The War on Drugs

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Pity the fool. Pity poor Donald Trump. He really doesn’t have a clue.

I am going to make a liberal, left-wing suggestion that will outrage right-wing conservatives, but before you throw up your hands and condemn me, hear me out.

The problem with all of us smelly deplorables electing a non-professional politician as president of the Unites States is that the poor naïve schmuck actually seems to believe he is supposed to keep—or at least try to keep—his campaign promises. Trump doesn’t realize politicians just promise whatever they hell they want or must to get elected; nobody expects them to ever keep a promise, for goodness sake! What a joke.

Trump declared war on drugs on the campaign trail, and, most recently since his election, on opioids in particular. Now let’s see, which president since Richard Nixon (who coined the phrase in 1971) has not declared war on drugs? And how are we doing with that, America?

No one ever accused me of being the brightest bulb in the tanning bed, but I am smart enough to realize that after almost half a century of failing at something, it might be time to try another tactic. Call me an easily discouraged quitter, but that’s how I feel about it.

So I am going to suggest that we just give up—sort of—and legalize drugs; not only marijuana, but every damned thing that you can put in your body to alter or dim your consciousness.

Wait. Don’t go away angry. Listen to some well-known facts before you lose your temper.

Scientists who study such things say that approximately ten to fifteen percent of any population group anywhere in the world will be prone to some form of addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, gambling, whatever, and that percentage of the population will have that tendency no matter what. (Whether they all indulge their tendency or not is another matter.)

Approximately eight to ten percent of Americans are currently considered drug-addicted.

America spends approximately $30- to $100-billion (depending which source you choose to believe and how you calculate it) every single year on the war on drugs. That’s the cost you and I, the American taxpayer, pay to prevent the stuff getting in the country; to try and stop or eradicate it at its international source; to arrest and incarcerate people for selling and/or using it; to provide treatment for addicts; and for campaigns to discourage or prevent people (children, primarily) from starting down the dark road to addiction.

Even at the low end, that’s a hefty chunk of change, but that price tag doesn’t include the ancillary costs: the over 63,000 (according to the CDC) dead from overdoses every year; the quotidian violence and murder in our city streets that destroys not only lives but entire communities; the 250,000 murdered in Mexico alone in the last ten years—more than 55 people a day is the estimate—to feed America’s hunger for addiction; the practically endless costs of less violent varieties of crime (burglaries and robberies); the costs, both in dollars and in human lives, of drug-impaired people driving in the car next to you, or just behind you, or coming toward you, every single time you get behind the wheel of your car.

Legalizing drugs would have several, almost immediate results.

It would drive the price down, which would put most local dealers out of business immediately.

It would eventually put the cartels out of business. Yes, I understand they’re all criminals and would just turn their attention to some other illegal activity, but destroying their bread and butter would save countless lives and countless billions of dollars.

The American government, on the other hand, could make money hand over fist by regulating and taxing the stuff, just the way they do alcohol.

It would provide some measure of control over who takes drugs and what drugs they take. Addicts would have to register to be able to get their drugs, take the stuff in a controlled environment where they wouldn’t overdose or kill you with their driving, and be exposed to endless opportunities to kick their habit.

I suspect the number of addicts would drop because making drugs legal and administering them through some boring bureaucratic agency would take away much of the “wow factor” that causes teenagers to experiment, teenagers being notorious for wanting to do whatever they are told they may not do.

It would save lives: the more than 63,000 who die from overdoses every year, for one; for another, the murder rate would plummet, because approximately 95% to 98% of murders in this country are directly or indirectly drug-related, according to law enforcement; it would reduce the number of traffic accident fatalities (although, to be fair, I have to admit more accidents are caused by cell phones and texting than by impaired driving).

If you disagree, present your arguments against legalization, but make sure you have some alternative to the current, ineffective, wasteful, and destructive war on drugs, because spinning your wheels for fifty years is really not too smart.

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16 thoughts on “The War on Drugs”

  1. Could you explain this? As it is it seems oxymoronic. “The American government, on the other hand, could make money hand over fist by regulating and taxing the stuff, just the way they do alcohol.

    It would provide some measure of control over who takes drugs and what drugs they take. Addicts would have to register to be able to get their drugs, take the stuff in a controlled environment where they wouldn’t overdose or kill you with their driving, and be exposed to endless opportunities to kick their habit.”

