The War On Drugs PT3 – The Blind Choreographer

This is part three of a series in which I use the American drug war to examine wider social concerns. You can read the intro here, part one here, part two here.

In part two we looked at how once harmless drugs have been made harmful by their very criminalisation. This points to fundamental problems of detachment and lack of knowledge in modern politics.

Problem One – Against Our Nature

Money is always the answer - giving it, taking it away - it fixes everything!
Money is always the answer – giving it, taking it away – it fixes everything!

As long as governments seek to implement laws which go against human desire there will be trouble. Life is full of pain and poverty and people will want to numb that pain. The answer is not to criminalise anaesthetic, but to remove the source of pain.

People are also hungry and curious, they want new experiences and they like to party sometimes. Drugs will always be attractive to some people, and if they were easily available and clean, they would be far less trouble than alcohol, since people would want to relax, not vomit and punch each other. The answer is not to criminalise pleasures but to create safe spaces to enjoy them.

Problem Two – Ignorance of What Is

A wise person changes themselves to suit the flow of the world, a fool seeks to change the world to suit themselves – which is why only fools create ‘progress’.

This ‘going against the flow’ can be seen everywhere, in misguided healthcare, education, welfare, employment and prison policies. In every area ministers act without real understanding of these institutions.

Admittedly this is a more intense interview than is normal... after all, normally there are no interviews at all - just good, old-fashioned nepotism and favour.
Admittedly this is a more intense interview than is normal: usually there are no interviews at all…

Politicians seek to change the welfare system, but how many of them have ever relied on welfare? They interfere with the NHS yet use private healthcare. They make prisons and laws more severe then buy their way out of their own crimes with expensive lawyers. Public schools are crippled with over-administration while MP’s buy their children private educations.

These institutions are complex and intricate dances, and Governments are deaf-blind choreographers. Everywhere they try and change our steps without understanding the dance or the music, and create collisions, disharmony and discord.

Politicians used to come from the shop floor. They had real knowledge of the world and understood what would work and what wouldn’t. Now we have career politicians, with empty degrees and no experience outside whitehall. At one time a politician might understand factory production, farming techniques or transport issues. Now, the central skill-set for politicians is the production of soundbites, looking good on camera and electioneering. A politicians main skill is the ability to maintain a place in politics.

Lights, camera, distraction!
Lights, camera, distraction!

Problem Three – Emasculated Government

The purpose of government ought to be the regulation and monitoring of capitalism: preventing monopolies, ensuring fair employment law and pay scales, preventing environmental abuse and so on. Instead, big business has effectively bought government and neutered it.

I watched The West Wing last night and tomorrow I run for president!
I watched The West Wing last night and tomorrow I run for president!

Now that it is too afraid to act in its proper sphere, the government is attempting to create a new job for itself by over-regulating people and public institutions. A school is best run by teachers who understand how the school works. Instead, ministers with no background in education attempt to change the exam system, introduce new management structures or interfere with the syllabus – most often ignoring or going directly against the advice of teachers and other experts. The same happens to prisons, hospitals… basically most things politicians interfere with!

Problem Four – Distance

It isn’t that politicians are all stupid – the problem lies with the machinery of government. Even if they were experts – trying to regulate schools from a central government is like trying to drive a car while sitting in your lounge. Being at a distance means losing contact with the reality of the situation you seek to manage.

That's nothing, you should see the state of their bathroom!
That’s nothing, you should see the state of their bathroom!

Effective policy requires a reversal, a return to localised governance so that institutions are managed from the bottom up, guided by shop-floor knowledge, refined by the expertise of those with experience.

Learning From Mistakes

With drugs the interference of government and the making of ill-considered laws has led to higher drug prices, wealthy drug barons, a poisoned and unpredictable supply, the inability to regulate the supply, the use of violence to protect trade, a massive prison population, a focus on petty drug-crime at the cost of dealing with serious crime, a failure to exploit drug revenues and taxes and no decrease in drug use whatsoever.

This is what a government without knowledge, acting in the interest of re-election, distanced from it’s subject produces:- a nightmare. And over the last two decades it has turned its attention increasingly to education, health, welfare, prisons, food, housing and untold areas which gradually impose on our private lives.

