Monday, March 2, 2009

Post 91c: At What Price Freedom to Bear Arms?



For several years now, some commentators have complained that while the US has fought the war against terror both here and abroad, it has devoted less than sufficient resources to the war taking place along our border with Mexico.

US border mayors, governors, and law enforcement officials have complained to federal officials that Mexican drug cartels are becoming more brazen, and assembling tons of cash and weapons, in a manner reminiscent of the drug cartels in Columbia. There has been fear that this violent activity would eventually spill over into the United States.

Click on these links to read further about the effect on US families, and commentary about the effect on the US generally.

There are obviously many aspects of this border war which we could examine, including the demand for drugs in the US, the potential use of our armed forces to protect our borders, whether the battles in foreign lands should take priority over our border situation, and our relationship with Mexico. (Some contend that Mexico is on the road to becoming a “failed state,” and losing the battle against the cartels.)

However, in this article, we wish to discuss one issue. Earlier this morning, CNN reported that over the last several years, US law enforcement officials have traced at least 60,000 weapons trafficked from the US to Mexican drug cartels. Arguably, it is an example of “free trade” uninterrupted.

The relative ease with which weapons can be purchased here in the US has made it a prime supplier of weaponry in this battle.

Any thoughts?

60 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Logistician,

    I could not agree more.

    "Free trade" and "free immigration" are nothing more than euphemisms for "opportunism" and "treason". They need to be limited, and quickly, or we will be overrun with illegal drugs, arms and people while what little is left of our nation's wealth is siphoned to the south -- Perot's "giant sucking sound" which you referenced.

    Unfortunately, we are now burdened with this little plan which was quietly hatched in '05 by Bush 43 and the Council on Foreign Relations (and subsequently endorsed by traitors of both parties) called the North American Union scheme; please Google it if it is unfamiliar to you. It will scare the hell out of you -- and it should.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Jeff Dreibus

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  3. Until we find a way to decrease US consumption of drugs--seems unlikely--the trafficking both ways will grow. Americans don't like to be told NO about any behavior and until we can get over being spoiled children in regard to our personal responsibility for the problem, I suspect there will be no serious change. Of course, it is more complex than simply learning to say "no" to drugs, which has not really worked, but we must learn that there are consequences to our actions, or lack thereof.

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  4. It is worse than anyone is admitting. With all the production and corporate investments we have moved to Mexico, we won't be putting the US Army on the border, we will be deploying them around our plants and investments, effectively driving the cost of Mexican labor above the cost of US labor, but forcing American tax payers to fund the Mexican discount.

    In the mean time we will chasing the new Pancho Villas all over the country side to the distress of the Mexican State...also at the cost of the American tax payer.

    With all the money the drug dealers have at their disposal, why would we think our people will be any less receptive to cash under the table...particularly when the alternative is public decapatation.

    Remember Mr. Perot's "Giant Sucking Sound?"

    Here there be daemons.

    I don't even remember who declared the war on drugs, but the only way we are going to win it is to take the profit out of it...

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  5. Jeff. Thanks, but the Logistician inadvertently failed to post the immediately preceding comment from a colleague, using the "Anonymous" feature. He can not take credit for the comment, even though he is in agreement with the sentiment.

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  6. The so called 'war on drugs' is as ever lasting as any of our wars. The Taliban grows poppys to fund their war against us and the rest of the world. We are their biggest customer. The Mexican mafia has made marijuana the largest cash crop in California. Our gun sellers arm them so that they can cause anarchy that even if it does not spill into the border states will cause upheaval in Mexico leaving us with a criminal and unstable neighbor.

    Any politician who suggests that drugs of any form be legalized will be voted out of office is not thrown out.

    Our consumption is the cause and our jails are overcrowded with people who get sentences greater than some murderers for minor drug use.

    Abstinence programs don't seem to work and rehab doesn't make the agenda.

    I wishs that I or anyone else had an answer. We are choking ourselves.

    Where is the common sense?

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  7. The problems in Mexico are caused by a terrible economy that is truly polarized. The problem with weapons is not the fault of lenient gun laws in the US. The weapons which are the danger are not easily available in the US because these weapons are fully automatic. The semi-automatic rifles (falsely called "assault weapons" by the media and certain politicians) and handguns bought in the US are also not the problem. The problem is that the border which is a sieve when it comes to illegal immigration and drugs into the US is also a sieve in the other direction for weapons and dollars. That problem is caused by rampant corruption in Mexico. The way to counter this is to take control of our southern border. We are unwilling to demand this of our leaders. Our leaders are unwilling to do this on their own.

    By the way, the Mexican mafia has nothing to do with making marijuana the largest cash crop in California. That was done by the people of California and other states in the US. California grown marijuana is grown and distributed by Californians. There is a "Mexican Mafia", a gang, which is involved in drug, prostitution, and illegal immigration but it is not growing the marijuana.

    Legalizing marijuana might be a good idea, financially. It would bring the trade into the legitimate economy and produce a significant amount of tax revenue. It will not happen, of course. As the last poster implied, it would be political suicide to propose it so no politician would back it.

