|Thirteen Reasons Why Heroin is Good for America|
1.Heroin is a growth industry. Junkie-oriented clinics, rehabilitation centers, methadone-maintenance programs, police narcotics bureaus, and government funding agencies have all enjoyed a great expansion in the last few years. Many people now earn a good living-- legally-- off of the heroin epidemic. Professional unemployment is down, and more inner-city office space is being utilized.
2.We have a few new entrants into America's upper class. Perhaps ten or twenty families or groups of individuals have made enormous fortunes in recent years from heroin trafficking. These top-level connections and importers will add a little diversity and color to the country's upper crust.
3.Some of the billions of dollars resulting from the purchases of American junkies are trickling down to the lower levels of the trafficking system. Many small-time connections, couriers, protection men, and laboratory operators have gotten out with sizable profits. And of course the opium farmers of Asia and Mexico continue to reap enough profits from their cash crops to lead decent lives.
4.Junkies provide a superb training ground for aspiring clinicians and social workers. Junkies are the acid test: if you can succeed with them, you can succeed with anyone.
5.Junkies help redistribute the wealth. The goods they steal from stores and homes are made available to poor people at bargain prices. In some cases, they will even "steal to order" for customers. This means that poor people can afford a better lifestyle than if they had to pay full price for their consumables.
6.Heroin makes people calm, passive, and unambitious. A lot of people who would otherwise be fomenting revolution, or committing acts of violence, or competing with the rest of us for good jobs, are not doing so because they're strung out. Also, because male junkies are largely impotent, they are not competing with other men for the scarce resource of the sexual favors of women.
7.The birth rate among female junkies is far lower than among other women of similar age and social class. In addition, the mortality rate among the babies of junkies is very high. Thus, junkies are doing their part to ameliorate the population problem.
8.Heroin gives severely disturbed people a way of coping with the world. These people, without opiation, would simply cave in under the anxiety and confusion of it all; they would then have to be cared for by public institutions. Their self-motivated hustle for junk organizes their lives and quiets their pain.
9.Junkies give the rest of us a clear idea of what not to be. In a complicated world, it is often hard for an adolescent to develop an identity. This task is made easier by the existence of the American junkie: one simply tries to be the opposite of everything that this most despised of citizens is.
10.Heroin addicts make great scapegoats. They can take the blame for a lot of social ills, blame which otherwise might fall upon us. They can be scapegoated and will not fight back nor attempt to refute the accusations of wickedness levelled against them. They serve as the butt of much inner-city humor, rather like the village fool of medieval English tradition.
11.Junk integrates the races. Only among drunks and junkies do we see such a degree of easy social interaction among white, black, Latino, and Asian. The junkie sees clearly that The Drug transcends trivial issues of ethnic or cultural differences. This comradeship at the bottom of the social barrel serves as an inspiration to the rest of us.v
12.Thirty or forty years on heroin ages a person in an extraordinary way. No other class of Americans, except Skid Row drunks, undergoes the atrocious day-to-day wear on body and soul that the American junkie experiences. Those who survive several decades of this kind of life show the scars of it, with faces and bodies wizened by a hard long road.
13.Heroin makes us confront the ultimate cop-out. The American junkie is so persistent and indefatigable in his pursuit of the fix that we are forced to wonder, "maybe they're on to something." We are forced into a self-examination of our own needs for the junk nirvana, for complete detachment and painlessness, for a self-indulgent yielding up of all the struggle and changefulness of our lives. We are forced to realize the dull, heroin-like quality of many of our "straight" indulgences: television, alcohol, banal sentiments, procrastination, plastic tastes. Perhaps we end by realizing that junk-- in all its forms-- is a critical impediment to to the further development of our civilization, and that if we can overcome it in our lives we can genuinely hope that human social evolution will make a great leap forward.(printer friendly version)