Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I made the controversial statement that

“Drug growers are the level just below drug dealers in the morality chain."

In relation to drug growing new leader of Bolivia

At first that might seem surprising to some but the point is that each person has their place in a chain that results in what most people consider to be a bad outcome which is lets say coke babies and so forth. You could argue that cocaine has a good effect on society I guess but that would take a lot of arguing and surely even the peasant farmers don’t believe that.

But the grower is even worse than the dealer - The dealer is a bit like a person who gets into a fight and hits someone, they make money by selling drugs but all they have to do is go from a smuggler to a customer. The grower has to take a section of land plan the seeds and cultivate them and so forth - there is a massive amount of planning and labor going directly into making drug addicts and so forth. So the dealer is a bit more like a man who goes out and buys a gun and some ammo and stakes out the target and shoots him.

Further more if they don’t use their land for that purpose no one else will and they probably are not under physical threat to have to do so and so have less justification except the obvious reducing people’s life expectancy in exchange for money.

Morales (the new Bolivian leader) try to rebut this sort of argument saying “The place to eradicate coca is in the noses of those gringo sons of bitches!"

This is rather like a person who made a bomb saying - it’s not my fault if I sold it to terrorists! Or the place to stop the explosion is right in front of the victim! that may be true in as far as that is ONE place to stop it but the fact that someone else with great effort could stop something doesn’t relieve your responsibility to stop the same thing particularly if it is only a minor effort for you.

Further arguments are along the lines of
“However, I doubt the average peasant farmer wakes each morning relishing a new opportunity to kill gringo babies."

The problem here stems from one of two things that are being confused either
A) Intent with responsibility.
B) Understandability with innocence.

If it is A)
For example when a death occurs that is someone’s responsibility, for example lets say a mugger kills a person for their money, the people involved probably did not wake up thinking "I want to kill someone" they probably just thought "I am going to get some money whatever it takes"
The problem is in order to do things that would obviously result in deaths - rather similar to selling drugs. The fact killing you was a secondary aim is of pretty limited importance since it is basically ALWAYS a secondary aim.

B) The fact that I can UNDERSTAND that someone might want to kill you to take your money (maybe so they can put their kid through school) doesn’t mean I think it is a moral thing to do.

Further many claim that Coca leaves are medicinal. However this is all taken into account in the overall debate whether it is a bad thing or not. It is a bit like "machine guns are not dangerous by themselves and can used for (let's say) propping up tables" and yet I might restrict the sale of them because it seems the rational place to stop people shooting other people with loaded guns. Basically I have a goal
"Reducing the chances of people getting shot"
And a variety of possible methods of achieving that goal the best of which in this case seems to be
"Preventing the sale of machine guns"
Similarly might want to "reduce drug usage"
And since one can’t ban the concentrated form of the drug only (just add water to make legal) I ban it in all its forms.

Anyway - I suspect it is probably an inferior medicine for basically any condition. But it is a good cash crop for selling to drug dealers whether they sell it as leaves or as powder. As a result you have a large industry and a lot of users who have a vested interest in pretending it is "perfect".

And finally
"yourself, all other westerners and the corrupt political elite of Bolivia as also culpable for cocaine related deaths (culpable because they and our governments have all played a role in the process of keeping Bolivian peasant farmers poor and with limited employment choices)."

Such an argument has a much wider range of outcomes; this is because few of my actions have as a dominant predictable effect "drug growing in South America". And as long as it has an obscure effect there it is perfectly rational for me to focus on other things. If I was a drug grower it would have a pretty unambiguous effect on drug usage much less ambiguous than being a drug dealer even.

Where someone (lets say Helen Clarke or whoever) has made such decision that does indeed have as the primary predictable result drug growth in sth America you might have a point. But your statement seems a bit vague.

Anyway just for interest

"Coca growers earn up to four times
The income of campesinos producing legal crops, and the Chapare is the most prosperous rural region in Bolivia."


Interesting eh?

"Most drug dealers (inner city) make less than 300 week, and have a second or third job to support themselves. Drug dealers work long hours under dangerous conditions. “(For comparison minimum wage in the US is only about 220 or so)


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