If you add all the Americans who take Xanax to all the Americans who drink beer, and all the Americans who use cocaine, and all the Americans who smoke meth, and all the Americans who use heroin, and all the Americans who use prescription pain killers, it’s a wonder anything ever gets done around here.
Which it does not.
I often think that the people who piously talk about the “opioid crisis” may not have any idea of how many of us are just a little high most of the time.
I think the politicians know. They’re used to counting votes and calculating totals, so they’ve probably got a pretty good fix (pun intended) on how many of us are just a little bit zoinked most of the time.
It’s good for them, too. People often bray about how an unarmed population or an uneducated population is easy to control, but a slightly stoned population is even easier to control.
In my lifetime, I’ve seen plain old weed go from a “gateway drug,” to a source of “enhanced revenue” for states that disburse huge amounts of money every year to a variety of completely ineffective “drug programs,” most of which are job generators for the army of otherwise useless social workers who populate the offices of these “agencies.”
“If it only saves one child’s life, it’s worth it,” we say, weeping a little.
No, it’s not, but a lifetime of working amidst the barely restrained gutter capitalism of the news industry long ago convinced me that I should have chosen a career in some kind of anti-drug program.
What other industry allows you to proclaim success if your program only works once? “Yup, we saved ONE child this year, so that $2,500,000 state grant was not misspent. Give us more money.”
You show me a child who is worth $2,500,000, and I’ll show you a Kennedy.
If you own a repair shop, and you try to fix 75 cars a year, but only succeed in fixing one, are you a success? No. In fact, by the end of that year, you probably won’t be in business anymore.
Not so the public, private or public/private partnership to “keep kids off drugs,” where the phrase “failure is not an option,” takes on a meaning it doesn’t have on the football field.
In my 36 years as a shoe-leather reporter, I’ve stood around at hundreds of press conferences to announce the start/funding/re-funding of an anti-drug program. I’ve been given free pens, mouse pads, water bottles, coffee cups and T-shirts emblazoned with the name of the programs, all of which I threw away when I got back to the office because no one wants to drink coffee out of a mug that says, “Tricounty Drug-Free Child Initiative.”
When I wasn’t standing around at a press conference, I was dancing around on some street corner, from which the dead body had been recently removed, listening to a sour twice-married Marine Corps veteran police detective say, “Probably drugs,” when I asked him how “Li’l Wheezy” came to take two in the face.
I retired from daily journalism. The detective became the department’s D.A.R.E. officer, which means he goes into schools and tells them about the terrible drug consequences he’s seen. He’s eight years from retirement, and he’s gonna make it. And if he saves just one child, his pension will be well-deserved.
Marc Munroe Dion is an award-winning veteran reporter and Pulitzer Prize-nominated newspaper columnist.