Drug Czar: Drugs Matter But Not Alcohol

Mike Riggs, as an associate editor at Reason Magazine, gave some of his time to the task of looking at the 2012 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Annual Report, released by the ONDCP. The ONDCP is the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. We know it more commonly as the lair of the Drug Czar, or at least as his office.

Riggs noticed a discrepancy between the reports questions and its findings. In the methodology, the questionnaire queried the arrestee’s alcohol use. The purpose of the report was to find if there was a link between drug use and crime. Were people who got arrested likely to be people who were under the influence of drugs? Yet in the results there was no mention at all about alcohol.

That seemed strange. It meant that either no drunk had ever been arrested in 2012, or that the ONDCP had decided it didn’t want to allow the American people it is supposed to serve to see that data and draw any conclusions from it.

So Riggs decided to ask questions. He queried ONDCP Communications Director Rafael Lemaitre via Twitter about the omission of any data about alcohol usage. Lemaitre’s response is worth pondering because I think it will educate anyone who thinks upon it in the ways of Big Government. Lemaitre accused Riggs of formulating a conspiracy theory and denied the Report ever inquired about alcohol use. Only after Riggs persisted by sending scans of the original documentation, with the mention of alcohol circled in red, did Lemaitre acknowledge the discrepancy.

Lemaitre may not have known about the alcohol inquiry when he first responded to Riggs. In fact, I think it is likely that he wouldn’t lie in a way that would obviously set himself up to be caught. And a communication director isn’t the person who will know everything about every study off the top of his head. He’s the person who is supposed to be able to direct the questions to the right person and get the answers. So Lemaitre wasn’t acting in malice to claim that Riggs was a conspiracy theorist. But he was demonstrating the arrogance and prejudice of the government bureaucrat who is confronted with one of the private sector peons.

In the eyes of government jobholders, we private citizens all look like Alex Jones.

So eventually the ONDCP acknowledged the goof and tried to present a cogent explanation. Part of the problem was indeed in the data collection: they asked but didn’t test for alcohol. The reason is that their “focus” is on illegal drugs. But that means all people who are drinking are not listed for comparison. It suddenly looks like a pretty silly justification for criminalizing a drug if it not remotely as common as alcohol in arrestees. Such a “study” predetermines findings that leave out relevant questions. Also, we don’t know how many of these people under the influence of a drug were not also under the influence of alcohol.

So we as taxpayers are funding gargantuan national studies that are pre-directed toward certain conclusions about policy—about how to order us around. This moral authority is supposedly bolstered by the government’s tender care in examining society and how these substances affect members of society. But in fact, that tender care is aimed at legitimizing power for its own sake.