    The answers to these problems are there, we are unwilling to implement them.

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  8. Mexico has forever been a place of agony and corruption. This has been the case since the early 1500's when invaded when it's civilization was destroyed by Spain. Spain of a corrupt court ever bleeding it's own people, the Inquisition and domination by the Church. This is what was brought to Mexico so what followed over the centuries was more of the same with intermittent inspired leadership. But Mexico never had the good fortune of the United States with our Founding Fathers. Nor was Mexico fortunate in those who stayed and settled the country. The invaders intermarried with the natives neither groups having had the experiences of common people having some say in how they are governed as we with our primarily English and Dutch original settlers. Followed by immigrants from northern European countries and only later having immigrants from the less "democratic" countries and regions of Southern Europe.

    The wounds inflicted on the peoples of Mexico in the earlier centuries continue today with the drug cartels now taking over the leadership of this misbegotten land.

    What can be done with or about it? I, nor anyone else short of God Himself, has the vaguest idea.

    There is a simple solution to the drug problem, but we as a people will not stand for the brutality necessary. But if we stop the demand the drugs will disappear!

    How to stop the demand? Put all the money now spend on chasing the drug dealers into rehab centers. The rehab centers to take drug addicts and force them to undergo the only effective treatment commonly known as "cold turkey". Then a few months of counseling and eventual relocation from their old habitat in half way houses to help former addicts make a new life. Do this every time a drug user is arrested. There will be many who have to undergo this treatment several times, but eventually it will work. Jails and our current rehab methods are not working and never will. This will end the problems we have all over the world with the drugs and drug money funding criminals.

    The freedom to bear arms of course is a problem aside from drugs and Mexico. That the United States is the arms dealer of the world is our shame. It is however a legal business in a free country. Remove the reason for needing the arms (in this case drugs) and the problem of gun sales might be more limited. but men will always find reasons to fight with each other and think they need arms. BB

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  9. I think Douglas has pinpoint accuracy in his post (don't fall out of that chair Douglas!). The whole situation revolves around money. Big money. Money worth fighting over.

    the answer? I have no idea.

    I do have a question for Brendabowers.

    "The rehab centers to take drug addicts and force them to undergo the only effective treatment commonly known as "cold turkey"."

    what if the addicts don't want treatment?

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  10. It would be nice if we could annex Mexico and make it the 51st state. The minimum wage would immediately increase tenfold, people would not have to sneak across the border, we could gain control of their oil (I think something like 9% of our oil comes from Mexico), and look at all the oceand gulf front property we could exploit. Ok, that was tongue in cheek but still...

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  11. People, when expressing frustration at our inability to get something done, frequently use the phrase, "We can put a man on the moon, but we can't ...." Can anyone identify any government program, in operation during the last 50 years, which has actually "worked" in addressing a social problem, to such an extent that there is general agreement that it was "successful?"

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  12. What mechanism, if any, could we employ to stem the tide of weapons from the US into Mexico, and still protect the rights of law abiding citizens under the 2nd Amendment?

    Do you think that there are honest, patriotic, law biding Americans, who know the destination of these weapons, and still knowingly participate in the trade for financial reasons? As long as they obey the laws of the United States, should they refrain from selling or distributing the weapons based on some other principles?

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  13. Dan, we are glad that you brought up the issue of personal responsibility in this discussion. Just earlier this evening, we heard a researcher on Public Radio International speak of new findings in the area of brain chemistry and function, and their relationship to certain addictive behaviors. If the medical and scientific community pretty much agree that drug usage is a "medical" or at a minimum, "health problem," why do we continue to treat it as a criminal offense?

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  14. Survival is arguably not about personal responsibility or fairness. A different portion of the brain kicks in when someone is in a survival mode. Arguably, if people feel trapped and have few options available to them, real or merely perceived, what do you think that they will do?

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  15. Thanks for participating Douglas. In your post, you indicated, ""The problem with weapons is not the fault of lenient gun laws in the US."

    We Americans have a tendency to think of fault as an all or nothing proposition. Consequently, it makes it difficult for us to admit fault if we feel that we are not the primary actor. (Even in those situations, reasonable people could differ.)

    In reality, fault is always a comparative concept. There are always many different contributing factors. When we make the blanket statement of denial of being a contributing factor, then there is no reason to pursue addressing the problem.

    Is the US even 10% responsible for the trafficking in weapons across the border?

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  16. how do we take personal responsibility for this?

    I don't do drugs

    I don't sell drugs

    I don't support (financially or emotionally) anyone who does drugs.

    What more can I do?

    I don't buy, sell or traffic in firearms legally or otherwise.

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  17. Interesting the path that this post has taken. We were trying to steer the discussion toward the gun issue, and yet folks see the guns issue related to the drug issue.

    Holly, in response to your inquiry as to what should be done for those who do not want to avail themselves of the drug rehab treatment, one possible approach might be to offer the treatment, and if one does not participate, inform them that their benefits will be affected in some manner.

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  18. There is a great film airing later this evening (early tomorrow morning), on Turner Classic Movies at 1:30 am EST. It is Frank Capra's "Meet John Doe," starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.

