What's this Blog About?

Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tying It All Together: DJIA, Milw Suburbs, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Opium


I have been creating this chart annually since 2002 for my own entertainment. I don't know exactly what it means (I have theories like the drug money is being laundered through the DJIA), but no real proof, so I'll let you speculate, but as I am creating this chart annually, I always hope that somehow, the graph will diverge. So far it hasn't...

So here's the 2007 updated chart for 2006 Afghanistan potential opium yield (mt) and the last day of the year closing of the DJIA. Click on the chart to see the details and my sources are well documented and noted below. I promised to tie all those things on top together in this post and I'll do my best. I have so much to discuss about this, that it's hard to decide where to start, so I guess I'll begin with what reminded me this week to update the chart (see citations at the bottom of the post).



Milwaukee Suburbs
A few days ago, Fox6 on their evening news ran a story they called Heroin in the Suburbs and Part 2. When they say "suburbs", they are referring to Cedarburg, Mequon, Ozaukee Cty and the like, the far northern lakefront suburbs of Milwaukee (they get wealthier in general as you go north along the lakefront from Milwaukee for those of you not familiar with the area). Almost entirely white, middle to upper middle class and white flight, urban sprawl hell to a city dweller.

Young white suburban kids with everything going for them talking about beginning, living, and dying of heroin addiction. The stories were so sad, who wouldn't be terrified as a parent of a Milwaukee suburban teenager. "Everyone was doing it, it seemed like no big deal." Was how one girl discussed her decision to try it for the first time. "You just kind of see it all around and it gets less scary until you decide to try it too." Talk about peer pressure gone bad. Several students are dead from overdose, several more are in jail and the epidemic is growing astronomically in the last 3 years.

What makes this story so shocking is just that, the epidemic is growing and new lines of distribution are reaching the suburbs. Last year, I heard rumors (fairly good sources) of students at Nicolet doing heroin like my generation got drunk (it's "easier to get" these days than alcohol according to the Fox6 report). Nodding out in class, passing out in the hallways, it was all over the place. I'm not sure how accurate that is, I assume it's somewhat exagerated, and I certainly am not going to pull the court records, but clearly something was going on or I wouldn't have heard anything, and I heard a lot from a lot of different sources.

Then, there were the kids busted last year in Waukesha for distributing heroin. Immediately, the wealthier parents and media began to complain about the drug laws being too strict and not providing a solution such as treatment, but instead prison which only made the problem worse and wasn't appropriate for these "good kids who just got off track". I don't remember that being mentioned when the drug laws were initially strengthened in the 80's and 90's to arrest the "inner city gangs" and we progressives have been making that point for decades, but that's really a whole other post.

This story on Fox6 firmly plants the heroin use in the suburbs with white kids using in exponentially growing numbers. It also blames the entire problem on one white male student who had a connection to a North Side Milwaukee gang and would drive all the way (about 30-40 minutes) to Milwaukee to get his friends a fix.

The North Side gang was about 16 people who it seems had a lucrative business. The kids always had money, didn't want to do it alone, so recruited friends to expand the market, and they had cars so the business came to them to get it, which meant no driving in the suburbs (not possible for blacks in that area without risking tickets or worse). The kids were quite the gold mine. Parents were oblivious (or so they say, I'm not so sure..) and they had a middle man that looked like the average American suburban teen, football player and all. Of course, when the kids started dying from overdoses, the parents pooled their resources, figured out the All American's name and took out that one heroin ring in the inner city. This is all good. I'm in NO way bashing the work that was done to take down this particular supply chain, but I do have some thoughts that will most certainly be considered controversial. I just have to give you my take and I hope I can explain with enough clarity that you will not all think I'm nuts. This is the same chart as above with the actual number of patient admissions to Wisconsin treatment facilities over time for a primary (their drug of choice) addiction to heroin:



Afghanistan and Iraq
This is a short section. It's nothing new, but important to note that by going into Iraq, we abandoned our post in Afghanistan. This has led to a massive increase in the opium poppy cultivation in the country since it hit an all time low in the spring of 2001 (when Bush took office, odd coincidence huh). Interestingly enough, the number of new (primarily young) heroin addicts in Wisconsin's suburbs has also gone up according to the Fox6 report.

We are supposedly in complete control in Afghanistan, and yet, the poppy fields are completely allowed to grow without intervention (well, they eradicated less than 5% of last year's crop, so they did do something).

Opium Production
Currently, Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium poppies in the world. In fact 92% of all opium produced worldwide last year came from Afghanistan. How is it that the US refuses to deal with this issue? How is it that drugs (supposedly the main funding mechanism of the Taliban and terrorism worldwide) became an after thought in the so-called Bush War on Terror? This is an outrage and it seems as if it may have caused another problem. As I read through the many reports listed in the notes below, something else stood out to me. As the freedom to grow opium poppies increased in the last 3-4 years in Afghanistan, the number of farmers and the number of acres farmed increased. Over the same period of time, the profit margin per farmer first skyrocketed immediately after the Afghan War and then more recently (in the last 2 years) has plummetted. From the amount I was paying attention in my college economics class this is basic supply and demand. Supply escalates, demand stays the same, prices fall, and the sellers have two choices either continue to take lower profits, or increase demand by expanding the market. Anyone see where I'm going with all of this? Interestingly enough, the Bush Administration has decided it wants more troops in Iraq, much to the chagrin of the entire world and in particular the American people and their new Democratic congress, so it transferred 1,000's from Afghanistan in the last month or so. Yesterday, he announced that conditions were disintigrating in Afghanistan and that he needed more troops there to keep the peace....bait and switch, I hope the Dems don't fall for this crap...

