July 23, 2014

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Drugs And The Economy

Another reason...although not the only one...unemployment is still a problem.
On the same day a major drug arrest was made, a forum was held at Washington State Community College on the economic impact of oil and gas drilling.
 
These two events seemingly have nothing in common, but there was a common thread of sorts.
 
One of the forum's participants noted that a local company had 100 qualified applicants for trade jobs at its drilling-related facility. They might all have been hired, except for one complication: nearly two-thirds of them failed a drug test.
 
Now, people still look with disdain at drug tests, claiming they interfere with people's privacy and personal rights.  But they have become commonplace, in occupations ranging from amateur and professional athletics to boardrooms. And it can be argued that, when people are seeking jobs in a profession which includes working near heavy equipment and potentially hazardous materials, being "under the influence" isn't a good idea, whether the drugs are legal or not.
 
The fact is: in the past 50 years, we have become a society with a growing number of people who have experienced recreational drug use.  Not long ago, the drugs in question were sold on the streets, illegally, like the substances involved in the recent major drug raid.  Now, it can be something people can mix up at home, with ingredients found under their kitchen sinks or bathroom medicine cabinets.  The scary element of that is, by doing so, they put not only themselves in danger, but others as well.  These are chemicals which, if misused (as they usually are in these cases), can explode with deadly consequences for anyone who happens to be nearby at the time. (Too many meth labs are found in homes where children are present.)
 
The question isn't much different than it was almost a half-century ago: what do we do about all this?
 
Billions of dollars have been spent in various "wars on drugs".  The well-remembered late 1980's advertising campaign, "This is your brain on drugs", while often ridiculed, did result in a small decline in illegal drug use.  But the campaign ended and the numbers went up again.
 
It's like the old saying, "Push one button down, and two others pop up".  A drug ring is busted, and others emerge.  A meth lab is shut down, and more are discovered. 
 
Add to this, the well-publicized legalization of marijuana in the Western states of Colorado and Washington.
 
During the recovery from the 2007-2009 recession, the oft-asked question has been: "Where are the jobs?"
 
A better question is: "Where are the clean and sober people who can handle them safely?"
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