TALKS BY ANDRES LASZLO Jr.
My research has long centered on drug policy, a subject on which I have a liberal view; not because I like drugs, but because I think illegalization causes a lot more bad stuff than a more liberal approach would. Also, have some rather strong views on my fellow Swedes’ lack of interest in their cultural heritage in general, and about their neglect of their art glass/Orrefors in particular. The talks outlined below - whether in the shape of seminars, lectures or something more informal - I give in English, Swedish or Spanish. VIDEO
The subjects I am offering lectures on are either taken from my two drug policy books – The Drug Problem - or from my book on Orrefors: Svenskt Konstglas. I intend to post professional videos, but as I haven't yet mastered the new equipment, here is an amateurish one.
LIST OF TALKS
FUTURE DRUG POLICY 2
DRUG POLICY 1
Generally speaking, my talks contain more questions than most would have expected and fewer answers. However, I will try to make up for this by having the few answers I do provide interesting, novel and occasionally even well corroborated; I like to challenge those my audiences. Reading material will be provided in connection with most talks. The talks: 1. The Problem Of The Drug Problem, 2. Drug Harms, 3. What’s Your Problem? 4. Quantum Weed, 5. Blessed Be He Who Can Believe Without Seeing, Or…, 6. Darling Dealers And Useless Users, 7. How Should We Legalize? 8. Beware The Consequences Of Illegality, 9. A Pro Prohibition Argument, 10. Conduction And Convection, 11. Monster Drug’s Surpluses & 12. Why Are Drugs Illegal?
1. The Problem Of The Drug Problem
(What can be done about the fact that “the drug problem” has no definition?)
The concept of the “drug problem” is a meaningless one; since the expression does not mean the same to you as it does to me, it cannot be meaningfully discussed. As long as we do not agree upon a common definition - or divide up everything anyone today thinks of as the drug problem into well-defined parts or simply forget about the concept - we more or less by definition are precluded from finding a solution. Though this sort of lack-of-definition critique is valid for a lot of concepts, it especially applies to the “drug problem.” The “drug problem”, by some people and by some countries, is thought of mainly as a health problem, whereas by others/in other countries it is thought of as a crime problem, a corruption problem, an economic problem, a problem of foreign relations, one of national security, or occasionally as one not really worth bothering all that much about or even as something positive rather than a problem. This lack of definition is bad, and “What should we do about this?” is an important question.
Questions and issues that can/will be discussed: What are the consequences of there being no proper definition of the drug problem? What can be done in regards to this deplorable state of affairs? Why is it stupid to argue about how we should solve something undefined, or, isn’t it? How can we arrive at a unified definition?
2. Drug Harms
(There are more harms related to drugs than you might think)
In some ways analogous to how “The Drug Problem” means different things to different people, people (and nations) tend to emphasize different drug harms. I – as a bachelor, without children, a non-drug user and with an interest in drugs that is mainly economic and philosophic – have to make an effort to understand how a parent of teenagers thinks of as the main drug harms. It is easy and quite natural to be preoccupied and at least partly blinded by one’s own concerns. In the first book in my series, I touch on over 40 harms, categorized under the headings of “Health Harms,” “Social and Economic Harms,” “Safety and Public Order Harms” and “Criminal Justice Harms.” This lecture is designed to throw some light on these harms, so that the next time you find somebody atop his or her soapbox - proclaiming that “Illegality/legality is good/bad because of X!” – “you” can recall that there is more to the “drug problem” than simply “X.” Then, if “you” can play the devil’s advocate and remind the enthusiastic orator of this, you will have contributed to pushing the drug discourse away from its present all-too-often realm of “uninformed,” “axe-grinding,” “emotional,” etc. and towards that of “scientific,” “impartial,” “rational,” etc. If this talk is to be followed by the lecture below (“What’s Your Problem?”), special emphasis will be given to the question “Does drug use or drug illegality cause these harms?”)
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: What are the “drug harms”? How should and do we think of these harms? Who are the main sufferers? How should/do we rank these harms, individually and as categories? Should benefits be entered as a “positive” into the harms equation, making it a cost-benefit equation rather than a “cost-listing”? Does use or illegality cause health harms? Does use or illegality cause social & economic harms? Does use or illegality cause safety & public order harms? Does use or illegality cause criminal justice harms?
