Comments: Coffeehousin'

If illicit drugs were legal in their day, would musical geniuses like Hendrix, Morrison, and Cobain still be alive today?

Beautiful rendition, BTW. Harriet approves!

Posted by johngalt at October 13, 2014 2:17 PM

You think I am so shallow that a little flattery will make me accept all your political points . . . and you're pretty close to right.

I'll go back one click. My first substantive push toward legalization came not from JS Mill but from Billie Holiday's "Lady Sings the Blues." I might pass on Morrison, Hendrix, and Cobain. But Holliday and Ray Charles and [does anybody really need a list?] had serious abuse problems for which they could not seek treatment or counseling. And their travels in Jim Crow America made them constant targets for local law enforcement and prosecutors who may not have had the best interests of justice at heart.

Holliday begs at the end to be treated like a patient and not criminal. Couldn't of hurt.

Posted by jk at October 13, 2014 2:50 PM

Love the cut, but gotta comment on the other stuff...

By this logic, legal alcohol should mean that we never have drunk drivers, domestic violence or fights associated with drunkeness, liquor store robberies or alcohol poisoning among minors. Legalizing drugs will not lead to a panacea of where bad human behavior and outcomes are eliminated.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at October 14, 2014 12:30 PM

Well, to be fair, it is rough in some spots, and the timing on that chromatic rundown before the instrumental verse is way off, and... no wait, that wasn't my argument.

I don't think I used panacea-esque language. If I may switch metaphors, I went for a contact single on jg's high fastball. But I think it fair to directly bring up denial of access to treatment. And I think it fair to imply that prohibition by its nature is susceptible to enforcement which may be capricious across racial or sociological lines.

By your logic, was the 21st Amendment a mistake? Drunk drivers, domestic disturbances, Bud Light commercials? Everything was swell during prohibition.

Posted by jk at October 14, 2014 1:46 PM

And criminalizing drugs has not led to a panacea either. Or to elimination of bad human behavior and outcomes. It has mostly led to folks being arrested for drug crimes.

Posted by johngalt at October 14, 2014 2:18 PM

Sure, but the original comment posited that if we had never made drugs illegal, the likes of Hendrix, Morrison and Cobain would be alive today (or at least might be). To stay with the drug theme, you may be sellin' but I ain't buyin'.

Alcohol treatment is widely available today, but many alcoholics won't seek it out. The Refugee is currently trying to help a friend work through alcohol problems. The issue is not that treatment isn't available (an AA group is a block away from where he lives), it's that he really does not want to quit drinking. I encourage him to get into a facility, offer to set it up, but he consistently refuses. He has Hep B from long-term abuse, has been homeless of and on for the better part of his adult life, can't hold a job for more than a few months, etc. So, The Refugee rejects the assertions that abusers such as the aforementioned celebrities would/might be alive today if we had just had treatment available or that making drugs illegal is the problem. Our societal experience with alcohol proves otherwise.

Second, The Refugee has a nephew who is a heroin addict. He has never been arrested for it (though he is a felon for stealing to feed the habit). He has been to rehab twice and failed both times. He admits that he just likes the feeling. Sooner or later he is likely to be dead on the street from either a bad batch or just too much Brown Sugar. So, The Refugee also rejects the assertions that sufficient drug rehab programs are not available due to the war on drugs and that we are throwing mere users in to the hoosegow willy-nilly. Our societal experience proves otherwise.

(Been awhile since we've had a good internecine drug war, so to speak!)

Posted by Boulder Refugee at October 14, 2014 3:45 PM

And I missed that four bar repeat before the second verse...

I don't think my blog brother is arguing completely fairly. You cannot move seamlessly between alcohol treatment and drug treatment; my whole point is that they are different because of legality. You point out the difficulty of seeking treatment and I do not see how it is helped by the fact that one could be locked up or do irreparable harm to job prospects by seeking treatment for a substance that is a felony to possess.

