Haiti, Mexico and American priorities

My illness has given me the chance to think about basic priorities.

We recently watched the television premier of a documentary series called "Border Wars."  It is concerned with the Mexican border and the disintegrating state just to the south of that border.  I recommend it to all.  The United States and Mexico have a long history of inability to sort out their relations in a reasonable way.  There have been wars and rumors of wars.  There has been migration, resistance to migration and now an acceptance among most Americans that the future United States will be very strongly Mexican in culture and blood.  There are now massive American business presences in Mexico.  A visitor told me yesterday that such places as Saltillo, Guadalajara and Monterey are filled with American enterprise, profitable enterprise.  These are good things, but still the border is an impossible task.  Drug smugglers and illegal migrants (not the same people) create what is, in the end, an impossible situation, a situation that contributes to crime, vice and levels of greed otherwise most likely to be found on Wall Street and among defense contractors.

Haiti is probably the worst "basket case" among all the recognised countries of the world.  There is no economy that amounts anything.  The government has not functioned since the US Department of the Navy surrendered control in the '30s.  There are no real public services.  And now,as a symbol of final catastrophe, the gleaming white, utterly inappropriate National Palace (built by the United States) has collapsed in downtown Port au Prince.  So, now we are back, but for how long and to what purpose after relief and basic assistance are performed?

At the same time we are now engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen with the purpose of nation building in these countries.  "Nation Building" is a dirty word except among the AEIers and the CNAS crowd.  The COIN generals are also careful not to use the word, but that is what we are doing as a result of various policy reviews.

How much money did we spend in Iraq in pursuit of phony WMD and very real neocon ambition for social revolution?  How much money are we spendng now in Afghanistan in a Kiplinesque pursuit of 21st Century versions of the "Mad Mullahs" of the Great Game?  How much money are we going to spend in Yemen seeking to make a "nation-state?"

The terrorists?  Hunt them down.

Mexico and Haiti are our neighbors.  How difficult is that to understand?

There will be those who respond with the idea that there should not be borders.

They should think carefully about the implications of that idea.  pl


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46 Responses to Haiti, Mexico and American priorities

  1. Lysander says:

    Just legalize it. The drug wars will fade, the border areas will grow immensely safer. Business will follow.

  2. Adam L Silverman says:

    I think that this is just right. When you look at the big projects we’re currently involved with in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the big undertakings of the past by us and by others, what we see is that whether its called nation building or development or reconstruction, we don’t seem to pay attention to the human or socio-cultural or socio-political factors. What we’ve learned, and I would argue it was actually relearned, the hard way in Iraq and in Afghanistan is that building things – roads, wells, electric grids – is easy. The hard part is building civil societies. After WW II in places that had greater ethno-national, ethno-linguistic, and ethno-religious homogeneity, such as Germany, France, and Japan helping to foster a new or refurbished civil society was easy. In places like Iraq or Afghanistan or Haiti its quite hard. I always thought the best parallel for Iraq was the USMC administration of Haiti from 1919 through 1934, though in that historic case everything fell right back apart once the Marines came home. The problem in Haiti then was the lack of development of a vibrant and inclusive civil society that could pull in the various sub-cultural elements and this is the problem we see today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Exerting security control is doable to a point, constructing or reconstructing things is also doable, but building or repairing a civil society is very, very hard. And we can see this lesson of social reconciliation and integration in our own post Civil War history and we’re going to see it if the Israelis and the Palestinians ever come to an agreement. Several generations of socio-cultural reconstruction will have to take place in order for Palestinian society not to be dysfunctional.

  3. Brett says:

    The United States and Mexico have a long history of inability to sort out their relations in a reasonable way. There have been wars and rumors of wars.
    I would argue that relations have improved dramatically over time, though. There was some very severe animosity between the US and Mexico in the early twentieth century.
    now an acceptance among most Americans that the future United States will be very strongly Mexican in culture and blood.
    While there is an increasingly large Mexican influence on our culture, keep in mind not to over-estimate this – what with the way Mexican birth rates and GDP growth are going, my guess is that Mexican immigration will probably level off in the next 10-20 years.
    At the same time, the US culture is having a massive influence on Mexico and its culture. That’s usually what extensive trade and cross-migration does with two or more societies – it blurs the differences between them.
    the disintegrating state just to the south of that border.
    Calling Mexico a “disintegrating state” is a major exaggeration. While there are extensive problems with corruption and crime, the Mexican government itself is in no threat of collapse, American alarmism aside.

