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March 4, 2015
Posted at 12:31 am

A.I. - Chapters 37-38

Two chapters today to start off the new section.
The focus of chapter 37 on the "war on drugs" isn't accidental. I happen to think this is about as stupid an endeavor on which this country (along with many others, of course) has ever embarked. You simply cannot eliminate demand for something by placing constraints on supply. That's a kind of basic economics reality, but one we find politically expedient to ignore. You'll note that this sort of effort is attempted only when there are moral or religious objections to whatever's being made illegal. Recreational drugs, alcohol, tobacco to some degree, prostitution, personal firearms to an extent, gambling, public nudity, etc. (you'll think of more examples), have been and/or are subject to this fruitless attempt to extinguish or restrict possession, participation and use. Now and again, here and there, the same approach is also tried with certain types of expression (i.e., literature and visual art forms) and learning. Those who are caught violating the legislative or regulatory prohibitions are encarcerated or fined, which injures them but has little effect on reducing overall demand; it simply makes those who wish to partake more cautious in their doings. The result is simply an inconsistent and somewhat randomized application of what any rational person would consider to be a senseless approach to legal and political policy. Oh, yes, and the inevitable side-effect is to create an underground criminal sub-economy which, because it cannot rely on the law and its mechanisms, resorts instead to the kind of destructive and poorly targeted violence of anarchy for self-protection. Not, you must admit, the sort of impact that even the most short-sighted moralist who favors all these prohibitions finds desirable.
Once upon a time we executed those who refused to abide by the socially determined "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots" of their time and location. They were "heretics," "hedonists" or some other pejorative name, and deemed not deserving of life. At least today the penalties are individually less drastic, but the damage to the social fabric is no less. Does anybody seriously fault Spook for refusing to participate in this farce?
I haven't traveled in Europe in many years, so some of my description of Jack, Lisa and John's visit may be a bit out of date, but it's based on my memory of my own long-ago visits to the places named and the reading and viewing I've done. Those who don't care for Paris, Florence or Rome, or who are especially partial to Venice may disagree with Jack's view, and more power to them. That's just how he sees these places.