Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Better War on Drugs

[Is this the only way to do it?]

The Economist, which I believe is one of the most intelligently written news magazines, published a cover story on March 7, 2009 entitled “How to Stop the War on Drugs”. The magazine suggests, on page 15 in its editorial, to legalize drugs. In other words, end the war by surrendering. The immense international effort made so far to imprison producers and dealers has filled up many prison cells and graves, expended a lot of money, but has not stopped people from using drugs. One dealer or producer is eliminated and another one just takes over his business instead. In addition to that, since drugs are illegal, dealers and producers cannot settle their differences or collect their debts in court and instead must use murder.

So the “least bad” solution is to simply give up. Drugs could be taxed like cigarettes and the money could be used to treat addicts and educate the public about drugs. Through this, hopefully most drug users would gradually be weaned off them.

I don’t think that most people would favor a policy like this. It would seem unquestionable that the legalization of drugs, making acquiring them much safer and less costly, would increase their usage. The problem is that many users of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and similar chemicals are unable to work. Therefore, in order to support themselves, they generally steal, beg or prostitute. They often live on sidewalks. They frequently have serious health problems and they have no way to finance their treatment. This would overwhelm existing emergency rooms and hospitals with indigent patients. Of course, theoretically, special government financed nursing homes could be created to care for and provide drugs to severe drug addicts (“junkies”), however this would probably be very costly, especially since a great many people might use drugs knowing that they could live in these nursing homes if need be.

In other words, although the Economist may be correct that the War on Drugs is not working, however surrender would seem to be impossible as well. So what to do?

The universally used treatment for addictions is the 12 Step Program. The heart of the program is a belief in God and in helping others – monotheism and altruism. Apparently people who are able to turn to God for help and who are involved in helping others don’t feel a need to use chemicals to cope with stress in their lives.

I would therefore suggest the following. All schools should teach children the truth of monotheism and the concept that God wants us to love each other. We should have prayer in the classroom and religious instruction. Darwin should be out, the Bible should be in. Children should be taught healthy, spiritual coping skills. They should be taught about the soul, afterlife, heaven and hell.

A great many addicts have chaotic childhoods. If possible every child should be raised by both biological parents. Boys must be taught the importance of being responsible husbands and fathers. A woman is your partner in life, not a toy. Pornography should be banned.

Stopping drug abuse once a person is already depressed and feels unable to cope is like trying to stop an avalanche which is already in progress. I believe that we must remove the circumstances which lead to addiction long before people reach that point. This should be the new war on drugs.


Larry Tanner said...

"All schools should teach children the truth of monotheism and the concept that God wants us to love each other."

Does each school need to teach about the same deity? Or can a school teach about any old deity - just so long as we're monotheistic?

Will we institute any punishments for schools that do not teach monotheism?

How are we defining "teach" anyway? Do you mean a class of some sort? Perhaps a chant three times during the school day? As far as I can tell, public schools in the US implicitly teach xianity already. The xians tend to consider themselves monotheists even though they are not, strictly speaking. Will they need to be de-programmed?

jewish philosopher said...

I would say that monotheism and moral reciprocity are probably a minimum basis for a sane, sober life. Judaism is the religion for Jews and for non-Jews conservative Christianity might not be bad.

Anonymous said...

"We should have prayer in the classroom and religious instruction. Darwin should be out, the Bible should be in."
I would add: "And Jews should be in Jewish Day Schools" if for no other reason that to avoid the problem that Larry Tanner raises.

Anonymous said...

and we've had this argument before. are there no Jewish/Christian/Monothestic drug addicts? Ha! Or gay ones for that matter? Ha! It's really laughable that if everyone "drank the kool-aid" that everything would magically be better somehow.'s all magic, isn't it? poof! and so it was.

jewish philosopher said...

Well, instead of waiting until we have to scrape people off the sidewalk, carry them into rehab and then teach them about God, why not start teaching them in kindergarten?

I wonder if it's just coincidence that when God was taken out of schools, drugs came in.

