Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who says the American manufacturing sector is dead?

We still manufacture controversy like nobody's business.

Last week, I wrote a post about the picture that was circulating of Olympic champion Michael Phelps taking a hit off a bong in a friend's dorm room at a South Carolina university. In my original post, I wrote that none of his sponsors had dropped him, but that was premature. Both Kellogg's and Subway have now abandoned him, and several of my blog buddies and other folks on the left blogosphere are also asking for a boycott.

I'm willing to avoid their products on principle, though I buy their products only rarely, so my actions alone won't make that much of a dent. I think the boycott is a good idea, but I'm sure if the companies hadn't dropped him, Focus on the Family would have started a much better organized boycott. I don't expect it is an even trade in the grand scheme of things for Subway and Kellogg's.

You might detect very little bile in the previous paragraphs, and that is because I really can't work up much outrage about Phelps smoking dope or companies deciding to drop him as a spokesman. There are a couple of other details that are coming out that I do feel more strongly about, and those deal with law enforcement.

First, Phelps was found guilty of DUI in 2004, after his first Olympic triumph in Athens. This much more serious offense didn't make any corporation think twice about using him as a spokesman once he became the greatest gold medalist in history. (In Athens, he only won six golds and two bronze. Obviously a young slacker compared to the eight gold in Beijing.) I suspect that the companies assumed the public's memory would be short, and on that point, they are clearly right.

The second and much more disturbing story is that Richmond County sheriff Leon Lott has arrested eight people in an attempt to make a case against Phelps. For me, this is the absolute stupidity of the war on (some) drugs, written in letters a hundred feet high. Why waste all this time and money and screw with so many people's lives over something so trivial?

I'm not a huge advocate for drug legalization. My position is more along the lines of someone who has heard both sides and finds the arguments for continued prosecution of the war on (some) drugs very unconvincing. I might feel more strongly about it if I was a regular user of some illegal substance, but I'm not. I have smoked pot, but I've never bought any and it is not a habit with me, largely because I am no good at smoking anything, cigars, cigarettes or joints. My throat and lungs really don't like it when I suck on irritating fumes, and they let me know their displeasure rather quickly.

I might be more sympathetic to the anti-drug arguments if I had kids, but I can't be sure. I am anti-addiction. I can work up a pretty good wrath over watching my students who can't stay off the cell phones and texting for an hour at a time, but I don't want to ban cell phones, except maybe in my class.

It's ironic how many people who love the free market also love the war on (some) drugs, though it is a war against the free market, and the chances of winning in the long run are slim to none. I had hoped the drug laws in this country would make more sense by now, but I was foolish to hope for it. They may yet change, but I am not holding my breath. My lungs and throat find breath holding almost as irritating as fume sucking.


namastenancy said...

I used to think that legalizing marijuana was the right thing to do. I still think so but with some qualifications; there are 8 (?) legal "medical" marijuana places within a few square blocks in my neighborhood and it hasn't helped neighborhood safety or security. Of course, the problem is compounded by the large number of unsupervised homeless shelters, half-way houses, needle exchange places - you name it, we've got it. Still, I'd rather see grass legal AND taxed than illegal and costing the taxpayer tons of money for the drug war. If that money went to jobs, housing, and education, desperate people would not be so desperate. As far as Phelps goes, that just shows you want can happen when you stray south of the Mason/Dixon line.

CDP said...

The point about the DUI is excellent; I thought the same thing about Kellogg's (that they didn't object to sponsoring him knowing that he'd had a DUI). I didn't know that Subway had dropped him, too. Either way, I also have a hard time summoning outrage on either count. Sponsorships are strictly business, and the sponsors can drop the sponsoree for any reason or no reason.

Karen Zipdrive said...

I was always rather lukewarm about Phelps, but his bong pic sorta made me like him more.
He's proven that pot smoking makes you swim faster and better than anyone on Earth.
Legalize it. Tax it. Use it to end farm subsidies and promote American tourism.

no_slappz said...

You wrote:

"It's ironic how many people who love the free market also love the war on (some) drugs, though it is a war against the free market, and the chances of winning in the long run are slim to none."

People who support the idea of Legalization of Drugs have no idea what they are wishing for.

If recreational drugs are legalized -- not just decriminalized, but legalized -- then the US will see the rise of a recreational drug industry that will surpass the liquor industry in every way.

But the critical issue is something else. Alcohol has a limited amount of punch. Its chemical composition is fixed.

Meanwhile, no one drinks straight 100% (200 proof) alcohol. Drinkers dilute it. But alcohol is alcohol.

Recreational drugs are entirely different. If the inventive scientists at Pfizer or Bristol Meyers are given the task of developing new recreational drugs, they will do a spectacular job -- creating mind-altering substances of greater and greater power.

Will they create the perfect drug? The one giving the perfect high with no after-effects? Not too likely.

Even pot has become many times more potent over the last 30 years.

Massive advertising campaigns will follow. Inevitably, Pfizer would develop drugs to sell in combination with Viagra.

More people than ever would engage in risky behavior and Legalization would prove itself a national nightmare.

Meanwhile, no politicians, no community groups, no parent groups, and no police believe legalization is the right move.