Maine Gov. Paul LePage has recently proposed a novel solution for America's drug problem:
"What I think we ought to do is bring the guillotine back," he told WVOM. "We could have public executions and have, you know, we could even have (guessing) which hole it falls in."
He said that he was "all in" on fighting drug criminals and said a recent proposal to establish a minimum sentence of four years for drug traffickers was too lenient.
"I think the death penalty should be appropriate for people that kill Mainers," LePage said.
"We've got to go 20 years, we've got to keep them here until they die," he added. "If you want my honest opinion, we should give them an injection of the stuff they sell."
The response was about what you'd expect: a massed chorus of leftist media calling him a racist. His way of referring to typical drug deals was just the icing on the cake:
"These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty," he said. "They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave."
He later apologized for saying white instead of Maine, which is what he said he meant.
That, at least, is an understandable mistake, considering that the State of Maine has been basically 100% white until very recently.
Lost in the uproar is an important question: would executing drug dealers, in fact, help contain the scourge of drugs?
The answer is quite obvious: This "extreme" method is in fact the only way known to history to get rid of a drug problem once it's gotten entrenched.
Drug abuse is a relatively recent problem because for most of human history pharmaceuticals were unavailable or unaffordable. Of course there have always been mind-altering substances like alcohol, and there have been various relatively mild natural drugs like qat, coca leaves, or opium used since ancient times. Taken straight from the raw plant, the narcotics and stimulants are just not concentrated enough to produce what we'd recognize as a junkie.
By the time of the Renaissance, however, selective breeding and newer preparation methods involving early chemistry were beginning to enable modern drug abuse. Wikipedia cites Venetian traveler Costantino Garzoni as reporting the Turks drinking a "certain black water made with opium" resulting in some of the symptoms of what we know today as addiction.
For the next few hundred years, opium was a privilege of the rich, both because of its expense as well as its negative effects on productivity even in fairly mild doses. By the 1700s, though, the price had come down sufficiently for opium addiction to become a problem in China.
In 1729, the Emperor officially prohibited the sale of opium except for medicinal use. His edict was very much like the rules issued by our modern FDA. However, penalties were only assessed against drug dealers and traders, not their customers.
This didn't work very well so the Emperor banned opium completely in 1799. Unfortunately for China, this was at the height of British Imperial power, and it so happened that opium was a major and enormously profitable product of British India. For a time, opium smuggling contrary to Chinese law provided 20% of the British Empire's total revenue!
With that much money at stake, it's worth fighting a war to keep it coming, and that's just what the British did. The two Opium Wars were fought in the mid-1800s, the result being total British freedom to import the increasingly addictive and destructive drug to China.
Even back then, the harm of drugs was clear to those in the know; famous British prime minister William Gladstone harangued against it constantly, and by the 1880s Britain was slowly switching sides to opposing the opium trade. The damage was done, though, and the dying Chinese imperial government turned to drastic measures.
From 1906 to 1916, anti-opium measures were incredibly harsh, with anyone involved in the trade liable to public torture, humiliation and execution. Unfortunately, starting in 1911, the last Chinese dynasty started falling apart, passing through a series of military coups, democratic elections, strongmen, and eventually dissolving into civil war between Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists and Mao Tse-tung's Communists as the last step in the Confucian Cycle. The Japanese invasion in 1933 only made matters worse. There were as many as 70 million junkies nationwide - 10% of the population at the time, and these addled citizens didn't make very good soldiers.
After the civil war, the Japanese invasion, World War II, and Mao's final victory united mainland China, his new totalitarian government had all manner of problems to address. He dealt with opium addiction most forcefully:
Mao Tse-tung was by far the greatest therapist of drug addiction in world history. He threatened to execute opium addicts if they didn’t give up.
Considering that Mao is credited with responsibility for between 40 million and 70 million deaths, offing a few million junkies and dealers was no big deal. His threat had instant credibility, and indeed, many millions of addicts went sober in fear of their lives. Those who didn't, well, they were never heard from again; dealers were summarily executed without trial.
In so doing, Mao achieved something that has never been done anywhere else: he entirely eliminated a serious systemic national drug addiction problem. No other country or leader has been able to end a drug scourge. China, in sterling contrast, was drug free for forty years.
Gov. LePage is on the right track in the sense that his proposal would very likely achieve his goal. If we are serious about ending our drug problem, there is only one way to do it: Mao's technique of executing anyone involved, figuring that by the time we've worked our way very far down the list, the survivors will have sobered up or found another substance to abuse.
Are we, as a country, willing to take this step? Plainly the answer is NO! Even the loony left would never equate Gov. LePage with Mao, although that may be simply because they like the Communist dictator so much better than a loathsome Tea Party conservative.
That being the case, why are we even bothering to try prohibition, a legalistic technique that has failed everywhere it has ever been tried at vast expense, unless accompanied by mass executions which we aren't willing to do? Far better for us to bow to the inevitable and legalize the drug trade that we cannot stop through force of law anyway.
After all, if it became legal, drug dealers would no longer have the money needed to bribe politicians not to change the drug laws!
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.