Tying It All Together: So what's the big connection here?
The irony here is both horrible and disgusting.
I'm going to state this as plainly as possible. Suburban Republicans on the northern shores of Milwaukee and Ozaukee (and in communities like them all over the United States), elect Bush president (and Sensenbrenner) and help to reelect him in 2004. They support him and his wars without question regardless of the outcomes to date.

We take over Afghanistan. Allow the poppy fields to recultivate, go into Iraq for no reason, ignore the opium production and distribution for 5 years until it's at all time highs in the history of the world. As we lose the Iraq War, the terrorists begin to rebuild their machine with the profits from the opium trade (and potentially could be supporting the insurgency in Iraq financially also). Profits begin to drop and supply outpaces demand and suddenly, there is a flood of heroin on the market in the United States (and I suspect worldwide). The flood on the market, drops the US price and forces the dealers to try to expand their markets to new areas. Those new areas are the same suburbs that in a shocking irony are the ones who are the loudest voices in support of the Iraq War that has so significantly contributed to the breakdown in Afghanistan and who make the most profits off the DJIA. In other words, it seems almost scary, but is it possible that the wealthy in this country have in effect sold their children to the Afghanistan drug lords through their greed, blind patriotism and hatred? They can't face that reality though, so they are blaming 16 black people on Milwaukee's north side.

Remember this America. America's poor minorities do not grow opium poppies. They do not harvest them. They do not sell the chemicals used to process them into heroin. They do not have the ships, airplanes and distribution lines to get the heroin into the United States. They have little means to ship those quantities across country without exposing themselves to overzealous police officers who racially profile on a regular basis. When the drugs got into the city, they did make bad choices to distribute them (this is another post about the desperation in Milwaukee's inner city), BUT they couldn't even get them to the suburbs themselves! It still took a young white man to go get the drugs for the general population in the suburbs. They certainly are a part of the problem, but it is a problem brought to their doorsteps to deal with, NOT a problem they created.

When you look for blame because your lovely child is blue on that $2,000 bed you bought them clinging to life. Remember to look beyond the last chain in the line and instead look to the first. Then, as you stand in the ballot box and decide who you are going to vote for in 2008, think about this. Will you vote for the candidates that allowed that drug to reach all the way into your child's bedroom and points the finger 30 miles away? Or the candidates who all along told you that the focus of these wars was wrong and had dire consequences? The ones who had the foresight to see that Iraq was a distraction from the real problems in Afghanistan.

It's a tough story America. It's a frightening thing to even post. Who knows who this will scare? Will the media have the guts to take this story head on instead of piece meal it until no one understands the cause and effect? We shall see.

In the meantime, my heart, my condolences and my sorrow goes out to those parents who have lost children because of this madness. Not only those who lost children in a war zone thousands of miles away, but those who have lost them here at home... to the casualties of these wars that will never be counted.

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Notes on the data charts presented and where to go to get more information (note a few minor corrections were made from my last post on this 2/06):
All stats and figures above are in the following articles and web posts. They were all pulled and/or rechecked on February 13, 2006 and all but one (the state department link that has been pulled down because they no longer publish their estimates) were valid as of those dates. If you cannot find the links listed below, let me know as I have saved the majority of them and could send you the reports. ^ http://www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2002/html/17947.htm -- Information was found at this web address. All US information has been removed from the US Dept of State website with no explanation and I did not save the original reports (something I've corrected withthe UN report now included in the figures). *Potential Yield estimate from the U.S. White House; UN estimate is approx. 3,600 metric tons http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/11/28/afghanistan.drugs.reut/index.html **Potential Yield estimate of production thru Sept 2002 based on the 2002 number divided by two for charting purposes ***Close last trading day of December annually unless otherwise** noted ~http://www.unodc.org/pdf/afghanistan_2005/annex_opium-afghanistan-2005-09-09.pdf 87% of the world's opium production in 2004 and 2005 came from Afghanistan eradication efforts led to an estimated 5% reduction in opium production from 2004 to 2005, but the reason for lower amounts of final product are believed to be on the processing and crow yield side more than the growth side of production. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/crop_monitoring.html#afg 2006 figures so far are estimated to be at or above the levels in 2006 depending on whether or not any eradication efforts are carried out or successful (coincidentally, the stock market is also expected to rise during the year). http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/Afg_RAS_2006.pdf New estimate is that over 90% of the world's opium production came from Afghanistan http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/AFG05%20_full_web_2006.pdf
http://webapp.icpsr.umich.edu/quicktables/quickoptions.do #U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. TREATMENT EPISODE DATA SET (TEDS), 1992-2004 Concatenated data [Computer file]. Original data prepared by Synectics for Management Decisions, Incorporated. ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 2006. http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/SAMHDA/qt.html

1 comment:

Crawford's Take said...

http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/national/drugpolicy/index.html?_r=2&offset=27205&oref=slogin&oref=login

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Discussion on this going on at this link.