Sunday, 2 August 2015

A case for legalising illegal drugs?

Small things matter. Think about the way many people economise with water and electricity – not leaving the tap on when brushing their teeth; not filling the kettle with more water than is needed for that cup of tea. OK, so it’s a very small difference in the scale of things, but it could never be called insignificant.

The same is true for the casual purchase of small quantities of illegal drugs for personal use.

So what is the problem here? Well, who will deny that the illegal drug industry has brought vast wealth to some of the most vicious criminals on this planet.  And in their wake are the broken lives of men, women and children. Usually the most vulnerable in society, either through deprivation, poverty or sheer stupidity. The illicit drugs industry has been a direct contributing factor to the driving of people, including countless children, into prostitution and worse.

So each spliff you buy along the road contributes in a small, but never insignificant, way to driving these unfortunate people to ruin and death. If you so indulge yourself then you are complicit in these crimes.

My own view? Well, I think we should at least listen to the arguments for legalising the lot. Make it available from discreet licensed outlets. Even if taxed sufficiently to fund treatment of the health problems that would result from drug usage for some, it would still surely be a lot cheaper than what a street criminal would charge. Of course such a move should be combined with a health education programme to encourage people not to use the stuff, but sadly too many people seem quite impervious to the influence of good advice – after all, they still smoke, they still eat too much and they still don’t exercise. My own belief is that those wider lifestyle issues will continue to have a far greater impact of the health of the nation than the availability of de-criminalised drugs.

The abortion act of 1967 pretty well put paid to the back street abortionist who killed so many women. I’d like to see the same done to the drug barons and their miserable acolytes on the street corners.

Saturday, 1 August 2015


The headline in today’s ‘Times’ concerns the aggressive behaviour of some charities toward donors and those perceived as potential donors, and so I thought I might share some of my own views.

I have always given to charities, but I am selective on the matter of to whom and what I will give. I have a favourite to which I give regularly – a care home for elderly people run by an order of nuns. The fact that I have no religious faith does not matter here – I think they do a good job with love and care. I get a very courteous greetings card at Christmas and almost always put a cheque in the post to them, for which I am graciously thanked and told that prayers are offered for me. Bless them. And if I sell one of the oil paintings I do from time to time I don’t take money, but ask the person who is buying the painting to contribute instead to this good cause. That way I don’t get into complicated tax wrangling. And if a young person is helping to pack bags at the supermarket checkout I like to ask all about what they are collecting for, and as well as dropping a pound into the bucket I congratulate them and wish them well. I just admire them, and they are always courteous and never pushy.

I will give to medical charities, but again to those less ‘popular’ with the sympathetic (and sentimental) public, and in particular to such as Alzheimer’s and mental health issues. The Salvation Army does good work, but as a non-believer I know that they are convinced that I am destined for Hell, being the sort of sect they are. I do forgive them for that though.

But I do find being approached by ‘chuggers’ in the street, a common enough occurrence, annoying. And it’s not a one off donation they want, I am told, but a commitment to more regular giving. I have no problem dealing with such: a charming young man or woman approaches me with an opening gambit along the lines of ‘may I have a minute of your time?’ to which I reply, politely, ‘no you may not’ and walk by. I don’t make an excuse. Why should I?

The charities I do favour are those that help the seriously marginalised and underprivileged – such as the elderly as I have mentioned, and the addicted and the homeless. The ‘Cinderella’ groups. I am less enamoured of most of the children’s charities – which may shock some of you – and animal charities. For if children are being neglected or ill treated it is simply a national disgrace and it is our government that should be addressing that, and imposing taxes to fund it. And so far as animals are concerned, the main problems seems to be that there are just too many of them. People who mistreat animals should be up in front of the courts. And if people can’t afford vetinary care for their pets, then they shouldn’t have pets. No-one has a ‘right’ to own an animal. I don’t have a pet because I know too well that to care for one properly demands huge commitment and not a little sacrifice. Instead I feed my garden birds who seem very appreciative, not only of the food I put out but also of the fact that there will not be a feline on the prowl in my back yard. Those are seen off with a gentle squirt from a hose pipe. Actually I like cats for their beauty, but not for their destruction or defaecating on my grass. So off they go.

As for mail from charities that comes through my door – in to the recycling it all goes (other than the Christmas card from the nuns). I just think it a dreadful waste of trees,