Everyone agrees that drug and alcohol addiction is a serious problem. Not everyone agrees on how to solve the problem. I received a candidate survey from Missouri Recovery Network. This is my answer to their questions.
My campaign motto is "Liberty Under God."
"Liberty" means people should not be coerced or forced by threats of violence to take any specific action regarding drugs, or toward those recovering from addictions;
"Under God" means we all have a duty to our Creator and to those created in His Image:
• We have a duty to be productive, to serve others, and not to retreat from the responsibilities of life into drugs and alcohol;
• We have a duty to help those who have fallen, to strengthen those who are weak, to bear one another's burdens, and to help the families of those who have been abandoned by those who are delinquent in their duties.
As I have described elsewhere, I spent the better part of a decade working with those in recovery. Together with a couple of friends, I rented a large house, my friends and I took a couple of rooms upstairs, and we allowed homeless addicts to get a fresh start using the remaining rooms. Nearly a thousand people spent at least one night in our home. Although I myself have never been intoxicated, I believe the "12 steps" of the various "anonymous" groups can be followed by everyone. A house of hospitality for those in recovery is just one way of living out the "12th step." I have hundreds of books on recovery in my personal library.
Nevertheless, as a Libertarian, I oppose the use of government force to compel anyone to follow a course of recovery, or to compel Jones to fund Smith's recovery. Our house of hospitality never took any government funds. Compassion must come from the heart, not the barrel of a government gun.
I strongly oppose the so-called "War on Drugs," which is creating far more serious social problems than it even hopes to solve, and is making the problems it was designed to solve even worse.
The Missouri Recovery Network poses the following questions to political candidates:
1) Untreated addiction is the cause of other problems and illnesses like heart disease, lower work productivity, overcrowded jails and broken families. Yet millions of Americans can’t access the treatment and recovery services they need.
If elected, will you support an increase in funding to ensure that treatment and recovery services are available to all who need them?
I completely agree with the premise, but not the question/solution.
I oppose coercive, confiscatory government taxation to fund compassion and service.
I encourage everyone to remember that what they do to "the least of these" they do to Christ, and to have a "Christ room" or some place in their home or life for someone in need.
I believe personal, face-to-face compassion is better than "giving at the office."
2) Many in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, myself included, have experienced insurance discrimination, which means we have been denied life-saving treatments.
Will you vote for a bill to end insurance discrimination by offering the same coverage – parity – for addiction services as for other health issues?
I completely agree with the premise, but not the question/solution.
I do not support government-coerced action on the part of insurance companies. Some "addiction services" are a waste of money. Insurance companies need to find those services that are genuinely valuable, and become motivated from the heart to provide coverage for them. It should be easy to show insurance companies that effectively treating addiction will prevent many other health problems that will have to be covered later on. This is a task for persuasion, not government force. George Washington is reported to have said,
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. . . .
Reliable facts, solid reasons, and a good heart are needed, not government threats.
3) The war on drugs has proven that despite spending $40 billion a year to fight it, drug use has not decreased. America’s mayors, along with local law enforcement officials, are pushing for a new approach that puts an emphasis on treatment and alternatives to jail.
Do you agree or disagree with this new direction and why?
I completely agree with the premise and I strongly support this new direction.
4) Millions of Americans are in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, yet many still find it difficult to get an education, a good job, or health insurance due to discriminatory policies and laws.
Do you support the repeal of these laws, which basically prevent people who have paid their debt to society from contributing to their families and communities in a positive way?
I agree with the premise, and I strongly support the repeal of such laws, whenever such laws mandate government action against those in recovery, or mandate private discrimination against or prohibit private benefits toward those in recovery.
I do not support government compulsion toward those who, for whatever reason, do not wish to hire or associate with those in recovery. Such people need to be educated and encouraged, so that they see the benefits in helping those in recovery, and voluntarily do so, not coerced and threatened by the government with fines or prison.
5). Recovery support services have been critical to helping people sustain their recovery from addiction for the long term. The President has eliminated funding for recovery community organizations providing these services from his 2009 budget.
Do you support restoring this funding and extending the Recovery Community Services Program which has proven to be successful in communities across the country?
No. Funding should come from the heart, from voluntary and private sources. If elected, I would use the "bully pulpit" to encourage bountiful private funding of organizations that serve those in recovery, as well as tax credits for families that practice "12th-step" hospitality.
The Missouri Recovery Network then requests the following commitments from political candidates:
1) Ensure coverage for equitable and effective addiction prevention, treatment and recovery care in all public and private health care plans
2) Fund addiction prevention, early intervention and research as an investment in America’s future
3) Implement policies that promote long-term recovery from addiction as integral to overall health and end the criminalization of addiction
4) Prohibit discrimination against people in long-term recovery who seek a brighter future for themselves and their families through education, gainful employment, safe housing and health insurance.
In response, I would say:
1. Ensure -- but not by government force
2. Fund -- but not through government taxation or inflation
3. Implement -- on a private, not "public" (government) basis
4. Prohibit -- end government restrictions or mandates that hurt those in recovery.