn't that what warlords are? criminals?

      You earlier seemed to conflate islamic fundamentalism with the drug trade as economic was on America. I don't know where you got that, since this article flatly contradicts you.

      I also have absolutely no idea of your intent in providing the second link.

      The second article is about a reporter's objection to the proposed policy in Afghanistan regarding forcible eradication of opium cultivation, i.e. offer free wheat seeds in exchange for eradication. Failing acceptance, burn the poppy fields of 'non-collaborators' and again offer them free wheat seeds to replant.

      So? Is this anti-drug trade, criminals, war on drugs (US style) or not? It seems that it is distinctly different from incarcerating young people for possessing small quantities of marijuana or crack.

      I'd appreciate if you would elucidate your reasoning for thinking this relevant.

      Your third link is an Indian's biased view of the US' Afghan policies from the perspective of that India's relationship with Pakistan (which is not very good at the best of times). One key phase: "can be seen by its reach in subverting Indian police and NCB officials and pushing high grade Heroin into India.It thinks subverting Indian elite through heroin and other poppy drugs is as effective as terrorist attack against India."

      If you think such a biased perspective will challenge me, you are mistaken – perhaps you can find me an equal but opposing view from one of the Islamabad news dailies?

      I do want to engage with you, Karl. I find opposing viewpoints stimulating, but I prefer them to at least do some basic research.

  9. Niklaus Pfirsig says:


    You miss the point. Making something illegal increases the incentive for those who practice the anything for a buck philosophy. It the dark side of capitalism. The simple and driving reason behind drug trafficking is money. If the market dries up, the profitability goes away. If you destroy the source, a new source from a competitor replaces it. The expense of destroying all sources is too great to even consider.

    The is the failure of supply side policy.

    "One day this feller from Washington come by

    And he spied us and he turned white as a sheet

    And he dug and he burned

    And he burned and he dug

    And he killed all our cute little weeds

    Then he drove away

    We just smiled and waved

    Sittin' there on that sack of seeds"

    –"Wildwood Weed" by Jim Stafford

    • Karl says:

      It's not the dark side of capitalism.

      Its the dark side of people who would rather declare freedom to be their right to do whatever they liked than to act in a responsible manner.

      Show me a moderate heroin user, or a recreational cocaine user, or any other casual powerful pain medication user and I'll agree with you that people should be given their own license to use these as these as they would like.

      Show me your rationale for who should be allowed to distribute these same narcotics and then show me how this distribution is going to be regulated.

      Will the term "crack house" take on a whole new meaning?

    • Tony Coyle says:

      Have you ever been to a 'bar'? Or a 'Pharmacy'. The processes and infrastructure are already in place. Why not think a little before you post something so inane.

      In addition, show me a country with legal or decriminalized drugs, and I'll show you moderate users. You will likely disagree with my categorization of them – because they are likely to be 'sober' participatory members of their society.

      I, believe it or not, drink alcohol. I've also done drugs (of various sorts). I am a 'moderate' user – of alcohol. It is more debilitating, and potentially more addictive, than cannabis or cocaine.

      I have never done anything addictively, except tobacco, and I quit cold turkey almost 20 years ago. I recognize that I met my personal bete noir in tobacco and refuse to yield to that again. But while I was addicted I smoked up to 40 a day! Definitely not a moderate user. I'm just lucky my habit was not a less socially acceptable drug.

      Many people are, unfortunately, predisposed to addiction. In the same way some are predisposed to adipose fat, or attraction to legs, or to a member of the same gender. It's not something we can necessarily control.

      There will always be addicts – so long as there exists the (epi?)genetic predisposition, and the availability of substances capable of triggering that addictive behavior.

      You would prefer that we all 'abstain'? Well welcome to reality, because that will never happen.

      What you call the 'dark' side, I call reality and it is the source of much that is beautiful and great and creative.

  10. Tony Coyle says:

    Karl: You keep using the word 'Moral' as if you had a lock on that – you don't. I'm also fed up with your continual hating on the Moslems.

