June 03, 2014

The Drug War's Cardinal Errors

America's War on Drugs is a humanitarian catastrophe that evolved from three erroneous beliefs about "addiction," an entity that was not understood in 1914 and has yet to be precisely defined– thanks in large measure to American hubris. In essence, the erroneous beliefs embraced by the Harrison Act of 1914 have not only been retained, they have been amplified and multiplied, thus turning a potentially remedial policy mistake into a global disaster in conjunction with America's greatly enhanced wealth, and concomitant economic and military importance.

The three cardinal errors embodied in Harrison were 1) that the federal government understands "addiction." 2) that it has an obligation to treat it; and 3) that the criminal justice system is the treatment bureaucracy of choice (actually the Treasury Department had initially been charged with that responsibility, but the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, by creating the DEA, clearly assigned the burden of explaining and prosecuting the phenomena of "addiction" and 'drug abuse" to the Department of Justice.

In that respect, our drug policy can also be seen as a prime example of both the "mission creep" and "blowback" attributed to its most obvious counterpart, the CIA, an agency also born out of the exploitation of fear that supports blatantly anti-democratic policies in nations that consider themsleves "Democracies."

To an amazing degree, the CIA and our drug enforcement bureaucracy can both be seen to be insidious, slow-motion counterparts of the fervid Nazi response to the threats presented by Communism to the Weimar Republic in 1932.

We all know how that ended.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2014

An American Hitler's Deadly Prescription for "improving" the Species

It would be considered a stretch by most to compare any American President with Adolph Hitler, perhaps the most infamous tyrant in human history to date. However, there are several cogent reasons for comparing him to Richard Nixon.

Both men were ambitious national leaders who were very resentful after being traumatized during childhood by unsatisfactory relationships with their biological fathers; a circumstance identified as surprisingly common in my opportunistic study of over 7000 American cannabis users seeking my approval tP use as marijuana "medically" between 2001 and 2013.

Nixon was guilty of perjury and bribery in the Watergate scandal, also the disruptive secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia, yet the disrespect in which his truncated presidency is held by most historians has little to do with what I consider his worst crime: the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 which was approved by Congress with minimal discussion midway through his first term and has since been loyally supported by state and federal police ever since. That the CSA has has remained global drug policy despite its disruptive influence on the lives of so many humans since 1970 is not encouraging.

At least Hitler's crimes ended with his death. Nixon's victims are still being born and then being victimized by the predatory illegal markets encouraged by a law being enforced by police in he mistaken notion that they are "protecting" society.

In truth, the CSA is classic fascism. It has "succeeded" by masquerading as (virtuous) Public Health for over forty years, but at terrible human and social cost which is compounded every year.

Why that is so has a lot to do with human culture, which– in turn– has a lot to do with our (relatively) recent appearance among mammalian species; about a quarter of a million years ago, most of it before we could think clearly or write,

Before pooh-poohing that line of reasoning too vigorously, nay-sayers should realize that a) this is not a bible-friendly site and b) the best scientific information on our origins is that Evolution happened; also that H. sapiens is a relative newcomer on a planet that's been in our galaxy for over 4 billion years– and home to life for about 500 million. There's obviously a lot we have yet to learn.

Since we don't know much about the process of speciation, we can on;y surmise that it did happen without worrying how. It's also very human to want coherent answers for our most existential questions and then argue about which are true and what they all mean.

However, given our terrible record of failure at correcting human behavior by repressive laws, it might be better to worry about how we can get help each other succeed than how best to punish those we disagree with. Neither Genocide nor mass incarceration for spurious reasons has worked and both have had extensive trials throughout human history.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2013

Guns, Drugs & Racism ; three dots requiring a Connection

The news that another mass shooting- this time in Chicago- had occurred so quickly on the heels of the rampage by Aaron Alexis in Washington should not surprise us any more than that it happened in Chicago, which is now the unofficial murder capital of the US. That it was gang-related shooting was also not a surprise. The main surprise in this instance is that not one of the thirteen people wounded in Chicago has died yet.

The connection between guns drugs in racism implied by the title of this entry should be obvious: our American insistence that drug prohibition is an essential policy has given rise to huge tax-supported illegal markets at home and abroad. They provide revenue for criminal gangs around the world, especially youth gangs like the ones in Chicago that were almost certainly feuding over turf with cheaply produced guns from China that have made our domestic gun market such a financial success. The idea that certain drugs have to be illegal is such a failure that it calls into question both the sanity or the intellectual competence of our species' leadership. In any event, it calls for a rational explanation that will, predictably, never be offered by either the DEA or NIDA, two agencies created by Richard Nixon to enforce and defend his inane Controlled Substances Act.

