catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Just buildin me meth lab, officer…

with 33 comments

After a while, even party drugs begin to pall.

methlab.jpg

I’ve just spent nearly a fortnight on circuit. All His Honour did was sentences. 99% of those sentences were for drug offences. One murder, no manslaughter, no GBH. Sexual offences make their way – unless at the Bilal Skaf level of seriousness – to the District Court. These days, the Supreme Court trafficks in dead men, and drugs.

It’s become that way that if I ever have to read ‘3, 4 methelynedioxymethamphatamine’ off an indictment again, my tongue will likely knot beyond repair. That’s along with methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and cannabis sativa. Sometimes all in the one indictment. I saw no trials, only pleas of guilt. A dairy farmer down on his luck who’d planted hundreds of cannabis plants. A DJ who sold ecstacy in order to save his house deposit. A drunk old bikie who found that meth was less nasty than alcohol.

In Queensland, the relevant legislation is the Drugs Misuse Act. The drugs themselves are defined into Schedules based on their purported nastiness. Not so long ago, meth fell into schedule two. Now, along with cocaine and heroin, it’s a schedule one drug. Cannabis is schedule two, as is ecstacy. Meth is particularly nasty, it’s alleged, because it makes people violent. Dope supposedly makes them schitzophrenic. Alcohol, of course, kills people and makes them violent. Cigarettes don’t make people violent, but they do, ahem, kill them.

‘Trafficking’ is always seen as most serious, followed by ‘supply’ with the rider ‘element of commerciality’. The DJ saving for a house was castigated for his ‘simple greed’. The near-bankrupt dairy farmer for his ‘commercially sophisticated system’. By contrast, the addled bikie was allowed to walk away with what the media loves to call ‘a slap on the wrist’.

To my mind, there are various possible solutions to this colossal (and wasted) attempt at trying to save people from themselves. These proposals depend on an understanding of the difference between decriminalizing and legalizing drugs. The former involves approval of an informal market. People may make/grow/use to their hearts’ content, but not commercialize. Legalizing, by contrast, involves allowing the market mechanism to operate naturally, by treating what are now ‘dangerous drugs’ in the same way as cigarettes and alcohol. The possibilities are:

1. Leave the system as it is, with its waste of police and court time. Kiddy fiddlers and wife bashers go to the District Court. People who grow two pounds of dope (more than 500 grams is ‘a circumstance of aggravation’) land in the Supreme Court. I don’t think I need to comment further, because this is so obviously stupid, wasteful and counter-intuitive. Most people can – and do – prefer to plead to drug trafficking than pedophilia. If nothing else, no-one will burn your house down afterwards.

2. Decriminalize cannabis, but leave the other drugs – based on their apparent harmfulness – illegal. This would certainly save on court and police time, and allow more efficient (in the economic sense) deployment of limited resources.

3. Legalize cannabis (so it is treated, and taxed, like cigarettes) and decriminalize the other ‘harder’ drugs. At this stage, this is my preferred position, but I am open to persuasion on any of the alternatives based on good arguments. I would like to see an analysis of the relative costs of keeping hard drugs illegal, or alternatively decriminalizing them and bearing the costs elsewhere – in the health system, for example. I suspect that so many people use dope now that the figures will not change a great deal.

4. Legalize the lot. Let the market mechanism do its job. Accept that people will die/become violent/pee on street corners due to any one of a number of drugs, not just booze and fags.

And the money quip? The guy walking up the street with a chemistry set on steroids stopped by a friendly copper: ‘just buildin me meth lab, officer’.

What do Catallaxians think?

UPDATE: Jason has pointed me to an excellent review of some of the issues canvassed here; go to the Economist for details.

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Written by Admin

November 15, 2006 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

33 Responses

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  1. Finally back online, after a work-related hiatus.

    skepticlawyer

    November 15, 2006 at 8:23 pm

  2. just a thought – I’ve never understood the idea that cannabis should be regarded as a ‘softer’ drug than, for example, ecstasy and cocaine if it leads to schizophrenia for those with schizoid tendencies psychologically and/or genetically, which appears to be true. The other drugs taken constantly and to excess probably lead to brain damage but so does alcohol. But that’s just like accelerating the effects of ageing. Having schizophrenia is a far more serious detriment.

    Jason Soon

    November 15, 2006 at 8:26 pm

  3. To answer your question more directly though, I’d favour legalising the lot with appropriate health warnings of course.