    Here is the oxymoron part (in my mind), “…taxing the stuff, just the way they do alcohol” and “…where they wouldn’t overdose or kill you with their driving.”

    And don’t you think that actually legalizing it would still make it a black market item? There would still be overdoses and still people taking it illegally. What addict wants to jump through legal hoops to legally get the drugs they now get on the street? Especially if the dosage will be lower. I mean what’s the fun of getting shot up with drugs if you’re not getting the same high? I can see how some would still look elsewhere for the same high (and remember, it takes increasingly more of the drug to get the high).

    (Did that even make sense?)

  2. Michigan just legalized marijuana. I guess we will see if this ends up being a good idea or not.

    1. So did Missouri. Colorado did a few years ago. I have heard it has not done anything good for their state.

      The one thing I do know, it is took my sleepy little town of <20,000 from a sleepy little town to the drug capital of Nebraska. Most of the marijuana grown in CO travels 200 miles north where it is illegally bought/sold/distributed around the rest of the state, and into other states.

      Ironically, my town was named "The Most Charming Small Town in Nebraska."

      JP, I have no "good" solution to the drug war we have going on. I only know what we have done hasn't worked well. And I just can't see how legalizing it would help. During Prohibition alcohol was illegal, people just found other ways to procure it.

      When Prohibition ended in early December (5) of 1933, we did not suddenly see a decrease in number of alcoholics, or crimes stemming from the sell of alcohol. In the last nearly 9 decades, we are still seeing a phenomenal number of alcohol related deaths and accidents. (My own father, a decorated (purple heart) Vietnam Veteran, died from alcoholism before the age of 60.)

      Oh hey wait!! Wait a minute! Here's a thought. I have no idea how it would play out but in my opinion it's a big bit better than legalizing drugs.

      For decades we've been teaching evolution in school as fact. We're also been teaching that man is his own god. While at the same time teaching him there is no God and God doesn't exist.
      My own personal beliefs aside, how can we do this? When we tell people they are descended from animals, there is no point, no purpose to their life. They only get one go-round and then it's lights out. Can't you see how that could lead more and more people to anesthetize the pain of a purposeless existence with drugs and alcohol?

      It's compounded in the decades since the 80s when more and more parents were divorcing, and/or both parents worked outside of the home. The family unit has been shot to smithereens…even since you were a child at home, am I right?

      If all of everything is all about me and my comfort, and if I'm not comfortable, I'm going to do whatever it takes to be comfortable, legal or illegal. And if I die? "So what. I only have one shot at life anyway."

      What we need to do is not give in to those who are wanting to anesthetize with alcohol, we need to show them that they were created for and with a purpose. That their life means something more than just a free trip around the sun every year.

      How can we do this? I have some ideas, but honestly I'm sure I'm in the minority and I'm not sure I'm brave enough to share them here. But I will say this, a return to grassroots America, where people worked hard for what they had and had nothing just handed to them because they were alive and might or might not be cute. When we had the thrill of ownership, especially after we had worked hard for what we had. My first car was a 1973 red pinto, looked like heck but I loved that car because I spent hours each week working at the local grocery store as a carry out (one Memorial Day I had 400 pounds of softener salt fall on me, I kept working.) to afford the $125.00 to pay for it.

      That's what we need. Not legalization of illegal drugs. Because when does the legalizing of illegals end? Taken to it's end, lets not have any process for citizenship, let's fling open the borders and take any and everyone in, clothe and feed them, while we give shoot them full of narcotics. Yeah, that'll make America great again.


  3. Towards the end of my employment at the Alcohol/Drug Treatment Clinic in Fort Smith, a Methadone Clinic popped up just across the river in Roland, OK. Methadone is used to help those who are hooked on heroin to get off heroine. Only problem is that Methadone is as addictive and more painful to come off than heroin (or, so I am told as I have not had that addiction).

    Those who ‘couldn’t make it in the treatment center’ usually ended up over there and those that went to the Clinic first, usually ended up at our facility at some point or other to get off Methadone.