    It is part of a series of political films being shown by TCM. This is good; very good. More importantly, you will find it highly relevant to what is going on in our country now.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meet_John_Doe

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  19. Once again we are quick to blame the US given the propensity of our media to set that as a norm. Let’s consider facts. 1. According to law enforcement and agencies which track such things, the most popular weapons of drug cartels are the AR15 (United States), the AK 47 (Russia), UZI (Israel) and the Tec 9 (originally Sweden but manufactured by a subsidiary in the US). 2. Most weapons are originally legally purchased and then stolen or purchased by straw purchase or by persons who fill out the forms illegally. These are the facts for the gangs operating within the US. Gangs operating outside our borders are able to purchase whatever they want from numerous arms dealers who operate in countries whose laws are less cumbersome than our own.
    The United States during the Clinton Administration adopted many of the international regulations regarding international gun deals through domiciled arms brokers. Among other things this gave the State Department greater authority to monitor and regulate arms brokers. As a result, American arms dealers are now subject to the same laws whether they are shipping weapons directly from the United States or brokering deals abroad.
    According to Interpol and other international police organizations, many of the deals are originating in former soviet states. As money is no object these purchases (usually in bulk quantities) are easy to get by officials in Columbia, Mexico, Venezuela and other South and Central American States.
    So where does this leave us? Given that arms are easy to obtain, whether from within the US or from outside, the gun doesn’t seem to be the problem - it is the holder and their intent for use to control, terrorize or defeat those who might interfere with their business. I think we should address the intent of the drug business to use ruthless methods, not whether the 2nd amendment to our constitution is somehow relevant to the problem.
    Just as during prohibition, gangs of criminals sought to control the manufacture and distribution of alcohol. The modus operandi is very similar to that employed by current drug gangs. It might be too obvious that if the problem is that the public demands a product that is illegal, then perhaps it should be made legal, taxed and distribution controlled as we currently control alcohol. The immediate effect would be to lower the cost (and put the gangs out of the drug business), regulate supply, control the user and generate the revenue to pay for treatment options. Drug related crime would become significantly reduced. Cost of incarceration saved, drug related violence reduced and the terrorism associated with this activity in low income neighborhoods reduced.
    I realize this is maybe a politically unpopular proposal. Perhaps we should apply the same degree of accountability of our current leadership as they demanded of the previous administration relative to the Iraq war. Specifically, what is the exit strategy for our “war on drugs”, how do we measure success, how much is it costing and what is the transparency for future cost of waging this war. I doubt we will hear Senator Reid or Speaker Pelosi declaring from their pulpits that the war is lost and we should withdraw immediately (or within 16 months).
    Ok, I’ll take my tongue out of my cheek. Now what about the 50 year old war on poverty!! How are we doing there, no 2nd amendment issue there either?

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  20. ", one possible approach might be to offer the treatment, and if one does not participate, inform them that their benefits will be affected in some manner."

    this of course, assumes they have benefits to change.

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  21. Has anyone addressed the issue of the use of our military to defend our borders? Is that a permissible use of our armed forces? Are there any prohibitions on their use? If so, why?

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  22. Does anyone have a solution to this border violence issue for which you can guarantee at least a 75% probability of success? If so, on what do you base your contention?

    Do any of you feel that now that we have a population of 300 million people that we are too big and complex a country to solve any societal problems, such as drugs, poverty, homelessness, crime, etc?

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  23. So many questions, so little desire to write 750 words or more to answer them.

    The border issues can be addressed quite easily by posting 20,000 or more troops (National Guard) along our southern border. We won't do it because we see it as a "policing problem" rather than what it is: a threat to the nation from an external source. Because it is seen as a "policing problem", we are restricted from placing the military on the border. See "Posse Comitatus Act" which restricts the federal govt from using the military for law enforcement.

    The idea of treating drug usage as a health issue rather than a legal one will not work. Two main reasons:
    1. recreational drug use won't be seen as an addiction.
    2. We have laws which prevent us from forcing people to undergo medical treatment (and, yes, drug addition treatment would be seen that way).

    On "fault": Yes, we are unwilling to accept fault regardless of amount. Because no one, here in the US or anywhere else in the world, will see it as "10%" or "5%". Assigning blame is not productive in this case because it is just a way of avoiding the responsibility of anyone else. Therefore, our border problems are caused by Mexican drug cartels, corruption in Mexico is the fault of the cartels, the illegal drug trade is the fault of the user, and so on.
    America has become the scourge of the world in many nations' eyes because we are so willing to accept blame for the acts of their governments in mistreating their own citizens. Let us quit apologizing and start dealing with our problems as our problems and their problems as theirs. In this case, our problem is our unwillingness to control our borders. Let's deal with that.

    Those who sell guns, knowing they will be modified and/or shipped to parties who cannot legally purchase them are already breaking the law. There is a reason it is called "illegal arms sales". And it will always continue, just as illegal drug sales will continue. We can only try to minimize their impact on us. We cannot stop these things. We especially cannot stop them by further restricting the liberties of US citizens. Outlaws break laws, that is a fact. Add new laws and the outlaws will simply break those also. Passing gun laws only impacts the honest, law abiding citizen.

