Pubdate: Tue, 13 Mar 2001
Source: Review, The (DE)
Copyright: 2001 The Review
Contact:  250 Perkins Student Center, Newark, DE 19716
Fax: (302) 831-1396
Authors: Robert Sharpe, Myron Von Hollingsworth


Regarding the March 6 editorial on the Higher Education Act, it is worth
noting that a drug offense is the only conviction that disqualifies a
student from receiving federal aid for college.

Apparently, past convictions for murder, rape or assault are of no concern
to Congress. What kind of anti-drug message does this send to students? The
only message I'm getting is that the drug hysteria has gotten completely out
of hand.

Denying an education to students who need it most will have a decidedly
negative impact on society. This punitive measure will disproportionately
affect poor and minority students.

Despite similar rates of drug use, blacks are far more likely to be arrested
for drug offenses than whites. Although only 15 percent of this country's
drug users are black, blacks account for 37 percent of those arrested for
drug violations, over 42 percent of those in federal prisons for drug
violations and almost 60 percent of those in state prisons for drug
felonies, according to reports released by the U.S. Department of Justice.

I think it's safe to say that President George W. Bush would not be in the
White House right now if he had been denied student loans due to his
"youthful indiscretions." Then again, anyone born into a wealthy family need
not fear the impact of the HEA.

Instead of empowering at-risk students with a college degree, the HEA limits
career opportunities and increases the likelihood that those affected will
resort to crime.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer, the Lindesmith Center

(Drug Policy Foundation)

Truth be told, the government doesn't list victory as an objective in its
expensive and oppressive trillion-dollar war on drugs.

When officials spout their "zero tolerance/total victory" rhetoric, how many
readers actually believe them? How many believe that this year's
multi-billion-dollar drug war budget will be the one that will achieve total
victory after decades of billion-dollar budgets have totally failed?

Just remember that the drug czars' jobs depend on the perpetual prosecution
of, but never a victory over, the drug war. Also, remember that the
politicians depend on the drug war and its rhetoric to scare up votes and
sustain constituent industries that depend on the economics of prohibition
to keep themselves in business.

Remember what H.L. Mencken said -- "The whole aim of practical politics is
to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by
menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

Maybe the corrupt politicians and media are required to adhere to the party
line of prohibition because law enforcement, customs, the prison and
military industrial complex, the drug testing and drug treatment industries,
the CIA, FBI, DEA and the politicians themselves can't live without the
budget justification -- not to mention the invisible profits, bribery,
corruption and forfeiture benefits that prohibition affords them.

The drug war promotes, justifies and perpetuates racist enforcement policies
and is diminishing many freedoms and liberties that are supposed to be
inalienable according to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Myron Von Hollingsworth
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