Incidentally, any school which wants to, is free to use my blog as a source of wisdom and inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I am startled that you call yourself a philosopher, for the very simple reason that philosophy is questions that can never be answered, and religion is answers that can never be questioned.

anyway my advise to you is STOP believing every thing the main stream media is telling you. do your own research (on drugs). (try hearing what Ron Paul has to
it doesn't seem like you are aware that tabaco is the biggest/most addicting harmful drug (alcohol etc..) besides most of america are on worse drugs like anti depressants.

please reply

"All schools should teach children the truth of monotheism and the concept that God wants us to love each other."

(that is except if your not like US!)

jewish philosopher said...

The only reason why tobacco is legal is because by the time doctors discovered how dangerous it is, about half the population was already using it.

Antidepressants prevent suicide. They don't turn people into homeless junkies. There is no comparison.

Anonymous said...

JP- if you want to live in a place where the government imposes religious law upon its citizens, there are many, many lovely countries for you to live in, America is just not one of them. Thanks to our constitution. Try out Saudia Arabia or Iran, maybe you will like it there.

jewish philosopher said...

Until about 1960, American schools did have this curriculum. I wonder where the constitution was for 170 years until then.

Anonymous said...

All schools should teach children the truth of monotheism and the concept that God wants us to love each other. We should have prayer in the classroom and religious instruction. Darwin should be out, the Bible should be in. Children should be taught healthy, spiritual coping skills. They should be taught about the soul, afterlife, heaven and hell.

Until 1960, this was in the public school classroom? Prayer in the classroom and Bible study? Got a source for that?

jewish philosopher said...

Bible study and prayer were obligatory in many United States public schools until 1963.

Anonymous said...

Mmm. Prayer and Bible study in the public schools is unconstitutional. It makes no difference that it was fine for however long before that, just like it makes no difference that slavery was constitutional until it wasn't.

DrJ said...

JP, I would like to point out another source of confusion in the "advice" that your dispense.

There is a HUGE difference between lifestyle advice at an individual level, and advocating something as public or governmental policy. This is the historical lesson learned by western political systems, as first expressed by Thomas Hobbes and others. These systems balance respect for individual choice with responsibility towards society and the obligation not to harm others. So, for example, the law does not require us to give charity, but by social contract, levies taxes to redistribute wealth and attend to social needs. It does not interfere with sexual conduct among consenting adults but does define and criminalize sexual exploitation or abuse.

The type of social control which you advocate is something closer to a Judeo-Christian form of Saudi Arabia or Iran, which are primitive and dysfunctional societies.

jewish philosopher said...

Onion, so what happened between 1789 and 1963? No one bothered to read the constitution? In fact, the constitution can be interpreted in many different ways so my plan is no constitutional problem.

DrJ, perhaps current laws against drugs, gambling and prostitution are also unethical and fanatical. What I am suggesting would, I think conservatively, reduce substance abuse by 25%, kill no one, put no one in prison and cost no money. It sounds like a good deal to me.

Anonymous said...

It's unconstitutional because 9 supreme court justices today do not agree with you. So your suggestions make no difference. They would trample the religious freedoms that this country values.

For example, a person may quite reasonably think that forbidding people to invest money with Jews will result in less financial problems for everyone, but guess what- that would also be a trampling of civil rights and constitutionally forbidden, just like your example. It makes no difference if my plan of kicking Jews out of the financial sector will or will not result in 25% more honesty in business dealings.

jewish philosopher said...

"It's unconstitutional because 9 supreme court justices today do not agree with you."

They should start agreeing with me, just as all the court justices agreed with me prior to 1963. Maybe that's why prior to 1963, there wasn't a drug problem.

David Pavlick said...

Darwin should be out, the Bible should be in.


Over the millenia, religion and science have been at war. Earth was considered the center of the universe based in no small part on the religious teachings of long ago. Eventually science brought evidence of the cosmos, and today scientists have leaned more toward the side of atheists and agnostics. They have claimed Darwinism as the answer to life's creation, and therefore religious types have attempted to discredit even the remote potential that evolution could be right. Your above comment is in line with that view.