Finally, we come to the issue of racism, another American sacred cow.The idea that the nation that compromising on chattel slavery in its Constitution 11 years after famously agreeing that "all men are created equal" and later fighting a Civil War over that same hypocrisy without suffering any long-term consequences seems, at the very least, far-fetched.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2013

A Shocking Presence at Important Negotiations

i have never forgiven Henry Kissinger for his role in facilitating Richard Nixon's prolongation of the Vietnam war in order to "Vietnamize" it. I have followed his post-retirement career closely enough to know he remains as uncritical and unrepentant of his role in that fiasco as ever.

Far from the great statesman of his imagination, I see Kissinger as a clever worm who manages to insinuate himself into situations in which his primary motivation has always been the limelight

That's why I almost gagged this morning when I turned on CNN and recognized him standing between John Kerry and his Russian counterpart.

While not quite the kiss of death (sorry), the Kissinger presence so close to critical negotiations is far from a good omen. Of course, I could always be wrong.

In fact, given the stakes and the lateness of the hour, I hope I am wrong and that a prolonged detente with Muslim extremism similar to the one that avoided nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union between 1973 and 1989 will follow.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2013

American Racism's Deep Roots

I doubt many Americans were very surprised by the Zimmerman verdict. However, it's still much too early to tell if the weeks of courtroom drama and polarized discussions generated by the trial will have a negative or positive effect on its 2 main issues: our national preoccupation with guns and our troubling legacy of racism.

To consider the most recent anomaly first: consistent with our per-capita leadership in gunshot deaths among developed nations, our irresponsible gun lobby has succeeded in quietly getting "stand your ground" laws passed in over 30 states since 2005. Talk about a malevolent fait accomplit! Nor is it very surprising that Florida was the first state to do so.

As for our racist past; while our modern treatment of blacks isn't nearly as brutal as in the bad old days of Judge Lynch and Jim Crow, we are not nearly as "color blind" as most Right Wingers claim. Far from it. In a color blind society, a wannabe cop like George Zimmerman would not go free after stalking and executing an unarmed black juvenile he didn't know just minutes after calling him an "asshole" and a "punk" in a 911 call.

The bottom line is that slavery based on skin color had been institutionalized throughout the Americas long before our founding. Unfortunately, we protected it within our original Constitution and still deny basic fairness to blacks; a situation underscored by the Zimmerman trial, its verdict, and much of the tone-deaf commentary that has followed.

Any realistic assessment of American history must recognize that chattel slavery had been an important part of our colonial economy well before 1776. However, our founders weren't forced to address it as an issue until 1787 when it became part of a dispute over enumeration for purposes of representation: should slaves count as people? As we know, the "3/5 compromise" settled the problem temporarily, but by delaying any consideration of the larger moral and ethical questions, it made things significantly worse. Didn't our revolutionary manifesto proclaim that "all men are created equal?" The delegates ended up by scrapping the Articles of Confederation and writing a new Constitution from scratch; but by avoiding the issue of slavery, they allowed it to fester offstage as it was growing in economic and cultural importance until 1860 when the nation found itself hopelessly divided.

It's difficult to imagine any President but Lincoln who could have held the Union together after Fort Sumpter. Tragically, we never learned how he might have guided us through the difficult days of "Reconstruction," but we know it became a grotesque failure in the hands of his successors. The ultimate result was de jure segregation, a racist policy blessed by the Supreme Court in 1896. More disgrace.

Although we finally passed a voting rights Act a century after Appomattox, the first attempts at implementation sparked riots all over the South and in many Northern cities. Curiously, the "Party of Lincoln" now controls all the state houses of the ex-Confederate states, a political shift comparable to that of Earth's magnetic field.

Although the Constitutional Convention has been admired by historians for helping to end monarchy as the world's default system of government, they have tended to overlook its greatest flaw: sheltering a cruel economic system that betrayed our founding manifesto while it grew in both size and importance through the antebellum period until Secession made the Civil War inevitable.

