There He Goes Again
On my personal blog, I mentioned that Tom Nichols is absolutely unwilling to discuss the run up to the US/UK?Australian invasion of Iraq. He is careless about facts and expresses contempt for even considering the official conclusions drawn by Hans Blix. He will not face evidence and has total contempt for expertise.
He asked me to stop replying to him and I did, but I have proof that he is wrong.
The man can’t handle facts and he refuses to listen to actual experts on the topics on which he makes assertions based on prejudice, stubborness and tribal loyalty.
Now I am here to mentoin that he’s done it again.
He has a little twitter exchange with Mike Gravel in which he demonstrates, again, his contempt for data and experts.
Nice come back. At a level with “There you go again”*. But stupid. First the rate of opioid overdose deaths is vastly higher now than in 1980. The drug problem of the 1960s was minor compared to the current crisis. By 1980 the heroin epidemic had passed. It’s true that there was a crack epidemic during the Reagan administration. But the big drug in 1980 was marijuana which is no longer a problem, because our generation (the pot heads of the 70s) are making the laws and know it was never a big problem.
But Nichols really demonstrates his contempt for data and expertise by asserting that “poverty” and “1980” go together. There is a technical literature on poverty. The first statistic is the official poverty rate. That rate was low in 1980 and shot up as soon as Reagan was elected (I am not asserting causation — it had more to do with Volcker). Nichols has a vague sense that the country was in bad shape in 1980 then Reagan saved it. He can’t be bothered to look up the relevant official statistics before tweeting. He places his prejudice and conservative tribal loyalty above the calculations of subject matter experts, because he has no respect for expertise.
* (Reagan dismissing an accurate warning from Carter — Reagan was so dumb he used the line again with Mondale who noted that Carter’s warning had been proven correct, enough US adults are so dumb that they re-elected Reagan anyway, then pundits contempt for facts is so profound that “there you go again” is remembered as a successful line and the fact that Carter was right and Reagan was wrong (and ignored the very specific warning to not use the line again)) is trivial, because style matters more than substance.
Addiction is even harder to measure than poverty. A statistic which is widely used by experts and people who have any respect at all for expertise is the rate of death from overdoses. This isn’t a measure of the number of addicts because opiates are much more likely to kill than other addictive drugs including drugs with horrible consequences such as crack and meth. However, everyone who knows anything about addiction must confront the fact that the overdose death rate is vastly higher now than in 1980. I had a bit of trouble finding a graph that goes back that far so here are two
I don’t know why the CDC insists on snippets, but the two graphs make clear that there was an increase in hte overdose death rate from 1980 through 1999 followed by a Huge increase since then. We might wish we could go back to the Carter years of equal income distribution, extraordinarily rapid employment growth and low drug addiction, but it won’t be easy. It might not even be possible if people who lament the end of expertise continue to put their prejudice and tribal loyalty above even a glance at the data.
” It’s true that there was a crack epidemic during the Reagan administration.”
I’m not convinced that’s true, and I lived at the time on the major crack selling street in Manhattan. (When Senator Pothole and Rudy G. decided to get fleeced buying crack, they went to my subway stop.)
There was certainly a proliferation of cheap, easy cocaine-derivative and a lot of hype about it. And there is no denying that several neighborhoods changed significantly during that time.
What happened, though, was that coke (in crack form) became fungible or preferable on a price basis to marijuana. (I suspect; as I have noted elsewhere, sitting next to Larry Kudlow during the depth of his addiction would have scared me straight even if I weren’t boring by nature.) People who couldn’t drop $2,000 an ounce could spend $5-10 on a crack rock instead of a nickel or dime bag–with greater (more deleterious to health, but producing the same short-term desired goal) effect.
If you were modeling it, crack became the more risky but more affordable substitute good. Lower overall Utility combined with lower price–think Dollar General instead of Wal-Mart.
Anyway, I believe people looked back over the data and came to the same conclusion I did at the time: no significant “epidemic” came out of the “crack era.” There was a reason all those drug dealers by the University of Chicago wanted Sudhir Venkatesh to get them janitorial jobs: the market wasn’t expanding and salaries weren’t rising.
I’ll check through for the papers discussing it, but calling it an “epidemic” was more a way to force through penurious jail sentences on an underserved population (and their friends) than anything that addressed a growing issue.
In the mid-late 70’s a major crime wave hit the US even when you adjust for the Boomer demographic, which was rather large. It just wasn’t thefts, say like in the GD, it was violent crime, like the US had never seen before. That rather than economics per candidate it was why Reagan squeezed through. The recession in 1980 just made it a easy win.
You will find a graph detailing Overdose deaths from drugs and Opioids (both). from 1968 to 2015. You can pull 2016 – 2018 from one of my posts on Opioids. The 1968 – 2015 graph is page 5 and also type of drug on page 6 here: https://www.lee.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/b54a2abb-978d-4bbb-a868-531cdfaeae7a/the-numbers-behind-the-opioid-crisis-final.pdf The Numbers Behind the Opioid Crisis 2017, Joint Economic Committee
@Ken. By Crack epidemic I meant increased use of crack not increased use of recreational drugs overall. I consider going from pot to crack a bit like going from coffee to crack (except I’m addicted to coffee and have only rarely smoked pot).
I think there was a very large increase in reports of child abuse and neglect in the year after crack was first seized in NYC. Crack was a real problem even if the crackdown on crack added to the trouble rather than addressing it.
