A Simple Question

I would like to pose a question to any of my readers who might be able to discern a truth about something I consider a huge issue.. It is more rhetorical than actually inquisitive but, nonetheless, it is a question I have been researching for quite some time without coming anywhere near a sensible answer. I am neither taking a stand for or against the crux of the question but, rather, I am seeking some small understanding regarding something I find more than a little sanctimonious.

The 90's conservative movement seems to be basically based on a complete lack of faith in our federal government and its ability to either do its constitutional duty or its ability to tell Americans the truth about its intentions. Many members of Congress were swept into office in 1994 by promising to do away with all forms of "big" government with a special emphasis on regulatory agencies and the laws these departments enforced. The reasons given at the time revolved around the costs to business to obey these supposedly unnecessary statutes and their ripple effects on the economy. The arguments put forth back then relied very heavily on research conducted by conservative think tanks and justifications by prevaricating talk show hosts. All of these investigations purported to prove that government regulation of any kind is evil and self-defeating.

Isn't it, then, just a bit hypocritical to proceed to pass or support laws, costing hundreds of billions of tax dollars to fund, which are based mostly on research funded and/or conducted by that same untrustworthy system of administration? Doesn't that then demonstrate a tremendous confidence in our "big" government's ability to guide America which might counteract all of the blasts of hot air regarding some vaporous "small" government. Doesn't any law which damages our rights to privacy, such as gun registration or industry regulation show the misused power of "big" government in the same manner as the failing and undemocratic drug laws and in particular the laws designating marijuana a Class C drug?

Consider the facts - in 1994 over 38,500 people died as a result of gunshot wounds. Injuries resulting from gunshots are estimated to be nearly five times higher (many individuals refuse medical treatment due to fear of further reprisals as well as reluctance to identify one's self due to other legal problems such as court warrants). In six states, firearm deaths exceed motor vehicle fatalities and it is expected that by 2003 deaths from firearms will become the leading cause of death in America.

The monetary costs from this human tragedy are enormous, as well. It costs the American taxpayer nearly $3 billion dollars to treat gunshot victims in 1992. If that isn't a large enough figure, consider that lost wages amount to $34 billion dollars and quality of life measures at over $80 billion. Even with such huge expenditures by taxpayers, the number of gun owners increases every year and the overall budgets for gun safety and other firearm instructions decreases rapidly as government programs of all types are hamstrung in the name of "smaller" government.

Disregarding these appalling statistics, Congress is attempting to dismantle every law restricting gun ownership and to cease the compiling of the above figures by government agencies (another fine example of what you don't know hurting you).

Next, consider that 57,400 people died in auto accidents in 1996. This number includes those caused by drivers who were legally drunk at the time of the accident. In fact, nearly 76% of all vehicular accidents have alcohol as at least a secondary cause. Nearly 400,000 Americans die every year from the direct, debilitating, physical effects of alcohol, as well. Nevertheless, movements by anti-liquor lobbyists find no friends in this Congress.

Marijuana, on the other hand, has never been proven to have been the cause of even one death in the United States. Both government and private research has shown over and over that the legal drugs in America, such as tobacco and alcohol, are far more dangerous and cause far more deaths and injuries than even the most anti-drug fanatic can honestly find. All of the research done by any group or government has found only anecdotal evidence of physical and/or psychological damage as a result of even daily usage of marijuana. Each study published which claims to have "proven" the evil of marijuana uses conditional language such as "appears to cause" or "may influence" but are always quoted in Congress as firm "does cause" and "influences".

Nevertheless, the mere possession of marijuana will force you to spend decades behind bars with the vilest criminals in America (unless, of course, you are wealthy or some sort of celebrity which will enable you to go play tennis at a $1,000 a day "rehabilitation" ranch). By comparison, being arrested for endangering the lives of possibly thousands of other drivers by driving intoxicated is punished the first time by relatively small fines and, occasionally, short jail sentences but, more often, short probationary periods. Should you kill someone with your vehicle or weapon, you can plea bargain down to a lesser charge as long as you can afford to buy the necessary justice.

So here is the question I would like a sensible answer to; If the right is so fired up about getting government out of their lives and pocketbooks, if they are so adamant that government regulations are evil and stifling, why do they then spend hundreds of billions of dollars destroying the lives of otherwise law abiding citizens whose only crime is privately ingesting a different drug than the alcohol and tobacco our government representatives consume?

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Copyright 9/5/98