The implications of that history are complex; they suggest that following defeat, Southern resentment and its regression into a subsistence economy combined to produce sharecropping within the context of Jim Crow laws, a system that became even worse than slavery and lasted for almost another century. Blacks in the South had no choice but to migrate to other parts of the country where their lot was marginally improved, but they were often herded into Ghettos and continued to face discrimination based almost entirely on skin color. That Republican "Neocons" are almost unanimous in denying the existence of a racial issue in the Zimmerman case is both grotesque and an indicator of their lack of intellectual honesty and political intelligence. At this writing, Geraldo, Limbaugh, Coulter, Krauthammer and a gaggle of lesser lights have further exposed themselves as political and historical morons. It's no accident that most of them also deny climate change and support our lunatic war on drugs.

At some point we will have to face some grim realities of our national history: five of our first 7 presidents were Virginia planters who owned slaves and served two terms in office; the 2 one-termers were New Englanders: John Adams and his son, whose opposition to slavery was well known. The 7th was the autocratic Andrew Jackson who owned over two hundred slaves and subjected the Cherokees and other tribes to forced relocation from ancestral lands.

What the Zimmerman-Martin case tells us is that a lot more national soul-searching is long overdue. President Obama's legacy could give him the political power required to lead the nation in the direction of change, but he would have to exhibit a lot more courage than he has so far in another controversial area. Certainly he has the assets: he's a smart, Harvard-educated African American lawyer who is also a Constitutional scholar.

I wish him the best and hope he's up to a job that's even more difficult than Lincoln's. He will need all the understanding and good will the nation can muster.

Note: this entry was first published Saturday, but has since been extensively edited to reflect additional comments in the press. From now on, I'll try to keep up with new comments as they appear; instead of rewriting recent entries. The Zimmerman case has so many manifestations of human weakness, it should furnish grist for my mill for a long time to come.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2013

Another Victory for Nixonian "Justice"

As the Zimmerman trial was approaching its disappointing resolution, I will confess to a bias of my own: I had believed him guilty of (at least) manslaughter since first reading that a black teenager had been killed in Florida in a stand your ground case. Although, I'd never even heard of legislation by that name, I immediately recognized its NRA fingerprints and have long been ashamed of American world leadership in gunshot deaths, whether from accident, murder, or suicide.

That wasn't always the case; in 1960, when I was a General Surgery resident at a large Army hospital in El Paso, two of my fellow residents were avid gun collectors. At that time, West Texas abounded in collectible old Colts and Winchesters. Both of my friends were collectors who subscribed to the Shotgun News, a print publication they read avidly. Under their influence, I briefly became a bit of a gun nut myself; acquiring- among other firearms- 2 revolvers: a .357 magnum and a convincing .22 cal. replica of an old long barrel Colt 45. I even bought reloading equipment and some black powder so I could reload my own .38 cal "wadcutter" ammunition.

Sometime in the Summer of 1962, late in the third year of Surgery residency, I experienced an event that led me to rethink guns: we were entertaining guests on a balmy desert evening at the new government quarters we'd just occupied. There was an unlighted open area about 100 yards wide between our rear patio and our nearest back-door neighbors that our 3 kids (all under 5) referred to as the "big desert."

Suddenly, strident male voices were heard. My first response was to go to the spare bedroom where the guns were kept and grab the .357 magnum. Then common sense prevailed. I'd been drinking a bit and the voices were most likely no threat: young GIs who had been carousing on Saturday night and were taking a shortcut back to their barracks.

I put the .357 back on its shelf and sold both hand guns the next week. I still think of that reaction as both a moment of sanity and a lucky escape from potential tragedy.

Less than a year later, I was assigned to Japan following completion of my General Surgery residency. I left the two long guns- a 16 gauge Ithaca pump shotgun and a Remington "varmint" rifle in storage rather than take them overseas; largely because of Japan's onerous restrictions on gun ownership.

After returning to San Francisco in '67 I retrieved both guns from storage, but didn't have time to use them because I was so busy as a Thoracic Surgery resident at Letterman and shortly after I left the service to enter private practice in '71, both were stolen in a daring daylight burglary that caught us completely by surprise. I have since learned that guns are among the first things opportunistic burglars are seeking- along with jewelry, drugs, and money.

Another lesson learned while still in the Army was that the wounds produced by the modern high velocity ammunition that has been favored by the world's armies since the end of the Second World war are far more destructive to tissue than those produced by the weapons used in WW2 and Korea.

Over the years I have also come to believe that America's fascination with guns is a behavioral anomaly not shared by other "civilized" nations. What I also learned while in El Paso was that Mexico's revolutionary history had led it to oppose the importation of military style weapons, a policy it clearly still adheres to because arms smuggled from North of the Rio Grande where they are cheap and easily available, have become such a lucrative sideline for the Mexican drug cartels that didn't even exist when I was in El Paso between 1958 and 1963, yet have become so deadly, only since passage of Nixon's Controlled Substances Act in 1970 made the importation of marijuana such a lethal bonanza for criminals on both sides of the "law."