3. What’s Your Problem?
(Find out what you ought to think about your drug problem)
This lecture that can stand on its own legs, but that also works well as a “part 2” to the “drug harms” talk described above, will take you on a guided tour through the drug harms. “You” will be asked to answer a series of question in order that you, at the end of the session, shall be able to answer for yourself: 1) “Ought I prefer my legalization to the present system?” and 2) “How much better or worse off would we be with my legalization when compared to the present system?” The questions you will be asked – questions that I would very much appreciate if you answered for yourself or at least contemplated before coming to listen to me – are:
- What “is” the drug problem according to me? Now please translate your answer into ‘weights’ and attribute these to the 43 suggested harms in the text that you will be sent after having added or remove whatever you figure ought to be added/removed. If you have the time, you could even fiddle around until the sum becomes 100.
- “If I had to (at least in part) “legalize” drugs, how would I go about it?”
- “In what direction and how much would the “strength” of each particular harm change if drugs got legalized (in the way that you would have legalized them, assuming you had to)?” This question “you” will have to answer for each harm, or, if you want the soft version, each of the 4 categories.
This talk comes in three forms: 1) As a 1-2h lecture where the drug harms are bundled into 4 main categories: “Health Harms,” “Social & Economic Harms,” “Safety & Public Order Harms” and “Criminal Justice Harms,” 2) As a 3-4h talk where one category is given special emphasis and 3) As a series of lectures spread over a week (maybe 5 x 2h) that could be titled “Introduction to Drug Harms.” Once you have answered all these questions, I (well, Excel, really) will tell you whether you - according to your own drug problem definition, values and reasoning - ought to be pro or against (your) legalization or not.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: What ought one think of as the drug problem? What are the most important drug harm categories? Can the drug problem profitably be divided up into; “Health Harms,” “Social & Economic Harms,” “Safety & Public Order Harms” and “Criminal Justice Harms,” Does use or illegality cause most/the most important harms?
4. Quantum Weed
(Why do we take drugs troublesomely?)
In my first book, The Drug Problem, I put forward the notion that problematic drug use can be seen against the background of the human species living in increasingly troubled times; that we take drugs because we are living in what seems as times of ever-increasing uncertainty. It is argued that traditional sources of certainty – religion, family, knowledge, hierarchy, and family – cannot provide the meaning-in-life-seeker the certainty it once could. Though this background was put forth mainly because useful, rather than necessarily true, I has found that it has turned out an interesting and possibly even rather good explanation to why we use drugs troublesomely; it seems to explain the situation on “a deeper” level than most theories (but then, of course, “all” discourses do tend to acquire coherence once sufficiently elaborated, especially in the mind of the elaborator). I then try to become a little more precise by suggesting that we take drugs either in order to forget about the ever more troublesome reality (i.e., looking for oblivion) or in order to feel better suited to deal with it (i.e., looking for strength). This lecture is as much a statement as a question to my audience; “Are uncertainties/troubled times really a good explanation to why we take drugs and how should this explanation be looked at in relation to other explanations?” If there is time for me to do so, once my own explanations have been put forward, I will touch on possibly as many as twenty other explanations.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: Is the explanation I put forward a good explanation and if so/not so, why? Which one of the alternative explanations are best, and why? Is a criminal approach more useful/warranted? If you have taken drugs or one day may decide to, why would you do so?
5. Blessed Be He Who Can Believe Without Seeing, Or…
(Skepticism vs. leaps-of-faith as means of dealing with uncertainty)
This talk - that “lives” very much in the borderland between drug policy and philosophy - can be seen as a continuation of the “Quantum Weed” talk outlined above. After putting forth the proposition that we take drugs because we feel troubled from living in times where certainties are hard or maybe even impossible to come by, it is argued that there are two different ways in which we can deal with this problematic situation. The first way is that of skepticism, and it’s principle forms are discussed, together with arguments for and against; it concludes that total skepticism is hard to live with, that a skeptic mindset maybe is to be preferred to total skepticism and that such a world-view is accompanied by both good and bad stuff. The second way that we can deal with uncertainty, it is argued, is by leaps-of-faith; by pretending that something that isn’t necessarily true really is (i.e., is a source of certainty), we find meaning in life. However, this is a way of dealing with the problem of certainty that virtually always leaves the leaper with at least a grain of unconscious doubt (call it “bad faith” if you want). Some of the most common leap-destinations are then touched upon, and it is explained why these destinations rarely offer the leaper the comforts they did in times past. After touching on some destinations - suicide, the other, work, religion, money, and philosophy - the attention is turned towards drugs, and it will be argued that drugs can be seen in this context: as one of many leap-destinations taken by people seeking meaning in life. However, drugs differ from most other leap destinations in that they, rather than providing meaning per se, makes the leaper feel better prepared to deal with reality by altering his state of mind.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: What about the proposition “Blessed be he who can believe without seeing?” Are there any alternatives to skepticism other than leaps-of-faith? Do we really need certainties, or is commitment (“engage” in Sartre-speak) enough? If we decide on skepticism, what are the costs and benefits?