    From what I have been told, this clinic had an honor system. Once set up, the patient would get a week’s worth of Methadone at a time. For some, this worked out. For others, Methadone didn’t have enough of a ‘kick’ to it and they would sell/trade their allotment for a different drug. They would either go back to heroin or get on Meth.

    The doctors who saw this as a good living didn’t want the program to fail so they ‘enhanced their reports’. They also had a very willing group of patients and were caught supplying them with a variety of drugs (extra income on the side).

    I get the medical marijuana. I know several that probably would benefit from being able to use it (I have at least two cousins who have such degenerative bone disease that being able to access it on a regular basis would be of relief). I don’t understand recreational marijuana.

    Yes, I know the argument alcohol vs marijuana. But we have already been down that long road of making alcohol illegal (that worked out well, didn’t it?). Question is, if we open the door for marijuana or other drugs are we willing or will we be able to close that Pandora’s box should it get an ‘F’?

    Then there’s the question of what rights could a person that has signed up in this program be able to retain. First Amendment? Second? (For God’s sake, he is now a card carrying drug addict….how about that argument.) How would drug testing work at the work place should this person get injured or should this person injure others? I see lawsuits. Or, would all have to sign away that as well? Hmmmmm. How about who pays for it? I see bigger and bigger government….healthcare (to pay for the drugs and the possible over-doses). Whose rights would out weigh the rights of others? The drug addict who has the government’s blessing, or the productive worker that is paying for the drug addict? (Think it’s bad now….wait.)

    I get the argument for legalizing drugs, why it even seems plausible. But there are so many things that one article cannot possibly touch upon.

    It is a losing battle that we have been fighting for too long. Build a wall? Shoot the supplier that comes over the wall? Shoot the Congressman that passed the law that allowed your child, your mother, your grandpa to get hooked on this stuff?

    Shoot (no pun intended) Jameson, we can’t even count ballots and you want us to be able to respond to this?!! lol

    I will now step back and let others respond. I am interested in hearing what everyone has to say.
    Mary Ellen

  4. Hi JP, I always enjoy your posts, even when I don’t fully agree with you. I smiled at “the brightest bulb in the tanning bed.”

    I do agree with you about pot. Legalize it tomorrow morning, if you like! I wish I could still smoke it sometimes. I would be willing to go with you on cocaine too, and even regular old-fashioned heroin, and others. I also appreciate the spirit of your post, and in a way, I see how it is really the opposite of liberal and is consistent with the idea of personal liberty, unfettered by governmental meddling, I have read in your blog posts. I like that too. I believe that legalization would have some of the positive effects that you describe concerning the potential reduction of crime etc. Clearly, the “war on drugs” has been futile and has caused additional horrific problems.

    However, I can’t agree with you about opioids. First of all, what is now called the worst epidemic in American history was created and grown legally. When it was full- steam- ahead- legal, doctors gave it out freely, apparently duped into forgetting that it was synthetic heroin. They told their patients it was medicine. How many of the people whose lives it ruined would have taken it if the bottle had said “heroin” on it? Take one every four hours!

    Have scientists studied the percentages of addictive susceptibility for these manufactured drugs? I most certainly can’t prove it, but I wonder if it would be a higher rate than with the usual street drugs, alcohol, and even regular heroin.
    Opioids alter the brain systems in such fundamental way. Science knows this now (I know other drugs do too, to a point). I believe that no one with addictive tendencies has much of a chance of stopping without long-term assistance once they cross that tolerance line with opioids. As a recovering alcoholic, I am in that addictive percentage. I have been sober for 13 years. Although it has still affected my life, I feel so fortunate that I did not personally succumb to this epidemic. I so easily could have.

    One of my closest friends from high school is an active opioid/opiate addict and has been using needles for years. She is also a frequently homeless prostitute now. She started out with a decent life and a legal prescription to Vicodin. Like me, she had the good alcoholic genes that made her susceptible, and when she injured herself in a drunken car accident in 2001, she got her first prescriptions for opioids. She still had a “normal” life when I visited her in 2008…car, job, apartment, all that. Her medication didn’t seem like a big deal. It went down the tubes when she tried Oxycontin. Maybe she would have anyway, but the Vicodin and Percocet had already given her a taste for it. She was able to get a prescription for Oxy after that, as well as getting it on the street. She had “a script” as late as 2016, despite the marks on her arms. She used to crush up the pills and inject them.