The next entry will deal with America's disgraceful racial legacy: the elephant in America's living room so many of its lawyers have been blind to and are curiously unable to smell.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 03:19 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2013

Nixon's Vice President & Other Embarrassments

It's likely that most Americans under thirty-five would have trouble identifying Spiro T. Agnew, the ex-governor of Maryland who became Nixon's running mate in 1968 and was later propelled into national notoriety when, following their re-election- but before Watergate- was himself forced to resign for accepting bribes as a state official. In fact, it was established that Agnew was personally receiving envelopes containing weekly cash pay-offs being hand-delivered to his Vice Presidential office (no pun intended).

Given that disgraceful litany, is there any reason to respect a federal government that passed Nixon's drug war in 1970, and still imposes its ban on "marijuana," and an identical UN policy imposed on the entire species?

To illustrate the abysmal ignorance our national (global) drug policy, here's an (embarrassing) clip of recent testimony by Obama's DEA Chief at her confirmation hearings.

Is this a great country (species) or what?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2013

Wars: their Causes and Consequences

Although the theory that a slow evolutionary process eventually produced the human brain is disputed by many and may even be unknown to a majority of living humans, the evidence supporting Darwinian evolution is compelling for those with the requisite educational and scientific background. In that connection, we now believe that our brains are the principal result of that process and the secret of our species' dominance over other life forms, as well as the "most complicated machine" in the universe.

World War Two is considered by most historians to have been an almost obligatory sequel to World War One which- in turn- grew out of a family squabble between hereditary European Monarchs, many of whom were related to Queen Victoria and apparently unprepared for the sustained carnage that would begin just weeks after a 19 year-old Bosnian Serb anarchist assassinated Archduke Ferdinand and his Duchess in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

Political assassinations have radically altered human history, at least since Julius Caesar was murdered by Roman Senators. In more recent times the killings of Lincoln, Ghandi, Martin Luther King and the two Kennedy brothers have had significant consequences.

We humans can be murderous when prompted by political or religious disagreements; although loathe to admit it, our emotions can also provoke humans into crimes against humanity, for which designated losers are punished in whatever way the winners may decide.

It's an unpleasant fact that America's two longest running wars: those against "drugs" and "terror," have provoked our "Justice" Department into holding suspected terrorists in Guantanamo without charges for years, while our military executes others with drone aircraft on the basis of mere suspicion.

We also recently violated the sovereignty of a supposed "ally" to kill a designated war criminal, an operation authorized by a President who once studied Constitutional Law at Harvard where he was President of the Law Review.

Ironically, last week's post marathon drama in Boston was clearly a remote effect of the rage easily re-ignited in the Balkans in 1989 by a single speech given by Slobodan Milosovich on June 28th, the 75th anniversary the 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand that had triggered World War One.

For all our highly evolved intelligence and the impressive array of our recent scientific accomplishments, we seem to be struggling just to survive.

Is there an answer? Even more importantly, is there a way out?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2013

Why is Cannabis Still illegal? Ask Obama.

The campaign for alcohol Prohibition was created by an amalgam utopians, mostly female, who had come to believe that banning commerce in alcohol via Constitutional Amendment would keep working husbands and fathers from hanging out in saloons, spending money on alcohol, and thus neglecting their families. With the help of a small number of like-minded power brokers like Wayne B. Wheeler, evangelist Billy Sunday, and others, their female-dominated movement scored the first-ever "single issue" victory in a national referendum in 1918; two years before women were even allowed to vote.

The high hopes of its sponsors were soon dashed however; the ban on alcohol was almost immediately followed by a series of unwelcome consequences: bootlegging, violent criminal competition, rampant police corruption, and a surge in underage drinking. The failure of the "Noble Experiment" also exposed some unpleasant human weaknesses: our collective desire for profits tends to trump our best intentions; especially if enforced through the criminal code. Thus a wise society should probably keep its criminal prohibitions to a minimum; relying instead on a well educated, productively employed population to minimize the need for coercive policing. In that connection, the human weaknesses of police themselves make it critically important that Law Enforcement officers be well educated, highly motivated, and carefully monitored.

Perhaps no policy on Earth better illustrates the need for those principles than the "war on drugs" America has foisted off on the world through UN Treaty since passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.