There's gonna be horse-piss in the water! Cow-farts in the air! - No change there then!
There’s gonna be horse-piss in the water! Cow-farts in the air! – No change there then!

We have to disconnect the government from the personal, and free them from the purses of big business. Politicians should be drawn from the sectors they seek to effect so that they act with understanding. Then they can effectively regulate business and leave the shaping of private and family spheres to those who understand how it should be done.

By way of one solution

All politicians could be paid from the public purse at the rate of the minimum wage. Election campaigns have a maximum expenditure, also drawn from the public fund, to prevent the rich ‘buying’ publicity or elections. No donations, no ‘propping up’ from big businesses.

A politician is a politician ONLY. No appearance fees or pay for speeches, no directorships or places on company boards – one job, one focus.

It's the objectivity of our Governments that is their key strength
It’s the objectivity of our Governments that is their key strength

Businesses can then be made to pay their tax bills, which today would net £5billion a year (the present amount of tax avoided by major corporations in the UK), more than enough to replace ‘donations’. (Incidentally – if they stopped the drug war, that too could save £16billion pounds a year in the UK – and raise who knows how much in tax revenues.)

Putting politicians on the minimum wage would ensure they did all they could to raise it, benefitting the poor. It would also weed out ‘career politicians’ who are more interested in the power and money that in helping their country.

Further solutions: one, two, three, four, five, all-in-one

Next time, part four looks at gang-wars and other crime ’caused by drugs’ to show how it is in fact caused by ill-conceived law-making.


20 thoughts on “The War On Drugs PT3 – The Blind Choreographer

Add yours

  1. Just . . . YES. I love you, Panda. I work at a university, and who runs it? Deans, way too many VPs, a president who is a businessman – people who have not been in the actual teaching field in so long (if ever) that they do not remember what it’s like. It’s amazing how quickly they can forget when they get their cushy offices and high salaries. There IS too much distance between those on top and those on bottom yet the ones on top make ALL the important decisions.

    It’s like they are literally wearing blindfolds. Salaries range (for full time staff and beginning part-time instructors) from LESS than 20 K to 200 K. Makes me sick. The president’s solution to this crisis? Give a 2 percent raise ACROSS THE BOARD. 2 percent of 20 K is a hell of a lot different than 2 percent of 200 K, and the 200 K people didn’t need a damn raise to begin with!

    Sometimes I think it’d take another French Revolution to shake things up – but then the new government would probably devolve into stupid as well . . . sigh.

  2. You speak far too much sense. 😛

    I think one of the problems is that few people in their right mind would ever want to be a politician – I agree with every point you’ve made here and would love to see changes put in place (evidence based policy is something that I’d love to see more often too), but I know I have no desire to do that job.

  3. “… acting in the interest of re-election…” Yes, most politicians are guided by that and the access to money, power and retirement connections. They often don’t know what they are doing and could care less as long as they get to keep their jobs and generous pensions. Those who do care are usually left idle on the backbenches.

    I agree with Alice, as well. Universities, colleges and schools are top-heavy with administrators who do nothing but create “projects” – usually for everyone else to complete – so that they can justify their jobs. Then they walk around with their heads in the clouds believing that they must be brilliant because they’re at the administrative pinnacle in Upper Pine Cone, Saskatchewan.

    Politicians have created this system and are also responsible for the notion that you now have to have a university degree in order to tie your shoes. Nevertheless, and for all my complaints, I do have to recognize that our system works a lot better than many others. At least I don’t have to worry that there might be a coup if the present government loses an election.

    Thanks for providing the space for me to whine, RoS. 🙂

  4. Great three parts! Bring on the fourth. Also, insightful comments by your readers…particularly liked ‘politicians working for minimum wage – would likely cause a serious ‘default’ government system (WHICH would be good!)…would get serious and concerned pols… Thank for your good work on this important topic…

    1. Thank you B-Ray… More posts will follow, sure as wind follows onions!
      I’m a great believer that those who rule should be subject to the worst conditions that exist… sure would encourage them to change things!!

    1. Isn’t our whole society based on the symbolic? There is no ‘meaning’ to anything outside symbolism – a bit of wood becomes a cross, a bit of paper becomes money etc. Which is how we can cause such harm and go so wrong, because we have forgotten the fictional nature of a vast part of our life.

You can tell me anything (yes, even that!)

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