    There’s no need to accept that more people would die. Rather the tradeoff is that less people would die but there would probably be more users – those users would be better off which is of course one reason legalisation would encourage more users.

    The dirty secret behind prohibition is that it is most effective when it makes drug use more hazardous – that’s one of the ways it discourages consumption.

    Jason Soon

    November 15, 2006 at 8:31 pm

  4. The law looks askance on violence, Jason, which is why making alcohol legal and cannabis illegal is nuts.

    Schitzophrenia (despite popular myth) is seldom linked to violence of any sort. By contrast, the number of murders/manslaughers/domestic violence incidents that can be sheeted home to booze is simply staggering.

    If we were to be consistent with the law’s approach to crimes of violence, alcohol would be illegal and cannabis legal – which I understand is the Islamic approach (although I would need Amir’s input on that point).

    skepticlawyer

    November 15, 2006 at 8:32 pm

  5. The Economist had a special issue on this many years ago. Don’t know if all the articles are still online but here is one
    http://www.economist.com/printedition/displaystory.cfm?Story_ID=709603

    Jason Soon

    November 15, 2006 at 8:38 pm

  6. Drugs should be decriminalized for everyone over 18 immediately, without hesitation and knowing we are doing the right thing. A huge % of crime in this country is as a result of illict drugs.

    This would allow people to purchase drugs that are at least safely made and at a cheaper price that doesn’t force some into crime.

    It’s an amazing double standard we have. 1 in 20 people are on some sort of anti depressant
    that are handily prescribed by GPs, we are allowed to booze our liver to death yet cannot take other forms of relaxants or stimulatives.

    JC.

    November 15, 2006 at 8:44 pm

  7. I must admit I half-admired the DJ who’d saved $35,000 for a house deposit. This was clearly not the response expected from a young lawyer, and I got lots of funny looks. This got worse when I said words to the effect of ‘it’s a market like any other’.

    skepticlawyer

    November 15, 2006 at 8:50 pm

  8. Years ago I did work at a country police station – they all agreed that the dope made people quiet and no trouble whilst the grog turns them into rampaging madmen.

    Ice is a big problem, it has ben suggested that much of the rioting and violence in east timor has been linked to ‘dirty ice’ has been linked to ice. Meths will eventually send you psychotic but it is too hard to police as it can be made in a garage with readily bought components.

    I think that the evidence is that legalising will only increase availability and consequently usage, its a no win situation with the public, they dont want their kids to be exposed to a legal substance. Developing countries are particularly fearful that their emerging middle class will get on the readily available dope hence the harsh penalties.

    rog

    November 15, 2006 at 9:13 pm

  9. At this stage, the illegality of cannabis (and to a lesser extent ecstacy) was what stood out to me. Dragging a bunch of otherwise harmless hippies through the Supreme Court when genuinely violent offenders are dealt with in the courts below struck me as peculiarly silly.

    There may be good arguments for keeping meth illegal (although it is not hard to make – year 12 chemistry or relevant legal experience is all you need – I now know how to make it), but before taking a view, I’d want to see those arguments in some detail.

    skepticlawyer

    November 15, 2006 at 9:19 pm

  10. What everyone else said. But this stuff about cannabis leading to schizophrenia – I want to see evidence, not anecdote.

    There have been too many outright lies put out by the “authorities” on drugs (eg “weed today is 20 times as strong as in the hippy’s day”, “withdrawing from heroin is almost impossible and extremely painful”, “smoking cannabis leads to heroin use”, “LSD use usually leads to psychosis later in life”, etc) for me to believe these things unless I see the hard, objective evidence.

    And these lies, of course, are counterproductive. There are probably plenty of people who believe meth is harmless because they’ve been told that cannabis is deadly and they can see for themselves it aint. And the popular image of all heroin users as romantically degraded sufferers is no doubt part of the attraction for some potential users.

    derrida derider

    November 15, 2006 at 10:09 pm

  11. On the cannabis schizophrenia link here’s something from Your ABC
    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s777336.htm

    here is another
    http://bipolar.about.com/od/relateddisorders/a/schizo_pot.htm

    BTW the claim isn’t that cannabis causes schizophrenia in everyone but that it triggers it in those with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia. As would a traumatic event I guess but why take the extra risk?