As someone who is in the process of converting to Judaism, it is this very mindset that brings me toward a Conservative conversion, much to the angst of someone who led me to your website.

I hold that all scientific discoveries are insights into the way Hashem created the universe. Instead of fighting Darwinistic thought, I embrace it as representative of His work in creating life. As with all scientific endeavors, it is not perfect because it is the human interpretation of His works.

Science and religion both provide insight. If one allows oneself the opportunity, you begin to see the beauty in science the same way one finds beauty in Torah.

People ask, "Why doesn't Hashem speak to us through Prophets anymore?" The human intellect is a gift from Hashem. Our ability to learn should never be taken for granted, nor should the things we learn be discarded as wrong.

Religious zealots once considered Copernicus to be wrong, and Galileo. Scientific zealots in turn now condone religion as the equivalent of pixies and unicorns. Both are right, and both are wrong.

We should not demand religion be taught without at the same time demanding Darwinism be taught. They are two sides of the same coin. Typically, we look down to see the only the surface of the side we are on. We fail to see through to the other side, which would increase our understanding of the coin in its entirety. Instead, we often claim the other side is simply the "wrong" side because that is easier to comprehend.

Science exists because Hashem created it. Discarding it is to discard his work no differently than discarding Torah. It is impossible to ever fully understand either. The more focused we are on one, the more we lose focus on the other, and thereby lose out on the ability to view the entirety of His work.

jewish philosopher said...

The Torah doesn't say that the sun revolves around the earth. The does say that we are all descended from Adam. Therefore, Copernicus does not contradict the Torah, Darwin does.

I see no reason to call Darwinism science any more the Scientology is science. No Nobel Prize has ever been awarded for advancement in Darwinism nor has any new technology or medical treatment been made possible by it.

Also, in regards to conversion, if you feel any discomfort whatsoever with Orthodox Judaism, PLEASE PLEASE do not even dream of converting. You can be a very good gentile keeping the seven Noahide commandments.

Anonymous said...


Spo many scientists ,eg Newton, Faraday, Maxwell were religious so how religion be considered in conflict with science? And many historians feel the the Church's presecution of Galileo was motivated as much by politics as by religion. What is really interesting is the fact that Darwinists refused to accept modern genetics for the longest time because it conflicted with Dawrinism.

David Pavlick said...

Darwin merely talked about adaptation ot one's environment and "Survival of the Fittest". However, it is often used by most people as the equivalent of evolution.

Evolution has been documented. It takes place in viruses everyday. The "transmutation" of a virus is evolution, just at a more rapid pace than is seen in larger organisms. The ability for a virus to evolve is extremely well documented, therefore evolution cannot be considered false in its entirety.

Why do religious people consistently battle science and scientists battle religion? Why can they not recognize they are both acknowledging the work of Hashem?

You claim evolution contradicts the Torah. I see evolution in the path by which we decended from Adam. I leave it to one's own interpretation as to whether God literally created Adam out of the Earth in the religious context, or maybe he used evolution as a means by which to create Adam. How are we to know the how and why of Hashem's work? All we can do is guess at how it was done for the Torah does not provide the recipe for precisely how it was accomplished due to the inability of humans to comprehend advanced scientific theory at the time. If Hashem had spoken to Moses about cells and things of that nature, even if Moses had understood it, the Jewish masses would not have. Hashem reveals Himself to us in various ways, not the least of which is through human studies of science. This is no different than Rabbis saying Hashem reveals Himself through Torah.

jewish philosopher said...

"You claim evolution contradicts the Torah."

Not just me.

David Pavlick said...

By the way, thanks for the support on my conversion. I expect nothing less than negativity about it from Orthodox Jews. My discomfort lies not with Judaism. It lies not with following Torah. It lies with the attitude prevalent within the Orthodoxy establishment.

From the interactions I have been involved in first hand, this one being no exception, Hashem is about love and acceptance, but Orthodoxy is about seclusion and distrust.

