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Anti-Drug Researchers Claim That All High Schools are Either "Drug Infested" or "Drug Free"

Anti-drug activists are so desperate to infect society with their fears and anxieties that they routinely make up statistics designed to terrify parents and policy-makers. Such is the case with Joseph Califano of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) who announced today that 80% of high schools are "drug-infested."

Only a moment's inspection is required to discover that the people behind this research are insane. They begin by defining two types of schools:

Drug Infested: Schools at which the students surveyed had witnessed some form of drug activity

Drug Free: Schools at which the students surveyed had not witnessed drug activity

It is just so obvious that most schools are neither infested with, nor entirely free of drugs. Everything in this report is based on a false dichotomy that prevents any meaningful analysis. Califano argues that parents should remove their children from drug infested schools; a surprising declaration given that he puts 80% of schools in this category.

Jacob Sullum offers a typically superb refutation of the finer points of the study, but I want to emphasize one additional important point: the reason groups like CASA can do crazy things like claim that all schools are either drug infested or drug free is because the media never holds them accountable. The entire premise of this study is ridiculous on its face, and there is no excuse for the failure of the press to readily observe that something is wrong with this report.

Protecting children from drugs and other safety threats is an important discussion. Yet, this conversation goes nowhere when it is based on transparently nonsensical propaganda from hardcore anti-drug extremists. If Califano were correct that 4 out of 5 schools were really this dangerous, we'd already know about it.

It is also strange that Joseph Califano, who thinks the drug problem is worse than ever, advocates the continuation of the exact policies that got us here. He's a psycho, but he's right about one thing: something's got to change.

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Note that reducing a thing to the level of infection, is a classic fascist propaganda technique to oppress and abuse a minority population. Hitlers talk of infestations of jews, the way white racists were afraid of black interracial relationships, the way republicans talk about mexicans today, the way republicans talk about arabs today, and the way republicans talk about gay people today.

The fear of being overwhelmed by some infecting 'other' is classic authoritarianism.

drug infestation

well put - good point


Like I said, these people are insane.

Money Machine

CASA isn’t just a propaganda mill that arrives at senseless conclusions through meaningless data taken from telephone interviews.

It’s also a model con-job money machine that illustrates how easy it is to drink from the river of drug war cash flowing out of Washington, D.C.

And it’s not just tax money in the form of grants that CASA soaks up. The number and varieties of corporate contributors listed on the CASA website are truly amazing. $100,000-and-up contributions from Coca Cola, The Safeway Foundation, American Express, General Mills, Hearst Corporation, McDonald’s Corporation, JPMorgan Chase, and the list goes on.

CASA’s financials show that much of the corporate and publicly donated money is invested, and that CASA operations benefit from the profits on their portfolios. In recent years, CASA has added a new money squeeze for private donors that includes individual and gift memberships for $25 and up.

Corporations can make tax deductible donations to CASA and thereafter get good PR by claiming the donor company is doing its bit on the war on drugs. You need a bottomless pit to dump that money into, and CASA is it.

The fact that CASA’s director, Joe Califano, is a political fixture in Washington, D.C., and an insider-with-access to the Kennedy’s, etc., is probably useful for both the donors and the survival of CASA, despite CASA’s pitiful contribution to the whole drug war mess.

CASA’s primary function or contribution appears to be like that of Paul Revere, except that instead of the British, this time the message is “The Drugs are Coming!, The Drugs are Coming!”

Here’s the professional breakdown on CASA’s "vast" and “intellectually powerful,” 22-member research staff taken from their website:

Psychologists: 9
Lawyers: 5
Editor: 1
Health Science Specialist: 1
Human Development and Family Studies, BS: 1
Librarian: 1
Public Affairs, MA: 1
Social Policy: 1
Social Worker: 1
Statistician: 1

And that’s it. No medical doctors, no biochemists, no neurologists…a nearly total lack of professional scientists from the hard sciences.

Why does Columbia University give Califano cover?

Anything more than money? Sad, especially when other parts of that august institution (e.g., the journalism school and its magazine, law school) are trying to maintain a high ethical standard.

Columbia should have sent CASA and Califano packing years ago. Still, it's heartening that the few shrill voices against reform like Joe Califano have about as much credibility as Faux News and the rest of the Republican noise machine (yes, I know Califano is nominally not a Republican but a has been Democratic ward heeler).

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