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Bring on the Capitalists [Mark Steyn]
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | September 28, 2003 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 09/28/2003 7:30:52 AM PDT by Joe Bonforte

Wanna score some government dope? In Canada, the courts recently ruled that patients suffering from AIDS, cancer and other diseases were entitled to enjoy the benefits of ''medical marijuana'' -- and not just any old marijuana, but official government marijuana, supplied to them by Health Canada, the government health system. Health Canada mulled it over and set up a program to grow the court-ordered federal pot in a disused mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba.

Of the first 10 patients to be supplied with the government weed, half claim it's the worst pot they've ever smoked. They're sending it back to Ottawa and they want a full refund. ''It's totally unsuitable for human consumption,'' says Jim Wakeford, an AIDS patient in Gibsons, British Columbia. ''I threw up,'' says Barrie Dalley of Toronto.

Health Canada insists their dope contains 10.2 percent THC, the main active ingredient. But the respected pot lobbyist Philippe Lucas says the government weed is only 3 percent THC and full of contaminants like lead and arsenic. Aren't lead and arsenic dangerous? To modify Nancy Reagan: ''Just say no to government drugs.''

One of the reasons I'm in favor of small government is because there's hardly anything the government doesn't do worse than anybody else who wants to give it a go. Usually when I make this observation, I'm thinking of, say, Britain's late unlamented nationalized car industry. But when the government of a G7 nation can't run a small marijuana sideline as well as a college student with a window box, that seems to set an entirely new standard for official underperformance. Big government goes to pot, in every sense.

Instead of its hugely wasteful ''war on drugs,'' the U.S. government might have been better just to legalize them, give the contract to the government of Canada, and in three months the entire drug market would have collapsed and guys would be huddled in darkened alleys saying, ''Hey, man, do you know where I can get some butterscotch pudding?''

Other plants in the news these days include the Gentry indigo bush. This rare shrub grows in a few selected parts of Arizona and Mexico, close to a proposed transmission line Tucson Electric Power hopes to construct to enable it to supply electricity to its southern neighbor, so that impoverished Mexicans will have better street lighting to guide them as they swarm across the U.S. border to pick up their complimentary drivers licenses and free health care from Gray Davis. But now the whole project is in doubt. Although an environmental study says the Gentry indigo bush would be unaffected one way or the other by the power line, the Center for Biological Diversity is suing the U.S. government to get the bush listed as an endangered species and thus indirectly put pressure on Tucson Electric.

Alas, Jeff Humphrey of the Fish and Wildlife Service says his agency has no money to list any new endangered species because its budget is mostly tied up in court cases brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and similar groups. Got that? If this keeps up, the endangered species list will itself be an endangered species. And the barrage of litigation on behalf of various beleaguered flora and fauna will have resulted in a spectacular increase in population for mainly one species: environmental lawyers.

The Gentry indigo bush doesn't seem to be ''endangered.'' True, you can't find it in northern Maine. But then you never could. This would seem to be yet another example of how every do-gooding cause eventually floats free of whatever good it was trying to do and becomes a self-perpetuating business all of its own. The racism industry, for example, is now so large and lucrative and employs so many highly remunerated people from the Rev. Jesse Jackson down that it has a far greater interest than the Klu Klux Klan in maintaining racism. Thus, the African-American Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee was recently moved to complain that the naming of hurricanes is racist. Apparently, blacks are being discriminated against because hardly any massively destructive meteorological phenomena are given African-American names. The black community can't relate to some white-bread wind like Hurricane Isabel. Why are there never any Hurricane Leroys? It's deeply racist and insulting to imply that only WASPily appellated forces of nature are capable of billions of dollars of coastal damage.

Which brings us, as most things do, to Iraq. In the last few weeks, almost all the big NGOs -- nongovernmental organizations -- have pulled out of the country, either partially or totally: Oxfam, the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders ... Is it dangerous? Maybe. When I was in Iraq earlier this year, I detected a good deal of resentment at the NGO big shots swanking around like colonial grandees in their gleaming Cherokees and Suburbans. But Iraq's a good deal less dangerous than, say, Liberia, where drugged-up gangs roam the streets killing at random, and the humanitarian lobby -- Big Consciences -- is happy to stay on.