  4. Farmer Don says:

    Haiti with a population of 97,000 would heaven. With a population of 9.7 million it is hell.

  5. Annie says:

    NY Times blog discusses various approaches, specifically Haiti:

  6. N. M. Salamon says:

    With great respect to Mr. Silverman, IMO it will take Isreali sociey at least as long as for Palestinians to turn into civil society.
    And moreover, there is no chance of either happening as long as the USA is the king’s minion to the State of Israel!

  7. b says:

    The U.S. has been involved in Haiti for some 200 years. One has to admit though that this was not to advantage the lives of Haitians. The last not-so-silent interventions of DC were dismissing the elected president Aristide in 1991 AND 2004 again.
    As for taking more care of such a “neighborhood”, the all-American Heritage Foundation already has the recipe for further neoliberal disasters:

    While on the ground in Haiti, the U.S. military can also interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola. This U.S. military presence, which should also include a large contingent of U.S. Coast Guard assets, can also prevent any large-scale movement by Haitians to take to the sea in dangerous and rickety watercraft to try to enter the U.S. illegally.
    Meanwhile, the U.S. must be prepared to insist that the Haiti government work closely with the U.S. to insure that corruption does not infect the humanitarian assistance flowing to Haiti. Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue.

    Sure, the U.S. teaching the world about corruption …

  8. Patrick Lang says:

    I think Germany should accept reponsibility for Haiti since we have made such a hash of it. pl

  9. Patrick Lang says:

    I stand by the word “disintegrating.” Why don’t we just merge the two countries? pl

  10. The Haitian Earthquake is the natural disaster with the most impact on the most humans since Columbus landed. The oldest and richest democracy (US–really a republic) will be watched closely by the world to see how we handle this event 700 nautical miles offshore.
    There are going to be huge impacts for the US and the countries of the western hemisphere from this event. Perhaps we are lucky that it was not the “Big one” long expected in S.CA. Haitian population is only an estimate and some think closer to 12 million. Also in normal January there are almost 100,000 visitors to Haiti. It appears that the largest MEDEVAC op in world history is about to be launched by the US. All states and their health systems including hospitals will be impacted throughout the SE US! DOD has been slow off the starting line. This real world event will be interesting to watch in light of all the discussion of improvements since Katrina. Hoping so but doubtful IMO. Drinking water issues starting to loom larger.

  11. Adam L Silverman says:

    Mr. Salomon: You are absolutely correct that both Israelis and Palestinians will have civil society work to do, however, I think the issue is I was not quite clear enough. There are two parallel and two different sets of socio-cultural reconciliation and reconstruction issues for both groups. For the Palestinians many will need to adapt to the concept of having an actual state to be part of, political participation, institution building, etc. The greatest challenge, one that actually has plagued the Israelis, is sort of a political science axiom: when you treat people despotically and tyrannically, then free them and let them set up their own system it tends to be or have elements of despotism and tyranny. The Israelis still struggle in their internal and external politics and relations with the legacy of never being full citizens in most places capped off by WW II and the Holocaust. The Palestinians who have been, in many ways, the flotsam and jetsam of the Middle East will have to overcome these same problems. Their second set of issues is how they reconcile religion within their civil society. Will Islam dominate Christians, Druze, and others or will there be some other resolution.
    In the case of the Israelis they will have to learn to interact with the world not as an occupier, but just as another state and society in the region. They will also have to learn to do without the societal role that the Palestinians played: the other, cheap labor, the not quite full citizen. This is where the parallel comes in: will the Israelis further stratify themselves by ethnicity? Ashkenazic versus Sephardic (including Arab Jews) versus Ethiopic Jews (the Falashas) versus the much more recent Russian emigres? These differences have played a major role in Israeli politics; until recently the Israelis of Ashkenazic descent had significant control of the political system. And like the Palestinians the Israelis have a religious issue to deal with, though in this case its going to between the secular, the less devout, the devout, and the ultra-devout. Every so often we see some of this bubble up, within both Israeli and Palestinian societies, but then it gets pushed aside as the focus gets put back on the other party in the dispute.