    I believe she never would have gotten there without this legally manufactured epidemic. I can’t tell you how much her teenage self would have reacted with disgust to the person she has become or how unthinkable it would have been back then. Of course, it haunts me, though I don’t try to help anymore. I used to.
    I am close friends now her ex, who takes methadone now. Neither one of these girls would have dreamed of doing heroin when this nightmare was fresh. They both had legal prescriptions for these “medicines…”
    Actually, something in your controlled distribution plan could work along those lines if it was medication therapy – preferably paid for by the people who actively worked to create and profit off of this epidemic. They need to pay. Medication therapy rather than abstinence is the only hope for those far gone on that path because it alters the brain so much. For active users, I agree with Ginny’s comment above that if you can’t get high like you want to, it isn’t worth it.

    I am angry (though not at you or your blog), and certainly somewhat emotional/irrational on the subject…but I believe that the makers of Oxycontin deliberately pushed drug and a class of drugs that they knew would create addicts. It is so obvious to me that they knew.

    Maybe it seems this clear to me because I see its similarity to the blood-brain barrier thing with cigarette manufacturers. Smoke tobacco at your own risk, but if someone gives you the extra addictive, poisonous version without mentioning it, how will you know? My father, with his addictive genes, smoked the day he died, with COPD and less than 10 percent lung capacity. They wanted their product to be addictive.

    I realize all of these sad tales don’t exactly prove anything other than the overwhelming chords of addiction in my life. I have no alternative solution. I don’t think products should be illegal just because they are potentially dangerous, but that changes if they contain a deliberately hidden danger.

    Pharmaceutical companies are still creating more of these drugs (the FDA just passed a new, super deadly one that I’m sure will only be used as directed, of course). I don’t think they should be allowed to continue doing that, and the government could shut that down if they wanted to. Of course, they don’t want to.

    Worth a read in case you haven’t read this one:

    This obscure source gives a history of what should have been crystal clear to the medical community.

    For corruption fun:

  5. …. haben wir diese Diskussion nicht schon einmal geführt ? …Nein, niemals sollte meiner Meinung nach der Kampf gegen Drogen aufgegeben werden, NIEMALS, stellen Sie sich bitte vor, Crystal meth , Crocodil etc. wären legal, nicht auszudenken, wie die Menschheit legal kaputt gehen würde. Aufgeben würde bedeuten, den Kampf zu verlieren, dies würde bedeuten, die Gesundheit, gar die gesamte Menschheit aufgeben… Legalisiert werden könn(t)en Drogen, die zur Bekämpfung von Schmerzzuständen oder zu Beschwerdefreiheit , Verbesserung von chronischen Krankheiten dienen, aber niemals die Legalisierung aller Arten von Drogen. Der Aufwand zur Bekämpfung muss weitergehen, trotz des Geldes, welches es dem Steuerzahler kostet ! Ich denke, wenn es einen “freien Markt” für Drogen geben würde, würden immer noch weiterhin Drogen illegal verkauft werden, da wenige bereit wären, sich offiziell registrieren zu lassen, (genau, wie beim Waffenbesitz … offizieller Verkauf mit Registrierung, sowie Schwarzmarkt, und die dadurch entstehende Kriminalität … es wird und bleibt ein beständiger ewiger Kampf, den es gilt NIEMALS aufzugeben !!!)
    Die Aufklärung über die Folgen des Drogenkonsums (genau wie bei einer Handhabung der Waffe) müsste als Erstes oberste Priorität haben, angefangen mit der Aufklärung in Kindergärten und Schulen. Danach müssten die Strafen für jegliche Art der Drogenkriminalität deutlich erhöht werden. Die Strafverfolgung müsste meiner Meinung nach noch konsequenter erfolgen …. viele Grüße und Ihnen Herr Parker morgen einen wunderbaren Geburtstag …. Manuela

    google translate: (I hope you can understand what I want to say)

