Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “War on Drugs”

What Should We Declare War on Next? – Tom Rossi

America seems to love wars. Not just the war wars, but the wars on this and that, as well. We have the war on terrorism and the war on drugs, these are official, government propaganda. And we also have the Fox “News” variety, like the war on Christmas.

Most of these conceptual wars are either colossal wastes of money that hide their real purpose or they’re just made up baloney.

A lot has been said about what “wars” might be more useful than drugs or terrorism… a war on homelessness, for example. In 2001, 42,196 people died in traffic accidents – over ten times the number of fatalities from our biggest loss to terrorism ever. Why not a war on accidents?

Naaaaah. That’d never fly. Too practical and sensible. In other words, boring.

Let’s have some wars that we can all relate to – wars against the things that really annoy us.

How about a war on awful cell-phone ring tones? I once knew someone with, “I’m a Barbi Girl, ” or whatever that crappy song by Aqua is called. I’d like never to hear that again… ever.

A war on Velcro. When you pull it apart, it sounds like a combination of sizzling bacon and unzipping a zipper – without the satisfaction that inevitably follows either of those things.

A war on noisy neighbors. My upstairs neighbor at my last apartment was evidently a furniture wrestler. That’s what it sounded like! Three falls with a chest of drawers. That’s the only explanation that would fit what I heard almost every day.

Speaking of noise, let’s have a war on ridiculous, thumpin’ and bumpin’ car stereos. How many times have I been listening to the radio or trying to have a conversation when one of these guys pulls up next to me at a stoplight? Sometimes I can actually hear his car falling apart from the vibration. Who are you impressing, buddy? Grow up and get a life.

A war on stupid machines that take away jobs and screw up all the time anyway. I NEVER go to the automated checkout machine at the grocery store. I want them all torn out and burned.

A war on the use of the word “custom” for something you buy off the shelf. Helllllo! It’s not custom if it’s not made specifically for you! The same goes for words like “fresh” or “homemade” on a freakin’ can or frozen dinner. It burned George Carlin up and it burns me up too.

How about a war on that disgusting green hair they always put in salads these days? It’s not lettuce. It’s not spinach. It’s some stringy crap that makes me choke. Again, who are you impressing? Not me.

A war on so-called “reality” TV shows where they pick the biggest pricks they can possibly find to make it interesting and only eliminate contestants who aren’t big enough drama-queens. Yes, I’m picking on Trump again, but there are many more.

I want a war on celery in soup. Almost every damn soup has celery and it’s gross. It makes every soup taste like, well, celery. For those who like it, let’s have a celery soup, and leave it out of everything else.

A war on those stupid, “tribute” shows where they hype up someone like Burt Bacharach as God’s gift to music and humanity. He composed elevator music. The world would look exactly the same if he hadn’t.

A war on the NRA apparently bribing every TV show and even a lot of news broadcasts to show cool women shooting guns for fun. I guess they feel like the male market is pretty much tapped out. I’m more offended by this as a writer than anything else. If you’re a writer on a TV show and someone tells you to work women and guns into a show like “Modern Family,” just say no. Heck, why not use the phrase, “We’ll head ’em off at the pass!” Hacky writing ticks me off – especially when it seems there are political motives.

A war on car alarms. They go off constantly, especially because of the douchebags that think they’re impressing someone with their loud exhausts (another war!) that drive by creating their own annoyance. They go off so damn often that nobody pays any attention. I’ll tell you what though… If I see someone stealing a car with the alarm going off, I’ll give him directions to the nearest freeway onramp because he is preventing the crime of disturbing the peace by taking the noisemaker away.

Finally, I’d like a war on political advertising. I suppose advertising is a perverse form of free speech, but allowing people and organizations to just lie through their teeth with no consequences is contrary to any kind of democratic value system I can imagine.

These just came off the top of my head. I like wars. I’m going to go declare war on a certain bottlecap right now. It’s been imprisoning a very important beer for too long.

-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.


13,609 Dead and Counting

Tuesday, September 20th 2011, thirty-five bodies were dumped beneath an underpass during rush hour traffic in a Mexican coastal city.  War on Drugs Update –  the Mexican death total for 2011 now stands at 13,644.

(picture from Getty Images)

Are we, citizens of the U.S., in anyway responsible for the deaths of so many people south of our border? Is our forty year war on drugs really working? Has the prohibition of anything desired by man ever been successful? The short answers: YES, NO and NO (respectively).

When a significant number of people want something, someone or some entity will provide it. The majority will go to a legal source. If a legal source is not available, they will go to an illegal source. If there are buyers, there will be suppliers. It is that simple.

So here’s the real question. Are responsible businesses practicing lawful commerce better suited to sell drugs or are criminal gangs that make up their own rules enforced by death and violence a better choice? When the U.S. started prohibition of alcohol in the early 1900s, drinking did not stop but criminal activity, violence and death increased dramatically. These negative elements went away once alcohol was made legal again.

