IDEOLOGY VS. PRAGMATISM

July 20th, 2010

From Cam Mosher

The first principle of empowerment is “Life Is.” Another way of saying it is “Get Real!” To see these principles, click on “Our Work” above.  One of the greatest blocks to solving problems is that many of today’s problems are stuck in the world of ideology.  People insist on “being right” about some ideological principle and refuse to look at what is practical and reasonable to solve the problem.

Folks, we have problems to solve. That is WE, all of us.  Somehow the solutions have to include all of us.  And that will require compromise solutions, not positioned ideologies!

For example, the drug problem.  We have a very lucrative criminal industry that exists to fill the demand for drugs.  The only realistic and practical way the problem can be addressed is to reduce demand.  But we are spending loads of money and effort trying to address it at the supply end.  As long as the demand exists, greedy people will find a way to provide supply.  Our current efforts are basically a waste of time and our tax money.

Solving the drug problem is very simple.  Legalize drugs.  And at the same time, do two more things: 1) provide government sponsored clinics where addicts can get the drugs at low cost (that immediately takes the profit out of the drug business and eliminates the criminal industry), and 2) require all customers at the clinics to get treatment for their addiction.  While we are at it, add a third thing: put into the K-12 curriculum a well designed drug education program so that all students get a good education on the dangers and appropriate uses of all drugs and how to live wisely in a world where they are available. Include in this curriculum some good general education on setting appropriate boundaries in life to address the problem of peer pressure.  While treatment probably won’t eliminate all addicts, it will make a dent in the demand and eliminating the profit will bring the supply under government control.

Will this make the drug problem go away completely?  I doubt it.   But it will remove addicting drugs from the criminal industry, and bring them into a realm where theycan be dealt with as a public health issue.

Is this a better approach than the current criminalizing approach?  I don’t know.  But it hasn’t been tried in my lifetime.  And thousands of lives are being lost now to super-wealthy and super-powerful international drug cartels.  How many of them could be saved by taking the profit out of drugs?  Would more youth learn to avoid drugs if the drugs weren’t illicit? I don’t know the answers, but since it hasn’t been tried yet, why not find out the answers?  Seems worth the risk. What we are doing now is not working  Think about this mantra of addiction treatment : “Insanity is continuing to do the same thing, expecting a different result!” A mantra of success in business is “If something is not working, try something else!”

Another example where a practical solution is attacked on ideology: the immigration issue. Those who oppose some sort of “amnesty” because of ideology need to consider the practical realities.  There are only three ways to deal with this issue.  One, round them all up and send them home in boxcars; two, make it so onerous here that they will pack up and leave; three, create a reasonable way for them to pay their dues and gain legal status.  This third option is called amnesty by some.

Option one is totally impractical.  Come on folks.  Rounding up twelve million people can’t and won’t be done.  And if it could, the cost would be prohibitive, both in terms of money, human misery, and international relations.  Those who oppose amnesty seem to think rounding the people up will somehow take place, or they simply ignore the fact that if it doesn’t happen, the problem will just continue with no change and the millions will remain underground.

Option two was tried in Germany under Hitler.  In the thirties, the social environment for an entire ethnic group was made so onerous that many did in fact leave.  When they did not all leave, or leave fast enough, Hitler decided to eliminate them in the gas chambers.  That was a simple solution, but in the United States of America?  I hope not!

On to option three.  Amnesty is completely ignored by many in the right wing on ideological grounds.  Yet it is the only practical solution, at least practical part of the solution (see my earlier post on IMMIGRATION REFORM).  The dues paid would cover some of the cost.  The legalization would add to the taxpaying rolls, adding more to cover the cost, and bring millions out of the shadows into the light of society and commerce.  And the accompanying (and necessary) reform of immigration laws would finally bring this problem into permanent solution.

As long as people remain stuck in their narrow ideological positions, these (and other) critical problems) will remain unsolved and we, the American people, as well as millions of others, will continue to suffer.  We must recognize that solving these and other problems will require compromise and working “across the aisle.”  Let’s get with it!

I appreciate your comments and opinions.  If you don’t agree, submit your own solutions.   To send in your own post, use the Contact Us form in the menu on the left.

Cam Mosher

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