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September 30, 2014

Making the full case for Mitt Romney, drug czar

RomneyRegular readers may recall this post from a few months ago in which I highlighted the brilliant and provocative commentary by Mark Osler headlined "Mitt Romney for drug czar." Now I can post Mark's fuller explication of the ideas that lead to the notion of Drug Czar Romney as they appear in this article now available on SSRN headlined "1986: AIDS, Crack, and C. Everett Koop." Here is the abstract:

In 1986, Ronald Reagan’s America confronted twin public health crises: AIDS and crack. There were striking similarities between the two, in that both developed quietly before public alarms were raised; both were identified with traditionally oppressed groups; both spread in a similar pattern; and both created fear in the American public.  Where they differed, though, was in the reaction.  After initial missteps, AIDS was approached through problem-solving doctors and researchers rather than quarantine.  In contrast, crack was confronted with a heavy retributive hand.  AIDS was transformed to a chronic, treatable illness. In contrast, crack not only continued to plague communities, but the use of mass incarceration created new problems.

Four striking personalities shaped these differing outcomes.  With AIDS, the chief strategist was the remarkable C. Everett Koop, and the public face was a young boy named Ryan White.  For crack, a chief strategist was the vituperative William Bennett, and the public face was basketball player Len Bias.  The latter pair drove the fight against crack towards disaster, while the former created a more humane world.

This article argues that it is not too late to learn the lessons of 1986 and take a better approach towards narcotics, and that this approach might best be led by someone who understands the driving force behind drugs (the profit motive) the way that Koop understood the driving force behind AIDS (a virus).  In our present era, that person may be someone who straddles business and politics, such as former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

September 30, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Permalink


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Said it then and say it now -- Mitt Romney is not a serious choice, even if we want to go the "Nixon Goes to China" route. I'm all for some outside the box thinking here, but really, come on.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 30, 2014 12:21:22 PM

Dr. Koop. A horror movie class catastrophe. He allowed AIDS to spread to 40 million people around the world. His response? Abstain or use condoms. Why? It saved internal medicine. The rise in meat prices, and the aggressive treatment of blood pressure prevented millions of instances of organ failure, where people die but only after generating massive medical costs. As a result of these advances there was actual unemployment among doctors in major cities. (Compare to lawyer unemployment after a 40% drop in crime following the Mandatory Guidelines.)Hospitals dropped to 50% bed capacity, and noises were being made about closing many. Along comes AIDS, the perfect epidemic. Correct latency, correct number of organs affected (all of them), correct time to death (years), correct victims (black and gay males). Now, no unemployment. Bed filling is actually over 100% capacity, with people parked in the hallways. Mission accomplished.

Compare to the US medical response to Ebola. Docs fly in with the Army. Surround the village. Stop the spread in weeks. Wrong latency, wrong organs, time to death too fast for treatment, incorrect victims, people with no assets or insurance.

Cuba has a lot of sex going on. No AIDS epidemic. Castro listened to his doctors who get paid low wages and do not want any more work to do. He puts HIV positive people in camps. No AIDS in Cuba.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 30, 2014 5:21:05 PM

Medical rent seeking is far more damaging than lawyer rent seeking. By their allowing the PC approach, and making AIDS carriers untouchable, they enriched themselves, while 40 million people around the world. History will judge the doctors of the 1980's harshly. If doctors had insisted, all the AIDS activists would have been rolled over, including their enabling lawyers. They would have had them isolated. AIDS becomes an esoteric illness, and footnote. in medical arcana. Instead they chose employment.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 30, 2014 7:08:56 PM

Quoth Mitt Romney: "I would not legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the reasons are straightforward: As I talk to people in my state and at the federal government level about marijuana and its role in society, they are convinced that the entry way into a drug culture for our young people is marijuana. Marijuana is the starter drug. . . ." Anyone so deeply ignorant has no business anywhere near drug policy. Of course, that means about 90% of everyone in Congress, the judiciary, and the executive department should be nowhere near drug policy.

Posted by: C.E. | Sep 30, 2014 8:48:20 PM

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