Monday, March 9, 2009

The Labyrinth of Multitudes

So both the TV media and the President are finally acknowledging the chaos in Mexico. And why not?

Thousands of murders (often in the most imaginatively gruesome ways: beheading, killing a man and then cutting him into pieces with a chainsaw from Wal Mart, injecting a 5-year-old boy with acid), kidnappings, and all-around violence and havoc disrupting people's lives across the social spectrum. Rich and poor are both dying in droves.

Most reports on the current drug war take the "Will it spill over into the US?" angle, which is fair enough and very much worth thinking about, but very few (a notable exception being an Anderson Cooper CNN report) acknowledge what's fueling it. What IS fueling it? Do I even need to say it?

1) The violent drug cartels make their profits by selling to American customers.

2) Their assault weapons come from America, where it's legal to buy, sell, and own such things. The assault weapons ban was a ten-year "sunset law;" it expired in 2004under Bush-Cheney and no one since has been interested in renewing it.

3) The US "War on Drugs" as inaugurated and designed by the Reagan Administration, and never questioned since, makes the drug cartels far more popular and profitable (and armed) than they need to be. All reasonable people know that if drugs were legal and regulated, or at least if the War on Drugs (which is, in my opinion, the most insane and destructive policy this country has ever followed, including the wars in Indochina and Iraq and the Cuban embargo) was called off in favor of a saner program, the drug cartels would lose most, if not all, of their power.

If President Change* (who I voted for) is serious about trying to alleviate the suffering to our south, he should think about finally starting to treat drugs as a medical problem and not as a damnable offense to society. Some gradual decriminalization would help to take drugs out of the hands of the murderers and kidnappers.

Another thing that might help, a long-term and far-sighted thing, might be--at long last--the creation of a North American Union. I'm not keen to 100% imitate the European Union, which has been a mixed bag as far as I can tell (great success in some areas, futility and pointlessness in others), but that would be impossible anyway given the cultural differences between the Old World and the New. I'd favor a loose confederation: total economic union (with the top priority being investment in Mexico and any Central American states that wanted to join), first-class transportation links between the three big countries, loose travel regulations, and a parliament that meets, say, once a year to discuss continent-wide issues like pollution, military defense, and crime. No power to interfere with the constitutions of the sovereign individual nation-states.

I could see the involved countries being Canada, the US (including Alaska and Hawaii, of course), Mexico, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the Central American states if they're inclined.

None of this is going to happen anytime soon, of course. The opposition in these United States would be too virulent, and the far-right nativists would probably begin a campaign of terrorism. But wouldn't you enjoy easy travel and job access from Edmonton to the Panama Canal?

*Nice work on the stem cell thing, by the way!

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