Sat, Mar 30, 2002 - Page 8

US drug war `corrupt'

It is obvious that the US Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) corrupt drug war drives the corrupt drug policies of many countries around the world, including those in Latin America ("Latin America remains fragile," March 24, page 9). The corrupt leaders of these countries nevertheless pretend that their corrupt policies are sovereign and independent.

The thing that makes drugs and dealers dangerous and violent is the drug war. The prohibition itself is what allows these dealers to exist in the first place. By declaring a war on them, their businesses and their goods, the US government surely in-vites them to respond in kind.

Only one thing is going to separate the dealers from their huge profits and it isn't the government's war. It is decriminalization, legalization, regulation and an end to the government's domestic war on drugs.

Drug dealers, warlords, kingpins and guerillas fear only one thing. They don't fear the DEA, CIA, FBI or any other law enforcement agency, politicians or armies, because they either already own them or have them outgunned. What they do fear is legalization and regulation.

The government rarely lists "victory" as an objective in its expensive and oppressive war. When it does spout its "zero tolerance, total victory" rhetoric, how many of your readers actually believe it? How many actually believe that this year's multi-billion-dollar drug war budget will be the one that will achieve total victory after decades of billion-dollar budgets have failed?

Law enforcement, customs, the prison service and military-industrial complex, the drug-testing industry, the drug-treatment industry, the INS, the CIA, the FBI, the DEA and the politicians themselves are probably unable to live without the budget appropriated to them for the war, not to mention the invisible profits, bribery, corruption and forfeiture benefits that prohibition affords them.

The drug war also promotes, justifies and perpetuates racist enforcement policies and is eroding many freedoms that are supposed to be inalienable under the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Myron Von Hollingsworth

Fort Worth, Texas

Wrong targets

It was with incredulity that I read about the "success" of Taipei traffic officials in handing out fines to over 2,000 motorcyclists in an attempt to clamp down on illegal lane swapping, among other things ("Strict traffic crackdown underway in Taipei City," March 2, page 2).

It amazes me how traffic-unfriendly roads in Taiwan are to motorcyclists. This is so ironic, since there is supposedly one motorcycle to every two persons in the country. The assault on motorcyclists underlines, more than anything, the inability of traffic officials to enforce more essentials laws that are applicable to drivers of cars and larger vehicles.

Why don't they use their resources and efforts to tackle 18-wheelers who go through red traffic lights? Why are efforts not directed at drivers who adopt the "bigger goes first" mentality and literally muscle motorcyclists out of the way? The traffic department needs to prioritize more judiciously.

There is no success in constantly harassing motorcyclists when there are bigger and more crucial problems created by drivers. Yes, illegal lane swapping is dangerous, but so are those large trucks and the third-world road culture that leads to the above-mentioned infringements. In fact, the latter poses a greater threat to public safety.

The time has come for motorcyclists to get a sense of ownership when it comes to the roads, and to have that sense with a greater level of security.

Brandon Stoltenkamp


Reduce traffic light periods

A simple way to reduce the number of traffic accidents that result from people jumping red lights, would be to simply reduce the time it takes for the lights to change. It has often baffled me why the lights are programmed to test the patience of even the most snail-like of motorists.

Reducing the waiting time would reduce impatience, speed up traffic and encourage people to wait their turn -- opposed to the insanity that one witnesses every day on Taiwan's streets.

Adam Rose