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Thursday, May 6,2010

Letters | Pot perspectives

Pot perspectives

(Re: “Pot at the Tea Party,” letters, April 29.) Boulder Weekly letter-writer Brain Sherwin writes in the April 29 edition, “And don’t tell us that the free market will take care of [uninsured sick people], because it’s had multiple decades to get it right and it hasn’t.”

But is that really true? And what is a free market anyway?

A free market is a market where the government’s only roles are to protect people participating in it from force and fraud, to settle disputes and to enforce contracts. If there is any other government interference in the market, by definition it’s not a free market.

Does the U.S. health care market over the past few decades meet the definition of a free market? Not at all, because government interference in the health care market is everywhere:

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists are licensed by the government. The FDA controls which medical procedures and drugs are permitted and drives up health care prices with Byzantine testing requirements. Almost half of every health care dollar spent in the U.S. is spent by government, through such programs as Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, government employee health coverage and VA health benefits, among others.

The states mandate certain health care insurance coverage (Colorado has 51 mandates), but bar buying health insurance across state lines. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) forces hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency health care treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay.

Government interference in the health care market is so pervasive that the DEA is waging a war on sick people by making doctors fearful of prescribing adequate pain medication and outlawing beneficial drugs such as medical marijuana. One cannot even buy certain cold and hay fever medications without signing your name and showing government-issued identification.

The U.S. health care market has been clearly dominated by government interference for many decades. That’s not a free market. Libertarians say it can only be called a “politically controlled” market; a truly free market would indeed solve most health care problems.

Chuck Wright/Westminster

When people learn that drug prohibition is based on racist fictions, they stop supporting the most destructive policy since chattel slavery.

Cocaine was added to the Harrison Narcotics Act based on phony tales that cocaine made blacks into mass-murdering, homicidal, never-miss marksmen who were practically bulletproof. The New York Times carried a scurrilous editorial condemning mythical “cocaine ni**ers” committing mass murders in the South. However, modern research can find no records of cocaine-using blacks in the South publicly assaulting white women or shooting down strangers in the streets. In that era, the slightest step against white supremacy was instantly met with a lynching, so such stories are bare-faced lies. (See “Negro cocaine ‘fiends’ new Southern menace,” The New York Times, Sunday Feb. 8, 1914,www.druglibrary.org/SCHAFFER/HISTORY/negro_ cocaine_fiends.htm) Marijuana laws were also passed using racial aspersions:

“Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.” (Hearst newspapers nationwide, 1934.)

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana can cause white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

“...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” (Federal Bureau of Narcotics Director Harry J. Anslinger, 1930.)

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality and death.”

“Marijuana is the most violencecausing drug in the history of mankind.”

“[Smoking] one [marihuana] cigarette might develop a homicidal mania, probably to kill his brother.” (See U.S. Government Propaganda To Outlaw Marijuana —www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/t3.htm.)

Once the “purpose” of American drug laws is understood, the Constitutional basis for drug prohibition becomes shaky.

Floyd Krautner/Bakersfield, Calif.

I’m a 38-year-old college grad who has had asthma all his life. I would like to tell you a story about how I found out about marijuana and its effects on my asthma. I am confused about if I can get a card or not, so I plead my case to the public in order to educate you on how some people are asthmatic and use marijuana to relieve the pain in the lungs from over-expansion, in order to cough up phlegm.

It is also known as an expectorant and helps to break up the phlegm, which is causing oxygen loss. I don’t know if this works for everyone but it sure does for me. When I was a kid I would use four Primatine mist bottles a month in order to breath. I had all the newest and best medicines, and Primatine mist was all that would work for me. That is, until my good friend and sister told me about marijuana and its use for asthma. I was having an asthma attack in New York, N.Y., and might have died due to loss of oxygen. My friends had a joint lit as I entered the room with asthma and sat on the couch. I didn’t notice at first that they were smoking, but then I smelt the joint and my asthma was getting some relief.

Matthew Knudsen/Crested Butte

Wow, that was a good article. For the first time in the five years that I’ve been reading your paper, I actually agreed with it. For an article to actually have a bit of sense is a change from the normal liberal, anti-freedom bullshit dribble that usually occupies the pages.

I hope you guys understand that if we were to actually govern by the Constitution, all of your welfare, gun control, illegal immigration and feelgood legislation would be null and void too, right? I guess you would legally be able to smoke the ganja, so I’m sure that would more than make up for it. Nice job.

Jason Hetrick/via Internet

Worth the money?

(Re: “Appearance is everything,” news, April 22.) Thank you for your dogged efforts to obtain information about the “branding and marketing project” at the University of Colorado — in particular its $785,000 price tag.

It is easy to agree with Regent Tom Lucero, who told the Weekly that CU “could have used those dollars elsewhere,” and that it “looks like an extravagant expense.” He says a person could ask the question, “Was it worth $785,000?” And it’s easy to see why Regent Stephen Ludwig, a marketing and communications consultant by trade, would think the price tag is acceptable. He echoes top administrators in repeating their belief that there is a lot of “confusion,” inconsistency and lack of “discipline” in the university’s messages.

As a member of the university community, I received an April 21 e-mail memo from the office of President Bruce Benson, who was promoting the importance of the branding initiative. Benson refers to CU’s many “stakeholders,” who “have a stake in the university’s success and are willing to help us.”

In the memo, Benson says, “We project hundreds of different and sometimes competing messages and visual images that muddy and dilute our efforts to connect with our key audiences. In a world where people are bombarded with images and messages, we cannot afford to foster confusion.”

I am wondering who is really confused here. Is it that confusing when the law school in Boulder, the three different business schools, the medical school in Aurora, music and entertainment industry studies in Denver and the art gallery in Colorado Springs have different brochures, graphics and photos? Are CU administrators talking about donors who are confused about the different university programs? I doubt CU students, faculty and staff, who Benson includes in the list of stakeholders, are troubled on a day-to-day basis by this “confusion.” Rather, it could be seen as illustrative of the rich diversity of the university’s programs.

Benson said in his memo that he planned to present the progress of the initiative to the regents on April 22. “I will share with the board the brand architecture, the visual representation of the university that will provide guidelines for moving forward,” he said. I find it unfortunate that he added, “The project is not complete,” even after all the money spent on the consultant. “What remains is refining key messages and finishing the graphic identity standards that will provide the roadmap for how we present ourselves visually,” Benson said.

Now that the regents have seen the results of the study, the materials that CU labeled as “work product” and would not release to the Weekly should now be deemed public records. It will be interesting to see details on the logos and the “identity standards manual.” Somehow I doubt they will be worth all the money that could have been spent elsewhere.

Susan B. Jones/Boulder

Beyond bourgeois

Dr. Jenni Skyler could have added a sixth language to the five she presented in her article “Learning each other’s love language” — economic class (Sophisticated Sex, April 22). That is a language she speaks fluently.

Based on the details she has given us of the kind of person she wants to turn into a better lover — he nibbles on appetizers at The Med, he buys a Porsche 911, among other things — it is clear that she is pandering to affluent suburbanites and the rich. Her five-step plan to help such a person sounds boring and silly. But it really doesn’t matter, because most of the people who make up the class of people she is addressing could not feel passionate love if it fell on their heads, although they will always pay people like Dr. Skyler to tell them that they do.

If Dr. Skyler really wanted to read revolutionary books, she would find herself confronted with authors whose lives and works are filled with sex, passion, torrid love affairs, messiness and contradictions.

More importantly, she would be challenged with ideas that transgress the conservative bourgeois values she is working so hard to defend.

Joseph E. Collins/Boulder

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