Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Donkey Dust

Since ancient times, drugs have been a boon and a bust, a cure and a curse, for civilizations. Doctors have experimented with them to ease pain and cure diseases. Opium was used in ancient times as a legitimate anesthetic, enabling the ancient Egyptian to perform surgery.

Dead beats have used them as an easy and lucrative means to create an insatiable market of addicts clamoring for their “product.” How stupid do you have to be to fall for their sales pitch, this bill of goods they’re pedaling?

Judging by the wealth drug dealing crime syndicates have amassed (enough to create small armies), there are an awful lot of stupid people in the world, and their numbers are growing exponentially.

Last week, I listened to my young co-workers extolling the virtues of marijuana and lamenting and lashing out at its illegal status. I wondered if they realized how their normally genial faces had transformed into ugly, malicious sneers.

I was becoming incensed. The young co-worker across from me noticed it and I had to remind myself that I’d fallen into a Generational Void. Not just a gap, mind you, but an impassable void.

There is some component of marijuana – not being a scientist, I don’t know what it is –that once inhaled or ingested, transforms the mind. The first act of this drug is to convince its users that they’ve undergone no change, that they’re exactly the same as they were the moment before they took that puff.

But it’s a lie, one scientists would have to prove, but it’s a lie. I do know it’s true of nicotine, that once you inhale it, the addiction is instant and complete. Proponents of marijuana claim that it’s totally harmless, that all you come away from it with is an addiction to munchies

That, of course, depends upon your definition of harm. Marijuana has a great propaganda machine, with a lot of money and corrupted science behind it. Those who deal it and the Liberals who would advance it to legal status know exactly the kind of harm it can do.

For its dealers, pot is all about the money. For the Liberals, it’s all about manipulation and control. Years ago, I found myself arguing with a Weed Wacko about his drug of choice. He went through all the usual arguments: it’s not addictive, it’s not harmful, it’s not dangerous, it’s not a “gateway” drug.

“How do you know it’s harmful?” he challenged. And then he hit me with the hooker argument. “How do you know until you try it?”

I guess he thought I was stupid, or that I looked stupid. I do look stupid. Sometimes I am stupid. But not when it comes to drugs.

“I don’t have to try it to know what it can do. I can see the effect it has on you.”

He had no answer, so I pressed my advantage. It wasn’t like beer, I argued. Beer comes in a can. Pot is invasive. It’s a “communal” experience. You can pass on the beer and unless your comrades intend to chug it down your throat (it’s been known to happen at frat initiation parties), there’s nothing they can do about it. Maybe kick you out.

But with pot, you’re pretty much stuck with it. Maybe you won’t actually inhale (like President Clinton), but apparently being in the vicinity will do the trick. Pot is no respecter of individual rights. In fact, it’s main effect appears to be the destruction of individuality and independent thought.

When one brain is muddled, they’re all muddled. “Why can’t we all just get alonnnnng?”

Weed wackos have their propaganda arsenal ready at hand, though. Reefer Madness, the 1936 film produced by a church group warning parents about what can happen with the use of marijuana, was recut and redistributed to make anti-pot crusaders look ridiculous and help the “cause”.

Cheech and Chong are the heroes of the Weed Garden. All of Hollywood is involved in the effort. Medical marijuana use I believe is already on the books in California and they’re poised to make the drug completely legal.

I pressed this fellow hard enough and he admitted the truth, or at least a less warm and fuzzy reason for wanting to get America high. It was a deliberate campaign. He claimed it was the Communists’ revenge for the Opium Wars of the 19th Century.

Less than 70 years after Columbus discovered the New World, in his quest for a martime route to the Far East, trade between Europe and China began with the Portuguese, who leased an outpost at Macau in 1557.

European traders found themselves in competition with Arab and Japanese traders in local Asian commerce. After the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, trade between China and the West accelerated.

China would not permit a trade of goods; they were hungry for silver, even though most of Europe was on the gold standard. Newly-discovered silver mines in the Americas made this trade possible; silver was actually more precious than gold, as it was harder to find in greater quantities.

Still this demand for silver caused on drain on European commodities. The Spanish began to trade in opium, from India, along with New World products such as tobacco and maize to the Chinese in order to prevent a trade deficit.

The Qing Dynasty, like its predecessor the Ming Dynasty, was ambivalent towards overseas trade and maritime activity in general. From 1661 to 1669, in an effort to cut off Ming loyalists, the Qing issued an edict to evacuate all populations living near the coast of Southern China. Though it was later repealed, the edict seriously disrupted coastal areas and drove many Chinese overseas.