    There are probably lots of people out there who don’t have schizophrenia but who have some member of their direct or broader family who have it and therefore may possibly carry the genetic predisposition. I happen to be one of those so I am especially inclined to look askance at the idea of ever smoking a joint. Which is not to say I would advocate tighter restrictions on cannabis than on other drugs – it’s ultimately up to the individual to be informed about and make their own calculated risks about such things.

    Jason Soon

    November 15, 2006 at 10:14 pm

  12. All good stuff, but to my way of thinking part of a larger issue around how we treat and/or relate to mental illness. It also doesn’t avoid the alcohol=violence link, which is very well documented, and as rog pointed out, every coppers’ nightmare.

    skepticlawyer

    November 15, 2006 at 10:20 pm

  13. test

    Jason Soon

    November 15, 2006 at 10:47 pm

  14. Yair there is something funny going on Jason. I’m wondering if it’s because I used quotes…

    skepticlawyer

    November 15, 2006 at 10:48 pm

  15. The cannabis-schizophrenia link, in the studies I have seen, is real but negligible. It certainly doesn’t justify the extreme penalties imposed in some parts of the world, and not even the relatively mild ones in Australia.

    And don’t forget there is an alcohol-schizophrenia link as well. So watch out, Jason. 🙂

    For what it’s worth, I’m in favour of mass legalisation, retaining regulations like secondary smoke laws and zero-drug rules for pilots, public transport drivers, etc.

    Some of the money saved should go to education, though. Not the reefer madness kind, but honest appraisals of the effects of drugs and perhaps discouragement through playing up the negatives. Pot makes you stupid and forgetful, alcohol makes you stupid and violent, heroin makes you stupid and sleepy, cocaine makes you stupid and manic, et cetera.

    fatfingers

    November 15, 2006 at 11:27 pm

  16. Raises interesting questions about free will and the authority of the state. There are some actions or transactions you can indulge in as a matter of free will which are nonetheless morally wrong and individually destructive. The issue for the state is what, if anything, to do about it.

    Using drugs is in this class — as is having recourse to prostitutes or gambling to excess.

    sl as a lawyer will be better placed to comment – but I kind of liked the old Victorian position — or what I understand it to have been. You can make these wrong moral decisions, they said, that’s your right: but we (the state) are going to make it very hard for you to act on them, and even harder for anyone to profit from them. So, for example, with prostitution, they accepted you had the right to use a prostitute, and did not criminalise the actual transaction. But they criminalised a whole range of ancillary behaviours — soliciting for the purpose of, living of the earnings of, running a bawdy house, etc.

    Looks silly now, I know, but I wonder if they didn’t get it right. When Kennett removed all the impediments to gambling in Victoria, and people lost their life’s savings at the Crown Casino, the debate was sort of re-ignited, with the Church, in particular, saying people should not be permitted to do these things, which destroyed themselves and their families. The libertarian position, I guess, would be that it was their choice. And you can’t go to the authoritarian position and say all gambling should be banned.

    You know, I think the old Victorians might have got it round about right. Maybe the way to go with drugs is resurrect the Victorian principle — accept as a matter of public morality that it’s wrong, but also that as an act of free will it is allowable. Criminalise the ancillary activities of profitable production and exchange, and treat actual usage as a public health issue.

    Rob

    November 16, 2006 at 12:30 am

  17. Legalisation is simply not on the table, especially for hard drugs.

    Australia would be an international pariah if it legalised heroin,cocaine, ecstasy or meth. We would become the #1 supplier of hard drugs in world overnight, and unless the rest of the world magically came to their senses at the same time, they would be very, very angry.

    As good idea as it would be it is simply not feasible, at least in the next 50 years or so.

    Cannabis should be legalised immediately. Although, it’s worth noting that even The Netherlands has not completely legalised Cannabis. The people who grow and produce it are still criminals according to the dutch, just not the people who sell it in coffee shops.

    I’m really at a loss as to why they think that is a good idea. The situation as it is now means that the (legal) coffee shops have to rely on the same illegal traffickers from Asia and the Balkans as they do for all their other (still illegal) harder drugs, which means that all those organised crime networks are now so entrenched in The Netherlands that it is the #1 source in Europe for any kind of drug, whether it is legal there or not.

    yobbo

    November 16, 2006 at 6:02 am

  18. SL….Please tell me you haven’t posted a exhibit in a Supreme Court trial or sentence on an internet site, which you have gained acces to through your employment.