  12. Charles I says:

    Pat, rest assured I’m a firm believer in borders, the Canada – US border, at any rate. As well as in the fact that if your wonderful country did not exist, we would have to invent it. Thank heavens the US is on our border and not Mexico or Haiti.
    No matter how I rail at you, who else is going to step up but America. Fine tuning it to focus on the neighbours might be as prudent and altruistically self-interested as preventing another wave of Hatian boat people by massively assisting them in place.
    In any event, Obama’s fervently signed on. Again you will be the indispensable nation. Maybe it’ll draw resources away from foreign wars a bit. Haiti is as screwed as ever, poor souls.
    Good luck and God bless with Mexico, legalization’s’ your only hope, dunno what you’d do about their society, other than man the border as best you can.

  13. Patrick Lang says:

    Surely you do not think that we are going to lagalize heroin or cocaine?

  14. Bobo says:

    Haiti assistance is a natural act by the USA. As to how long we are there, who knows, but every dollar spent now may offset what could be spent in social services here in the USA in the short term by incoming refugees.
    As to borders with Mexico you either have and hold the present one or you need one on Mexico’s southern border. A stand is needed now. Legalizing/Taxing drugs is not an act that is fully thought out as the black market will flourish with this stuff if it is. You will only sate the habit of self serving individuals.
    The bigger dollar problem is the nation building while the perceived enemy moves on to other areas to re-surface once we depart.
    Now all the above will drive us to bankruptcy, oops we are broke but have not filed. When will the adults take charge and straighten this out!

  15. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Sure, the U.S. teaching the world about corruption…
    We’ve got nothing, and I mean *nothing* compared to much of the world. We’re not Scandinavia, but it’s not as bad here as you think.
    Spend a year or so in any central american country, except Costa Rica, to get a flavor of how a totally corrupt government actually operates.
    The mind boggles.
    We’re mere amateurs compared to those guys down south although our sums of money can get much larger.

  16. Lysander says:

    Surely you do not think that we are going to lagalize heroin or cocaine?”
    I don’t think it, but I do recomend it. Baby steps. Start with marijuana and go from there. Barring that, I don’t foresee any change in the drug wars.

  17. PeterHug says:

    Well, I would hope we’re not going to legalize heroin or cocain (or meth either) – although if we did I really think Wal-Mart would wipe the floor with the cartels, both in terms of sheer competitiveness and absolute cold-blooded heartless cruelty (although the corporate version is much more dispassionate).
    Regarding your post as such, which I take to be the posing of a question regarding nation-building vs addressing critical national priorities: I would suggest that the idea of “nation-building” has subsumed within it several concurrent agendas. Perhaps the largest is that ‘if we can only bring these benighted people close to the light, they will see the error of their ways and instantly become like “us” – middle-class Midwestern Americans’. That’s obviously (to me, at any rate) not going to happen.
    However, I think that there is a justification for (limited) “nation-building” as such – what we need to be trying to do in states that are utterly collapsed, is create a minimal infrastructure (which is tailored to the cultural norms at hand) that can ensure that the population under its control will interact with the rest of the world in a rational manner.
    In some sense, “nations” are entities created to assure other “nations” that they aren’t going to let individuals behave in a fashion that creates a problem of any other nation. So, for instance, if I (as a citizen of the US) buy 3 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, some detonators, rent a truck to carry it, and begin to post online comments suggesting that I have a horrible beef with Mexico, the FBI exists here as an institution to prevent anything from coming of that) – (full disclosure! I haven’t done any of that and I have no problem whatsoever with Mexico!) – In a failed state like Yemen or parts of Pakistan, that preventional infrastructure does not exist, and THIS is what allows those areas to be dangerous to us.
    We need to be doing whatever is needed to promote or create a state, or an infrastructure of whatever sort, in those areas that can (i) control their citizens so that they don’t become a danger to people living in other parts of the world, and (ii) can interact with the other nations of the world on a rational basis. These may end up being representative democracies (I doubt it and I guess I really don’t care), federations of tribes, or theocracies. But they need to be there one way or another, and putting resources into making that happen, IMO, would be justified.