Qing attitudes were also further aggravated by traditional distrust of foreign merchants and traders. They believed trade incited unrest and disorder, promoted piracy, and even threatened China's defenses. The Qing instituted a set of rigid, though inconsistent regulations regarding trade at Chinese ports. Four maritime customs offices were established and a 20 percent tariff placed on all foreign goods. These policies succeeded establishing a system of corruption. Kickbacks and purchased monopolies enriched the officials who administered coastal regions.

Although foreign merchants and traders dealt with low level Qing bureaucrats and agents at specified ports and entry points, official contact between China and foreign governments was organized around atributary system. This affirmed the Emperor as the son of Heaven with a mandate to rule on Earth; as such, foreign rulers were required to present tribute and acknowledge the superiority of the imperial court. In return, he bestowed gifts and titles upon foreign emissaries and allowed them to trade for short periods of time during their stay within China.

Foreign rulers generally abided by these terms. Gifts from the Emperor tended to be of greater value than the tribute received. Trade to be conducted while in China was extremely lucrative and exempt from customs duties. The political realities of the system varied from century to century, but by the Qing period, with European traders pushing to gain more access to China, Qing authorities denied requests for trade privileges from European embassies and assigned them “tributary”status with missions limited at the will of the imperial court. This arrangement became increasingly unacceptable to European nations, particularly the British.

British ships began to appear infrequently around the coasts of China from 1635; without establishing formal relations through the tributary system, British merchants were allowed to trade at certain ports. After Taiwan came under Qing control in 1683, maritime trade restrictions were reduced even further and even the “tributary status" of Europeans was reduced.

Guangzhou (Canton) was the port of preference for most foreign trade, its geographic position at the mouth of the Pearl river trade network and Guangzhou's long experience in balancing the demands of Beijing with those of Chinese and foreign merchants providing a distinct advantage. From 1700-1842, Guangzhou came to dominate maritime trade with China, this period became known as the "Canton System."

Official British trade was conducted through the auspices of the British East India Company, which held a royal charter for trade with the Far East. The EIC gradually came to dominate Chinese-European trade from its position in India.

Low Chinese demand for European goods, and high European demand for Chinese goods, including tea, silk, and porcelain, forced European merchants (as the Spanish had previously) to purchase these goods with silver, the only commodity the Chinese would accept. In modern economic terms the Chinese were demanding hard currency (gold or silver coinage) as the medium of exchange for the international trade in their goods. Britain's problem was further complicated by the fact that it had been using the gold standard from the mid 18th Century and therefore had to purchase silver from other European countries, incurring an additional transaction cost.

In the 18th century, despite protests from the Qing government, British traders began importing opium from India China in order to balance their purchases of tea for export to Britain. Because of its strong mass appeal and addictive nature, opium was an effective solution to the trade problem.

An instant consumer market for the drug was secured by the addiction of thousands of Chinese, and the flow of silver was reversed. Recognizing the growing number of addicts, the Yongzheng Emperor prohibited the sale and smoking of opium in 1729, and only allowed a small amount of opium imports for medicinal purposes.

Due to the Qing Dynasty's trade restrictions, whereby maritime trade was only allowed to take place in Canton (Guangzhou) conducted by imperially sanctioned monopolies, it became uneconomical to trade in low-value manufactured consumer products that the average Chinese could buy from the British like the Indians did. Opium “solved” the problem.

British sales of opium in large amounts began in 1781 and between 1821 and 1837 sales increased fivefold. The drug was produced in traditionally cotton-growing regions of India under British government monopoly and was sold on the condition that it be shipped by British traders to China. The Qing government had largely ignored the problem until abuse of the drug had spread widely in Chinese society.

Alarmed by the reverse in silver flow and the epidemic of addiction (an estimated 2 million Chinese were habitual users), the Qing government attempted to end the opium trade, but its efforts were complicated by corrupt local officials (including the Viceroy of Canton). The Chinese entertained the notion of legalizing the drug, but decided against this move.

In 1839, the Qing Emperor appointed Lin Zexu as the governor of Canton with the goal of reducing and eliminating the opium trade. On his arrival, Lin Zexu banned the sale of opium, asked that all opium be surrendered to the Chinese authorities, and made the trading of opium punishable by death. He also closed the channel to Canton, effectively holding British traders hostage in Canton. The British Chief Superintendent of Trade in China, Charles Elliot, got the British traders to agree to hand over their opium stock with the promise of eventual compensation for their loss from the British government.

