Trump’s Phony War on Opioids
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Opioids produce a bonanza of profits for drug industry bandits, concerned about their bottom line and equity valuations, not human health and safety.
Improper or overuse of these drugs caused an addiction and overdosing epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans annually, a major health issue left largely unaddressed.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, over 10 opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 Americans occurred in 2015.
The 2016 toll is expected to exceed 64,000 when numbers are finalized – an average of 175 deaths per day, a shocking indictment of Washington’s failure to deal with the issue.
Millions of Americans use these drugs, including illegal heroin. In 2014, the number of drug-dependent babies born increased fivefold over 2000.
Trump declared a public health emergency in words only, saying the opioid crisis will “get worse before it gets better.”
It’s because of Washington’s failure to address it responsibly, he left unsaid. His declaration was symbolic only – with no federal funding planned to combat the crisis, no plan on how he’ll deal with it beyond continuing current failed policies.
Declaring a national emergency would free up billions of dollars of federal funds the way hurricanes and other natural disasters are dealt with.
On Thursday, Drug Policy Alliance deputy director of national affairs Grant Smith issued a press release saying:
Trump’s “declaration today amounts to a drop in the bucket compared to what the White House and Congress should be delivering to address this crisis.”
“We need a well thought out plan, (adequate) funding from Congress…proven strategies that have not been tried yet in the US.”
“We need to end drug criminalization and stop incarcerating people who are struggling.”
Trump prioritizes war on drugs strategy, the long ago failed approach to dealing with the issue. Addiction is a health issue, not a crime.
Governments following conservative economist Milton Friedman’s extremist ideology caused enormous harm to countless millions of people.
He believed preserving law and order, along with enforcing private contracts and fostering marketplace competition governments’ only responsibility.
Everything else in public hands is socialism, he believed. Yet in 1991, he said the following:
“I see America with half the number of prisons, half the number of prisoners, ten thousand fewer (drug-related) homicides a year, inner cities in which there’s a chance for these poor people to live without being afraid for their lives, citizens who might be respectable who are now addicts not being subject to becoming criminal(ized).”
Obesity causes more deaths than drug overdoses. Should overeating be criminalized? Government should protect people from harm, not cause more of its by wrongful actions, how America treats drug addiction.
Instead of spending billions of dollars on law enforcement for the wrong reasons, funds should be used for social justice, including for dealing effectively with the opioid crisis.
In his announcement, Trump ignored drug industry responsibility by heavily promoting opioid use, legal when prescribed for pain relief, harmful when overused.
Director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program Peter Maybarduk said the following in response to Trump’s announcement:
“Declarations and tweets will do little to curb the deadly opioid push into our communities spurred by Big Pharma.”
Drug companies “hooked millions of Americans on opioids through illegal marketing, greed and undermining safety standards.”
“Big Pharma created this epidemic. Ending (its corruption is a necessary part of the solution.”
Trump instead is beholden to corporate interests, doing nothing to curb their destructive practices.
His shameful war on drugs and “Just say no” agenda assures a greater opioid crisis, not the other way around.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”