  18. lina says:

    Re Mexico: It doesn’t help that the MSM only reports drug violence. CNN spent an entire week doing their broadcast from Juarez, having the same conversation every night with the head of the police department. The swine flu coverage didn’t help either. All of the above has killed Mexican tourism, one of their bread and butter industries.
    FYI, I spent Thanksgiving snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez just off the coast of Loreto. My stay could not have been more delightful. Lovely people, comfortable lodging, awesome food. Nary a drug dealer in sight. Just warm clear water, white sand, and friendly fish.

  19. ked says:

    “…you do not think that we are going to leagalize heroin or cocaine?”
    no, decriminalization by stages & facto will do – status quo ante.

  20. N. Anderthal says:

    One of the reasons we have so many of the old Mexican territories was part Imperialism and part neglect from the center. Mexico is a city state and all that matters is Mexico city. When I say Imperialism I mean the best kind … when one colonial power steals from another.
    Break off the northern Mexican states like pieces of a chocolate bar with promises of eventual statehood. Teach the Mexican government that if we take your people we take your land. It will save the poor migrants a longer walk.
    I recall reading once that Emperor Maximilian offered to sell the US Government the Yucatan. Not as big a prize as the Louisiana Territories or Alaska but they still should have taken them up on the offer.

  21. Bill Wade, NH says:

    I firmly believe heroin should be medicalized. There are heroin addicts and there are “about to become’ heroin addicts. Medicalize it for those who are addicts and you accomplish:
    Less theft
    Less prostitution
    Less HIV
    A more dignified life for the addicts and a chance to kick the habit under medical supervision
    No allure for the “about to become’ addicts “just not cool to get high at the Dr’s place” No “street” market either.
    Cocaine – none of the above will work.

  22. curious says:

    blog entry. after magnitude 7.0 quake.
    Haiti ceases to exist. Now what?
    From the reports I have seen, my tentative conclusion is that the country as a whole is currently below the subsistence level and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Hundreds of thousands of people have died, the U.N. Mission has collapsed, the government is not working (was it ever?), and hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of people are living in the streets without reliable food or water supplies. The hospitals and schools have collapsed. The airport is shut down. The port is very badly damaged. The Haitian Penitentiary has collapsed and the inmates — tough guys most of them — are running free for the foreseeable future. There is no viable police force or army.
    In other words, it’s not just a matter of offering extra food aid for two or three years.
    Very rapidly, President Obama needs to come to terms with the idea that the country of Haiti, as we knew it, probably does not exist any more.

  23. Jose says:

    Bill Clinton attempted to help Haiti with lot of spending and foreign investments, but he failed to understand the “human or socio-cultural or socio-political factors.”
    A friend on mines explain that smaller organizations, with less money using “Micro Loans” or “Micro Projects” had better success because they avoid the elites and corruption by focusing on “human or socio-cultural or socio-political factors.”
    Maybe we are a “forest” point-of-view nation that doesn’t understand problems with individual trees.
    That same point-of-view-problem can be applied to the Mexicans and Palestinians.
    For example, we throw money to the corrupt Palestinian Authority while Hamas provides “Micro Loans” or “Micro Projects” to ordinary Palestinians.
    Then we Americans wonder why “our guys” lose elections and we are hated.
    The Col., is correct we need “to think about basic priorities.”

  24. Redhand says:

    Drug smugglers and illegal migrants (not the same people) create what is, in the end, an impossible situation, a situation that contributes to crime, vice and levels of greed otherwise most likely to be found on Wall Street and among defense contractors.
    Great quote. I saw Lloyd Blankfein on the tube testifying before Congress the other day. What an unrepentent, arrogant, fast-talking slimeball. He reminds me of a Russian oligarch under Yeltsin.
    As for defense contractors, the Boeing “We know why we’re here” ads make me sick. All I can think of is the Darleen Druyun case, among others.
    I basically agree “that the future United States will be very strongly Mexican in culture and blood,” but I would qualify the statement by substituting “Latin American” for “Mexican.” I see many more Central Americans and South Americans in my immigration practice than I do Mexicans, and the net effect of the South to North migration will be far more culturally diverse than a simple “Mexification” of our society. Of course, I’m way up in New Jersey, not in Texas.
    I’ve represented many Haitians in immigration matters over the years. I really like most of them, but was ripped off by a few on fees early on. Watch your wallet; get the money up front; and run whenever you hear, “No prob-lem” in the peculiar French-Creole accent of theirs!
    I feel Haitians are a lost people in many ways. Their part of Hispaniola is way beyond being a failed state. It is truly man-destroyed earth. The ecological damage there from the impoverished millions is utterly unrecoverable IMO. And the country has no real economy or viable political culture. I think the only real “Haitian solution” is a permanent and total diaspora in which the whole population leaves and the land is given a few centuries without man to heal itself. I’m not kidding; the place is that much of a hell-on-earth.