6. Darling Dealers And Useless Users
(What would the actors on the drug scene get up to if drugs were legalized?)
Prediction is difficult, especially when about events that have yet not taken place, and some of us might not have given the question of what users, dealers, growers, corrupt law enforcers, traffickers, drug lords, etc. would get up to if drugs got legalized much thought. This talk attempts to provide some useful ideas and thinking tools for those who have a not-all-that-clear picture of what would follow upon legalization. It is argued that: (i) Although the number of users would probably increase, together with the average use by these users – and although these users probably more often than before would experiment with harder drugs - their use would become much safer, much more rewarding and the negative externalities of their use would get much reduced, (ii) The common notion that what’s most important is to get the drug user away from use, rather than the criminals away from criminality, is not necessarily correct. It is argued that, though of course stopping problematic drug use is important, it could be even more important to steer a would-have-been drug dealer, trafficker, financier, etc. onto the straight and narrow (or, rather, towards whatever he or she would get up to if drugs got legalized). This is a very controversial point of view, so if you ask me to give a talk on this subject, you should expect some flack.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: Would this mean that other crimes would fall too? Those who did increase their use, what drugs would they use? What about people “moving in” from tobacco, alcohol and bad food? How shall we judge “better lives for the users?”
7. How Should We Legalize?
(Assuming we had to legalize, how ought we do it?)
Once one has accepted the idea of pursuing a more liberal approach to narcotic drugs, the next question becomes; “How ought this more liberal approach manifest itself in legislation?” There was a time and a place when/where tobacco and alcohol were outlawed, but heroin, cocaine, and cannabis available more or less over the counter, and the person arguing that the world would become a better place if we returned to this state of affairs would not find him or herself totally without arguments. Some narcotic drugs are suggested to be much less detrimental to our health than some legal substances that are getting abused, and it has been argued that these narcotic drugs, therefore, ought to be legalized; however, then one will have to deal with the proponents of the “Gate-Way Theory.” Other drugs are said to be so hard to control that it is meaningless to have them illegal and that all that follows is disrespect for the law; however, arguing thus one will have to deal with the argument from the ethical absolutists. Heroin, or some substitutes, some suggest ought to be provided freely because very much could be won by this for both the users and the rest of us; however, then one will have to deal with the argument; “But then many more would become heroin users!”
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: The question of “How should we legalize?” is a difficult one, and of course not one that can be solved by a talk, at least not by me. However, it is one that can be elaborated upon, and I see my role in such a talk/elaboration less as that of a lecturer than as “the devil’s advocate,” pointing out counter arguments and introducing disruptive ways of looking at whatever we think of as right or wrong.
8. Beware The Consequences Of Illegality
(Illegalization causes much more than desired price-rises)
Illegalization tends to focus primarily on supply-oriented drug policies; policies that – by trying to limit the supply of narcotic drugs by means of legislation, punishment, and harassment – work on the principle; “If we are successful in pursuing these policies, then the price will rise. This is undoubtedly true; illegalization does no doubt cause higher drug prices for the consumer, something that in turn causes less consumption. However, Illegalization causes a whole lot more than higher prices, and higher prices cause a whole lot more than reduced consumption. What most of all these “a whole lot more things” have in common is that they are pretty bad stuff. I will, in my second book in my series Dysfunctional Discourses present a model of this, and though I am yet not ready to present it right here, I would be happy to give a talk on the subject and discuss some of the often quite obvious consequences of illegality, consequences we rarely hear of.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: Does anything positive, other than higher prices, follow from illegalization? How positive, if at all, are higher prices? Do higher prices necessarily make the drug racket increase their prices? How does illegalization affect the profits generated by the drug trade? What’s the relation between illegalization and the creation of criminals?