    …. have we not already had this discussion? … No, in my opinion, the fight against drugs should never be given up, NEVER, just imagine, Crystal meth, Crocodil, etc., being legal, not thinking how humanity would be destroyed legally. Giving up would mean losing the fight, which would mean giving up health, even the whole of humanity … Legalized drugs can be legalized, but never to treat pain, or to relieve symptoms, to improve chronic diseases the legalization of all types of drugs. The effort to fight must go on, despite the money it costs the taxpayer! I think that if there was a “free market” for drugs, drugs would still be sold illegally, as few would be willing to register officially (just like in gun ownership … official sales with registration, as well as Black market, and the resulting crime … it will be and remains a perpetual eternal struggle, which NEVER has to give up !!!)
    The education about the consequences of the drug use (as well as the handling of the weapon) should first of all have the highest priority, starting with the education in kindergartens and schools. After that, the penalties for any type of drug crime would have to be increased significantly. The prosecution would have to be more consistent in my opinion …. many greetings and you Mr. Parker tomorrow a wonderful birthday …. Manuela

    1. Happy Birthday Mr. Parker much health and happiness in the world and God blessings …. Many greetings Manuela …. you must NOT publish this, because it does not contribute to the topic.

      1. Please excuse my typos and translation errors as it has been translated with google translator …. Manuela

        1. Herr Parker könnten Sie bitte für mich etwas Posten, was nicht zum Blog dazu beiträgt ? Danke, das wäre sehr nett von Ihnen. Das ist für Melissa … Melissa, ich hoffe, du bist gesund und dir geht es gut. Ich würde mich freuen, wieder von dir lesen zu können, da du schon so lange an den Diskussionen im Blog nicht mehr daran teilgenommen hast, deine Meinung fand ich immer sehr interessant. ….viele liebe Grüße aus Deutschland …. Manuela

          (google translate):

          Mr. Parker could you please post something for me, which does not contribute to the blog? Thanks, that would be very nice of you. That’s for Melissa … Melissa, I hope you’re well and you’re fine. I would be happy to read from you again, since you have not participated in the discussions in the blog so long, your opinion has always been very interesting. …. many greetings from Germany …. Manuela

  6. I might agree with you if the only people hurt were the ones taking the drugs. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Spouses, Children and society are all affected by someone’s addiction. Child abuse and addiction seem to go hand and hand.

  7. Completely off the topic of your blog.

    Happy birthday. You have touched many lives and I, for one, am extremely grateful for your life. I hope your birthday is the best one yet! You are loved.


  8. Dear JP,
    Happy Thanksgiving, (aka in Boston The Fest of Indigenous Subjugation and Arbitrary Vegan Meat Substitute with Gluten Free Stuffing) I totally – sort of – agree with your legalization stance. More about that in a moment.
    So, I may have missed wishing you a happy birthday this year which would likely be a first since you started this blog, but then again I might have done it on a comment in a different post, but I am not sure as I don’t usually post on your blog until after my sleeping pill. Which is odd as I should have remembered since you are literally a day older than my mother. Sorry about that.
    Back to drugs.
    Let me offer a modest proposal. In order to make this a sustainable model for government revenue and growth we need to get as close to 100% responsible usage. To make sure that this happens we need to start young and get children back onto sugar which is the primum medicamento porta or prime gateway drug. At around the age of 10 when the hormones and pimples kick in we yank the sugar away and offer weed to ease the pain of withdrawal. Weed being the primum porta somnificus or prime gateway narcotic. This will also serve as a method that ensures more compliance, obedience, and sustainable long term usage. Also, we must provide the weed for free in exchange for labor so we don’t lose so many jobs to developing nations. I am even open to lowering the age to 7 for specialized fields such as jewelry making where small hands are of greater value.
    While high on marijuana the children will get the munchies and we can use this opportunity to get them off of the processed foods and back onto a healthy diet that is likely to reduce obesity and other childhood illnesses and lower government expenditures on healthcare.
    At the age of 15 we will necessarily have to move the children onto amphetamines. If we stop at weed then it really isn’t much of a gateway then is it? Plus, a large number of children are on ADHD meds already, but full demographic usage would lead to greater productivity and a better sense of community. Also, this will give the US a competitive edge against competing nations and make it easier to ease into a 70 hour work week.
    Now I am not a demon. I don’t want small children on opiates. Nor teens. We should wait until their brains are fully developed which seems to 21 for most people and 11 for liberals. At 21 we start dolling out the Vicodin to ease the pain of adulthood.
    The goal in this is to get to the 1.75 trillion dollars we need to fund universal healthcare at the $5,000 per person rate and shut Bernie Sanders up. For that we will need about $1,200 per family per month so managed addiction is a must. The $1,200 can be halved by halving the expense with the states and maintaining states rights. So we would need $600 per family per month. If we take the 40 billion a year we spend on the war on drugs and move that to healthcare we could further reduce the cost by $333 per household and get it down to $277 per household. And so as to minimize the black market we likely have to keep the federal tax rate at about 25% which means a list price of $1,108 a month per household in managed narcotics use.
    The good news is that with the modest math we only need to get every household on the hook for a $1,108 per month in drug sales or about $750 per working adult per month. That is just $25 per day so clearly, we will need the help of Starbucks to create a $25 a day habit for adults.
    Currently people are paying $5 for a morning latte as a pick me up. With cocaine in it I am thinking $10 is reasonable. A $7 weed brownie would help reduce any chance at the jitters. A speedy smoothie with amphetamines for $7 in the afternoon for a bit of a pick me up. And finally, a little sleepy time tea with a proprietary blend of opioids and THC to help for $4 and we are $28 a day and have a budget surplus.
    Now drugs will have to be zoned. And if we make them legal then doing it through a boring agency will likely, as some have suggested above and based on historical patterns, cause a whole different type of underground drug economy. So I say we allow distribution at drive through windows in standalone locations, but in store shopping at malls only. This will help the currently failing mall industry, spur in store retail sales, and add to personal interactions in this ever increasing society of disconnectedness due to technology.
    In order to get adults into it I say the Federal Government actually give away drugs at sporting events. Rowdy events like hockey and basketball games where fights break out often we give away free weed during the week and moderate opioids for the weekend games. While games like golf, bowling, and baseball get speed because they all need it. Football still gets beer. Call me old fashioned.
    Hope this helps