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  24. "It's not X that causes Y." "This is what needs to be done." "We are not responsible for W." "They are responsible for T." Imagine a team of Emergency Room doctors engaging in this conversation as you are wheeled from the admitting room into the operating room after a serious accident.

    We've been thinking about how differences in philosophy and approach could theoretically result in a standoff of sorts, with nothing getting done, unless there is an odd number of doctors in the ER, and one group's votes override the other.

    Let's get away from the ER for a moment. There are some doctors who are termed conservative, who take the approach that the body can heal itself from relatively minor to moderate problems given the chance. Other doctors are more aggressive and recommend surgery or some other aggressive procedure without letting the body a chance to resolve the problems on its own.

    But what would the medical professionals do on the battlefield, or the paramedics at the scene of the accident, in order to avoid loss of life and to stabilize the injured? Are there any analogies to triage in the economic world?

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  25. Beautiful discussion Douglas, beautiful. Something tells us that you and June, typically coming from different perspectives, are pretty much in sync on these issues. It's the beginning of a collaborative relationship. (We'll see what June has to say about that.)

    We wanted someone to bring the Posse Comitas Act into the discussion. Thanks for doing so.

    We ARE concerned about the failure to take responsibility for one's own problems. One can not "fix" anything without some recognition of the underlying reason for the problem. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing an approach or a solution which is not related to the real problem, or not doing anything at all.

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  26. Quite a bit of this discussion supports a view of how to resolve all of this conflict, as put forth by someone who sought admission to the Institute for Applied Common Sense, but whose request was rejected.

    That solution? Simply divide the country up geographically, and peaceably allow people to shift to the section which conforms to their beliefs. Sort of a negotiated civil division without the war.

    According to our colleague, we should have done this a long time ago. He feels that it's almost ludicrous to think that people with such widely varying views of the world and life can live together in any type of productive fashion.

    He also argues that people will gladly pick up and leave the area where they previously lived, if they knew that like-minded citizens would be in their neighborhoods, and vote for the same candidates and policies consistent with their beliefs. In fact, he contends that there would be no need for debate and checks and balances in government.

    Homogeneity, at least in terms of basic core values, would rule the day. He submits that mixing people together, who do not wish to be together, i.e. a forced melting pot, has nothing but negative ramifications.

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  27. The Logistician:

    "Does anyone have a solution to this border violence issue for which you can guarantee at least a 75% probability of success? If so, on what do you base your contention?"

    The solution is simple: build a wall -- not a fence, but a wall. China built a wall; Hadrian built a wall; why can't WE build a wall? And please don't tell me that doing so can't be approached with equity toward the property rights issue. I base my contention upon the fact that walls work.

    If the invaders then build tunnels beneath the wall, fill them with water or poison gas; blow them up; fill them with concrete. This invasion has been let go to the point that it is now a war, even though our government and our people choose not to recognize it as such. It must, then, be fought as a war and nothing less. When given a choice between political correctness and cultural survival -- call me crazy, but I choose the latter.


    The Logistician:

    "Do any of you feel that now that we have a population of 300 million people that we are too big and complex a country to solve any societal problems, such as drugs, poverty, homelessness, crime, etc?"

    Whether we are too big/complex or not is academic; we must still try to solve these problems. For purposes of this discussion, Step One is to halt further immigration. We can then proceed to address the drugs-poverty-homelessness-crime-guns issue without all the while importing more of the same so that we are never able to get ahead of the curve.

    Will we do it? No, never -- and so America will sink not-so-slowly into its terminal role as a geo-historical footnote.

    And yes, I confess to my status as an ugly American -- and proudly so.

    Jeff Dreibus

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  28. Coop: We don't have to blame anyone; all we have to do is find "the cause(s). Can anyone specifically identify the cause(s) for this troublesome activity along our border, without injecting their particular version of reality? If so, then we can craft solutions to attack it.

    However, it is beginning to become evident that we will never be able to agree on the causes and the potential solutions to be applied.

    If both sides take the position that their position is the correct one, then nothing will be accomplished. Compromise will theoretically always be too weak.

    Does that mean that we should just let one faction rule into perpetuity for the benefit of the rest of those less enlightened ones of us?

    How do we get beyond this? Sounds like democracy doesn't really work long term and when the going gets rough, does it?

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  29. Jeff: There is theoretically something to be said for a "wall" or at a minimum, a moratorium on immigration, although we might be coming from different places philosophically.

    We believe that one can not "fix" any dynamic mechanism without at least temporarily suspending its motion, or at least as many of the dynamic factors as possible. (Imagine trying to repair a car while it is still rolling down the street.)

    It becomes even more difficult to "fix" anything if you do not have control of those outside forces affecting your mechanism / operation. Can we solve this issue by only taking control of those factors within our country over which we have control?

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  30. The most consistent theme which we have picked up during this thread is that certain things "won't happen." If that is the case, why even bother to try?

    At least Jeff suggests that we need to try.

    Hmmmhh. Perhaps we should have national referenda on certain issues, via computer, as suggested by Ross Perot.