Similarly, I think the increase in overdose deaths *might* not correspond to an increase in the number of drug addicts but rather a shift from Meth (very horrible but hard to die by overdose) to opiates.
In any case, no one who knows or cares about the facts would pick 1980 as a year of extreme drug addiction (I turned 20 in 1980 and I know).
Run On the overdose death rate figure. Thanks. Problem is that the graphs start in 1999 (the ones I saw anyway). This is standard and makes sense if one is looking at the current epidemic. But I was writing about 1980 and responding to someone who is sure the country was going to hell before Reagan saved it.
Bert Schlitz i agree the crime wave was very important. Also oil shocks and declining real wages. Also fear of the USSR. Lots of stuff. Finally I thiunk a GOP President deserves a lot of credit for the end of the crime wave. Not Reagan Nixon who signed the clean air act. I think it is pretty much proven that the crime wave was caused by leaded gasoline. It was defeated by the EPA.
But it was crucially important. For the right,it proved that the war on poverty caused crime. For the left it proved that prosperity, capitalism and materialism caused crime somehow. Actually, since the prosperity had a lot to do with lots of cars and gasoline was leaded until early 70s, the lefts crazy idea has a (remote) connection with strong supporting evidence.
I am pretty sure US political history would be fundamentally different if they had decided to use ethanol not tetra ethyl lead to prevent engine knocking. The coincidence of civil rights struggle + great society followed by a crime wave due to lead confused people (it confused me and I said that lead was a huge part of the inner city problem in 1978 — I told Andrei Shleifer this — you will have to trust me as I’m 100% sure he has forgotten).
But yes the crime wave played a huge role in the Reagan revolution. Interestingly crime kept climbing roughly until Clinton was elected (pure coincidence). Yet failure to effectively fight crime hurt Reagan no more than the sharp rise in poverty, the extraordinarily severe recession (not his fault) the very long period of unemployment over 7.4% or the sudden shift to increasing inequality. I didn’t understand his appeal at all. I still don’t.
Redid some stuff for you and gave you some links which I will use too. Charts are up on Media Library for you to C and P.
The graph on page 5 starts in 1968 and go to 2015 in the Senate Joint Committee paper. If you are looking for a graph starting in 1980, the link I have given you will do so on pages 5. I thought page 6 was also, but it is not.. Figure 1. Age-Adjusted Overdose Death Rate (All Intents), 1968-2015 In 1968, opioid overdose deaths were a small fraction of overall drug overdose deaths, but in 2015 they accounted for the majority of all drug-related deaths.
Keep in mind too the 1980 letter to the NEJM of medicine by Doctors Jink and Porter as misused by other Doctors and Drug Companies alike.
As support to your claim of the US going to hell in a hand basket This bar chart shows the number of erroneous citations of the Porter and Jick paragraph in the NEJM. Typically the median bumber of citations of a letter in the NEJM is 11 times. This letter was cited 681 times . In 1995 Purdue marketed a slow release version of Opioid called OxyContin. In 1996 the letter citation increased significantly as shown.
Hope that helps. Look at the page 5 chart. It does start in 1968.
Also if you go here you can see and interactive map of the US showing the deaths per 100,000 starting in 1979 in segments of years by sliding the little scale in the lower righthand corner.
If the 60’s and 70’s introduced drugs, it wasn’t until the 90’s/00’s that drugs became a outright epidemic. It seems as the US transferred to a consumption based society, drug use likewise rocketed. It makes a bunch of sense. Society pushes dopamine release and people are reaching for the release which wears down the transmitters in the brain. So they go further and further to get that “high”. If you have ADHD, you are at a big risk of drug use because of the weak dopamine transmitter response. I remember in 1996(or was it 97, man, I am getting old) during those Grafton holidays in WV, people starting bringing Oxy to the “young people get togethers” when I visited. I never was a opioid guy though. It did provide with a beer, a weird calm buzz………pill popping is nothing new. It started in earnest in the 90’s and was a fad by 2008. I was always a “quality” coke guy or I just drank. Never did meth, heroin ete ete ete. Drugs that suppress the sex drive were bleh…………………haha.
I never got the Reagan lovefest either. Even if you take a post-Boomer demographic and unemployment at 6.4%, that still isn’t very good. That said, Reagan was in trouble by January 1983. He had been there 2 years and people were starting to get impatient. I think the voting public understood that the Volcker disinflation would take time to “bare fruit” and gave him a pass. Basically the post-Volcker disinflation reboot had fired up and people were happy by 1984, waving their arms. My guess by January 1989 they hadn’t been disappointed. Considering Trend GDP growth was 2.7% in the 70’s and 2.4% in the 80’s, prime population to GDP was slightly better in the 80’s and the 90’s were better than both. But the 1945-73 era defeated them all as it had close to double prime population growth to GDP. Reagan conned the silent generation and Generation Jones big time. IMO, they took the brunt of the violent crime wave and became damaged goods. Voting so lock in step with Republicans, it became a joke. That is the way cults act. They wave their arms and act like ignorant stooges. Take the Alamo “foundation” and its businesses which were done by slave labor. How quaint. Donald Trump was heavily influenced by the Alamo’s fwiw. One of the biggest secrets out there. Once he and Ivana split, he knew he couldn’t do the business, thus sold his name and worked with foreign governments profiting from trafficking, money laundering and selling state secrets to Russian Oligarchs, KSA especially.