What's different is the political agenda. The humanitarian touring circuit is now the oldest established permanent floating crap game. Regions such as West Africa, where there's no pretense anything will ever get better, or the Balkans, which are maintained by the U.N. as the global equivalent of a slum housing project, suit the aid agencies perfectly: There's never not a need for them. But in Iraq they've decided they're not interested in staying to see the electric grid back up to capacity and the water system improved if it's an American administration at the helm. The Big Consciences have made a political decision: that it's not in their interest for the Bush crowd to succeed, and that calculation outweighs any concern they might have for the Iraqi people.

Heigh-ho. For six months, their Chicken Little predictions of humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq have failed to emerge. If the country gets by perfectly fine without them, that may be a very useful lesson.

Meanwhile, who's staying on? The private sector: Bechtel and Halliburton and all the other supposed Bush cronies invited to help rebuild postwar Iraq. According to the conspirazoids, Dick Cheney planned 9/11 so that he'd have an excuse to topple Saddam Hussein and his old company Halliburton could make a killing. Fine. Let's take that as read. The fact is, right now, Oxfam and the other do-gooders have fled, and the only folks standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi people are the wicked capitalists.

So, in a month when the government can't even be a competent drug dealer, and environmental nonprofit groups have bankrupted the endangered species list, and the international humanitarians have decided the Iraqis can go screw themselves, I say: Let's hear it for the private sector.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: canada; iraq; marijuana; marksteyn; marksteynlist; privatesector; wod
But when the government of a G7 nation can't run a small marijuana sideline as well as a college student with a window box, that seems to set an entirely new standard for official underperformance.

Oh, I don't know about that. A lot of us predicted something like this as soon as the Canadian government announced it would be growing pot. After all, the bureaucrats can't even accomplish things they believe in, much less things they were dragging into doing against their will.

1 posted on 09/28/2003 7:30:52 AM PDT by Joe Bonforte
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To: Joe Bonforte
"the humanitarian lobby -- Big Consciences"

Funniest. Steyn. Ever.

2 posted on 09/28/2003 7:35:21 AM PDT by ellery
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To: Joe Bonforte
....the Center for Biological Diversity is suing the U.S. government to get the bush listed as an endangered species and thus indirectly put pressure on Tucson Electric.

Heh heh heh... I love it when one stupid pack of libs turn on another stupid pack of libs. I fantasize about celebrity death matches between Arafat and Chirac. But I'd settle for ELF bombing Gray Davis's offices.

3 posted on 09/28/2003 7:40:26 AM PDT by wizardoz
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To: ellery
Funniest. Steyn. Ever.

I laughed harder last week at the subtitle for his article about Wesley Clark: "You've got questions; he's got multiple answers."

4 posted on 09/28/2003 7:43:25 AM PDT by Joe Bonforte
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To: Joe Bonforte
The Canadian government is the least efficient administration in the world, except at delivering contracts to its supporters, and pensions to its placemen.

Heads on pikes!
5 posted on 09/28/2003 7:45:35 AM PDT by headsonpikes (Spirit of '76 bttt!)
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To: Joe Bonforte
Maybe the best column I have read in my life. A tour-de-force.
6 posted on 09/28/2003 7:54:21 AM PDT by NutCrackerBoy
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To: Joe Bonforte; Pokey78
Thanks, Joe.

Nother one, Pokey.

Steyn ping.
7 posted on 09/28/2003 10:37:47 AM PDT by Paul_B
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To: Paul_B; Howlin; riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2; ...
Thanks Paul!


8 posted on 09/28/2003 11:47:12 AM PDT by Pokey78 ("I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation." Wesley Clark to Russert)
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To: Pokey78
Steyn plunges the knife in....terrific.
9 posted on 09/28/2003 11:59:16 AM PDT by MEG33
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To: Joe Bonforte
Only Steyn could write an article that goes from government pot to endangered species to politically driven NGOs and have it all make perfect sense.
10 posted on 09/28/2003 12:00:21 PM PDT by spodefly (This is my tagline. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: Pokey78
Thanks for the ping, Pokey. Excellent read, as usual.
11 posted on 09/28/2003 12:41:30 PM PDT by wife-mom
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To: Joe Bonforte
Steyn always seems to swing for the fences, and most time it's still going up on the way out of the park.