  25. Jackie says:

    If we can’t legalize heroin or cocaine, what do you think about marijuana? I don’t use it but it seems such a piddling thing and so many are in jail for really small amounts. And not that the gov’t would pay for a study, but there are medicinal uses, glaucoma comes to mind as well as nausea. And it would make the old hippies so happy.

  26. Shrike58 says:

    Whatever the value of our little exercise in Mid East empire I’ve always believed that events in our own hemisphere would eventually demand our best.
    I don’t know what we do with Haiti but in the here and now the Haitians have to come up with people who can act as liasion with US/UN forces and provide a fig leaf of legitimacy when the rescue gets off the ground and if force is needed.

  27. The Moar You Know says:

    Re: Legalization of narcotics
    I think we’re going to see legalization of marijuana very soon; the costs of keeping people imprisoned for its use and possession are far too high and not worth even the imagined benefit.
    As to heroin, both our long-time experiment with methadone in this nation, and Britain’s long-time maintenance program for addicts shows that, if given a steady supply, heroin users are no more likely than anyone else to indulge in criminal acts, and the worst physical side effects are constipation. I don’t expect to see legalization of heroin anytime soon, but frankly there are far worse things that could happen.
    Cocaine is a different story; users become unpredictable and the substance itself can kill at almost any dosage.

  28. R Whitman says:

    We need some comments from educated Mexicans on this subject.
    My most recent experiences with Mexico date from the period 1970-1993 when I did a substantial amount of business with companies in Mexico, so my comments may be out of date.
    At that time, the technical and managerial class that I came in contact with did not care very much for the USA and Americans.
    There was (and probably still is) a large cultural gap. A prime example always pointed out was what we call the Mexican War of 1848—remember the Marine Corps hymn —From the halls of Montezuma—the Mexicans call if “The War of North American Agression”.
    My guess is that Mexicans do not care about the effects of illegal drugs on the USA; they care about how it screws up their society.

  29. Patrick Lang says:

    I have never used MJ either but I don’t have a problem with legalizing it. pl

  30. Patrick Lang says:

    Ah, the good life. How about Humboldt Squid? Se any of those? pl

  31. Vince Newman says:

    “So, now we are back, but for how long and to what purpose after relief and basic assistance are performed”?
    Sorry Pat, but the US never really left.
    On the other hand, Haiti is one of those places that will always be a few steps behind. It will never catch up to.

  32. isl says:

    Adam Silverman:
    Although I agree with and appreciate your analysis, I feel that it is also necessary to consider that in some cases it could rest on a false assumption: That actors such as the Palestinians and Isreali’s or Shia/Sunni in Iraq actually have as their goal development of a civil society and accommodation. The centuries long historical record of animosities between peoples suggests that often a group of people do not act in their best interest in the short or long-term.

  33. Patrick Lang says:

    “Sorry Pat, but the US never really left”
    Ah, so we are responsible for Haiti’s plight? pl

  34. Michael Torpey says:

    Col. Lang,
    Regarding legalizing heroin and cocaine; I remember seeing prescriptions written in the early 1900’s by Doctors in South Bend Indiana and filled by Sergio’s Pharmacy for Elixir of Turpenhydrate with Heroin. The use of heroin as a medicine was common in the early 20th century. Cocaine was used for the cure of Catahr and marketed as a popular drug called Azmacide. At that time there was no regulation of these drugs and the subsequent medical problems resulting form self medication or unsupervised use of addictive substances and associated societal problems were left unaddressed. That changed with the policy decision by the U.S. Government in the 1930’s to regulate by law the use of these and other drugs. In 1957 our family Doctor Eli Antzis gave his opinion to my mother on this policy. He said that all drugs should be legalized. That would put the pusher out of business, free up public money to be used in other areas of law enforcement and make drug addiction the medical problem that it is not a legal problem. I agree with his opinion. It was my experience while I was in Navy in the late ’60’s and early 70’s that anything that involved drug use by personnel resulted in discharge, almost always a Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD) regardless of the circumstances. If the policy was different and the focus was on drug abuse as a medical problem rather then to build a case against the individual the outcome would probably have been the same, discharge, but without it being a BCD which it usually was and the stigma that goes with it.