I get that Orthodox members are able to follow Torah better than I ever will. I understand they follow the rituals far better than anyone else. But that does not make Orthodoxy perfect. Nor does it justify the attitude that non-Orthodox followers have no right to follow Torah and a path to Hashem in a Reform or Conservative manner.

No one is perfect, not even you. Your elitist attitude is the same as most other Orthodox followers. Love they neighbor, kindness to others, these are commandments in the Torah, are they not?

No, Mr. Philosopher, you will not convince me to stay "a very good gentile". I will become a Jew, though you will never recognize me as one due to a "holier than thou" attitude that betrays Hashem and his commandments. Hashem cannot look kindly upon the Orthodoxy using His name to justify the action of not welcoming converts, regardless of how sincere you, a human, might claim to be in speaking for Hashem.

Is it better I not follow Hashem than to make an effort to follow him? Is it wrong that I might need my path to be one where I feel welcomed, and am able to understand Him through the path He has placed before me? If Hashem has called me, why should I listen to those who wish to deny my calling?

I do listen though, as I know I'm not perfect and have much to learn. Instead of being negative and urging me to remain a gentile, why not be encouraging and offer positive, constructive, and helpful advice? Be a guide, not an obstacle. I respect your dedication to Hashem. I respect that I will always know less. But one of the things mentioned by many in the past is that teachers need to be open to learning from students. As a student, I implore you to listen to what I'm saying instead of dismissing it forthwith.

Orthodoxy needs to return to the old practice of being welcoming to those who are honest and sincere about converting...and yes, that includes those who convert to Reform and Conservative. I am not an enemy to Judaism.

jewish philosopher said...

Before about 1820, there was no Orthodox Judaism, there was just Judaism.

Today as well, Judaism means embracing the Talmud. Reform and Conservative simply take a "supermarket" approach and pick and choose which parts they want to keep.

Anonymous said...


Has anyone ever witnessed a virus evolving into another species? Or does it merely develope some feature like drug resistance? Evoltuiton is species to species change, not tinkering with an existing species.

And religious people are not constantly battling science, There have been plenty of religious scientists.I even know some personally.

And I, for one will be perfectly welcoming if you convert according to halacha.

David Pavlick said...

Ok, I read the wiki link and it just confirmed even more why I love Judaism.

I know I'm not the most knowledgeable on Judaic practices, but what you linked to, when read from the very top of the page to the very bottom, has the essence I have believed for a very long time. I appreciated the link you posted to a tremendous extent, so thank you! It was a great read.

I understand if you prefer to follow the path of not relating evolution with the Torah; however, your link showcased a great number of Judaic leaders, Orthodox (I was shocked by that!) as well as Conservative and Reform. I especially found it interesting that my views were more in line with many of the Modern Orthodox views even more than the Conservative ones, which came across as wishy-washy and non-committal.

Thank you, again. It is perfectly acceptable to me that we may disagree on evolution and its potential relationship to Torah. However, I hope you can equally accept that I am more in line with the concept that evolution is a segment of science, thereby representing something Hashem put in motion at a minimum, and fully controls at a maximum.

jewish philosopher said...

Why exactly do you want to convert? Is your wife Jewish?

Another O-o-P said...

JP -

What utter stupidity.

Are you ignorant of the number of frum kids with drug problems today, despite being educated fully with today's brand of Yeshiva eduation? If you are, take a walk down your block and ask Rabbi Horowitz. Religion is not the solution to this one.

Your assertion that more people would be addicted to drugs if they were legalized is also not supported by any real-world evidence. Our society's experience with smoking shows very clearly that direct education about the harms of smoking together with other regulatory measures (taxes, etc.) are effective....certainly far more than your notion that inculcating religion would somehow affect the addiction rate.

Not having attended a mainstream Yeshiva in your youthm you likely have no idea how many Yeshiva bochurim smoke...a LOT, at this point perhaps at a higher percentage than teenagers outside the frum community.

jewish philosopher said...

What utter self-loathing and anti-Semitism.