Marijuana is a SUPER RISKY drug you guys, we don’t know if you knew that, but David Frum is giving out free advice today about the dangers of marijuana, and how it leads to you not understanding your home loan and something about structural racism/classism in higher education. No, seriously, THIS IS WHAT HE IS SAYING (we think): marijuana is bad for you, and if you smoke it, you will end up like a Poor who gets bamboozled into high interest rate home or school loans.
(CNN) — Last week, I joined the board of a new organization to oppose marijuana legalization: Smart Approaches to Marijuana. The group is headed by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and includes Kevin Sabet, a veteran of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama.
Ha ha, what a square. Anyway, this group basically concedes that the War on Drugs is stupid because it stigmatizes “casual” marijuana users with a record, but it also wants to communicate that marijuana use is a bad choice. In other words, THEY’LL do the stigmatizing, thanks very much, no need for the government to do that anymore. Also, David Frum concedes that some people can handle marijuana use, but that some people can’t, so it’s just better to communicate that NO ONE should be using marijuana because some people (mostly Poors) are too stupid to understand home or school loans.
“Just say no” is an easy rule to follow. “It depends on individual risk factors, many of them unknowable in advance” — that rule is not so easy.
Over the past three decades, and in area after area of social life, Americans have replaced simple rules that anybody can follow with complex rules that baffle large numbers of people.
Consider, for example, the home mortgage. Once the mortgage was a very simple product. Put 20% down, then sign up for a fixed schedule of payments over the next 30 years. In the space of a single generation, these 30-year fixed-rate amortizing mortgages turned what had been a nation of renters into a nation of homeowners.
Yeah…let us also point out that we turned into a “nation of homeowners” when wages were higher and medical expenses and college tuition were much, much lower. Let us also point out that all these “complicated” loans exist in part due to a massive program of deregulation that David Frum himself supports. Anyway, let us let him continue mansplaining to us about how people are too stupid to understand complex financial documents and should therefore be told to NEVER EVER SMOKE MARIJUANA.
Consider how we finance higher education. Once, state governments subsidized their universities to offer a low tuition fee to all comers. Fee increases at private universities were constrained by the lower fees at the public institutions: Duke can raise its price only so high above the University of North Carolina. The universities soon realized, however, that by setting their tuition fees low, they were forgoing revenues that might be collected from the most affluent students. Universities rapidly raised their tuition fees, then offered discounts and aid to students in need.
But while anybody could understand a $500 per semester tuition bill, the new system of rebates confuses the very people who most need help.
What a coincidence, look who is against state governments financing higher education. (Hint: it is David Frum.)
In 1943, Vice President Henry Wallace published a book celebrating the coming “century of the common man.” That century did not last very long. We have transitioned instead into the era of the clever man and clever woman. We have revised our institutions, our programs, our rules in ways that offer profitable new chances to those with cultural know-how — and that inflict disastrous consequences on those who are overwhelmed by a world of ever-more-abundant and ever-more-risky choices.
At a time when they need more help than ever to climb the ladder, marijuana legalization kicks them back down the ladder. The goal of public policy should not be to punish vulnerable kids for making life-wrecking mistakes. The goal of public policy should be to protect (to the extent we can) the vulnerable from making life-wrecking mistakes in the first place.
There’s a trade-off, yes, and it takes the form of denying less vulnerable people easy access to a pleasure they believe they can safely use. But they are likely deluding themselves about how well they are managing their drug use. And even if they are not deluded — if they really are so capable and effective — then surely they can see that society has already been massively re-engineered for their benefit already. Surely, enough is enough?
So let’s try to sum up his “argument”: the types of policies that he supports has “massively re-engineered” society to the benefit of Job Creators. We know this because “most people” are too dumb to navigate the kinds of home loans and school loans that David Frum thinks we should have. The best decision, therefore, is to tell “most people” that marijuana is a “bad choice” for everyone (even though it may not be) because “most people” will be too stupid to understand nuance.
May we also point out that David Frum supports eviscerating public school education, thus contributing to “most people’s” inability to navigate complexity and nuance?