The sale of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crack, angel dust, etc. is a multitrillion-dollar business. It is the economy of the inner-cities. It is the major economy of mountainous states such as West Virginia. It is the major economy of New Mexico, California, Arizona and Florida. It is the largest value of product transported in interstate commerce. Yet none of these transactions is taxed.
Furthermore, the battle over distribution is the largest source of crime. More prison inmates are incarcerated for drug crimes than for any other crime.
I believe that no one learns from the past. Examine Prohibition. Liquor was the origin of organized crime in the early 20th century and the source of crime in every speakeasy in America. Finally legalized, it has become the largest revenue source and the largest profit source of the restaurant industry. Government revenue stems not only from sales taxes but also from liquor licenses. At every stage of manufacture, distribution and consumption, liquor is taxed.
The same should occur with drugs.
The argument for legalization clearly is not simply to generate government revenue. The drug business is the source of the greatest tragedies in our society. The sellers of these drugs are responsible for the agonizing number of shooting and murders in Cook County as they fight over turf. The vast majority of those incarcerated have been convicted of drug trafficking, at an enormous cost to society.
The only solution is to legalize every form of drug. The cost of production is small. Adding a large tax would not only create a new source of revenue but, with the total cost still relatively small, would also put the street-corner dealers out of business. Knowledgeable in the quality of these materials, and with a clientele developed from years of dealing, these sellers could become the clerks, managers, buyers, distributors, manufacturers and packagers of the drugs. They would have hospitals, clinics, and doctors as new clients. They would have jobs, their income would be taxed, the quality of the drugs could be controlled, the shootings and killings would stop and the merchants would no longer be sent to prison. They would find that studying marketing, agriculture, public relations and other business-related fields would improve their abilities to make a living, and they would find a reason to go back to school. Each one is an admirable goal.
Two problems exist. Any politician who would favor legalization faces potential voter rejection, and certainly the hypocritical condemnation of an election opponent. Second, drug prevention and rehabilitation is itself a huge industry.
Legalization in Illinois should be the first step. Despite its many benefits, those two forces will conspire together and legalization will never happen. Unless we demand it.
— Les Golden, Oak Park
What is being done in education is not and has not worked except for the few for eons.
We need to energize students by allowing them to focus on a career path and not force kids to adapt to a program designed to create college-bound, uninterested kids.
Every child is not equal in brain power or intellect. Until this focus on career paths happens, failure of the system will continue. We need cooks, electricians, carpenters, etc. When school administrators quite downgrading children who take that track, maybe things will get better.
— Fred Pinsler, Northfield
You wrote: "One factor perpetuating Chicago's high unemployment is a chronic mismatch between public education and what employers need. So, last year, the City Colleges system embarked on a five-year overhaul. Each campus will focus on one job sector — health care, transportation, new businesses, professional services — and work with employers to tailor curricula. When they graduate, students should be ready for specific careers" (Editorial, Oct. 6).
Allow students to cross-train in each of those curricula during their college years. Upon completion of their education, they would have a background in more than one arena much as a liberal arts curriculum gives a student a wider range or greater understanding in more than one field of studies.
— Dennis B. O'Malley, Wilmette
Free from fear
Young boys need to be free from fear. The Get out of Chicago initiative would be the namesake of Get out of Dodge. It would be an imaginary voluntary program in which single parents, parents or guardians of young Chicago boys could sign a waiver to get them free tuition at government boarding schools in rural Illinois, Indiana or Wisconsin.
The boarding schools would employ teachers, tutors, nurses, counselors, coaches, vocational leaders and discharged U.S. military veterans as mentors — all of whom would be paid for their service. The objective of the boarding schools: to give boys a multitude of options — other than the Chicago street life — from which to choose upon graduation.
— Michael P. Shannon, Park Ridge