    Perhaps we should vote on whether we should ever bother to try to solve some of our societal problems, or whether we should just let the system work and let the chips fall where they may. When we leave it up to our elected representatives, nothing arguably will be done with any effectiveness.

    What if we had a national referendum and 75% of the voting public voted in support of withdrawing all government programs for society and permitting the market forces to work in isolation? How about just keeping the military and the interstate highway system, and shut down everything else?

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  31. Thank you for the compliment. I wish, however, to discuss this:

    "We ARE concerned about the failure to take responsibility for one's own problems. One can not "fix" anything without some recognition of the underlying reason for the problem. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing an approach or a solution which is not related to the real problem, or not doing anything at all."

    If you have contracted a contagious disease, is it necessary for you to know who gave it to you in order to treat it and get healthy again? No. It is useful to know where you got it so you can avoid it in the future but not to rid yourself of it.

    I think if you keep looking for external causes for an internal problem, you won't ever be able to correct it. Let's take the drug problem. You might blame other parties, the cartels, for flooding our illicit market with drugs. But limiting those drugs will only increase the price to the user (and the middlemen) and result in even higher profits for the cartels which will grant them even more power. Blocking the border will have an impact on their bottom line and reduce profit in the short term but they will overcome or seek a new market. Perhaps one closer to home.

    Nope, I do not have an answer to the drug problem in the US. Reducing the consumers can work but that is something that has never been successfully done.

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  32. Interesting position Douglas on determining who versus where is the source of a problem. So, we have two gay men, Man X and Man Y, having homosexual sex in the Hyperion Bath House in the 1990s.

    It is subsequently determined that Man Y has AIDS. We only need know that it was contracted in the Bath House for societal purposes, whatever they might be, and not that Man X was the source?

    Arguably when we address any problem, we should be able to identify both internal and external factors, since nothing in society occurs in a vacuum.

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  33. Logistician: In response to our colleague's suggestion that we simply divide the country geographically:

    We tried this a couple of hundred years ago... the divisions were called the North and the South.

    Peaceful coexistence finally broke down over which group would enjoy the financial benefits of the first transcontinental railroad as both groups pushed their economic models west.

    The subsequent military conflict was an unmitigated disaster, theoretically fought to secure moral rather than economic advantage.

    The most irritating aspect of all of this is that the cost of the military conflict could easily have bought and freed every slave in the country, provided them with the financial wherewithal to become self supporting citizens, and provided sufficient funding for a good start on a southern branch of the above mentioned railroad.

    So it goes...

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  34. Out of curiosity, is there anyone out there who feels that there are some benefits to unfettered immigration into the US?

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  35. Drug addicts certainly 'don't want" to go to jail, but we put them there. What is the difference between a jail cell where they can easily obtain drugs and a health clinic cell where drugs are strictly prohibited? (drugs are tolerated in jails because the officials would rather have someone on drugs than going thru withdrawal for which police are not equipped to handle. Just a dirty little secret in our society.)

    Anyone found taking or carrying drugs goes into a health clinic cell no questions asked or allowed, just as they would go into a jail cell. If after two days they are still without symptoms of withdrawal then they may be charged as criminals for possession and sent over to the county jail and permitted to contact a lawyer. This would get the criminals in jail and the users where they belong and can get help whether they want it or not.

    And I would along with this I would legalize marijuana and criminalize alcohol. The drug culture has been around as long as I have almost and I have never heard of or read of anyone using marijuana killing anyone or posing a threat to anyone, not even themselves. It is not as if they use and go out and get into an automobile because with marijuana lethargy sets in and all the user wants is to "dream on".

    I realize trying to stop people from drinking alcoholic beverages has failed in the past, but I believe we have come to the point where we can better treat and certainly better understand the effects of alcohol. We simply stop serving the stuff. Look what has been done with smoking. Alcohol causes more deaths than smoking ever did and to more innocent by standers.

    To forestall any problems with speakeasies and such we could legalize clubs to serve alcohol, but require that they keep customers overnight or until they have sobered up. This is commonly done in Russia where it certainly hasn't solved the alcohol problem, but it has solved the problem of drunks killing people on the highways. The fact is not many businesses want to be responsible for having a drunk around drunk or sober and certainly not sobering up, so there won't be many such clubs and they would be very expensive for the customer.

    Oh and any drunks found out on the streets or highways would be taken to the Health clinic like any other addict and treated the same. This too should have a prohibiting effect.

    But the best and most effective prohibition to alcohol is social. It worked for smoking. Just make a campaign of telling the public daily how many deaths on the highways of the nation the day before were due to alcohol consumption. A DAILY report of this nature would get people attention. But then again, all these things a re big money makers and those doing the making will fight to keep their cash cows moving just as the drug runner do. BB

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  36. Log, re: your HIV scenario... Society knows gay bathhouses are dangerous places when it comes to HIV exposure. It also knows that tracking contacts is a good way to gain control over sexually transmitted diseases. However, you might want to check on why bathhouses are not closed down and why we are only tentatively tracking contacts. Instead, we are not attacking the problem rationally but politically. We aren't winning.