Thanks for the post Joe.

L

12 posted on 09/28/2003 12:46:49 PM PDT by Lurker ("To expect the government to save you is to be a bystander in your own fate." Mark Steyn)
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To: Joe Bonforte
This guy is a National Treasure, but I can't figure out the most for whom,... the USA or Canada!
13 posted on 09/28/2003 12:54:52 PM PDT by Gritty
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To: Gritty
That's simple, The Anglosphere!
14 posted on 09/28/2003 1:53:07 PM PDT by GreenLanternCorps ("Vietnam was, in truth, a noble cause." - Ronald Wilson Reagan)
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To: scholar; Bullish; linear; yoda swings
Ping
15 posted on 09/28/2003 3:05:53 PM PDT by knighthawk (Freedom is my believe, for you I would die)
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To: Joe Bonforte
The Big Consciences have made a political decision: that it's not in their interest for the Bush crowd to succeed, and that calculation outweighs any concern they might have for the Iraqi people.

This is it, exactly. The Big Consciences would rather see the whole world in hell, than see any Bush policy have a successful outcome. Their hatred of Bush is unbelievable.
16 posted on 09/28/2003 3:56:40 PM PDT by baseballmom (Baseball is life - the rest is just details)
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To: baseballmom
"Instead of its hugely wasteful ''war on drugs,'' the U.S. government might have been better just to legalize them, give the contract to the government of Canada, and in three months the entire drug market would have collapsed and guys would be huddled in darkened alleys saying, ''Hey, man, do you know where I can get some butterscotch pudding?'' "

Too funny! The mental images this inspires...

17 posted on 09/28/2003 4:32:55 PM PDT by JusPasenThru (We're through being cool (you can say that again, Dad))
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To: cateizgr8
Ping :)

Great essay.
18 posted on 09/28/2003 5:50:25 PM PDT by Britton J Wingfield (TANSTAAFL)
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To: Pokey78
Great Steyn...Thanks!
19 posted on 09/28/2003 5:58:10 PM PDT by lainde
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To: Pokey78
Instead of its hugely wasteful ''war on drugs,'' the U.S. government might have been better just to legalize them, give the contract to the government of Canada, and in three months the entire drug market would have collapsed and guys would be huddled in darkened alleys saying, ''Hey, man, do you know where I can get some butterscotch pudding?''

LOL, I've read recently that the quality is terrible and it stinks. I don't blame the customers for wanting their money back.

20 posted on 09/28/2003 7:25:10 PM PDT by Victoria Delsoul (Arnold has the conviction and the fighting spirit to lead California into a new age of recovery)
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To: mtngrl@vrwc
Steyn rules.
21 posted on 09/28/2003 8:16:41 PM PDT by lawgirl (God to womenkind: "Here's Cary Grant. Now don't tell me I never gave you anything.")
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To: lawgirl
God to womenkind: "Here's Cary Grant. Now don't tell me I never gave you anything.

I like your tag line, Lawgirl! Cary Grant certainly was a very special man and one of a kind!


22 posted on 09/28/2003 8:26:32 PM PDT by mtngrl@vrwc ( We cannot change the direction of the wind... but we can adjust our sails.)
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To: Joe Bonforte
the other do-gooders have fled, and the only folks standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi people are the wicked capitalists.

and the wicked American military.

23 posted on 09/29/2003 12:19:00 AM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee (const tag& constTagPassedByReference)
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To: Joe Bonforte
"It's deeply racist and insulting to imply that only WASPily appellated forces of nature are capable of billions of dollars of coastal damage. "


Well, Canada was just hit with Hurricane Juan... ;)
24 posted on 09/29/2003 6:56:16 AM PDT by proud American in Canada ("We are a peaceful people. Yet we are not a fragile people.")
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