Who is Too Blame?

Posted on February 1, 2020

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The “blame game” is one we all play when something goes wrong. Let’s take on a biggie today, and one that many Americans will not like, but facing the truth is more important: The use of drugs in our country. Before the statistics though, let’s look at a recent online article by Newt Gingrich on his blog.

“Make No Mistake: Mexican Cartel Murders are Funded by Americans.” I thought, well Newt and I are in the same page on this one. Shoot, we were even in graduate school together many years ago, but I never met him. He, I imagine, was a very serious student, while I let New Orleans distract me with many distractions in the 1960s, although I did manage to come away with a good enough degree to get at job at UA in 1972. Ok, enough of Newt. I never met him at Tulane since he was in U. S. history and I was scrambling around Spain and Latin America when I finally got serious about studying.

What does Newt mean by the title to his piece, prompted of course by the massacre of nine Americans, including six children, in Northern Mexico a few weeks ago?

“As long as Americans send an estimated $19 billion to $29 billion in drug money a year to Mexico,” Newt observed, “there will be cartels willing to take it. Kill one generation of cartel leaders, and a new generation will emerge.”

The principle at work here is simple economics: what is governing is the law of supply and demand. The demand for drugs is in the U. S., and the cartels will gladly supply the drugs for an increasingly addicted American population.

One wag I read a few years ago said the cartels of Latin America—because Mexico is but one of several countries in the drug business—are shining examples, the best, of capitalism in the world. They are enormous engines of production and efficiency, as well as distribution and reinvestment of income. All this immense, profit making, illegal and monstrous drug business is driven by the buyers, us, in the U.S.A.

The statistics are overwhelming, difficult to believe. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 38% (or over 1/3) of adults in America battled an illicit drug use disorder in 2017. Drug abuse and addiction cost American society more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs.

Heroin abuse among young adults between 18 and 25 years old doubled in the past decade. Pick your drug and find the grim statistics: heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs (the famous Opioids), marijuana (now legal in half a dozen states), and throw in alcohol for you drinkers beyond the occasional beer or glass of wine to take the edge off all this bad news.

The statistics are overwhelming. And the undermining of legitimate society and Mexico is simply staggering. Since a 2006 an estimated 150,000 Mexicans have been murdered in drug wars. The cartels are a state within a state.

Meanwhile, in the U. S. San Francisco gave out 5.8 million needles in 2018 and  as Newt noted “the city was undermining any effort to stop drugs coming from Mexico. No one considered how much money went to the cartels from the substance that filled those 5.8 million needles.”

The “war on drugs” declared in June 1971 by Richard Nixon is a failure given modern attitudes towards drugs. Our policies towards open borders, the legalization of marijuana, sanctuary cities, and others facilitate the entry and use of drugs.

What to do about this? Here’s where Newt and I differ. His solutions are based on the political and economic implications which he identifies so well.

In New York city, for example, “anti-police leftists like Mayor Bill De Blasio of New York make life easier for the drug cartels. A demoralized, intimidated police force has no hope of stopping the type of arrogant murderers and torturers who are challenging the Mexican government for control of the country.” Newt suggests a reform of the penal system, which does NOT mean “we have to accept the legalization of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and other deadly drugs.” Instead “find economic sanctions – and effective treatment – for drug users while retaining much tougher punishment for those making money while enriching the drug cartels.”

And, “If we are serious about wiping the drug cartels off the face of the earth, the place to start is the United States not Mexico.”

Newt concludes “Follow the money is a good rule, and in this case, the money is made in America, spent by Americans, and needs to be cut off by Americans. Then, we will have defeated the drug cartels…. the central battlefront in this war is dollars in America – not violence in Mexico.”

I think all of Gingrich’s suggestions are valid and should be applied. He is, after all, a master politician who worked across party lines to do a lot of good things.

But we need a modern reformation of thought and action based on Christian principles to really restore us to sanity and goodness in our thoughts and behavior. Other religious traditions may offer similar solutions based on a cleansing of the soul and body and spirit, but I am a follower of Jesus and informed by the Judaic-Christian faith, not some offshoot like Islam, or a moral order taught by Hinduism or Buddhism for example.

We need to search out, identify and very clearly articulate and promote solutions from Scripture to the modern ails in our national psyche and body. How does Christianity address the problem of drugs, abortion, greed, personal responsibility, and other elements of modern life that need to be made right? Send me your ideas, and I’ll try to work the best into some future columns. We need not simply to lament loudly, but to offer solutions.

Published as “Who is to blame for the drug scourge” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019.

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Posted in: Drugs