    And, in this case, it is pointless to know where a disease was contracted, for the person who contracted it, because that particular disease has no cure.
    Unless that is your point? Drug usage has no cure? Not for society, no. But for the user, yes.

    We know where the drugs are coming from and we know how most of them are getting into this country and we aren't doing more to control our borders, just as we are not closing down gay bathhouses.

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  37. "Out of curiosity, is there anyone out there who feels that there are some benefits to unfettered immigration into the US?"

    I would doubt anyone would take that position. There really never has been unfettered immigration but there have been times where almost unfettered immigration was the norm. But times and circumstances have changed. It is common for countries, not just the US, to be very lenient on immigration (legal and illegal) during good economic times and then go harsh when times are bad. It is understandable. It simply shows that governments do not plan, or operate, in a rational manner. They react more than they act in advance.

    The divided country would not work, supposedly that is how we came about; thirteen separate states, each with its own way of doing things. It changed. Besides, who'd get the good weather vs the bad? Or the beachfronts rather than the deserts? In other words, how would it be physically divided?

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  38. Douglas, with respect to the division of the country, it would be divided along philosophical lines, conservatives versus progressives. And to make it easier to manage, a vote could be held as to whether one faction would be east of the Mississippi, and the other west. All of this arguing is ridiculous. In reality, we are two separate countries functioning as one, aren't we?

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  39. Log, where do you put the moderates? the libertarians? the anarchists? And, last but not least, the confused? These last are conservative sometimes, liberal at others, and never know what they will be until someone confronts them.

    The truth is, as I see it, we are not two separate countries, we are many separate countries. Some people are "go alongs" who just follow those around them. They voted for Reagan when they had voted for Carter just 4 years prior, Nixon before that, and Humphrey before that. Whoever seems most popular. They've been lost since Bush I and probably haven't voted. Some people just vote Democrat, right down the line, though they are anti-abortion, anti big government, wish prayer was allowed back in schools, not overly fond of the union they are in, and not in favor of gay marriage. There is also an equivalent Republican voter who is the opposite. People would choose to live where their friends are whether they really agree with those friends politically or not. What about the children of these people, even those who are staunch conservative or staunch "progressives" (I don't like that word, use liberals) can have children who grow up to disagree with their parents' ideologies. Sometimes husbands are conservative and wives are liberal. And we often change as we age, shifting from one ideology to another.

    I guess what I am saying is it won't work. People don't neatly fit in those two categories you offered. In fact, they don't neatly fit into any category.

    Like someone else said, we tried that once, it ended in a Civil War.

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  40. We're not suggesting that anyone be forced to live in one section or the other Douglas, just that they be given the choice. People would have the make a decision. The goal is reducing the acrimony. If you live amongst relatively like minded people, they'll be less acrimony, or people will find something different to argue about. But at least we will removed the big issues as points of contention.

    Those not interested in living in either, have the option of leaving the country. People can't have their cake and eat it too. You have to make a choice.

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  41. Your fingers have to be aching after all this typing my friend.

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  42. Log, there might be less acrimony within the borders of these ideologically homogeneous sectors (or "demi-nations") but the acrimony between the factions would still be there. As history shows, it doesn't alleviate the conflict. Prior to the Civil War we had a compromise which basically said slave states could stay slave states, free states would remain free states and a line was drawn between free and slave states. It did not work. The conflict remained because it was not resolved. Differing ideologies will continue to create strife until one achieves a significant majority. Separating people according to these basic ideologies will not do anything to resolve the issues.

    The premise, as you describe it now, has become almost silly. It now seems you say "choose an side or get out." I am sure that is not what you think you are saying but that is what it boils down to.

    We are in a period where there is a struggle about how this nation will go forward. I don't know how long it will last, how much the people will suffer because of it, or whether I will like the outcome (assuming I am still alive), but the solution is not in further dividing the country. The solution will come when one side convinces the others that its way is best and enough of the country gets behind it. Let us hope that this conflict never rises to the level it did in 1861.

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  43. What we are suggesting Douglas is two entirely separate countries with separate governments and economies; no longer a United States of America. Just like a divorce. Divide up the assets and go your separate ways.

    There is precedent for this throughout the world in history. We did not suggest that folks be kicked out. We simply said that if one of the divided countries was not a place where one wanted to live, they would have the option to leave and go someplace else.

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  44. Log, they have that option now. In fact, it's always been rejected. I know you are old enough to remember the "America, Love it or Leave it" bumper stickers. Those that are dividing the country today are a minority, let them leave. They can, anytime they want. We have no "Berlin Wall" here.

    Again, there are not TWO sides, there are many. You cannot take 10-20% of the population, split them in half, and give each side half the country. The rest of us would not tolerate it.

    But, since you claimed it, I challenge you to provide those precedents. I can think of only one that worked... the division of the Roman Empire. It did not, however, divide a country. It divided an empire into two empires. All the other divisions have been violent ones, the results of civil wars or externally mandated divisions which resulted in additional military actions (Korea, Cypress, French Indochina, Yemen).

    I repeat, the concept is unworkable.