    The Taliban are an extremist regime – the fact they are Islamic has nothing to do with their extremism, and does not inform their economic or foreign policy. They consider themselves at war with the US. The US considers itself at war with the Taliban. Do you think we do not engage in economic sanctions against them or their supporters? Why should you expect different behavior from them?

    You continue to conflate and obfuscate.

    We've addressed the fact that the supply chain for drugs is the problem. Decriminalize (or my preference, legalize and license) the drugs, and you eliminate the supply chain problem.

    Sure – there will be many people who somehow move from the illegal to the legal supply chain (just as happened post prohibition). That's to be expected.

    Trying to suggest some foreign cabal or conspiracy or intent behind drugs is simply buying into the meme that a "war on drugs" is something worth doing!

    • Mindy Carney says:

      Welllll, yeah, Tony, you silly man. That is exactly what Karl is telling you. The "war on drugs" is good and necessary. Don't you get it???!

      He may be wrong, but he's wrong with lots of words. Oh, and he's Moral.

      So there.

  11. Karl says:

    My first link was to show that the Taliban's motives are not concerns over the social welfare of anybody, including themselves.

    The Islamic exremeist's concern is demonstrating to themselves and to world that "Allah is Great." "Allah is Great" in their minds only when they have no one oppressing them, or when they are free to do what they believe Allah wants of them – including the forced subjugation of people that have cultures different from their own.

    When the Russians left Afghanistan (mostly from the US assistance they received) they were obviously given too much autonomy because even though they had freedom from one external "Satan," the extremists knew they were not yet the master's of their destiny as Allah wanted them to be.

    They decreased opium output to continue to get American aid and assistance. When the more extermists in their midsts displayed their ongoing intents, they simply returned to the ways their culture has operated for centuries.

    The second link was indeed to show how even Obama sees the real crux of this problem. To him it appears to be a need for a cultural change. Over there, their culture is part of their religion so good luck trying to convince any extremist that planting crops that can be regulated and taxed is going to make anyone happy.

    Frankly, Isalmic extremists do not pay taxes unless it is at the point of a sword against their throat. Only then it would be to someone that they held in contempt and whom they will find a way to kill when they have the chance. Kind of like the same mentality as drug trafficing across the Mexican Border.

    The third link shows the view point of another nation that is in the legal opium business and how they view that the illegal opium business is never going to be done away with because of the terrorists. Opium just happens to be their preferred export because of the ability to concentrate and smuggle the narcotic and the nature of the havoc that it incites where ever it gets sold as an illegal drug.

    Why do you think India had the terrorist activity in their financial district? It wasn't just a matter of somebody not liking them very much. Somebody was telling them to stop driving down the price of opium.

    I agree that decriminalizing possession of a drug that can be traced from its source through the export and import markets in a limited amount would be a step in the right direction, which exactly what we do for any controlled substance.

    The problem comes again when somebody for no apparent reason possesses an amount of a controlled substance, and is also causing social havoc by its unregulated distribution and use.

    • Tony Coyle says:


      I worry for you. I truly do.

      You have swallowed the right wing meme-machine hook, line and sinker.

      Let's try this again.

      When you decriminalize something, you remove the impetus for users to hide their behavior. When users no longer feel the need to hide, there won't be 'crack houses' – except as an open social gathering place (kinda like a pub).

      If you can 'do coke' without fear of repercussion, you won't feel the need to hide.

      If the users are more open, and are not therefore tying up valuable legal resources in 'warrant-less' pursuit, those same resources can then vigorously pursue the real bad guys – the pushers and their suppliers.

      Next point: you need to stop conflating. Stop attributing motive where none has been proven nor demonstrated.

      You are attributing a motive to Obama, based on a regional hack reporter's perspective on an area in which he admits no competence (he tells you that in the first paragraph). So why are you assuming that non-expert reporter is more of an authority than the President (and his advisors) about how to manage the situation in Afghanistan?