Since then we have completely ignored the most important single lesson that should have learned from the failure of the Eighteenth Amendment: that criminal prohibition of a desired commodity leads to social disaster. Despite all our advantages in wealth and power, we now rank among a global leaders in crime and incarceration. Ironically, we are also the principal market for products US Attorneys General have placed on "Schedule One" of Nixon's feckless CSA.

Even more ironically, it took only 14 years for failure of the Eighteenth Amendment to be acknowledged, but we are still burdened by a failing drug war over forty years after passage of Nixon's folly in 1970.

While there are many complex reasons for that discrepancy, perhaps the most important is that Nixon created his own police force to enforce the CSA and the inevitable failure of the policy it's unable to enforce continues to scare our distracted body politic into accepting that failure.

Most ironically of all, the drug that at the top of the DEA's list of failures is cannabis and we now have a President who undoubtedly benefited from his own illegal toking, but is either too dumb, distracted, or dishonest to cop to it.

I know he's not dumb. Thus I'm hoping someone with access to the Presidential ear will remind him that he was raised by a single mother before he completely alienates the Muslim world with drone executions.

No one ever said being a US President was easy, but further infuriating an implacable enemy is not a good idea. It's also not a good idea to think you can get away with such glaring hypocrisy for another three years.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 01:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2013

How a Chain of Unexpected Events Became Nixon's Revenge

1946 was the first full year of peace after World War Two; it also marks the beginning of an 18 year "Baby Boom," the largest single generation in History; children who would eventually mature as the Sixties counter culture in the US and Europe.

Tragically, just about the time the youngest boomers were discovering "reefer," two other unexpected events recurred: Richard Nixon was elected US President in 1968 and Harry Anslinger's Marijuana Tax Act was declared unconstitutional by the Warren Court in 1969.

Because Nixon was being pressured by the youthful counterculture to end the war in Vietnam, he set a high priority on restoring the illegal status of "Marijuana" as soon as possible, almost certainly to punish his young adversaries.

His solution was the Draconian Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. To give it teeth, Nixon created the DEA by Executive Order in 1973. The DEA, like any bureaucratic agency will resist its own demise with every weapon it possesses; ditto NIDA, the agency Nixon created with another EO in 1964 to guard CSA's intellectual flank.

In the past 40 years, they have done their jobs well; the DEA has spread over the globe and convinced the world that, despite its many failures, an expensively losing drug war is less to be feared than "addiction" and NIDA, with considerable help from Psychiatry, has slanted "peer-reviewed" medical literature towards supporting Nixon's revenge.

Many of the youthful modern pot smokers I see in compliance with Proposition 215 have never heard of Harry Anslinger and are only vaguely aware of Nixon's role in the drug war (several blame Ronald Reagan).

Even though I have opposed it since the Nineties, I didn't understand the full extent of the damage done by Nixon's drug war until Proposition 215 allowed me to take histories directly from its victims.

I will have more to say about that in the next entry.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2013

Late Effects of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act

Any thinking person taking the trouble to read the text of the inordinately complex Marijuana Tax Act, especially in this online version with David Solomon's introduction, should be able to recognize it as a clumsy attempt to deceive the public; especially since its prime mover, then Director of the FBN, has long since been exposed as a biased bureaucrat with a rich uncle and an axe to grind.

That such questionable legislation would be rejected on Fifth Amendment grounds by the Warren Court at that particular time isn't surprising; the Court's lawyers, having just ruled on Miranda in 1966, would then have been very attuned to Fifth Amendment issues and relatively unaware of Anslinger's shortcomings as an authority on "addiction."

However, the bill Nixon soon presented to Congress to replace the MTA had been hastily conceived by lawyers: Nixon himself and Attorney General John Mitchell. Both had obvious political motives and neither had a level of medical expertise greater than Anslinger's. Their haste and motive can be readily inferred from the fact that drug using "hippies" were then demonstrating against the draft and an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam.

Although the Congressional committee responsible for writing the proposed new law had enough qualms about placing cannabis on "Schedule one" of the CSA to force Nixon to appoint a "Blue Ribbon" Committee to review the issue, no objections were raised by Congress, the media, or the committee itself when Nixon rejected its unexpected recommendations out of hand.

In any event, their negative report wasn't issued until March 1972. By that time, the CSA had been in effect long enough to have gained enthusiastic support from two important lobbies: Law Enforcement and Psychiatry.

