Cutting Off The Head of Our Drug Problem

Maine's governor has an innovative way to end the drug scourge: the guillotine.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has recently proposed a novel solution for America's drug problem:

"What I think we ought to do is bring the guillotine back," he told WVOM. "We could have public executions and have, you know, we could even have (guessing) which hole it falls in."

He said that he was "all in" on fighting drug criminals and said a recent proposal to establish a minimum sentence of four years for drug traffickers was too lenient.

"I think the death penalty should be appropriate for people that kill Mainers," LePage said.

"We've got to go 20 years, we've got to keep them here until they die," he added. "If you want my honest opinion, we should give them an injection of the stuff they sell."

The response was about what you'd expect: a massed chorus of leftist media calling him a racist.  His way of referring to typical drug deals was just the icing on the cake:

"These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty," he said. "They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave."

He later apologized for saying white instead of Maine, which is what he said he meant.

That, at least, is an understandable mistake, considering that the State of Maine has been basically 100% white until very recently.

Lost in the uproar is an important question: would executing drug dealers, in fact, help contain the scourge of drugs?

The answer is quite obvious: This "extreme" method is in fact the only way known to history to get rid of a drug problem once it's gotten entrenched.

Developing World Problems

Drug abuse is a relatively recent problem because for most of human history pharmaceuticals were unavailable or unaffordable.  Of course there have always been mind-altering substances like alcohol, and there have been various relatively mild natural drugs like qat, coca leaves, or opium used since ancient times.  Taken straight from the raw plant, the narcotics and stimulants are just not concentrated enough to produce what we'd recognize as a junkie.

By the time of the Renaissance, however, selective breeding and newer preparation methods involving early chemistry were beginning to enable modern drug abuse.  Wikipedia cites Venetian traveler Costantino Garzoni as reporting the Turks drinking a "certain black water made with opium" resulting in some of the symptoms of what we know today as addiction.

For the next few hundred years, opium was a privilege of the rich, both because of its expense as well as its negative effects on productivity even in fairly mild doses.  By the 1700s, though, the price had come down sufficiently for opium addiction to become a problem in China.

In 1729, the Emperor officially prohibited the sale of opium except for medicinal use.  His edict was very much like the rules issued by our modern FDA.  However, penalties were only assessed against drug dealers and traders, not their customers.

This didn't work very well so the Emperor banned opium completely in 1799.  Unfortunately for China, this was at the height of British Imperial power, and it so happened that opium was a major and enormously profitable product of British India.  For a time, opium smuggling contrary to Chinese law provided 20% of the British Empire's total revenue!

With that much money at stake, it's worth fighting a war to keep it coming, and that's just what the British did.  The two Opium Wars were fought in the mid-1800s, the result being total British freedom to import the increasingly addictive and destructive drug to China.

Even back then, the harm of drugs was clear to those in the know; famous British prime minister William Gladstone harangued against it constantly, and by the 1880s Britain was slowly switching sides to opposing the opium trade.  The damage was done, though, and the dying Chinese imperial government turned to drastic measures.

From 1906 to 1916, anti-opium measures were incredibly harsh, with anyone involved in the trade liable to public torture, humiliation and execution.  Unfortunately, starting in 1911, the last Chinese dynasty started falling apart, passing through a series of military coups, democratic elections, strongmen, and eventually dissolving into civil war between Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists and Mao Tse-tung's Communists as the last step in the Confucian Cycle.  The Japanese invasion in 1933 only made matters worse.  There were as many as 70 million junkies nationwide - 10% of the population at the time, and these addled citizens didn't make very good soldiers.

After the civil war, the Japanese invasion, World War II, and Mao's final victory united mainland China, his new totalitarian government had all manner of problems to address.  He dealt with opium addiction most forcefully:

Mao Tse-tung was by far the greatest therapist of drug addiction in world history. He threatened to execute opium addicts if they didn’t give up.

Considering that Mao is credited with responsibility for between 40 million and 70 million deaths, offing a few million junkies and dealers was no big deal.  His threat had instant credibility, and indeed, many millions of addicts went sober in fear of their lives.  Those who didn't, well, they were never heard from again; dealers were summarily executed without trial.

Breaking Eggs to Make an Omelet

In so doing, Mao achieved something that has never been done anywhere else: he entirely eliminated a serious systemic national drug addiction problem.  No other country or leader has been able to end a drug scourge.  China, in sterling contrast, was drug free for forty years.

Gov. LePage is on the right track in the sense that his proposal would very likely achieve his goal.  If we are serious about ending our drug problem, there is only one way to do it: Mao's technique of executing anyone involved, figuring that by the time we've worked our way very far down the list, the survivors will have sobered up or found another substance to abuse.

Are we, as a country, willing to take this step?  Plainly the answer is NO!  Even the loony left would never equate Gov. LePage with Mao, although that may be simply because they like the Communist dictator so much better than a loathsome Tea Party conservative.

That being the case, why are we even bothering to try prohibition, a legalistic technique that has failed everywhere it has ever been tried at vast expense, unless accompanied by mass executions which we aren't willing to do?  Far better for us to bow to the inevitable and legalize the drug trade that we cannot stop through force of law anyway.

After all, if it became legal, drug dealers would no longer have the money needed to bribe politicians not to change the drug laws!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Law.
Reader Comments

Well, if we tax it, then we can get the drug pushers for tax evasion, a much more serious crime to our benevolent government. Then we can confiscate their cars and bling - also very important to our government. The problem of course is overloaded prisons and the cost of imprisoning them while sending them welfare checks. While don't we just shorten the 300 year cycle and collapse the corrupt government?

