For the past six years, the United States have been captive to a small group of radical ideologues with violent and messianic tendencies. At least one lesson must be reaped from this unsavory experience: if you are not moving forward, you are sliding back.

If progressives become content with the status quo  and strive chiefly to preserve it, as was the case during the Clinton years, they automatically begin a retreat, and the right wing begins to advance. The opposite should always be the case: progressives always looking for a more equal, more loving society and the right wing trying to stop them.

To return things to their natural order, we need to think big, use our creative power and conceive many radical ways in which society could be better. In this spirit, I introduce what I hope to be a series, every sunday: Think BIG. It will be a forum where we lefties discuss wild ideas and dream of a better society with the hope of kicking public debate in the US and making it face leftward.

Past editions of Think BIG have discussed:

Government Reform: http://www.dailykos.com/...


Foreign Policy: http://www.dailykos.com/...

Today, our focus is on Drug Reform. These are intermediate steps towards ending the drug war. This is no minor issue; the drug war is a worldwide war on brown people: it causes isolation, imprisonment and police abuse for minorities inside the US and corruption and environmental degradation on third world countries.

The so-called 'war on drugs' has two sides, as even the most punitive politician will grudgingly admit: if a society wishes to curtail drug use, it must not only punish drug users and dealers, but also prevent drug use. Whereas punitive measures against drugs have a negative social impact (more people in jail, expense of police force that could be used elsewhere), preventative measures usually have a positive impact (more education, more after school programs etc).
Normally, a lot more money is spent on punishment than on prevention. But anyone will admit that the "war on drugs" is on two fronts, and that the prevention front is more socially beneficial. Why not, through legislation, force states, towns and the country to spend as much money on preventing drug use as it does on punishing drug use/sales?

This will achieve one of two things: reduce spending on the punitive war on drugs or raise spending for things like after-school programs, rehab clinics etc.

In third world countries like Colombia, part of the drug war consists in spraying plantations with strong pesticides. It must be noted that the plantations in question are not necessarily drug plantations because:

  • intelligence failures lead to the mistaken spraying of food crops
  • bribed or scared military will sometimes purposefully avoid drug plantations and just damage some yucca or cane plantations instead.
  • in any case, the land is left barren, for any kind of crop.

The drug war, a misbegotten adventure in the first place, has in plantation spraying one of it's most damaging and pointless tools. It damages the environment and livelihood of honest farmers, and, as long as there is demand for drugs, the plantations will just move elsewhere. A ban on spraying as a tool for the dug war is an attainable short term political goal. Aid to countries who insist on using pesticides should also be suspended.


The government should publish a yearly report detailing advances in the drug war. In the end, there is only one statistic that matters: it's not the amount of arrests or captured cargo or sentences- it's the price of drugs on the street. If the drug war is succeeding, the price on the street should rise. If it is failing, the price is steady or dropping.

An annual report detailing the costs of the drug war and it's results would weaken the drug war, because it's ineffectiveness and expensiveness would be clearly exposed.

Next week on Think BIG:
Intra-party reform

Originally posted to Mr Bula on Sun Dec 03, 2006 at 05:21 AM PST.

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