      Answer: you don't, unless his conclusions happen to echo your own thoughts – that's called confirmation bias.

      You then take an obviously biased article and conclude that because it was written by someone local it is therefore true and unimpeachable evidence!

      You ask "Why do you think India had the terrorist activity in their financial district?". Then tell me "It wasn’t just a matter of somebody not liking them very much. Somebody was telling them to stop driving down the price of opium." All this from a single article written by an obviously biased scribe!

      Which part of the past few hundred years in the Indian sub continent do you not understand? Which part of the last fifty? India and Pakistan have been inimical enemies since well before they were modern nations. It is only the fact that there are still some wise heads in both countries that we've not suffered a major melt down in the region before this.

      Pakistani terrorists attacking India to increase the price of opium? What the hell have you been smoking?

      You have demonstrated nothing but a very superficial understanding of the regional politics. An extremely limited understanding of drug user behavior, of supply chains, of criminal behavior or motivation. In short, you appear to have zero competence to comment, and other than your 'god-given morals' and your apparent fear and distrust of anything Islamic, you have contributed absolutely nothing to this 'debate'.

      I love to hear alternative viewpoints – but as I said before, I would appreciate if they came with some substance and flavor. All I get from you is dry (and regurgitated) crackers.

  12. Karl says:

    And who provides the avenue for Afghan's exportation of the bulk of the illegal Opium, oh yeah, the Taliban and their extremist connections through both Pakistan and India.

    But I can't speak with anything but conjecture because their politcs is regional and based upon nothing more than an unorganized bunch of local crime warlords who have little contact with those with similar religious perspectives.

    Perhaps the opium gets to market in ways well understood but the ways must be so protected by the "respected" criminal part of the cartels that no one dare speak about it openly.

    The money trial is there, but the bankers involved are held under seige unless you happen to be from a nation like India that doesn't find itself obliged to buckle under to their demands. In this case you just get sent a meassage you or your children will never forget.

  13. Tony Coyle says:

    I'm confused. truly.

    The DEA report you link to states that "relatively little Afghan heroin is ultimately destined for the United States". I understand that opium is a cash crop – but your argument on this thread was that the drugs from Afghanistan are in resurgence specifically to target the US.

    You have also drawn India into the picture (in the past two comments). I don't think anyone disagrees that India is a market for Afghan opiates. But you seem to think that this points to some huge drug cartel and conspiracy aimed at global destabilization.

    The correspondent in the Indian piece definitely thinks that the primary power broker in the entire subcontinent is Dawood Ibrahim. That's interesting, but he provides no citations, merely anecdotal evidence for his claim.

    I have no doubt that Ibrahim has some influence – even some influence in the 'halls of power'. But I don't think anyone has demonstrated that he is the puppet master behind every dastardly deed in the subcontinent – which seems to be the correspondent's treatise.

    Whenever someone (you in this case) uses phrases like "no one dare speak about it openly" I wonder how it became a topic of conversation? How is anything is known about it? Obviously someone has spoken out about it. Such nonsense phrases are indicative of a conspiratorial mindset, looking for 'reds under the beds' or 'terrorists in every town'.

    Again. Perhaps you need to think about the validity of sources, actually read the material for comprehension, and then comment.

    Anything else is just wanking (and we know how much of a sin that is!)

  14. Karl says:

    The person writing the first article has no full knowledge of the opiates final destinations, as you say they are only aware of parts of the age old trade routes. They don't dare talk about the USA or they will have the DEA on their doorstep.

    The wedge is at least three fold, perhaps four.

    The monetary aspects of the illicit business keeps the terrorists in control of their destiny because they buy their weapons that help them control their side of the production and delivery of the product.

    The financial influx and profit from the sale of the illicit drugs is nearly the only thing providing this part of the world with income up and down the economic ladder.

    The places where the export is aimed at are places that the extremists want to destabilize and bring down financially so that their own power and control will become more apparent. This makes the "Allah is Great" mantra a rallying point.