January 31, 2016 11:53 PM

An old bookie once told me that you could make drinking, prostitution and gambling a hanging offense and people would still do it. This was before the drug epidemic that we have today. It would be the 4th that is useless tottery and legislate. The only answer is for someone to turn his/her life over to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to change him/her from within. Other than that it is a useless battle.

February 1, 2016 12:45 AM

You are right, one must have a higher cause for living than self indulgence. We had a presentation on our church's addition program yesterday which includes sexual/pornographic addition as well as alcohol and drugs. You can contact any member of the LDS faith for time and location near you. It is free and open to anyone.

February 1, 2016 8:32 AM

That should be addiction not addition.

February 1, 2016 8:33 AM

"This "extreme" method is in fact the only way known to history to get rid of a drug problem once it's gotten entrenched"

Or there's the other way which is to legalize and ignore it. That seems to have worked everywhere else.

Instead, the church-goers and do-gooders spend enormous amounts of resources convincing the country that it's an epidemic, leading to the downfall of their children - the same children that are allowed to do anything at home. That, in turn, leads to laws and prosecution and overcrowded jails.

We could also execute anyone who went over the speed limit. That should make everyone stop speeding, right?

February 1, 2016 8:38 AM

And there is always that opinion which I can understand. You should be free to ruin your life, and be a drag on society it only shows the righteous what suckers they are. Such tolerance as the article points out leads to the downfall and bankruptcy of society at which point rioting, war, and starvation take care of the problems in the usual inhumane way. A nation's sickness can be determined by the number of people who have no real purpose in life and need to hid from reality.
We also tolerated the heroin addiction of the Chinese workers in San Francisco in the mid 1800's until the number of addicts increased 10 fold and became a problem for society (increased crime to fund their addictions).
As far as costs of addiction recovery programs go, the LDS church pays only for the literature. The councilors and teachers serve without compensation as a way of giving back to those who helped them recover. But it is only for those who want help. In addition it would help to get to the children and teach them the causes of addiction and how to avoid them. That involves spending time with the children and giving them roll models.

February 1, 2016 11:33 AM

Ifon is correct, legalized murder is no answer. There should be and there are resources for assisting the addicted and they should be supported. Unlike users, dealers should be punished. Perhaps long - even life - prison terms, with hard labor to pay for their upkeep would remove them from society. I would also note that anything, including religious practice, can turn into an addiction. Karl Marx was not far off, when he said, "religion is the opiate of the masses," meaning that belief in an afterlife in heaven, in exchange for enduring life's miseries and following Christ had the same effect as drugs, and in his mind, was a poor substitute for dealing with the the injustices in this life.

February 1, 2016 11:39 AM

Jfv200, like they said in the movie, you need to get out more. Your ideas are stuck in the 1800's in the London of Karl Marks. While anything can be abused, that includes intellectual snobbery.

February 1, 2016 12:27 PM

I think the basic point is that you either permit drugs or you chop user's heads, but nothing in between will work.

If we;re going to legalize all those drugs, what about drugs which are otherwise by prescription only. Would all drugs become OTC?

February 1, 2016 5:04 PM

SparkyVA, I don't know what you are trying to say; it makes no sense - grammar aside.

February 1, 2016 8:53 PM

Jfv2000, sorry for the misunderstanding.
1. Study Philosophy.
2. Study Psychology.
3. Study Religion - there are many. Some better than others.
And then you will understand that religion is not an opiate for the masses it is an important part of who we are as humans and how we strive to become better human beings. Those who feel they are not answerable or responsible to a higher power have done some of the worse things in human history. The writers of the Deceleration of Independence understood this and declared us answerable for our actions to that higher power. Today the masses think of Government as that higher power and that gives the governing the power to do anything they want. They are the law. For them there are no rights of man that they can't take away. This is a fact of any godless society.
And don't so much about grammar worry. Each generation the rules changes, and every language different rules has.(German grammar)

February 2, 2016 12:10 AM

The death penalty is the only solution.
The only cure to laziness is not having welfare and letting them starve to death. You would be surprised how hard those poor farmers in Thailand work just to grow a few grains of rice so their families don't starve (Buddhists in Thailand have no charity because they think you did something horrible in your previous life and deserve what you get). It is human nature. If not, then socialism/communism would work. All humans are selfish and lazy and the only thing that gets them going is the threat of starvation or if your born in the USA, the reward of riches. Otherwise we would all be slackers. Yes there are exceptions... But there are very few and we call them Saints.

February 2, 2016 8:52 AM

It took a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw booze. Why do we have a Federal law outlawing pot, which Congress never had the authority over Art. 1 Sec. 8 to pass?

March 10, 2016 8:39 PM

@Calvin John - because the Supreme Court forgot what the Constitution means. We are no longer a nation ruled by law, we're ruled by liberals.

March 11, 2016 6:33 AM

@Calvin John - because the Supreme Court forgot what the Constitution means. We are no longer a nation ruled by law, we're ruled by liberals.

March 11, 2016 6:33 AM

@Jamie - My question was rhetorical.

Half the President's cabinet is filled by a government wienie who heads a department that has no Constitutional merit, yet some Congress created it anyway and Congress continues to find it.

March 11, 2016 1:05 PM

Typo; I meant "Congress continues to **fund** it."

I don't think the Supreme Court or any other Feds have "forgotten" the Constitution. They just disregard it. The Constutution is no "living document" unless it is OBEYED.

March 11, 2016 3:13 PM
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