The British traders were not compensated by the government and eventually Britain declared war on China. In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking—the first of what the Chinese called the unequal treaties—granted an indemnity to Britain, the opening of five Chinese ports to foreign trade and the cession of Hong Kong Island to Great Britain, ending the monopoly of trading in the Canton System. The war marked the end of China's isolation, the beginning of modern Chinese history, and according to Communist history, the road to rebellion against the West.

Communists gladly recite this history as their defense of today’s drug wars. My mother told me about all this, so I have no doubt this is a credible version of the history. She said it was a black mark on Western civilization and a disgrace.

Today, we face the same problem with China’s concept of “equal trade”. They produce much and consume little. Addicting an entire population is hardly the answer to balancing that trade.

Although it was a disgraceful episode, I can’t see why Americans must commit national suicide to make reparations, any more than they should become slaves themselves to make up for slavery. I’d be darned if I’d throw myself over a cliff for what happened 150 years ago.

Young Americans are notorious lax in their knowledge of history, however. I doubt they know anything about the Opium Wars, or that they’re the pawns in this next-generation battle over it. I doubt they know where Canton is and are only marginally acquainted with Queen Victoria.

Americans of the time said that China had it coming. They take the same view of that war as Americans had of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. I don’t know about that. Chinese and American communists of today say that Americans have it coming. I definitely don’t know about that.

I do know young Americans of today, including their parents (my generation) are one stupid breed of people to be sucking up the Donkey Dust without a fight. If we were talking about some pill that they were popping, I’d say they were going to get what they had coming to them. I wouldn’t really care.

But they’re dragging me, and America, down with them. No matter what happened in 19th Century China, this is today, and I love my freedom. I’ll be darned if I’m going to sit silently by while a bunch of apologistic idiots blow that freedom up in smoke.

Had there never been an Opium War, I think we’d still be facing this problem. Pot is an opportunistic drug, exactly calculated to the ambitions of Liberal Communists. Although it could be distributed in pill form, its “communal” nature answers their quest to subdue an entire population without a fight.

A bloodless coup, with an entire nation of fools nodding their goofy, addled pates up and down like bobble head dolls. It’s no wonder I was so incensed listening to my colleagues discuss the wonders of pot.

Those who take on the drug culture face a formidable enemy. Just as in 19th century China, every campaign to end the practice of using drugs has been a dismal, laughable failure. The drug lords are well-known for murdering their adversaries.

People who use drugs may as well take a sickle to their foreheads and self-induce a lobotomy. Ask anyone who has become addicted how hard it is to battle that addiction. Ask Glenn Beck. The drug culture acts like attorneys cross-examining a witness. Those who’ve used drugs are contaminated; those who haven’t are dismissed as ignorant and laughed out of the court room.

The drug culture is witness, attorney, jury, and judge, all rolled into one. Any scientists who might have evidence against marijuana probably must fear for their lives to speak. There’s that much money and power at stake.

“Mr. Butthead, have you smoked marijuana?”

“Duhhh.. Yes, sir.”

“Do you think using it has had any permanent effect on you?”

“Heh, heh! Not that I can recall. Everybody should try it!”

“Have you replaced your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs?”

“Oh absolutely! Save the environment!”

“Even though the fluorescent bulbs are more dangerous?”

“Saving the earth comes first.”

“Do you drink bottled water?”

“Sure! Water’s the first, best drink. Next to beer, that is.”

“Do you know how many tons of plastic bottles are sitting in landfills now?”

“Uh – no. I guess we kinda miscalculated on that one. Think before you drink.”

“Do you drive a hybrid car?

“I will when I get my license back and can afford one. Heh, heh!”

“Even though they ultimately use more energy?”

“No way? I dunno. I only read the Huffington Post.”

Ipso facto.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has put the medical marijuana law on hold for the time being. The N.J. Star Ledger pleaded its propaganda on behalf of the “sick people” of New Jersey. My mother was trained as a nurse, albeit years ago. She thinks the whole claim is bogus; that pot is a placebo that does nothing for patients except trick their minds.

Christie went on record as saying that he supports the medical marijuana bill and has no plans to make it more restrictive. The only debate is the timetable for rolling it out. Proponents claim it is already the most restrictive medical marijuana bill in the nation.

There are already drugs on the market, available and heavily regulated, to treat the conditions proponents say marijuana will help. We’re simply advancing one more step towards that cliff over which lemmings recklessly plunge.

Psychologists say this kind of psychological addiction (the new label for pot is “psychoactive drug”; another, newer name for a hypnotic drug, just as alcohol is, and the date rape drugs) is linked to a desire for euphoria, for paradise.

If so, it’s a fool’s paradise.

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