    The religious aspects are both a cover but the only reasonable way they have to justify that they are doing the work of Allah. They can thus get cover from their religiousa commrades who may not want to take up arms, but who would love to see the western cultures demoralized and destroyed so that Islam can go about allowing the dictators power to do what they wish.

    Pick apart what you want to Tony, but the mindless, inhuman side of the supply and delivery side of the opium trade is where the pulse is to this problem.

    If these people had humanity's better interests in mind they would educate their own people about the evils of opiates.

    Something tells me that a fair portion of the suicide bombers are addicts that have been conditioned to act in ways that promote extreme Islam, through very small doses of the drugs they export to destroy the minds and wills of the west. Promise a person release from the "hell" of powerful drug addictions and they'll do just about anything. BTW you can't do drug testing very effectively on a non existent body now can you.

    Might make for a fairly good research project if one could ever get the international community to think it might be worth while.

  15. Mindy Carney says:

    Karl said: "Promise a person release from the “hell” of powerful drug addictions and they’ll do just about anything."

    How do you know this, Karl? I'm asking genuinely. How do you know what motivates addicts, and what is this "something" that tells you suicide bombers are addicts? I have never read anything that points to that, so if you have sources, I'd love to hear them.

  16. Tony Coyle says:

    Karl. Again: project, confuse and conflate.

    You sometimes touch a part of the elephant, but can only imagine a tree.

    As for saying "Something tells me that a fair portion of the suicide bombers are addicts". What something would that be, Karl? It sure isn't any news source or the result of reliable investigation.

    And when you say "If these people had humanity’s better interests in mind they would educate their own people about the evils of opiates." do you really not understand?

    Dictatorial regimes are in it purely for themselves. Warlords are in it purely for themselves.

    Criminals are in it purely for themselves.

    For these people 'humanity' is a field to be harvested, not a forest to be conserved.

    I think you might make a good research project. How could someone intelligent enough to graduate college and gain teaching credentials in science be so poor at analytical thought?

    Facts. useful.

    Evidence. very useful.

    Corroboration. Priceless.

    • Karl says:

      A fair portion is my way of stating that the easiest way to control someone else's behavior is to get them addicted to drugs like crack or heroin and then condition them to do what your want done.

      Here is an article that pretty much sums up hypothesis.….

      Suicide might be gladly entered into by many suicide bombers, but for others it is only a viscious way for the criminals and power hungry dictators who are in it for themselves to further their cause by making people believe that these poor people are on a Holy Mission.

      Either way, be it through indoctrination and "religious" zeal or the manipulation of a drug conditioned addict, or both in some cases the world is made to believe that the suicide bomber is in full control of their choices.

      I just offered an hypothesis that the "scientists" of this world might want to look into.

      Islam extremists certainly fit the picture of the kind of domination that the supplier has over the user.

    • Tony Coyle says:


      You need to use your skepticism a little more regularly.

      I support of your thesis, you posted a link to a guy whose business is selling books and seminars (his own) on addiction – and who paints almost every behavior (those he considers anti-social) as being the result of addiction.

      Doesn't the flagrant self promotion and self aggrandizement ring any bells with you?

      This guy is simply selling snake oil.

      Everything he does is snake oil.

      There may be a grain of truth in some of what he says – but more in the vein of "a broken clock is still right twice a day" than in anything resulting from knowledge or analysis.

      Your hypothesis is supported by nothing more than vapor. Evidence is not supplied by anecdotes. Evidence is not some guy's 'sales pitch' for his addition seminars and books.

  17. Tony Coyle says:

    I was reading HufPost today and came across this apposite post from Norm Stamper, a Retired Seattle police chief and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

    His take on drugs – legalize, regulate, and license.

  18. Hank says:

    This odd assertion of Karl's that a significant proportion of suicide bombers – or indeed any of them – are addicted to drugs (either against their will or otherwise) displays a misunderstanding of fundamentalist Islam. And of drug addiction, as an aside.