  35. VietnamVet says:

    Haiti is the Poster Child for privatization and deregulation.
    What Haiti really needs is a government, the rule of law, environmental limitations and population control; all the heresies of the Right Wing ideologues everywhere and the Pope. This is why nation building is so difficult. It isn’t like the USA hasn’t tried already.

  36. Charles I says:

    Surely you do not think that we are going to lagalize heroin or cocaine?”
    No, you never will, politically impossible, but the only economic and public health solution that will also address security concerns.
    What is it you fear will happen? Isn’t your concern violence and cash? Or is you’re just against hard drugs, a sensible healthy attitude to be sure, but wholly inadequate to deal with human nature as it is within the confines of our present socioeconomic configuration?
    How many more, or how much more stoned do you think people want to be? The evidence to date in stable societies is that users and addicts are stable populations.
    Its only when the drug traffic is accompanied by war, repression, intervention in less developed nations with political and military use of proxies that in-theatre usage and out of theatre trafficking go up as a function of outside intervention. Laos, Burma, Vietnam, Columbia, Afghanistan, the list grows where the military goes, often surreptitiously, until our side is well established, the ends justifying the means.
    Production in Afghanistan spiked after we replaced the Taliban with warlords rather than occupy the country ourselves. Now everybody and his brother, the Iranians, the ISI, they’ve all got a piece of the action.

  37. Dan M says:

    Was doing a little research at work, and was quite tickled by a two paragraph dispatch from the Christian Science Monitor, from October 20, 1914, on the Marine landing at Cape Hatien (with an excellent picture of the old palace destroyed by a massive explosion in 1912).
    Note the last sentence:
    “Landing of about 100 marines at Cape Haitien is officially reported in a brief dispatch to the navy department. The reports say the marines were landed from the cruiser Tacoma, to quell a local disturbance.
    Little is known at the navy department regarding the revolutionary troubles in northern Haiti. Commander Twinings cablegram, dated on board the Tacoma, merely stated that he had landed marines for the protection of American interests. Officials are not inclined to attach much importance to the incident.
    It’s nice to know reporters 96 years ago were as gullible as we are now.

  38. N. M. Salamon says:

    Mr. Silverman:
    Thank you for your clarifications.

  39. lina says:

    Didn’t see any squid, but we caught yellowfin tuna and ate it for T-giving dinner. The restaurants in Loreto will cook your catch for you. Yummy……
    There’s also a shiny new airport in Loreto.
    we stayed here:
    Great experience. No one got shot, kidnapped or arrested while we were there. Would someone please tell Anderson Cooper?

  40. Patrick Lang says:

    charles et al
    The US is far too puritan a country to legalize these drugs.
    It doesn’t really matter that they used to put heroin in cough medecine. This is a different country now. pl

  41. curious says:

