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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Living Wills 

I like Greg's over at The Talent Show:
By the way, if any of this shit ever happens to me, please pull the plug. Once my body's cold, let the organ harvesters, medical students, etc. take whatever they want. Cremate anything that's left over, toss it in the ocean, and go buy yourselves a drink with whatever you found in my wallet. But.....

If I get into the situation as the result of medical malpractice, corporate negligence, or some other dastardly (and preventable) means, keep me alive long enough to turn my situation into a media circus. Since it seems to be the only way cases like this get any attention, make sure to send every videotape or photograph that you may have of me to every news outlet you can find. Use the resulting orgy of coverage to get some attention to the horrible nexus of insurance interests, pharmaceutical companies, and bribed political interests that ensures that millions of Americans (unlike their peers in Japan, Canada, Britain, etc.) without healthcare of any sort. If you find it necessary to split into two opposing camps to pontificate endlessly about "What Greg would have wanted", please try to keep religion out of it, okay?
Nicely.

Theocracy 

Well, one of their own finally said it.

Chris Shays (R Conn.) says, "this Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy."

Damn. Never thought I'd actually here that out in the open from any major politico, much less a Republican. May many more reasonable Republicans recognize that when you mix religion and politics, all you get is fascism batter.

May the Republican party become once again a party of reason, and meanwhile may the Democratic party become once again a party of actually doing something worthwhile instead of flopping around like an earthworm caught in a puddle on the sidewalk.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Essay 

Newsflash: Think tanks and foundations attempt to influence public opinion through the media!

In other news, the sun is hot!

Mickey Kaus tries to get to snarky by equating the situations at TAP and NPR with Armstrong Williams but falls just short - arriving instead at retarded:
Essay Question: How is the American Prospect different from Armstrong Williams?
In response, I offer the following essay:

How TAP is Different from Armstrong Williams
by Tbag

Because the Pew Foundation is not the government of the United States, you fucking dolt.

The End.

I wish astroturfing didn't exist. But it does, and private entities on both sides of the political spectrum engage in it all the time. Similarly, overtly partisan media outlets (like TAP) are willing to shill for their side, especially if there's money in it. The same could be said for the NY Post, where the article that started all this appears.

But when the GOVERNMENT DOES IT, it's not just astroturfing or swaying public opinion, it's FUCKING PROPAGANDA. Bit of a difference.

Shaivo in Context 

I hate the whole thing. It's utterly retarded. But this puts it into context well, politically:



Becker and Posner Weigh in on the Drug War 

Talk about some heavyweights spouting off in favor of legalization. Both Becker and Posner take some shots at the War on Drugs on their blog.

As more a harm reductionist than an economic libertarian, I don't agree with all of their reasoning - we agree on the negative effects and untenability of the current "war" but not on the best fix to the problem.

As with most scholarly writing on drug policy, both posts suffer from some apparent ignorance of the actual psychotropic effects of drugs and how those effects impact on patterns of both responsible use and outright abuse - and anywhere on the spectrum between those two endpoints. The most egregious example of this is Posner's paragraph on drug substitution:
The political source of the war on drugs is mysterious if, as I am inclined to believe, there is a legal substitute for every one of the illegal drugs: selective serotonin uptake reinhibitors (e.g., Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft) and other antidepressive drugs for cocaine, liquor and tranquillizers for heroin, cigarettes for marijuana, caffeine and steroids for “uppers.” Obviously these are not perfect substitutes; and some of the illegal drugs may be more potent or addictive or physically or psychologically injurious than the legal ones. But it is apparent that our society has no general policy against the consumption of mind-altering substances, and there seems to be a certain arbitrariness in the choice of the subset to prohibit. If these drugs were regulated instead of being prohibited, their content could be made less potent and addictive and consumers could be warned more systematically about their dangers, as they are about the dangers of cigarettes and prescription drugs.
Putting aside laughable "substitutes" like cigarettes for marijuana, the conclusion he draws from the obviously uninformed assumption is also flawed. His assertion that "our society has no general policy against the consumption of mind-altering substances, and there seems to be a certain arbitrariness in the choice of the subset to prohibit" is confused. Surely a man of such renowned economic acumen can pick out some patterns in which drugs are prohibited and which are regulated or outright legal. And if you're looking for the "political source" I would start with the mother's movement of the 1970s and end with big pharma and the cartels themselves.

Furthermore, even as they both assume de facto "legalize and tax" position on reform, they do not address the issue of advertising. If we allow private entities to sell addictive, psychoactive substances, they will insist on advertising - which our experience with tobacco has proven to be a bit of a problem in terms of limiting use by younger folk (Joe Camel and all that).

Without sending my libertarian allies on this issue running for the woods, I'd like to propose government control over distribution. And to perhaps appease those libertarian allies to some extent, I would use as a model New Hampshire's (that libertarian paradise) alcohol distribution system.

I can't write everything I'd like to on this now for lack of time, but I think it's great that more respected academics and public figures are willing to throw their weight behind drug policy reform of any stripe. The first step to trying a different approach is to shake the hold of the current one. In that spirit, I embrace the Becker-Posner position - at least until that glorious day when we, as a society, accept the fact that the war on drugs has failed and that there are better ways of reducing demand and the negative effects of drug abuse without limiting people's liberty or throwing away upwards of $100 billion/year.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Happy B-day to Me 

Well, I'm a quarter-century old as of today.

As one friend put it...all 25 gets you is cheaper insurance and metamucil.

Nice.

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