    The reward for jihadist suicide bombers is, essentially, spending eternity de-flowering virgins (with glory in Allah's eyes a close second). Marinated in hatred and paranoia and indoctrinated with myths of glorious martyrdom from youth, Islamic suicide bombers go to their hero's deaths willingly (though there have been tragic cases where intellectually disabled people or vulnerable others have been coerced or threatened into being walking bombs). It also would make no sense for a jihadist group like the Taliban to crack down on opium production (as they did so ruthlessly when they were running the show) if they were actually using it to grow suicide bombers. Firstly and most obvious – if you wanted to coerce people with drugs to do your bidding you'd want a ready supply of your drug of choice. Why not take control of the crops instead of destroying them and executing the growers? Secondly, even moderate Islam strictly forbids alcohol and all other intoxicants. Strict fundamentalists like the Taliban leaders didn't tolerate opium when they were in power and it's simply not realistic that they'd breach their own rules so blatantly when there are ranks of people happy to go and explode at a moment's notice. I can't imagine any other fundamentalist Islamists wavering on that either. These are fundamentalists after all, and rules are everything to a fundamentalist. Their warped mutant of a religion is enough to make people enraged, insane and spiritually greedy enough to detonate themselves on a crowded bus.

    I can relate from personal (but not first hand) experience that heroin, to put it mildly, seriously messes with your head. To pay for your fix you'll do anything you need to to. When you're strung out and freaking you'll do thoughtless, dangerous, illegal and ridiculous shit that you won't remember once you're finally high again and would be horrified by if you did. Without doubt, heroin is about the worst drug on the market (ice is closing in though) and pretty much destroys everything it touches, starting with the addict and radiating outwards. It makes people forget they're human.

    However, in order to be truly evil and take others' lives to glorify yourself you need to be a fundamentalist and to be a fundamentalist you can't do drugs. You don't need them – believing that it's the will of a divine, infallible and unquestionable god is the only way that brutal indiscriminate murder makes any sense.

  19. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I see some Muslim stereotypes emerging.

    Mainstream Islam condemns suicide bombings because bombing usually kill innocent people. Most suicide attacks are not some religions fanatic who believes he will go to paradise and be with a multitude of virgins, but individuals who are convinced they have no future, nothing to live for and that the sad state of their lived were somehow caused those they view as enemies. It more of a final act of vendetta.

    Suicide bombing are nothing new, neither are suicide squads and suicide missions. They are a creation of Muslim fundamentalist, but are often used by them.

    Since Arabs have a very different culture from ours,

    they have a different language, a different way of writing, the dress different have different customs and holidays. It is easy to believe that they must be some sub human species with a brain defect that makes them all so gullible to think that by blowing themselves up in the local market, and killing women and children, they will get a first class ticket to the here after. What drivel. (By the way, a large number of suicide bombers in Israel are women, and in Islam, women don't get the benefits of a multitude of virgins in the afterlife.)

    Suicide bombing was common in Viet Nam, Korea, WWII, and in many wars against the British empire. Suicide bombing is a weapon of last resort, a tactic of desperation. No drugs, no secret economic wars, no brainwashing. mostly a sense of no self-worth, frustration and anger against their oppressors, and an overwhelming desire for vengeance.

  20. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Sorry for the topic drift.

    • Tony Coyle says:

      Niklaus: it's conversation, not drift, and in this case you've put some closure on Karl's wilder Islamic fantasies.

  21. Hank says:

    You're quite right Nik – after I went to bed I realised I hadn't mentioned anything about the despair and desperation that a person can feel under oppression. The people of Palestine – the regular people who just hope to wake up in an intact house with all their limbs – are probably some of the most desperate (and flatly ignored) people on the planet. I realise my post was a bit of a generalisation (written late at night, though hardly drivel, I must protest that), however I still believe it's true that the promises of the afterlife hold a lot of sway with an enraged fundie.

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