I almost HAVE to comment on this rather funny issue and controversy, here at home in South Dakota. Funny but deadly serious.
Tom Knapp posted on Freedom Net Daily today:
South Dakota: Governor Noem Defends “Meth, We’re on It” Campaign (Time): “South Dakota sparked online guffaws Monday by rolling out an anti-drug campaign featuring people saying, ‘Meth, I’m on it,’ and the governor said the backlash proves the effort to raise awareness is working. The nearly $1.4 million campaign aimed at tackling the state’s methamphetamine epidemic includes $449,000 paid to the Minneapolis-based ad agency that created the tagline. A press release for the campaign said it uses ‘impactful, even shocking’ images of South Dakotans to try to communicate that meth should be tackled by everyone. The images featured the words, ‘Meth. I’m on it.’ over photos of people in cowboy hats, in a coffee shop or on a football field.”
Tom Knapp wrote this editor’s note: “$1.4 million to “raise awareness?” That’s more than a buck and a half per resident of South Dakota. And I suspect most of them were already well “aware” of meth.”
Tom is right: we have about 800,000 here in South Dakota, so it is nearly $2 per resident – including the 100,000 or so enrolled Tribal members who live or have residence in The Mount Rushmore State. And I am sure that virtually all South Dakotans – especially those who watch television – are very aware of the stuff.
But I have a few questions about that:
First, is it the responsibility of the State to “raise awareness?” Isn’t that the responsibility of parents, of family, of businesses (employers), and private organizations like religious groups, fraternal organizations, and medical providers? (Even entities that are mostly government, like too many health care institutions and schools?) Why does the South Dakota Department of Health have this responsibility and authority?
Again, why do we need to spend so much? Is it anything more than a pathetic attempt to make government relevant to daily life by showing how much it cares? Or a way of ensuring that government bureaucrats have money and power? Ensuring that corporations like the PR firm get fat paychecks and work? Yes, modern meth is a problem nationally, and costs billions already in lost time and lives, medical treatment, and law enforcement. It’s nasty stuff.
South Dakota – like the rest of the Fifty States – DOES have a meth problem that no doubt costs millions. However, meth does not saturate much of the State the way it does, say, the oil patch in North Dakota, or virtually all of Colorado or California. There are areas with severe problems, such as the reservations and big universities, and perhaps the poorer urban areas. (Yes, even South Dakota has some urban areas with “big city” problems in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.) But nothing like even Minneapolis-St. Paul, Omaha, or Denver.
One problem (from a general point of view) is that South Dakota, like many rural states, attracts those manufacturers who have been pushed out of the big cities by the drug task forces and other law enforcement. Not as bad as a decade ago, before so much meth production moved to Mexico, when clan-labs (clandestine meth production labs) dotted urban and rural areas. But there is still a lot of rural production. And use.
But perhaps the real problems with meth in South Dakota are shared with the rest of the nation and the rest of the world:
It is illegal. It is part of the war on some drugs. Therefore, there are constant problems with quality, market demand, lack of peaceful adjudication of disputes, corruption of society (and government), and difficulty of treatment for addiction and the side-effects. The same problems that existed under the regime of prohibition of alcohol back in the 1920s and 1930s. The same problems that still exist despite the growing legalization of cannabis in recent years.
It can be argued that with meth the problem is worse.
Meth has been around for a long time, and it was used to enhance performance and provide alertness to military forces of all the major combatants during World War Two. However, the only nation in which there was a severe addiction problem after the War was in Japan. (My wife and I had several relatives who used meth – on orders – during WW2, and had no drug or addiction problems after the war. Other sources indicate this was the norm.)
The reason for Japan’s problem, according to several researchers, was the very poor quality control of Japanese producers as compared to German, British, American, and even Russian manufacturers. However, the poor quality control is an unescapable part of the clan labs of the Fifty States in the last decades.
As a result, there are tremendous impurities in the product, some due to the manufacturing process used (there are many) and some due to fraudulent actions on the part of makers and sellers, diluting the drug with chemicals that contaminate the product.
The result is the contaminants poison the body: creating the ravages that we associate with modern illegal meth use. Both body and mind are damaged, even destroyed, by the product. Much of the reason street meth is so addictive is because of the impurities.
But for many people, the benefits (good or bad) of using meth outweigh the short- and long-term effects. There is much less awareness of this – but it is almost certainly NOT the object of this new campaign.
The situation is not that different from Alcohol Prohibition nearly a century ago. Poor quality control and contamination together with the illegality and lack of ways of resolving conflicts and providing treatment made Prohibition far worse than the alcoholism and societal problems it was supposed to solve.