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Blaming company for drug’s misuse like blaming pencil for misspelled words

Blaming company for drug’s misuse like blaming pencil for misspelled words

Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 1:25 pm
By: Glenda Caudle, Special Features Editor

By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor

Don’t touch that Sudafed! Here’s why:
• “My grandparents lived through the Great Depression and World War II without a Sudafed™ pill in sight to clear up their stuffy noses, and they made it through life just fine.”
That’s not my grandparents, mind you. Although they did live through the Great Depression and World War II and obviously they did it without Sudafed, which hadn’t been invented at that point. Given the choice of some relief from the hay fever that plagued my grandfather as he worked in the yard and did chores around the farm or the other allergy symptoms that afflicted my ancestors, they might very well have accepted the drug.
It’s difficult to say for sure how much they would have agonized over their complicity in destroying lives through the use of the product. I suspect, however, that they would have snorted in derision at the idea that the freedom to purchase a product that could safely relieve symptoms that ranged from mildly annoying to truly distressing should be curtailed because someone dedicated to the concept of living “high” was using the same product to destroy their own lives and those of anyone they could sell on the idea of illegal drug use.
But then, my ancestors were conservatives.
They tended to think that people were responsible for the choices they made. They tended to hold people accountable for their freely-made decisions.
They were often moved to assist those who had opted for foolish living — either out of pity for them or concern for their families — but they didn’t feel moved to don sack cloth and ashes and repent their own perfectly legal, moral and wise actions because someone else misused their options.
Conservatives frequently think that way.
Liberals do not, apparently.
At least that is what a self-defined liberal, who writes a guest-column in an area paper, says. The sentence enclosed in quotation marks above is hers; here is more of what she had to say in a recent piece:

Left vs. Right

• “I don’t think there is a better example to illustrate the philosophical difference between ‘the left’ and ‘the right’ than how we, as a country, deal with the crisis of crystal meth abuse.”
Meth use is a devastating problem. We are in agreement on that issue.
It affects not only the user but anyone in proximity when he is creating his own little temporary utopia. It affects those who have the bad luck to inhabit space he has occupied while manufacturing his illegal product. It affects everyone who loves or cares for him. There is nothing positive about it that I can think of to say. But I can think of one thing to say that I am positive about: I have never heard of an instance in which someone actually forced another human being to make or use meth.
Perhaps I have led a sheltered life and such a situation has, in fact, existed. Perhaps someone has, indeed, held a weapon on a hapless individual and compelled him to create that toxic melding of otherwise benign and even beneficial substances and then to consume it and become instantly addicted — as it is alleged that first-time meth users have an inordinately high chance of becoming.
I’m not saying it couldn’t happen; I’m just saying the chances seem to be heavily weighted in favor of another scenario in which the user/producer makes a conscious decision to take the substance into his body, knowing it’s probably not the best choice he’s ever made, but willing to gamble on it anyway for reasons of his own.
We’re not talking about a 3-year-old who happens upon a “dose” of the stuff. We’re not talking about some member of a tribe from the rain forests of the Amazon who has only recently accessed civilization and has no idea what threats lie in wait at every turn. We’re talking about adults — and, yes, even kids of school age — who would have to have been living in a cave for years to have avoided hearing that meth is a dangerous and addictive substance whose inevitable downward spiral leads to an early grave.
But that’s a conservative political assessment, I admit.
Here’s the liberal view, as propounded by the columnist who makes the claim that the words she writes are expressive of the left-leaning opinion.
Please keep that in mind as you read her thoughts. They will be her italicized words, quoted directly from her column, precisely as it was originally printed — not something I made up to ridicule a point of view different than mine. Not some dramatically hyped construct of her view that I have manufactured to score points at her expense. The claims to represent a liberal point of view are hers and hers alone. I’m simply reporting them because she insists they are the best way to define the difference between a liberal and conservative world view.