I, too, suggested that "would Hendrix be alive today?" was perhaps a step too far. He was in London, rich, and well thought of. But we have provocative comments and questions 'round these parts. And I have to reply "what the hell good did prohibition do for Hendrix, Morrison and Cobain?"

For myself, I've zero interest in anything beyond the occasional second Stout at LOTR-F. But in our internecine imbroglios -- which I enjoy immensely -- I am never defending drugs or drug use. I am rather saying that the unintended consequences of prohibition are worse. (I highly recommend Thomas Hall's Aftermath [Review Corner] to catalog the goofy unexpected consequence of alcohol prohibition.)

Being rights folk, I am also deeply committed to what Randy Barnett calls "the inalienable right of property ownership in one's person." So, even if you can prove me wrong that prohibition is not worse, I still think it is wrong for government to force me to take care of myself. Else we will end up with buttons on all GE Microwaves. Oh, wait....

Your heartfelt stories are both tragic and I assure there is no shortage of examples among my family and friends -- my years in music might have provided a higher incidence. But I must point out that prohibition did not help your nephew and I cannot imagine that alcohol prohibition would have helped your friend.

Posted by jk at October 14, 2014 4:22 PM

My neighbor cuts my hay for me, because he has a shiny new windrower with enclosed cab and A/C, turbo diesel and rotary blades, while mine is, as Will Smith would say, "old and busted." I rode along with him last time and we swapped stories. I told him of a friend whose daughter overdosed heroin and died at 22, leaving a one-year old daughter behind. He reciprocated with a story of his nephew being found, dead, with the needle still in his arm just months prior.

Why so much more than when we were in school?

Both of them told their parents, "I can handle it." "I have it under control."

Police said OD'ing heroin is so common because the strength varies so much from supplier to supplier. The role played by illegality here is obvious. What I'm more interested in discussing though is, what, how, can someone who cares get these kids clean??

And where can I find the dens of heroin dealers to start flinging grenades?

Posted by johngalt at October 14, 2014 5:36 PM

I found this comment provocative: "There is only one addiction - dopamine addiction." (From


Posted by johngalt at October 14, 2014 5:54 PM

Unfair? Moi??

The Refugee gets set off when people suggest that legalizing drugs is the solution (or even part of the solution) to drug abuse and related crime. As his blog brethren rightly allude, the 18th amendment did nothing to reduce demand for booze - but neither did the 21st.

It's also a bit of a canard that the jails are filled with simple drug users or that they're arrested for seeking treatment. Less than 10% of those incarcerated are there for possession; most are there for some form of trafficking and I've never heard of cops staking out drug clinics for a quick collar.

There is a rational argument to me made that money spent on the war on drugs is not cost effective. There may also be a reasonable argument surrounding one's right to poison oneself, though The Refugee has previously argued that hard drug use is not a victimless crime. It might even be a worth debating decriminalizing simple possession and use, though The Refugee would like to see that paired with mandatory rehab.

There is, however, no argument to be made that legalization will reduce addiction or abuse. That has not been case with alcohol in the US nor drugs in Holland. It is also not proving to be the case with marijuana in Colorado. Nope, no such argument. None. None whatsoever.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at October 14, 2014 7:06 PM

For my part I don't believe I suggested that legalizing drugs is any kind of a solution to drug abuse and related crime. I suggested that criminalization does more harm than good.

But it isn't the legality or illegality that does the harm - it is the sentence. Would you agree to revising the sentence for illicit drug use to be a mere notation on one's legal record, with no fines or incarceration? And punish crimes committed by or for drugs as the crimes they are, and nothing more - or less.

And why would we want government to mandate treatment? Who will pay for it? Why does a patient want it any more when government forces it upon him than he would on his own?

Posted by johngalt at October 15, 2014 12:35 PM

Eleven comments and no one has mentioned the tremolo. Was it too much? My requester suggested it and I don't use a lot of effects. Maybe too much.