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  45. It does not matter whether it works Douglas. It would provide people with a choice somewhere along the spectrum. It's a choice, plain and simple. Isn't there a substantial value to reducing acrimony? All of this intensive, acrimonious, vituperative exchange is about a difference in governance philosophy. Each side would have an opportunity to test out their theories. If one believes in something, shouldn't one be willing to make a substantial change in order to achieve that perceived goal? It's an option? Right now, people essentially live in a state of constant conflict of values.

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  46. There are many things in life which do not work, and yet we try. Marriages, at least in western, post-modern industrialized nations, don't work roughly half of the time, and yet people still have a desire to enter into them. How about trying something new. Why be wedded to the past?

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  47. Logistician,

    I have given your proposal much thought and decided that, though I personally have no problem with it, its inherent complexity would become quickly apparent as it came closer to implementation.

    I agree with Douglas that it would not work without violence. The cries of "separatism!" and comparisons to Plessy v. Ferguson would be deafening. Whatever form the outcome took, the perception that someone was being "shortchanged" would be inevitable.

    When violence inevitably broke out, with its attendant reality that someone would necessarily have to "lose" the conflict, shortchanging would become a certain reality. Simply consider at the “equitable” way in which Reconstruction was handled following the War for Southern Independence . . .

    Jeff Dreibus

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  48. Log, I will try not to repeat all the reasons I have already given why it is a pipe dream. What I will do is say this:
    Who is to decide what factions get which area and how big that area will be? You over-simplify when you say 'divide the country east and west' and have a vote on who gets what.' Since I already pointed out that there are more than two factions (which you continue to ignore), I will say only that the vote (and everyone's fate) would be decided by a minority of the population (though I would suspect we'd get a much higher turnout than any presidential election).

    After the fact, assuming this was actually done, there would be increased acrimony over who got the best part of the deal. Perhaps not immediately (as in our presidential elections of late) but by the next generation. Though I strongly suspect violence would break out even before the vote was taken. After all, who would decide what the territories to be voted on would be?

    Oh, and toss in people making choices not out of ideological bent but out of desiring to live in certain climates or environments (which they do now) and, over time, change the majority political ideology to the other side.

    And, of course, I note you failed to answer my challenge about those historic precedents.

    Nope, this is not only unworkable but a waste of time to further debate.

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  49. News Flash! This just in!

    “America will splinter into six separate republics in 2010! Russia and China will emerge as the world’s superpowers!”

    As reported (and ridiculed) on FOX News at 9:15 am 3-5-09. A Russian “analyst” is credited with making this proclamation. So, Logistician, it appears as though our little separatist fantasy will come true after all. ;-)

    Seriously, though, this addresses a very substantial point which had apparently occurred to none of us: a divided America, essentially at odds with itself, is necessarily a weakened America. That would be particularly undesirable in the current geopolitical climate . . .

    Jeff Dreibus

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  50. Thanks Jeff for your thoughts. Thanks are particularly in order for the "tone" you used in describing the reasons why you arrived at your conclusion.

    As we have often said, we do not care where people come out, as long as they go through the thought process, which in our opinion includes: (a) listening to and considering the views of others; (b) examining history; (c) ensuring that the analysis includes some facts and degree of "reasoning" and not just an expression of one's own personal biases or emotions; (d) avoiding personal attacks; and (e)stating one's position in a manner which encourages respect from those who might disagree with your view, and possibly reconsideration of their view after further reflection.

    Acrimony and nastiness does not encourage people to come around to one's way of thinking.

    We picked your comment as an example of the type of comment which we encourage on this site. The "tone" of discourse in this nation is the subject of a upcoming post, and thus we thought it appropriate to comment here.

    Thanks. You're always welcome within this forum.

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  51. Jeff, following up on the "pain" or violence which might follow from separation, we recently observed an interview of a major player in the Internet information media world. He said that newspapers are dead, and that they should simply make the business decision and close up shop fair quickly (perhaps over a year), instead of stretching out the pain for the next decade or so.

    He acknowledged that there would be pain, but noted that it was better to have severe pain in the short term than have chronic pain over the long term.

    Another analogy: Divorce. When two warring parents stay together, they do all sorts of destructive things to one another and others, particularly their kids. Sometimes, it leads to murder and suicide. 25% of all physical violence against women is performed by some "loved one." There are also long term societal costs, including the burden on the criminal, judicial, and legal systems.

    On Iraq, the theory advanced by some is that the US military lives lost, along with those of the Iraqi civilians, will somehow "be worth it" in the long run if freedom and democracy are achieved. We're not sure that we would agree with that formula, but here's the deal:

    People ought to have a choice to do what they think is in their best interests, and if they make the wrong choice, they will have to suffer the consequences. If we as a nation are so tired of the other side doing this, and the other side doing that, then we ought to be able to come up with a mechanism to resolve those differences OVER THE LONG TERM. To sit by year after year, after year, and not address a festering issue does not bode well for the future.

    To some extent, we are still fighting the Civil War in this country, 150 years later. At some point, it is likely to erupt in severe violence again. Why not nip it in the bud this time?