  9. There were some very good arguments for not legalizing drugs, but no one has come up with an alternative to the current government policy. A friend of mine has suggested draconian enforcement, which, as he explains it, translates to shooting to kill any dealer, large or small, any mule, or any individual caught trying to smuggle the stuff into the country. I understand his anger, and frankly I’m not entirely against it, especially in light of some of the horror stories of ranchers down along the border, and some of the horror stories in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans, etc., but you can imagine what the anti-police-anti-American-government deeper thinkers would make of that. So I guess the situation will remain as is, with murderous cartels and gang members getting unimaginably rich off the American tax payer, while some perfectly good and decent young people have their lives ruined or ended.

  10. Dear JP
    It is hard to manage something that is in the shadows. Once anything is labeled vice or abhorrent it gets harder to control for the simple reason that you have to find it first. It cost society more because to manage the illegal is a losing proposition. You are constantly throwing money at a problem that itself seems constant.
    There is a quote from 1914 that has become a proverb “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants”. It is from attorney Louis Dembitz Brandeis and is part of a larger statement: “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Criminals, once labeled that way, tend to shun observation.
    As of yet no state has had any notable signs of social deterioration since legalizing marijuana. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the first states to legalize marijuana had already adopted a pretty permissive attitude toward the drug or drugs in general and use had already reached saturation and full bloomed maturity. But also, humans seem to be hardwired to desire forbidden fruit. So much so it is literally the first lesson taught in Judaism and Christianity.
    I find it odd that no one can offer an alternative to legalization that will afford a better outcome. Monetarily or otherwise.
    Also, in a country that values freedom of the individual as we pretend to I find it odd that we tell people that they can’t get high at home. That they can’t possess something that won’t harm anyone but them. Getting drunk at home isn’t an issue until you leave your home or are taking care of a child, but “we” have decided that there is a list of forbidden fruit that you aren’t aloud to have.

    Driving or using machinery while intoxicated is a crime. Driving while tired or mentally impaired is becoming a crime in a few states. One might imagine that we might just set guidelines similar to the field sobriety test that can be used to evaluate a driver/machine operators fitness to maneuver a vehicle of any kind that is not dependent on the intoxicant. Can you imagine someone being released by police after failing a field sobriety test, but passing the drug and alcohol tests because they aren’t high, but they have advanced dementia?

    That’s my rant. Thanks for writing this post and the many others that engage your readers and make them think.
    Ken from Dallas

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