9. A Pro Prohibition Argument
(A rarely heard argument against legalization)
Quite unexpectedly and unintentionally I have stumbled across an unpleasantly valid pro-prohibition argument that I have rarely seen emphasized before, yet one most definitely worth consideration. If drugs became legal, then the market forces could very well sooner or later take over, pushing us towards consuming more drugs rather than less. That is what happened in many places when tobacco and alcohol, from having been outlawed, became legal. This possibility makes even a legalization enthusiast such as me feel uncomfortable. A legalized and monopolized drug business, dedicated to keeping consumption as low as possible, could soon find itself under pressure from the private sector, getting accused of all sorts of bad things: monopolism, state corruption, inefficiency, communism, missed export opportunities, etc. Unless we handed over the entire drug business to some global organization, like the UN, we would thus soon once more find ourselves in a position where market forces - even though these this time would not be as formidable a one as before - would have to be combated, because rather than having to wage war on the supply and demand of illegal drugs, we would “only” have to stand firm against well-funded lobbying commercialization interests. Whereas the "Public Interest Theory" suggests the outcome of this could well be a good one for social welfare, the "Capture Theory" suggests that it probably would not and that the outcome sooner or later would be a victory for the market forces; i.e. that legal drug providers in order to maximize their profits in one way or the other eventually would get into a position where they would try endeavour to make us consume as much and as expensive narcotics as possible.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: Is commercialization of a legalized drug trade a likely scenario? What could be done to stop this from happening? What difficulties would a government face from lobbyists, critics, legislation, foreign interests, etc. if some drug, say cannabis, got legalized? Would commercialization of narcotic drugs be such a bad thing? Cannabis worldwide kills in the single digits, if at all, whereas bad foods, alcohol, and tobacco put millions in an early grave every year; would it be a bad thing if abusers of dangerous drugs that today are legal, instead became legal cannabis users? If drinkers, smokers and “eaters” turned to narcotic drugs, how would this affect the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and food? Is the sum of abuse/problematic use a constant, and if it is not, then what is it?
10. Conduction And Convection
(Two manners by which the racket corrupts)
These two suggested mechanisms/phenomena are claimed to be useful ways of thinking about how illegalization’s supply-oriented drug policies - by creating surplus profits and criminal values - reduces more or less everybody’s quality of life. These mechanisms, when looked at closely, reveals how illegality “necessarily” corrupts the fabric of society and how it does so in two ways that are often at least in part unacknowledged. As they are sort of the two sides of the same coin, convection and conduction are no doubt related, and in a way, they go well together. However, the audience that will find a talk about convection interesting is not necessarily the same that will appreciate a lecture on conduction.
Convection argues that if the (bad) ways in which the drug racket’s surpluses are acquired are reflected in how these surpluses are invested, then - especially if this is representative of how other similarly (i.e., bad) acquired surpluses are invested - there could be cause for concern.
Conduction argues that when a person with “bad” values “bumps into” a person with “good,” then the outcome is likely to be moral deterioration rather than an improvement. This mechanism is illustrated by a drug-related experience that I was lucky to get out of alive.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: Will the manner/morality by which large sums of money are amassed reflect itself in the manner in which it is invested? If “a good guy” and a “bad guy” “bump” into each other, what mechanisms are at work in deciding who shall influence whom? In the examples of convection and conduction given, what are your reflections?
11. Monster Drug Surpluses
(Why are drug profits so high?)
That the drug racket gives a good return to the investor, who can successfully acquire a slice of the action for him or herself, most of us would agree. However, when it comes to explaining why the surpluses from the trade are so high, our theories are not all in agreement. One of the most simple explanations is “Because drugs are so expensive,” an explanation that, though not really wrong, doesn’t explain very much. A more elaborate explanation will tell us that the actors on the drug market demand to be compensated for the risks they run because of the dangers lurking all around them: the law, dangerous customers, competing gangs, corrupt law enforcers, dangerous disease, etc. Again, this explanation is not wrong, but just as the previous, it explains only a part of the phenomenon. A much better explanation can be found by looking at the mechanisms that cause competition in the drug market to weaken; a weakening that allows the players to corner the market, creating oligopolies and sometimes even monopolies. By understanding the fundamental “laws” that causes the drug market to get cornered - and the drug lords to set prices way above where they otherwise would have been able to set them – a better understanding of illegalization’s role in the “drug problem” and why great surpluses result can be had.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: Who is getting rich from the drug trade? How is globalization “playing” in regards to the size of the surpluses? Do the surpluses from the drug trade get evenly distributed, or does it “trickle down” to more or less everybody in the drug-providing organizations? What happens to competition when the number of drug lords per square mile is increased/decreased?