I was displeased that you conflated alcohol treatment with drug treatment. Had Billie Holiday had an alcohol problem, it would have been a different deal. Attitudes have softened toward treatment, but as a lover of liberty "most cops don't..." rings hollow. They went after the "uppidy" Holiday back then. Today it's a Democrat DA who sees a shot at fame for getting Rush Limbaugh to do a perp walk. Bastiat warned against laws that were rarely enforced because they can be used capriciously.

You have not risen to the bait of did prohibition help so I'll hit it once more. Alcohol prohibition was a complete disaster. The 21st Amendment gets a "meh" from you, I consider it the hope of a nation that we once actually found a law so bad it was repealed. Just like alcohol prohibition, the effects are far worse than the cure, and free people should be charged for harmful actions, not poor health choices.

Posted by jk at October 15, 2014 1:36 PM

For BR's nephew...

I asked yesterday, "how can someone who cares get these kids clean?"

I think the answer is in one word: Motivation.

See the Al Pacino clip at the end of this link (which also lists natural ways to increase dopamine and other brain chemicals) and I think you'll agree with the words,

"Now I can't do it for you. (...) Life is a game of inches. We fight for those inches because we know, when you add up all those inches it is what makes the difference between winning and losing. Between living and dying."

So yes, motivation. And teamwork.

And no amount of government mandate or legal penalty can give that to someone. In fact, they probably do the opposite. Oh sure, President Clinton "felt my pain." But was he willing to fight and die for me? Not so much.

Posted by johngalt at October 15, 2014 2:36 PM

And, you know, things did get a little stiff and stilted around the 3 minute mark. Coincidental with the vocal pause. Not sure it is correlated.

Oh, and one of your wall decorations is askew.

You're welcome.

Posted by johngalt at October 15, 2014 2:45 PM

Actually, I really liked the tone on the guitar. The new recording system was apparently worth the money. (Of course, your money, not mine...)

With all due respect JG, and I know you mean well, but the suggestion sounds like solutions for addicts from someone who's never dealt with addicts. Yes, it does boil down to motivation on their part. But if a Knute Rockne speech were all that's needed we'd have no addicts. It is a damn complicated combination of physical body chemistry and mental illness more like a Rubik's cube than a game of hopscotch.

The reason to impose government coerced rehab is that addicts all have something else in common besides substance abuse: they use taxpayer funded social programs (welfare, medicaid/medicare, food stamps, section 8 housing, etc. etc.) Much like the war on drugs, couldn't the money be better spent curing the problem rather than just addressing symptoms? If taxpayer money is to be spent, let's spend it wisely. Statistically, at best, 1 in 3 addicts will be cured by rehab. But I like that a lot better than indefinite government assistance for 3 in 3.

Of course, we can take the big-L Libertarian position and say they make their own choices and they can live with the consequences period. Valid purist argument. Meanwhile, back in the real world...

Posted by Boulder Refugee at October 15, 2014 5:09 PM

My suggestion presupposed that the addict has reached the stage of wanting to quit. Without that, is there even a shred of hope? Not with the addicts I've experienced. The football players wanted to win. The addict has to want to live.

You referenced a Libertarian position, but not the one I would recommend. I would recommend the Libertarian/Republican position: End the enabling programs, don't pile more bullshit on top of the rotting mass that already corrupts the choice/reward system. I challenge your premise that taxpayer money is to be spent. Am I missing something in your prescription, because it seems obviously wrong to me.

Oh yes, "real world" where we "can't" end failed government programs. I forgot. Back to my bottle of blue pills.

Hey jk, I request 'Stairway to Heaven' next week!

Posted by johngalt at October 15, 2014 6:24 PM

The crooked sign loosely translates to "No Stairway." apologizes for any inconvenience.

Posted by Jk at October 16, 2014 7:57 AM

Very well then. Freebird!

(See what you've done, SC?)

Posted by johngalt at October 16, 2014 2:29 PM
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