    There are many situations like this in life, where we fear the pain or the intensity of the consequences

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  52. Douglas:

    You mean to tell us that people would permit their climate preference to override their philosophical preferences?

    As for countries divided along philosophical governance lines, North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam, Nationalist China (Taiwan) and Mainland China, the former Yugoslavia which is now many different countries, and the former Soviet Union, which is now numerous different countries.

    No place is without problems Douglas. You can not govern without ticking off some segment of the population. But is there anything wrong with separating portions of a country, and forming separate distinct independent nations, where there is similarity in one's general view of the world?

    We refer you to our divorce analogy mentioned above in connection with Jeff's comment. Divorce is a simple hatchet job, but in the minds of many, it works to make the pain short term instead of allowing the cancerous relationship to turn nuclear.

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  53. YES!!!!! JEFF!!!!!

    YOU said: "Seriously, though, this addresses a very substantial point which had apparently occurred to none of us: a divided America, essentially at odds with itself, is necessarily a weakened America. That would be particularly undesirable in the current geopolitical climate."

    Yes. We hope that others also recognize the value of this exchange. You get the April Commentator of the Month Award, even though it is only March. We'll have to refrain from making other awards in the interim.

    There has to be something more important than the dispute. Repeat: There has to be something more important than the dispute.

    We are always struck by the stories of warring soldiers taking a break during war to celebrate a religious holiday, or attend a symphony concert, or such. We simply believe that when we argue back and forth, we occasionally sit back and recognize this principle. It would serve us well as a society.

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  54. I'm weighing in pretty late on this as once again my time has been occupied to the max with business matters.

    The problem of violence spilling across the Rio Grande has precious little to do with the right to bear arms or the right to arm bears for that matter. It is all about our insistence on making certain substances illegal. Take away those laws, allow those substances to be grown, manufactured, taxed and regulated in places like North Carolina and Oregon and you will see how quickly that problem dries up and blows away. Why do we as a society feel we need to decide which method of suicide is best for our citizens? The unchecked use of these substances are a form of suicide just as being an alcoholic is a form of suicide or eating to many fatty and sugary foods. I'll grant that all sorts of things need regulation so that a child under the age of rational consent is not injured but for the rest let them make their decisions with the proviso that they don't hurt others who are not also engaged in these risky behaviors. A person drives a car while impaired and kills somebody should be treated like a bank robber who guns down someone in the commission of the robbery.

    The only real reason for keeping them illegal is that their are certain persons making vast sums of money and that source of funding would disappear just as it did at the end of Prohibition. What a blow to organized crime and corrupt officials everywhere. Elliott Ness notwithstanding it was not the "Untouchables" that finally brought them down.

    Holly-Throwing some of that new tax revenue into treatment centers for those who have decided they don't want to kill themselves and need help to recover is something I would love to see. Also a nice amount of the revenue for greater education. Hey-they even wear seat belts in the movies and tv these days and that was a result of regulation and societal pressure. Let's make it un-cool to do dope.


    "The so called 'war on drugs' is as ever lasting as any of our wars. The Taliban grows poppies to fund their war against us and the rest of the world. We are their biggest customer"
    The Taliban does gain income from the poppy fields of Afghanistan but the narcotics from those poppies flow to Europe not the U.S. We get are stuff mostly from Mexico and various countries in South and Central America.

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  55. CNN just reported that the bodies of 4 Americans have been found in a car in the Mexican border town (just south of San Diego) of Tijuana, where violence has been escalating.

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  56. At this moment as we type this, C-Span2 Book TV is airing a book discussion featuring Howard Campbell, the author of "Drug War Zone," which focuses on drug trafficking and weapons smuggling related thereto. To view the description of the program, click here.

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  57. At this moment, as we type this, C-Span2 Book TV is airing a panel presentation on U.S. (Arizona) / Mexico border issues. You may find some of the perspectives of the panelists very interesting, and hear some first hand accounts about some things which you did not know.

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  58. Survival is arguably not about personal responsibility or fairness. A different portion of the brain kicks in when someone is in a survival mode. Arguably, if people feel trapped and have few options available to them, real or merely perceived, what do you think that they will do?

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  59. News Flash! This just in!

    “America will splinter into six separate republics in 2010! Russia and China will emerge as the world’s superpowers!”

    As reported (and ridiculed) on FOX News at 9:15 am 3-5-09. A Russian “analyst” is credited with making this proclamation. So, Logistician, it appears as though our little separatist fantasy will come true after all. ;-)

    Seriously, though, this addresses a very substantial point which had apparently occurred to none of us: a divided America, essentially at odds with itself, is necessarily a weakened America. That would be particularly undesirable in the current geopolitical climate . . .

    Jeff Dreibus

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  60. Until we find a way to decrease US consumption of drugs--seems unlikely--the trafficking both ways will grow. Americans don't like to be told NO about any behavior and until we can get over being spoiled children in regard to our personal responsibility for the problem, I suspect there will be no serious change. Of course, it is more complex than simply learning to say "no" to drugs, which has not really worked, but we must learn that there are consequences to our actions, or lack thereof.

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