Somebody is to blame

• “We’ve allowed, as a country, a previously unknown chemical compound to be introduced to society and for the most part have collectively said, ‘If you get hooked, it’s your own fault.’”
• “Our brains and bodies are not capable of handling meth yet it is readily available to just about anyone. Why? … because there is profit to be made.”
To this point, we are not greatly in disagreement, although I think we have not been cold-hearted to the extent she suggests. But from here on out, we part company radically. Because my conservative view is that the person/group to hold accountable for making a profit from the sale of this killer is the meth maker who “shares” his product with anyone he can get to purchase it.
By contrast, Ms. Liberal’s view is — and you may not be surprised to learn this — that the fault lies with the evil pharmaceutical industry that produces that alluring drug Sudafed and with those who oppose “comprehensive healthcare legislation.”
I kid you not.
In her words:
• “The key ingredient in meth could be banned tomorrow through regulation.”
As near as I can tell, she is referring to the notoriously wicked and utterly beguiling Sudafed here.
• “Yes, the evil, dreaded ‘R’ word that so many people believe is the root cause of all of America’s problem. If we’d just get government out of the way and let everyone do what they want and suffer the consequences, we’d all be just fine. … here we are, with a small but loud portion of the country (that would be we minority of Conservatives, I believe, in her opinion) enthralled with the idea that government regulation is the root of all their problems if we just destroy it, limit its’ powers and make it ‘small:’ then everyting will be OK.”
Have you properly assimilated this line of reasoning?
Do you understand where she’s headed with this?
Well then, hold on tight — the rest of the ride will be one for the books!
According to Ms. Liberal:
• “As a nation, we are unwilling or unable to ban a man-made chemical compound that destroys lives and is completely foreign to our biology, because drug companies make a healthy profit on it.”
Try to keep in mind that drug companies do not make meth — that’s not what she means, at all. The “compound that destroys lives” is, apparently, Sudafed. I make this logical assumption based on her statement that drug companies profit from it and the nose spray is the product they would be making the profit from.
I’m trying to follow Ms. Liberal’s line of reasoning and this is the way it is leading me: Some hapless and easily beguiled victims purchase this over-the-counter allergy medication, using “clever” tactics such as hiring runners to make the rounds of many places which sell the product if it is inconvenient for the innocent “manufacturers” to make the buys on their own.
When their “personal shoppers” return from their rounds of stores that not only sell the product in limited doses (in an effort to thwart the meth cooks) but also co-operate in keeping track of the purchasers and passing along the information to law enforcement, the pure “entrepreneurs” use it as one of the ingredients in making their meth-y product.
These same people appropriate without the consent of the owners — or have stolen for them — anhydrous ammonia, wherever they can find it, to add to the recipe.
But Ms. Liberal does not mention the chemical companies which produce the ammonia or the companies which sell it to farmers or the agrarians who then use it to help grow crops we all pretty much end up eating, wearing or utilizing in some perfectly ordinary way. Maybe she is simply unaware of this key part of the recipe. Or maybe the actual point of her article will become clearer as we progress and you will see for yourself why she might choose to ignore the contribution of any other player in this tale of “trapping the poor innocent meth-maker.”
• “What matters is that there is profit to be made on something that clears up a stuffy nose.”
It is at this point that Ms. Liberal inserts her assertion that her grandparents didn’t mind stuffy noses, even a little bit. And, by implication, neither should we. Because if we do insist on clearing up our clogged sinuses with this insidiously evil product, we are putting rural America at risk, since the main meth-markets appear to be in farm country.
But then, what can you expect from hard-hearted conservatives?
• “Because someone figured out how to make a profit on it (don’t forget that the “it” is not meth, but Sudafed), we now have a million dollar industry (try to keep her line of reasoning straight — she’s speaking of the pharmaceutical companies and not the meth-makers) convincing our politicians that the meth epidemic is not their fault — it’s the ‘bad people’; ‘the degenerates’; ‘the others.’”
(Or, in the unfeeling words of conservatives, the “meth-masters.”)
Is this for real?
• “Is it too strong to say that there are people out there that think we should ‘weed out’ the types of people who can’t coexist with such toxic substance? Maybe, maybe not.”
Is she serious?
Do you have some idea precisely whom she thinks harbors these abhorrent views toward people of such fragile emotional/physical/mental/spiritual construction that to live in any type of proximity to the evil cure for a stuffy nose is a threat of enormous and life-threatening proportions?
My money is on us evil conservatives, whom she appears to be running right smack up against accusing of the desire to actually kill the meth user before he can do it himself. But perhaps I have misunderstood her line of reasoning.
What do you make of her question?

Ms. Liberal’s real point

• “Crystal meth is a plague on rural America just like crack was a plague … on inner cities. Yet the key ingredient in this plague (Sudafed, remember?) could be regulated tomorrow. The FDA could require a prescription — and if we could ever get comprehensive health care legislation passed, all Americans would have access to a family doctor to oversee those prescriptions.” I may be going out on a limb here, but are not prescription drugs already a major source of concern in the world of addiction? And doesn’t that fact sort of wreak havoc on Ms. Liberal’s contention that making Sudafed a prescription-only product is part of the solution?
I suppose we will soon discover if Ms. Liberal is on the right track here, however, since we now have glorious comprehensive health care.
Surely, if the scourge of meth addiction can be stopped, comprehensive health care will manage it.
And maybe one of the perks of the new system will be to have Sudafed provided free. Why should the meth makers be forced to contribute to the scurrilous wealth of pharmaceutical companies to achieve their deadly highs anyway?
But here comes my favorite part:
• “Or we could just do away with it (that’s Sudafed, again, lest you have lost your train of thought here) and figure out a better way to cure a stuffy nose but that would require government intervention, two words even more maligned than regulation.”
Actually, there may be a better treatment for a stuffy nose than Sudafed, but I doubt the government of the United States is able to produce it.
I’m far more inclined to rely on the pairing of the good ol’ American entrepreneurial spirit and the medical research that thrives in a free enterprise system which has given us virtually every advance in health care we enjoy and take for granted.
But even if I am wrong about that, can you please explain to me why my desire to avoid a stuffy nose and/or itchy, watery eyes and the willingness of a pharmaceutical company to invent a product to help me and the freedom of a capitalist-created business to then sell the product are responsible for the hell on earth a meth-maker creates from that beneficial product which was neither invented, marketed or sold for any nefarious purpose whatsoever?
All this according to Ms. Liberal — who seems to dismiss any blame for those providing the raw materials for a host of other addictive substances because they are “naturally growing plants” that “have been available to human beings in primitive forms for thousands of years.”
Neither does she get up in arms over “huffing” or “sniffing” or any of those dangerous and addictive practices which rely on man-made substances.
But then, the manufacturers of those items are not part of the evil pharmaceutical complex and cannot be tied in “logically” to comprehensive health care.
So there you have an explanation of the difference between liberals and conservatives — made clear by reference to their differing views on who bears responsibility when bad things happen — as provided by one leaning to the left.
A comic whose name I cannot remember at the moment has a laugh-inducing trademark line for his jokes that focus on the outrageous. He introduces each unbelievable laugh-line with the disclaimer: “I’m not making this up.”
Well, folks, unfortunately, neither am I.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle @ucmessenger.com.

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