12. Why Are Drugs Illegal?
(Why have drugs not been legalized long ago?)
The conclusion of my first two books on drug policy is that the present emphasis on illegalization and supply-oriented drug policies are not only marginally bad but dysfunctional to the society they were initially (at least allegedly) designed to protect. This seemingly allows for two different explanations; either we are really stupid, or it is in some powerful player’s or players’ interest(s) that drugs remain illegal, and maybe we are even talking about player(s) that once were active in getting narcotic drugs outlawed in the first place. There are many among the usual suspects and quite a few among the not so usual. Assuming that I am right in my diagnosis, and that we are not mad, then among the potential culprits we can find: the UN and its Single Convention, disagreement in the legalization camp, foreign governments, terrorists, real-estate lords, language, life mathematics, the drug racket, the Americans, our need of a common enemy, the weapons industry, law enforcement, the South Americas and complexity, or some combination of the above, because misery indeed has a tendency to produce strange bedfellows.
Questions and issues that can/will be dealt with: Are drugs illegal because we are stupid or because somebody is benefitting? Who are the main beneficiaries of drug illegality? Can you add to my list of suspects, or provide some of them with an alibi? Are there any good analogies to this question of benefitting; analogies that somehow can be helpful when thinking about the issue?
FUTURE DRUG POLICY TALKS
The headings above I have outlined into proper talks – these I can deliver today – but there are other issues that I will endeavor to develop into lectures, seminars or something more informal. Some of these issues I have given a paragraph below. If you are interested in a talk on any of these other subjects, please do not hesitate to contact me.
A. The Sneaking Economic Reason
(We, for the sake of money, ever more frequently do what we should not have done)
The Sneaking Economic Reason/“SER” is my own neologism and refers to the often badly understood or unacknowledged fact that – as money is becoming the measure of ever more – economic reasoning tends to “sneak up on us” ever more frequently and ever more unexamined. SER further suggests that whenever there is an economic reason for something to happen, the probability that it will actually happen – more or less whatever “it” happens to be – increases in proportion to the strength of the economic reason, and that this can be seen as a law of human behaviour: a probabilistic law, yet one moving in a deterministic direction. I even go as far as to suggest that the concept of SER can be used to predict socioeconomic phenomena as, for instance, the undocumented and as far as I know unacknowledged cooperation between drug and real estate lords. If this prediction would turn out to be true, then my suggested “new law”/SER would have been used to predict the existence of something previously unobserved. Though what is suggested to exist may not be a new planet or elementary particle, its existence would corroborate the hypothesis that our inclination to do things for economic reasons could explain human actions better than we have previously given it credit for.
B. Drug Illegality Is A Dysfunctional Discourse
(A few words about my next phase: dysfunctional discourses)
I believe that I, in my first two books on drug policy, have “decisively corroborated” that our presently dominating approach to problematic drug issues – i.e., illegalization coupled with supply-oriented drug policies - is a bad approach; that it is bad virtually “absolute”/full stop and not bad only from some particular point of view, or way of thinking, or for a particular group of people. It is bad for virtually everybody except maybe for 1) those who benefit from high drug prices and high profits and 2) kids (and parents with kids) who keep off drugs because use is illegal, rather than because of parental advice or some other reason. Drug illegality, in its consequences, to a vast majority, is simply bad: a societally dysfunctional discourse in that is not achieving – nor is it likely in the foreseeable future to achieve – much of what our majority would think of as “good.” This is a big statement, and it is too complex a statement to be made at one single time. My ambition with this talk is therefore not “How to corroborate that drug illegality is a dysfunctional discourse in a day,” but rather; “Are there other dysfunctional discourses “out there,” waiting to get dismantled in a way similar to the way that I figure I have dismantled drug illegality?
C. Drug Policy Incompatibility
(Are supply- & demand-oriented drug policies incompatible?)
Drug policies designed to reduce supply (SODPs) and demand (DODPs) are coexisting uncomfortably in a world where price is singled out as the main weapon in the fight against drugs. It could even be that they are mutually exclusive unless applied onto different parts of the drug distribution chain; it seems that at least part of economics’ models corroborates this way of thinking. This talk will be much on economics and pretty theoretic.
