The war on drugs

Recently, the Idaho Legislature moved to make the war on drugs a part of the Idaho Constitution. While we can agree that the use of illicit substances is harmful, I would like to take the opportunity to point out that the war on drugs has been a spectacular failure and has led to a scary militarization of police forces across the country.

While Legislators might think that they are proposing something beneficial they should look at the history of the 18th Amendment which will illustrate that they are sorely mistaken. People don’t follow the law because they are intimidated by it, they follow the law because they agree with it. Writing bad law undermines the ability to govern because people ignore laws that are impossible to enforce. Once people start ignoring ineffective law, do they then ask themselves “why should I obey law?”

The only thing that the prohibition of drugs achieves is to enrich some of the scariest people on the planet; dealers and smugglers don’t care about the law, they only care about getting their product to market. As a student of history, and a mob movie junkie, it is easy to find examples of how prohibition corrupts society, undermines democracy, militarizes police, collapses weak governments (think Honduras, El Salvador), increases illegal immigration and leads to violent bloodshed. The solution is to end prohibition and create a sin tax similar to alcohol and tobacco to provide funds for treatment centers. Deal with the customers, not the dealers.

The market will always be filled with those seeking to make money, because that is capitalism. The Legislators of Idaho who believe they can hold back the changes happening in this country by changing the Idaho Constitution are a clear indicator that we as voters have been failing this state.

Seth Magnuson


A type of projection

I was told that if you want to know what the Republicans are guilty of, pay attention to what they are accusing others of. Well, our favorite far-right, very smart regular columnist Scotty Anderson seems to be proving that adage his last few columns.

Earlier he fingered antifa dudes as being the culprits in the seditious insurrection at the Capitol Jan. 6. Maybe we should look for his evidence in the Senate impeachment trial.

Now he accuses the left of demanding an investigation into the short selling fiasco of GameStop stocks where common investors cost hedge funds billions (Daily News, Feb. 6) because, Scotty says, “The left appears to support big business” and have “to look out for their big donors.”

Scotty claims the right cheers on the little guys who beat the big operators at their own game. In this case, I’m cheering them on, too. And I also strongly suspect the game is more often rigged to go the other way.

Just because the little guys got away with it this once doesn’t mean the big boys aren’t doing it all the time. It bears investigation.

The evidence for Scotty’s claims is sadly lacking, just like for the “Big Lie” that led to the desecration of our Capitol. Out of contact with facts seems to be a trait of the right these days. Scotty concludes “ … the right has always been for the people … .” Maybe at one time but certainly not for the last four years.

For factual but dense reading go to “50 reasons the Trump administration is bad for workers” by the Economic Policy Institute, freely available on the web.

If you believe Scotty, I bet he also has a twice-impeached ex-president that he’ll want you to support in 2024.

Rich Wesson


Kudos to Simpson

Good job, Mike Simpson, for actually doing something about the U.S. government honoring the Treaty of the Nez Perce by proposing a plan to restore the salmon runs. This will benefit all and so we all need to support this effort.

Julian Matthews


Looking outward

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact in America. This devastation, in my opinion, is a direct result of lack of resources. As good folks have been losing jobs and small businesses while waiting for a stimulus check that feels like it’s never coming, security has never felt more fragile. The thing is, pandemics have no borders. Meaning, if we as one of the wealthiest countries in the world are struggling, others in impoverished countries are barely surviving. We mustn’t forget about them.

While our people need help more than ever, turning our focus to helping foreign countries may be the solution. COVID-19 relief and development funds for international affairs are more important than ever. Not only does providing resources save countless lives in poverty-stricken areas of the world, but it also unlocks their potential as a developing community. This in turn helps the U.S. and impoverished countries thrive and prosper. Helping these countries creates new job markets, U.S. jobs, and higher security, emergency response and pandemic resources.

The protection of this funding is in the United States’ best economic and diplomatic interest.The International Affairs budget is currently allocating less than one percent of the overall U.S. federal budget. We must start speaking out to our local and national leaders for those who are struggling. If the world wants to heal as a whole from COVID-19, we need to start practicing compassion and advocate for those in need.

Jessie Mack


Of flu and COVID-19

I have always cautioned my students to distinguish between correlation and causation. The classic example I have always used to highlight my point is the relationship between the number of ministers of the faith in a town and the number of alcoholics in that town. As the number of ministers increases, so does the number of alcoholics. Do clergy drive/cause the population to drink? Doubtful. The underlying relationship here is that as clergy increase in number they do so in parallel to a rising population. Similarly, the number of alcoholics increase in an area as the population increases, all else being equal.

So, I tread carefully when I look at the recent data from the CDC on flu cases this season and try to make conclusions. But given that flu cases are remarkably lower than normal, it is hard not to draw this conclusion: As we have attempted to reduce COVID cases we have apparently had a huge impact on flu cases. Too bad the COVID virus is more transmissible than the flu amongst us humans. But we should be confident that we can control respiratory diseases through some simple means: masks, social distancing, staying home when sick …

So, let’s keep up the good work and continue our control. We are having impact.

Larry Fox


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