The War on Drugs has cost the U.S. tax payers $1 trillion and the percentage of people that use drugs has not decreased; all the usage statistics are virtually the same. What has increased are the number of deaths at the hands criminals and the prison population of non-violent drug users. This Nixon-era policy has failed because you cannot stop the will of the people. Again, if a significant number of people want something they will eventually get it, legal or not.

(Mexican Drug War Death Map, WM Consulting)

Approximately 11,000 people die in the U.S. annually from illegal drugs, over 100,000 people die from prescription medication and alcohol is linked to 75,000 deaths per year. Perhaps the war is focusing on the wrong drugs.

Our War on Drugs is a crime enabler that results in the death of 10,000 to 20,000 Mexicans annually and who knows how many people elsewhere. If we eliminate the prohibition of drugs, the western hemisphere would be a safer place for all Americans – Canadians, Chileans and all of us in between.

Stop the insanity. History proves prohibition does not work. Say no to violence, no to criminals and no to enslavement by voting No on Prohibition.

-Roger Ingalls


Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

The New American Slave (Roger Ingalls)

Remember that game teachers played to help develop our logic and reasoning skills? They would hold up a picture and ask, “what’s wrong with this picture” and we would have to figure it out.

Well, my fellow Americans, what’s wrong with this picture?

Based on the incarceration numbers shown in this chart, it appears that many Americans suddenly became criminals during the Nixon administration and turned more evil during the Reagan administration.

Now, I ask you, does this really make sense? Did the citizens of the United States exponentially turn to the dark side during the 70s and 80s? Your gut is probably saying no, people don’t change that drastically. Your intuition is correct, the people didn’t change but the laws did.

Virtually overnight, human behavior was criminalized by Nixon’s War On Drugs legislation. This was conservative backlash for the 1960’s Enlightened Movements. Ten years later, the Reagans stepped into the Whitehouse. While the country was in a recession, Nancy spent a few hundred thousand dollars on new dinnerware and this didn’t go over well with the public. The spin doctors came to her rescue and she became the Just Say No First Lady. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 came into existence along with harsh penalties for drug related crimes.

Nixon’s prohibition of recreational drugs and the subsequent draconian penalties are responsible for the exponential growth of the prison and jail populations. To make matter worse, incarceration is becoming more privatized and the bigger prison companies are publicly traded. Wall Street expects these for profit companies to grow annually at a rate that is faster than the real crime rate. Do we see a problem here? The prison industry, their lobbyists and law enforcement need more criminalization of human behavior and harsher penalties to maintain jobs and profits.

Throughout history man has used mind altering substances, it’s our nature. It is estimated that 30% of those incarcerated have committed non-violent drug related crimes.

Taxpayers can no longer afford an annual $70 billion bill for the War On Drugs.

We need to do away with the prohibition of recreational drugs and regulate them similar to tobacco and alcohol. We also need to do away with for profit incarceration that creates incentives for enslavement.

The 40 year experiment of criminalizing human behavior has failed.


Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

From Killing Weeds to Killer Weed—A Mighty Brave Step (Roger Ingalls)

Sniff-sniff-sniff, is that the pungent kushie smell of progress? This cannot be true, my eyes and ears must be deceiving me.

afghani-kush cannabis

“I want to target the pot market, there’s no good reason we haven’t.” Do you have any idea who said this? It was Jim Hagedorn, the CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.  He made this statement a few days ago during an interview with The Wall Street Journal. SMG (NYSE) is a $3 Billion publicly traded lawn care company that generates 60 to 70% of its revenue from sales to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of suburban lawns and the chemicals that are put on them. I believe all lawns — not used for physical activities — should be converted to edible gardens. However, I must applaud Mr. Hagedorn for his boldness in making this statement. Nutrient providers and grow equipment manufacturers do not explicitly say that their products are used for medical cannabis out of fear of drawing attention from the Feds. The federal government regulates interstate commerce, and business activity related to marijuana is federally illegal no matter what an individual state’s laws may be. So, Mr. Hagedorn deserves some kudos for his remarks.

No doubt, it is in SMG’s best financial interest to get into this business. The overall marijuana market is currently two to three times larger than the $8 Billion lawn and garden industry. In addition, the lawn industry will fade in the coming decades due to water shortages and climate concerns related to global warming — lawns are environmentally damaging and expensive. SMG is a smart company and the writing is clearly on the wall.

Could endorsement by a respected public company be the tipping point for widespread acceptance of medical cannabis and perhaps recreational use? If so, think of the benefits to society:

-Ending the 40 year failed War on Drugs would save tax payers $54B a year (Fed and combined States expenses).

-Legalization would eliminate criminal activity associated with prohibition.

-Generate sales tax revenues in the billions of dollars.

-Create thousands of new jobs.

-Reduce non-violent incarcerations by 25% making room for violent criminals.

-Increase availability of affordable medicine with less side-effects.

Mr. Hagedorn didn’t make his remarks about pot because he wants to improve society, his motivations are purely profit driven (based on additional comments). However, it was risky considering the Fed’s current position on cannabis. If SMG does make that first bold move toward supporting the medical marijuana industry and it accelerates federal legalization, it would put them in the drivers seat and create a lot of customer loyalty. It’s a mighty brave step but a prudent business decision.


Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

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