D. The Three Forces On The Drug Scene
(The weaponry of the law, supply, and demand)
We normally think of the “Drug War” as a battle between the law and the suppliers of drugs. This is a way of thinking that leaves out a very important player: demand, i.e., those that demand the drugs. This is a force that has a very effective “arsenal” at its disposal; the demanders of narcotic drugs could mobilize a much stronger defense against more law-enforcement, and its attempts to push prices higher than most of us give them credit for, and the possibility of increased user self-sufficiency is thus very real. User weaponry - together with globalization, the www, and reduced imports – could, with or without de facto legalization, metamorphose the stage upon which the “drug problem” is enacted. Thus, especially when the impressive weaponry of “supply” is thrown into the equation, more law enforcement would by no means necessarily cause the higher prices we expect it to cause. at least not in the long run. Considering the likelihood of continued globalization and the impressive weaponry in the service of both supply and demand, there is thus nothing necessary about a long-term price rise on drugs in response to increased harassment, even if such policies would succeed in causing the racket greater costs for both 1) purchasing, producing and distributing drugs and for 2) harassment-compensation.
E. Bye Bye Criminality
(If the drug racket shrunk, then would other criminal rackets shrink too?)
With the drug racket going out of business or shrinking dramatically, it is suggested that other criminal rackets, in consequence, would suffer severe losses. That is because not only are those engaged in the drug racket prone to invest their surpluses in other forms of organized crime but also because those in the drug racket often form a fair part of other rackets’ demand/customer base. If the drug racket came to an end, this could then offer the criminal justice system a once-in-a-millennium opportunity to substantially and “permanently” reduce the total amount of crime. But then, would the criminal justice system want to kill off the discourse upon which it feeds…
F. The Drug Problem Is The Solution
(Can Jacque Lacan’s psychoanalysis be applied to the “drug problem?”)
Your writer believes that he has strongly corroborated that the cause of the main part of what most of us think of as the “drug problem” – quite possibly including problematic use itself – is drug illegality, rather than drug use. This does not solve the drug problem, but accepting the proposition would allow us at least in a sense to bypass it, because rather than asking “Why do people take drugs troublesomely?”, "Why are drugs supplied?", “Why is the drug situation perceived of as problematic?”, etc., we could ask “If drug illegality is the drug problem, then why are drugs illegal?” – a step in a potentially fruitful direction. If we accept that drug illegality is the problem, then this suggests that rather than asking “How do we make the “drug problem” go away?” maybe we should listen to the thinking of Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theories and ask “What “real” problems does society solve by creating the drug problem – including, or, even especially, our drug policies - in the way it does?” a question that I so far have only formulated and briefly touched upon, yet a question that I, DV, shall try to return to, or at least try to throw some light upon, elsewhere.
G. Work With The Market Forces
(We should not pick a fight with what we cannot functionally defeat)
Work with the market forces refers to the belief that as money is becoming the measure of ever more, this is creating (drug related) market forces so powerful that we ever more rarely can hope to “profitably” oppose them. Therefore it seems reasonable that we as far as possible should try to work with these forces rather than to oppose them; a way of thinking that very much suggests that illegalization and supply-oriented policies are not our best way of dealing with social problems such as the “drug problem” and that in order for “good” human intentions to influence a situation, economic de-powering of the forces we want to overcome could well be a good ingredient/place to start. How to attack problematic issues with the wind of the market forces helping one’s project by “pushing on from behind,” rather blowing in one’s face, is a fascinating question.
(Consider whom to pick a fight with)
In pursuing supply-oriented drug policies the greatest price-increasing effect - rather than from seizure and destruction of drugs, as one might suspect – could well be had from harassment of racket members, at least as long as the policy is implemented with such an intention. It could even be argued that such harassment, assuming that we insist on continued illegalization, ought to be seen as a targetable weapon susceptible to “fine-tuning” rather than just as a “the-more-the-merrier canon” to be indiscriminately fired against supply.
I. What Would Drug Users Do If Prices Rose?
(Who would quit and at what prices?)
If law enforcement managed to make prices rise, then who would stop/cut down, and what would they do instead? If we gave law enforcement more money, then they would be able to harass the drug racket more, taking more drugs from them and harassing those employed in the trade, even more, making them ask for ever greater remuneration. This, in turn, could well cause higher prices, which in turn would cause drug users to quit, cut down and substitute. If “the law” doubled its harassment, then who would do what? And then, what if they doubled it again, and again… Then what?