Police everywhere embraced it with enthusiasm because the surge in "Marijuana" arrests, already underway when Timothy Leary was arrested in 1965, had continued; as had arrests for other "schedule one" drugs. The subsequent release of a series of iconic Hollywood blockbusters in quick succession: the French Connection (1971) the Godfather (1972) and Serpico (1973) also helped convince the public that a "War" against America's new drug menace was necessary.

Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists had also been impressed by the sudden appearance of thousands youthful "marijuana" users. Although it was was an illegal drug with which they'd had little previous experience, they quickly came up with a solid reason to support its suppression under the criminal code: its "Gateway" effect. Because nearly all its youthful users had also tried alcohol and tobacco- and smaller percentages had later tried "harder" drugs, they reasoned that "marijuana" itself was somehow responsible.

Thus was the spurious "Gateway" hypothesis born and launched on its four decade lifespan. It's a belief that many with an obvious vested interest continue to support under cover of "marijuana's" continuing illegality.

In retrospect, it's now apparent that two serious errors were made in the early Seventies. One was acceptance of the laughably uninformed scheduling algorythm of the CSA; the other was not asking why young pot smokers had suddenly appeared when they did.

The painful truth is that neither the Marijuana Tax Act nor the Controlled Substances Act deserved the respect they received from the powerful social institutions that accepted them as legitimate once they were passed and signed into law.

The next entry will deal with the several reasons behind those phenomena and why the illegality of cannabis remains such a contentious issue; one now supported more by the federal bureaucracy than the growing number of states opting some ill-defined form of "Legalization."

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 12:54 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2012

American Tea Parties

The United states has experienced two “tea parties”. The first was in Boston while Massachusetts was still a British colony; it was motivated by resentment over the taxes demanded by the British Crown to finance the expenses of Empire after discovering what great wealth could accrue from ruling a string of distant colonies from which raw materials and labor could be obtained cheaply. An added bonus was that when “colonials,” became loyal subjects, could be induced, by various means to favor British goods over those of Britain’s rivals: generally other European nations playing the colonial game, but with a later start and less powerful navies.

Massachusetts Colony had been populated by British subjects, many of whom had emigrated in search of the religious freedoms being denied them at home. Ironically, once established, successful Colonies tended to favor the more dominant faiths over religious minorities. Otherwise, they were culturally British and quite hip to the colonization game; thus they were the first to become resentful of their second-class status and to rebel against the crown. The Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre quickly became hallowed icons for what was a signal event: the first-ever successful colonial rebellion against British rule. That the 13 rebellious Colonies would eventually become the most powerful military and financial power on earth is now a matter of history, but could not have been predicted in the late Eighteenth Century. That it will remain such was almost certainly not divinely ordained, despite what a majority of its present citizens may assume.

Nor does it take much imagination to see the “Tea Party” movement that flared recently within the right wing of the Republican Party as inspired by an almost identical resentment over taxation in a more modern context: its founders clearly resent being taxed to finance programs from which they do not directly benefit: education, medical care for the poor and the elderly, maintenance of America’s global alliances, and more latterly: the temporary salvation of its auto industry. Whether the essentially selfish expressions of emotion expressed by "Tea Party"activists will hurt or hinder the Republican Party in the coming election remains to be seen.

That the colonists who staged the original tea party were dressed as Indians when they dumped casks of tea into Boston Harbor is ironic, given the treatment of “Native Americans” in the nation that eventually became the United States. Even more ironic is that the tea came from China which was then demanding payments in silver which had become so onerous that the British were exporting opium from their province in Bengal to offset the cost of Chinese tea, silks and ceramics demanded by British consumers, a practice the Emperor attempted to offset with the first international attempt at drug prohibition. Its failure produced the first Opium War, which was won by superior British weaponry and cost China Hong Kong island. A second opium war, fought two decades later over the same issue had a similar outcome. By adding the Kowloon peninsula to Hong Kong island it produced what eventually became a thriving financial entity in its own right. After Hong Kong and Kowloon were returned to China in 1997, they became a bi-cultural umbilical cord through which Western Technology was quickly and smoothly delivered to a highly competitive nation whose talented people are now forced by their own leaders to subsidize Western consumption with their labor in what seems to be an attempt to provide China with leverage in world affairs through non-military means; rather than through the ruinous weapons competition that bankrupted the Soviet union.

Two of many wild cards are the impact and rapidity of the global climate change that now seems assured will have on global ecology and the commercial markets dependent on weather and habitat.

That the Chinese people have been patiently nursing a desire for their own thriving auto industry is not a good sign.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)