DISPATCHES
Thoughts on a Monday (Football) Night
by Rob Schultheis
Dec 16, 2010 | 915 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I am trying to watch Monday Night Fight Football – Go, Pats! – but every ad break, there’s another spot extolling the virtues of something called the Partnership for a Fun-Free, sorry, Drug-Free America. 

The funny thing is, those virtues are never described.  They run this insufferably self-righteous little playlet over and over, showing a harried-looking mom and her presumably stoned-out raccoon-eyed daughter, with a lah-di-dah female voiceover telling you that they are there to help you, and that’s that.  

Where are the toll-free numbers for on-demand walk-in counseling and detox centers? The figures on deaths and emergency room incidents involving alcohol abuse versus, say, marijuana or MDMA? The websites updating new treatment options for methamphetamine addiction?  

None, zip, zero.

It’s like an ad for a brilliant new low-cost all-electric lightweight SUV, only, what?!? They never show the damned thing; you’re supposed to imagine how transcendently awesome it is.  Hell of a way to sell a car, or a supposed solution to the “drug problem.”

Curious about exactly what the PFADFA does to justify ruining my football night with crappy ads, I look them up on the Internet, and it seems that they (A) “educate” schools and communities about the perils of “drugs,” and (B) provide political ammo for dumb-ass politicians to use in their campaigns:  “According to the, uh, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 77 percent of America’s seventh graders have experimented with or been exposed to peyote cactus, a highly addictive synthetic form of  heroin that can be smoked, injected or taken orally.  Known on the street as ‘Biggles,’ ‘Mister Biggles,’ ‘Hognut’ or ‘Patootie,’ and in rap songs as ‘Da King Whupassss,’ it sells for $100,000 an ounce on the street….”

If the anti-drug establishment really wanted to succeed, they would educate schoolchildren using scientific truths, instead of trying to scare them with absurd propaganda. They would lobby for opening enough walk-in clinics and detox centers to handle the hundreds of thousands of Americans who want to quit but can’t, instead of demanding more and more prisons, and, finally, they would decriminalize all illegal drugs and bring their users/victims/whatever into a system of treatment, maintenance or counseling programs, whichever works, instead of jailing more and more people, encouraging the growth of vast, powerful and politically insidious multinational narco-cartels and poisoning environments all over the world with endless, expensive and futile defoliation efforts. (Cut off the demand and the supply withers away.)

When the game is over and the Jets sent scurrying back into the shadows, I keep on thinking: How, why, does the War on Drugs PFADFA/DEA-style continue to go on, bigger than ever? In spite of a 30-year record of catastrophic defeats, agonizing accidental blowbacks and disastrous political, social, economic and social side effects?

And about the time that Coach Ryan appears on the TV screen, bloviating about how if he could he would “Play them [the Patriots] again tomorrow,” kind of like Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, “Lemme at ‘em!  Lemme at ‘em!” the answer comes to me….

So, please, carve it in stone: Bureaucracies (and corporations) are living entities, and like all life forms their sole overriding goal is short-term survival:  to continue living at all costs, and to expand and thrive at the expense of their rivals and the world around them.  Call it Catch-23, or the Lord of the Flies’ Sermon in the Sand, Part Two.

And until you accept that it is true, you won’t really understand anything about Reality, 21st century style….

Underline “short-term”:  bureaucracies and corporations are as blind to the long-term consequences of their actions as a hungry amoeba.  Forget “the innate wisdom of the free marketplace,” because there is absolutely no evidence that it exists now or ever did.

Getting back to the PFADFA and the rest of the Anti-Drug Establishment:  If it means they will shrink in size,  lose their powers and ultimately either vanish or evolve into some unimaginable new form,  they don’t really want the  War on Drugs to end.

It’s the same reason we continue to wage the War on Terror in ways that don’t work, throwing billions of dollars worth of bombs, rockets and ground-to-ground ordnance at a problem that can only be solved by highly trained people on the ground long-term who know who’s who and what the locals really want.  Because that rational solution, that winnable strategy, doesn’t put meat on the table or dollars in the bank for the same Defense Establishment Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about so long ago, but that continues to call the shots, even while shooting itself in both feet.  It brings to mind that infamous quote by the Vietnam War-era Pentagon officer:  “If you think I’m going to change my Army just to win some pissant little war in Asia, you’re crazy!” 

It’s why the Fishing Industry is fishing the oceans till they’re dead, why the Logging Industry constantly pushes to clear-cut the last remnants of the old-growth rainforests of North America, why Wall Street is swindling America’s economy (and itself, with it) into oblivion. Plug the wisest, cleverest, smartest people in the world into a corporate or bureaucratic slot, and they’ll come up with blindly instinctual and essentially idiotic decisions every time.

And these are the Lords of Our Universe, god help us…

But by now I’ve surfed over to the Fox Soccer Channel: Where the world may be on fire and the Fire Department blasting it with gasoline instead of water, but Sunderland’s Stadium of Light is still standing, Rangers forevermore rule over the land of Rangers and Celtic and Naught Else, laddies…. and Barcelona, BARCELONA: Homage to Catalonia (apologies to Eric Arthur Blair, a better man than  I),  you’re proving that there’s still magic afoot and hopefully ahead,  and ignoring  the rest may be the best  strategy for living a happy life after all….   

We humans may be suicidally stupid, but we are still capable of creating rare and incredibly beautiful moments of grace.

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