    .50cal

    November 16, 2006 at 6:38 am

  19. Ummm, it’s from wikipedia, .50cal (although I’ve seen plenty similar at work).

    skepticlawyer

    November 16, 2006 at 7:42 am

  20. SL,

    Once again a comment that you may think misses the point of your post.

    If Bilal Skaf had stood trial in Queensland he would have done so in the District Court, just like any other accused sex offender, unless he was also charged with indictable drug offences as part of the same incident, or if the prosecution was also for murder or manslaughter. His status as an accused in a gang-rape trial would not have promoted him to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. In the same way, Grievous Bodily Harm is dealt with daily in the District Court (where the majority of criminal trial work is done).

    You also wrote:

    “Schitzophrenia (despite popular myth) is seldom linked to violence of any sort. By contrast, the number of murders/manslaughers/domestic violence incidents that can be sheeted home to booze is simply staggering.”

    While I agree that alcohol is hugely damaging I cannot see the utility in making such a comparison. In any case, I fundamentally disagree with this statement and wonder on what basis or based on what experience it is made.

    In my still very new career as a criminal lawyer I have seen and acted for a number of people charged with serious offences who are diagnosed schizophrenics or are diagnosed as such after a violent incident brings them to the attention of the criminal justice and mental health systems.

    Without going into inappropriate detail, a tragic feature of many of these cases is that often the individual involved will tell you that they sought help from Mental Health facilities in the weeks and days leading up to the incidents and were turned away.

    I have seen the misery these clients have wreaked on their own lives and bodies and on those of their loved ones. The harsh reality is that often the schizophrenia is drug-induced after sometimes only short-term use of the same substances you have been debating the merits of in this post.

    For the most part these people never come before the Supreme OR District Courts because they are dealt with in the Mental Health Court. I note that court is sitting today in Brisbane. It’s an extremely interesting and complex jurisdiction.

    I go agree that bringing people before the Supreme Court for relatively minor drug offences is inappropriate and think s13 of the DMA could be amended to keep only the most serious drug offences in the Supreme Court. When I was at university I believed in legalisation. Now I do not.

    Laura

    Laura Reece

    November 16, 2006 at 2:48 pm

  21. This page has a good set of links on the purported (and minimal) links between schitzophrenia and violence. Basically, by comparison with alcohol, it doesn’t even rate, even if one controls (ie factual and counterfactual studies) for cannabis use.

    I think, too, you’ve partly answered your own concerns by pointing to inadequate mental health resources, to which I’d add the wider stigma attached to mental illness generally.

    Ultimately, however, I suspect we’re going to disagree because I happen to think that people can choose to harm themselves, and that attempting to stop that harm and its flow-on consequences is an inefficient use of resources. Concentrating on the flow-on effects (the violence, here) is simply a better use of scarce resources.

    skepticlawyer

    November 16, 2006 at 3:23 pm

  22. Laura

    Anecdotal evidence would tend to suggest that the Mental Health Court is unlikely to be receptive to any accused person where there is any suggestion of narcotics use. As I understand it Drug induced psychosis does not amount to a disease of the mind. Thus persons who are obviously howling mad at the time of the commission of an offence will not ‘get a defence’, if they used speed before committing the offence. It’s a double whammy people (or their families) who seek assistance of the mental health service and are turned away will often also lose the protection of potential defences because of using speed.

    it is an evil and pernicious drug.

    .50cal

    November 16, 2006 at 3:47 pm

  23. None of the links I clicked on that site worked – possibly the fault of my slow internet connection.

    I found this piece on the Australian Institute of Criminology’s website helpful about the research that has been done into the links between mental illness and violence and particularly the fall-out following the de-institutionalisation of schizophrenics:

    http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/vda/vda-sec10.html

    It’s also worth considering that those who commit violent crimes whilst under the influence of a drug-induced psychosis would not come under the purview of this research.

    Essentially though, you’re right – we will have to agree to disagree because from what I have seen of these issues, choosing to harm yourself and choosing to harm others is quite often the same thing. Why shouldn’t governments attempt to treat this problem at its roots, like any other complex social problem?

    Laura Reece

    November 16, 2006 at 4:14 pm

  24. Sorry .50cal, didn’t see your comments as was too busy typing my own.

    Laura Reece

    November 16, 2006 at 4:25 pm

  25. Broadly speaking, I’m opposed to governments attempting to play root cause games, on the grounds that they tend to intervene very badly. There is also a real danger in blurring ‘self-harm’ with ‘other harm’, in part because it allows governments to engage in control over individual choices.