J. Money Is Becoming The Measure Of (Too) Much
(Money is allowed to rule where it has no business rule)
Though this is not a proposition with any unique relevancy for the drug problem, our desire for money often, maybe ever more often, causes us to do what we upon prolonged reflection would have preferred we hadn’t done. Doing bad drug-related things is one example of how we do bad things for money, and it is of special interest to me as I in our tendency to do ever more for money (at least partly because money is becoming the measure of ever more) see a danger to social welfare and an important cause to why dysfunctional discourses, such as drug illegality, are allowed to continue.
K. The Price Of Successful Illegalization
Would we be willing to pay it?
We often say “Of course we would all like the law to succeed in eradicating all drug use!” but what we might forget – or at least not have a realistic picture of – is the price we’d have to pay for successfully solving the problem of drug use. There are a lot of things that would have to change in the way our society is built, and in the rules governing its workings, in order to allow for the possibility that the drug problem could be made to go away; changes that in themselves arguably could be quite undesirable. What is this price, and are we really ready to pay it?
L. Permission To Speak Freely
Would a world without drugs be better than one without?
I have had drug problems of my own – food, tobacco and wine – and though these might not be classified as narcotic drugs, that doesn’t make them less potent. Being interested in drug policy, I have reflected over the pros and cons of my “addictions,” what they have done to me, what life could have been without them, etc. I have answered for myself; “Would I have preferred to live in a world where these, my drugs, had not existed, or in a world where the negative effects of these drugs could have been eliminated by means of a pill, a patch or an implant? Would I have preferred never to be subjected to these temptations? Would I have preferred to lead a life without demons? One day I would like to elaborate on this.
M. What To Legalize
Should we legalize the consumption of drugs, the supply of drugs or both?
When we say legalization of narcotics, we normally think of legalization of drug use: legalization of demand. However, legalizing drug use while keeping drug sales illegal is not necessarily a good thing.
(Art glass, the only thing we Swedes been best at for the last 1000 years)
In my book Svenskt Konstglas, I did my best to make my fellow Swedes realize that Orrefors 1925 – 1950 was pretty good and that we really should make an effort to understand this. Unfortunately, my best wasn’t good enough, and even today a good piece sold on (at least a major) auction in Sweden is less likely to stay in the country than to go abroad. Orrefors is close to my heart, and I enjoy talking on the subject. My last two talks were at “Bern’s” in Stockholm around 1992 (with Lill Lindfors) and Ontario Royal Museum (Investing in the 20th century) around 2000, but even if this makes me a bit rusty, I am trying to keep myself up to date. If you want me to bring my collection along (it could well be the best Orrefors collection remaining in private ownership and only contains about 18 objects - you should be prepared to pay a rather high price, especially if your insurance doesn't cover the project.
(My experiences as a self-publishing author & rights-owner)
I am not a specialist in this self-publishing business, and when I talk to somebody like Joana Penn, I feel very much second best. However, I have gone – and am still going through – more phases than most, and while doing this, I have tried to work inside as structurally a sound framework as possible. Starting from a rights/partial rights position of
- 7 old fictional works by my father in 6 languages, one of them a bestseller (15 books in total).
- 3+ art books by my father in Spanish.
- 2 movies, one of them a blockbuster, based on my father’s works.
- 1 published art book by myself.
- 4 unpublished fictional works by myself.
- 2 academic works by myself.
- 2 adaptations of my father’s works by myself.
I started out with the ambition of in the end selling a lot of books in E- & POD format (and I wouldn't say "no" if a paper publisher came along) all while keeping a good image, honour my father and try to lose as little time as possible doing things I am/was bad at. During this 5-year process I have developed some skills in (i) Turning paper books into e- & PDF-format, (ii) Getting high quality translations made either at a very good price or against commission, (iii) Setting up an excellent homepage (www.andreslaszlo.com) for a very good price, (iv) Exploring Indian self-publishing services & (v) Acquire various other essential services - editing, book covers, blurbs, logos, formatting, etc. - again, always aiming at high quality at a low price (which is sort of what I am good at).
All this has put me in contact with all sort of actors - translators, webpage-makers, illustrators, cooperative Gallimard rights-people, uncooperative Random House rights-people, recalcitrant movie-people, various fly-by-nighters - producing some very interesting insights indeed.
Right now I am about to start out on the last leg of my project – finding out how to sell the darn things - and whether I can tell you about this or not will depend on when you contact me. To me, this talk is as much an opportunity for me to tell you about my experience as it is for me to learn from you.