Today's NYT op-ed by one of the world's most distinguished economists covers our economic dilemma from the perspective of Japan's parallel example starting in 1989. It's a worthwhile distillation of how policy choices affect a bust economy, lessons worth learning. It's also a stark warning that our votes this November will set direction for the near term, and that direction could be very much downward.
Friday, September 10, 2010
In which the unnamed Courier editor tries to play the tough-love mentor to teens about drugs. Have you ever read anything so fatuous?
Every reputable statistical and field study proves the headline's premise completely false. Punishment does not work. That's counterintuitive for most people, though, so we persist in treating drug abuse as a criminal problem.
I have a clue for you, editor: the cause of the recent "alarming number of juvenile drug arrests on Prescott Unified School District campuses" is not more kids doing drugs, it's more narcs in the schools. The results will be far more damage to the lives of the kids being arrested than they'd have experienced if we'd left them alone, and most of the the kids who haven't been caught will just get smarter about avoiding arrest, more loyal to the freak group and more alienated from community values and institutions.
Talking to kids like you're their dad is guaranteed only to make you look foolish, editor. One approach can help, and that's to speak clear, consistent truth about drugs. That starts with understanding the truth yourself. You don't.
Kids hear so many lies about drugs through their lives that the smart ones are naturally cynical about what adults have to say about them. Our crazy drug laws effectively prevent responsible adults from teaching kids how to handle and safely use illegal substances, so they generally learn from other kids who don't know. The results are predictable, with kids creating and maintaining myths of their own and learning everything the hardest way.
As long as ignorant, reactionary mythology about mind-altering substances drives otherwise sensible people into frenzies over drug use, many more kids will get involved with drugs than otherwise, with a broad range of motivations. The editor's pious admonishments based on that mythology just aggravate teenagers and reduce the paper's credibility further.
at 12:56 PM