    The obvious example is abortion, which can look like harming others in the name of preventing harm to the self from one side of the fence. That said, others see it as a simple exercise in protecting the self. Libertarians can often be accused of an over-fondness for ‘slippery-slope’ arguments, but in this case I think our concern with excessive state power over individual choice is warranted.

    The ‘care in the community’ point you make is spot-on, though. There is simply too much stigma attached to mental illness for people to receive the level of care they need once they’ve been de-institutionalized. I suspect a careful analysis of the opportunity cost of closing the old ‘mental hospitals’ will reveal that mental illness now costs us more, while the mentally ill receive poorer quality care.

    .50cal, have you got a link on that mental health court stuff, or is it based on your (long) experience? It doesn’t surprise me, but it would be nice to have a study on hand.

    skepticlawyer

    November 16, 2006 at 4:33 pm

  26. Look I am not even going to concede that legalisation *would* lead to the sort of explosion in violent cases that Laura is theorising about. Is the Netherlands any more violent than other countries with tougher drug policies?
    Furthermore, there is just no doubt that GIVEN someone is a drug user they are better off as a drug user in a liberal environment than a prohibitionist one. So I think this outweighs this worst case scenario.

    Jason Soon

    November 16, 2006 at 4:36 pm

  27. Collected a great link on using cannabis medically off google ads – go here.

    skepticlawyer

    November 16, 2006 at 4:51 pm

  28. While I feel there should be decriminalisation of private use and associated activities (cultivation on a domestic scale) because it’s unfair, promotes harm and a waste of resources*, I’m uncomfortable with a laissez-faire legalisation of that industry because I don’t think that anyone should be encouraged to profit off it.

    I know that cigarettes and alcohol are in many ways far more dangerous drugs, but I do feel they are different in that they lack the huge short
    term unpredictable risk to your sanity. Granted, there may be some people with such a genetic disposition who on one drink of alcohol would be turned into an alcoholic and there was a recent study that suggested there was no safe level of passive smoke, but they don’t affect brain chemistry so radically with short term use.

    I think if you look at figures for mental illnesses (eg depression, anxiety) linked to cannabis other than schizophrenia, you’ll find much higher instances. It’s a hell that isn’t just a matter of quitting and rehab, it’s often a problem then that sticks around for life and is managed rather than overcome.

    There’s also a lot of mental harm that is unrealised and unreported and doesn’t become part of the figures. I’ve been surprised how friends have just not been able to connect the dots between adverse reactions and the drugs they’ve been taking. I remember once having to point out to a mental health worker friend that maybe the extreme depression she’d get after each weekend might have something to do with those little ecstasy pills she was taking. When she worked it, she fortunately stopped.

    Anyway, the “informed consumer” is often a myth. There are numerous psychological studies that show how poorly humans are at evaluating risks (eg we might know the risk is x% but can be more likely to base it on our most recent experience… so you might know there’s an x% of an adverse event occurring but if your friend doesn’t appear to have a problem then that distorts your actual risk calculation). Plus many of these drugs stay in your system longer than a day, which also affects your ability to make an informed choice.

    *a friend of mine was arrested for having leftover flecks of cannabis in a handbag that a dog picked up (though who knows if that’s what the dog was actually looking for, maybe she had a chocolate bar in there…). She got off in the end but it was just an obnoxious waste of everyone’s time and money.

    Kitty

    November 17, 2006 at 11:02 am

  29. Laura: US studies show that the benefits are outweighed by the costs by at least sixteen times. Will drug problems increase more than sixteen times if there is decriminalisation? Let’s look back when there was no prohibition (e.g, pre WWI) – the US, Australia etc. were still fairly prosperous, low crime, civil societies. The onus for a burden of proof should lie with the case for porhibition and it simply doesn’t cut it.

    Kitty: if you want people to be able to buy the stuff, you implictly support the possibility of profit from trading the good. Allowing people access to a good but opposition to the implicit right to profit from its sale is contradictiary.

    As for risk…I fail to see why rational expectations is wrong. Those psychological studies must assume that the risk of certain behaviours has a fixed risk profile generalisable to everyone in society.

    Mark Hill

    November 17, 2006 at 12:25 pm

  30. I really wish people would stop equating alcohol and drugs. I don’t know about you, but I drink wine because of the taste; intoxication is merely a side-effect. In fact, if you could take the alcohol out of the Hermitage and make it taste as good, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. In comparison, there is only one reason for taking drugs, to get off your tits.