    US gov. didn’t get involved with regulating narcotics in earnest until early 1900.
    Merck (yes, that biggest US drug company) made its fortune selling opium tincture. ..and Yes, these fuckers were involves in opium war in the far east.
    In nineteenth-century America, the unimpeded importation of opium and the free economy in opiates do give an advantage to the historian, for estimates of per capita consumption are more reliable when there are few restrictions on the importation, sale, and consumption of a product. Because the growth of poppies within the country and preparation of opium from them seem to have been a minor contributor to American use, the import statistics, begun in 1840 and continued to the present day, are reliable as a guide to domestic consumption until the Harrison Act of 1914. Certainly the minimum level and the trend can be observed. After the Harrison Act, these statistics grew less reliable, for smuggling becomes a more uncertain variable, but we can say that at least during the nineteenth century the annual per capita consumption rose steadily from about 12 grains in 1840 (an average single dose being one grain) until the mid-1890s, when it reached 52 grains annually per capita. Then statistics show that average individual consumption gradually subsided up to 1914, by which time the per capita rate had fallen back to the level of about 1880.” In Great Britain, the per capita consumption declined during the latter half of the nineteenth century.” During that same period, opium use in the United States rose dramatically. The peak of opiate addiction in the United States occurred about the turn of the century, when the number probably was close to 250,000 in a population of 76 million, a rate so far never equaled or exceeded. 12 Heroin had been introduced into the pharmacy in 1898 and had contrasting impacts in Britain and the United States. In New York City, the addiction capital of the United States, heroin became the drug of choice for recreational addicts, and the number of addicts was measured in the tens of thousands by 1920. In Britain, the addiction rate for heroin addicts by 1920 was minuscule. 13 Of course, the use of drugs is determined by many factors, but I would like to suggest that the contrast in easy availability of narcotics in America and Britain-created by political and social factors removed from considerations of addiction-underlay the strikingly different rates of addiction each country experienced well into this century. The rise in addiction with which we are more familiar, that of the 1950s and more recently, appears to be associated with additional factors that will be discussed later.
    Shall I remind everybody what “Coca-Cola” is about originally? (medicinal drink with coca leave extract)
    So right there 2 of America’s most commonly used industrial might symbols has root in narcotics and addictions. (Let’s skip tobacco.)
    anyway my position with legalization of drug. You can use it if you can prove to me you know what you are doing and can handle the consequence. (which pretty much eliminate 99% of people in the world if I am in charge.) basic criteria …
    to seller: must have license, must sell clean product, must sell only to responsible adult.
    to user: show me you know what you are doing. (basic medical ethic, basic pharmacology, toxicology, basic medical hygene proceedure) show me you have emergency proceedure and have paid for it. Access to already paid for medical service. not endangering public safety. show one has designated third person in the event all else fails.
    to state: show me this won’t turn into exploitative commerce, massive corruption and public health epidemic.
    Me personally: I think from various places around the world. It seems a) this should only be allowed in small urban cosmopolitant enclave where people have access to experts and information. (amsterdam or zurich level of sophistication) b) definitely only the “lite” natural product stuff. Since we understand those more than synthetic drugs. On top of that synthetic drug is too easily mass produced and can create exploitative industry. While natural product is limited by land and man power resource.

  42. Jackie says:

    I’m glad you don’t have a problem with legalizing marijuana. When I said earlier that I don’t use it, it didn’t mean I’ve never tried it. Twice in college I smoked it, the extended (8 hour) naps afterward made it really unproductive for me. Maybe I shouldn’t have inhaled.
    Too bad so many in this country are too puritan to legalize drugs. Think of the tax revenue.

  43. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    I most certainly understand the intellectual side but always good to listen to James Brown every now and then. “For the white horse of heroin, will ride you to hell. Until you are dead…dead brother, dead.”

  44. jerseycityjoan says:

    Do people here agree that there’s “now an acceptance among most Americans that the future United States will be very strongly Mexican in culture and blood”?
    It’s true, everybody knows millions of Mexicans are here illegally. Yet it seems to me the American public and our politicians remain completely oblivious to the consequences of our passivity about illegal immigration. I don’t think Americans want America to change, but so far they’ve been unwilling to take steps to stop this.
    For example, we continue to grant automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants, which commits us forever to providing for these children and all their descendants. No other first world country still does this, yet this critical issue is not even on the national radar.
    I’m hoping that so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” will be delayed long enough for people to wake up and take action. We’re supposed to have high unemployment for several more years. If that doesn’t deliver the necessary wake-up call and make us start putting ourselves first, I don’t what will.

  45. Brett says:

    I recall reading once that Emperor Maximilian offered to sell the US Government the Yucatan. Not as big a prize as the Louisiana Territories or Alaska but they still should have taken them up on the offer.
    Not likely. The Union was sheltering Benito Juarez’s government-in-exile for virtually the entire American civil war.
    My friends and I used to drive down through Nogales to Hermisillo and then over to the Sea of Cortez to camp and fish. You had to be careful to not piss off the Federales at the roadside checkpoints but otherwise it was pretty safe. It sure isn’t like that now.
    Yeah, but that’s in an area where the drug trade criss-crosses. It’s not like Pakistan, where you have part of the country in basically a state of open warfare, and mass bombings in the other parts. The Mexican central government is in no danger of collapsing.

  46. arbogast says:

    Wisdom, pure wisdom.
    I would only add that the true rot in the United States is the “financial industry”, an oxymoronic intestinal parasite sucking the life blood out of our citizenry.

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