    Of course if drugs were legalised tomorrow, that wouldn’t be the end of the State’s involvement. Immediately a hundred thousand regulations would have enacted so as to ensure that the legalised use is of the kind which meets the approval of the self-righteous bloody middle-class hippies that want their little toke to be safe, but don’t really want their precious children smoking the ganja. How does that sit with you prissy little schoolboy libertarians, eh? Legalisation will actually end up in more Government interference in our lives than prohibition. Expect more health warnings, more ads on the sides of buses showing rotting feet or some such horrible result caused by taking drugs, more pious whinging from the usual lefty suspects about how we need to spend more money on helping drug addicts and more social breakdown. And all so some chappy who lives in Surry Hills and works in the media can have a few bongs on a Saturday night without feeeling guilty? Please!

    Crime would be reduced you say? Ha! Do you think that somewhow the oiks are going to stop breaking into cars to get things to sell so that they buy drugs? The point is that those who indulge in strong drug habit won’t work because they are too inured in their pleasure. Instant gratification is what they live for, so crime is the only way they can satify their needs.

    I suggest that real problem here is that all you nice middle class types could indulge in drugs without any lasting harm occurring to you or your families. But the same cannot be said for those of the underclass whose lives have been preternaturally bleak by the cult of instant gratification foisted upon them by the “intellectuals.” And if you think it is bad now, wait until drugs are legalised!

    The old “Virginia Woolf syndrome” strikes again.

    I suggest that those who cleave to the idea that either socialism or liberatarianism are at all viable should read Theodore Dalrymple’s marvellous book “The Mandarin and the Masses” which deftly exposes the ghastly fate that the admixture of both strands of political thought have imposed upon the working classes in the name of social progress. Dr Dalrymple, unlike most of us who theorise about social issues, has actually practised medicine amongst the underclass.

    And after that have a little look at Hogarth’s “Gin Lane.” It is an eloquent summary of the argument against legalising drugs.

    Rococo Liberal

    November 17, 2006 at 1:24 pm

  31. Of course people will still have addiction problems.

    But:

    1. Most addicts have a wide variety of addictive problems, abusing all manner of substances.

    2. Some addicts hold down jobs, just like gambling addicts.

    3. The incentive to steal, rob or any other criminal activity will be much reduced when you remove a 10000% mark-up.

    4. The majority of drug related crime isn’t caused by the externalities of use, but activity to support abuse and violence between dealers, other dealers and users, and the ensuing externalities of this.

    5. The labour market regulation and regressive tariff and excise taxation, and the poverty traps of the income tax system, as well as time-inconsistent welfare (e.g, baby bonus) do a lot more than drugs do to maintain an underclass. There is generational poverty and a majority of these families do not have even alcohol or gambling problems, but have short sighted views on incomes and savings, and a lack of an entrepreneurial or a savings culture. The unnecessary prohibition creates a victim culture when those who cannot work supply drugs to supplement their incomes. This contributes to the underclass problem as well.

    6. Why is alcohol different to “drugs” as such? In some ways, ecstasy and marijuana are socially better, mellowing people out rather than making them violent or reckless. Most drinkers and drug users do their thing for the same reason.

    7. People are not going to rush out and get addicted. The frustrated middle classes will start using at an increased rate. The same group which seems to handle gambling and liquor with the least problems.

    Mark Hill

    November 17, 2006 at 1:59 pm

  32. RL: I think I can usefully be described as ‘ex-underclass’. Generational unemployment, petty crime, drug use, benighted suburb in which to grow up (google ‘Woodridge’ or ‘Logan City’). I’ve seen plenty of what Dalrymple describes, and know a fair bit about the clash between poor whites and the elites (some of which I witnessed first hand, when Pauline Hanson came to town).

    People like my parents were kept poor by high EMTR, by the fact that drug-running was often the only thing that allowed many poor people to participate in the economy. Then they’d get busted by the coppers and be subject to a forfeiture order, and be back to square one. And then the powers that be would wonder why local schools and copshops would get burnt down.

    Otherwise, what Mark said.

    skepticlawyer

    November 17, 2006 at 2:32 pm

  33. And for some reason this post is still not showing up in the ‘recent comments’.

    skepticlawyer

    November 17, 2006 at 2:49 pm


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