Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Spectacular but useless

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  • Ross Bell,

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And we're left with an index that is spectacular but fairly useless in policy terms.

    Would I be far too cynical in suggesting that there's an event that has to happen on one Saturday before the middle of November that might be marginally more pertinent here? And God only knows that the Police need some positive PR...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Those headlines 'police raid discovers $N million worth of drugs' have always seemed bogus to me - I mean is there a part of StatisticsNZ that does a monthly street price survey? - I kind of imagine a Beavis&Butthead "nyuck nycuk nycuk - I sold that guy a tinny of oregano for $500, he was so obviously a nark man"

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Hogan,

    Yes, pointless waffle really in terms of any real social benefit. The police are definitely in need of positive PR, and this will provide stats to that effect that can be used to buy some more votes.

    Any drug harm index that does not include alcohol and tobacco is useless, but does not serve the purpose here, and would not be allowed by respective lobby groups. $12K worth of harm per kg of cannabis? Gimme a break..

    The more money they spend, the more they save us...
    From ourselves!

    If that isn't politically driven socialist crap nothing is.

    Waiheke Island • Since Nov 2006 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    If that isn't politically driven socialist crap nothing is.

    I don't think socialists have a monopoly on this kind of authoritarianism, just look at the US War on Drugs.

    I am really disappointed with the police. Given the stats that they themselves declare - circa 80% of violent crime is related to alcohol - I can only conclude that the knowingly set the brief for this report clearly with PR in mind.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    In fact I think that alcohol and tobacco being ignored when considering drug harm probably has more to do with capitalism than socialism

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • horse,

    On a quick browse through the report, it seems pretty cynical. For example, "stimulants" includes Methamphetamine AND Ecstasy, and nowhere are harm figures broken down between the two.

    Palmerston North • Since Feb 2007 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I noticed on the news the other night that the police allowed TVNZ journalists "behind the scenes" on one of their murder investigations, with a view of the operations room and the timeline storyboard, etc etc. Definetely part of a PR campaign by the police. And not before time in my view. Constant attacks on the credibility of the police have consequences, not the least of which is having to listen to the hot headed and foolish comments of Peter Lowe in the media. His comments came perilously close to incitement in my view. I notice Mr. Lowe appears to be being primed and fired by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, whose recent antics seem to veering more and more to encouraging an extra-judicial lynch mob mentality.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Zippy Gonzales,

    And on the Mazengarb Delinquency Harm Index all those years ago, homosexuality was deemed the most damaging harm, 8 shillings more harmful per kilo than milkbars.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I can only conclude that the knowingly set the brief for this report clearly with PR in mind.

    I think that is the correct conclusion, unfortunately.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    homosexuality was deemed the most damaging harm, 8 shillings more harmful per kilo than milkbars.

    What's that converted into grams of well-aged Stilton?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    includes Methamphetamine AND Ecstasy, and nowhere are harm figures broken down between the two.

    I haven't read the Herald yet (it's my lunchtime reading material), but the headline and opening line on the website caught my eye. Apparently E is a hard-core drug, and was listed alongside a bunch of class A narcotics. The only class B in the list, in fact. Obviously it's just under-classified.

    From all the reading I've done about E, the only harm I've been able to find is in chronic users where it can totally fuck with one's serotonin production/uptake systems. That's it. Oh, and the idiots who drown themselves but that's not directly E's fault.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    It's a shame that they didn't run a parallel headline about Transmission Gully. Along the lines of:

    "Road no one will be able to afford to use cost NZ society $1.025 billion, study shows"

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I am really disappointed with the police. Given the stats that they themselves declare - circa 80% of violent crime is related to alcohol - I can only conclude that the knowingly set the brief for this report clearly with PR in mind.

    Mikaere: Rightly or wrongly (possibly the latter, bugger), I'll err very slightly on the side of generosity and say I don't think it's quite that simple. But I sure as hell do think this has the awful whiff of nudging your methodology towards a desired outcome.

    OTOH, after the taser trail report debacle I'd seriously propose an independent Keith Nig-style bullshit detector be seconded to the Commissioner's Office, with absolute veto powers over every scrap of paper that goes out on Police letterhead with a statistic in it. There's a line between 'open to debate' and 'utter, dishonest bullshit', and the Police can't afford to be on the wrong side of it when making allegedly serious public policy arguments or effectively lobbying for legislation.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    There's a line between 'open to debate' and 'utter, dishonest bullshit', and the Police can't afford to be on the wrong side of it when making allegedly serious public policy arguments or effectively lobbying for legislation.

    Surely though that's their modus operandi?

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    after the taser trail report debacle

    Oh, oh, scandal? Didn't hear about that one. Or are you just talking about how it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that they would be recommended, and the trial was mostly a façade?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    __after the taser trail report debacle__

    Oh, oh, scandal? Didn't hear about that one. Or are you just talking about how it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that they would be recommended, and the trial was mostly a façade?

    The Ombudsman gave the police a serious lashing for cherry-picking trial data and "sanitising" their final report:

    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2008/06/sanitised.html

    Quite dishonest, actually.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    The fact that this report was put together by "Economists" rang alarm bells with me. The police can now say "see, we are not wasting money on chasing pot heads, we are saving you money"
    That the report does not include tobacco and alcohol says to me that, maybe, the report contained these figures originally but when you looked at the figures the police could only say "See, we are wasting your money chasing pot heads, we have far bigger problems to deal with"
    Complete waste of time and money. You may as well ask "How much do economists cost the country?"

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I haven't fisked the whole thing yet, but if you take the costs of prohibition out of their numbers, they reduce hugely. If you add in revenue loss from not taxing currently illegal drugs (something that was advocated by the party pill industry) then it's conceivable that legalisation would make recreational drug use a net fiscal positive.

    I'd also point out that it's by no means certain that the problems of those presenting medically or being convicted as a "result" of drug use are actually wholly or partly due to drug use. People with existing psychiatric issues are more likely to have drug problems, and defending counsel will always produce any mitigation they can.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    That the report does not include tobacco and alcohol says to me that, maybe, the report contained these figures originally but when you looked at the figures the police could only say "See, we are wasting your money chasing pot heads, we have far bigger problems to deal with"

    When you look at the figures in the index for drug-related crime, without alcohol, they actually seem quite low (although, comfortingly, 100% of drug offences were drug-related).

    Including alcohol would have created just the effect you suggest.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I do wonder what would happen if pot were, at the least, decriminalised and thus its use became a lot more prevalent. It's demonstrated to be physically more harmful than tobacco, but in part that harm is minimised because of its legal status and subsequent lowered consumption.

    As I said in another thread, sure tobacco costs waaaaaay more than pot in terms of cancers and other illnesses, but that's because pot isn't used as widely. Remove the legal sanctions on its consumption, and watch the related harm figures soar.

    Of course, if that were grounds for banning things then tobacco would be long gone!

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    I think we should see the drafts of the report. I think we should be making Freedom of Information requests.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Pound,

    This was my favourite bit of the Herald story:

    "* The most damaging drug per kilogram was LSD, which cost more than $1.05 billion a kg"

    A kilogram of LSD would be pretty damaging, yes.

    MFAK • Since Nov 2006 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I haven't fisked the whole thing yet, but if you take the costs of prohibition out of their numbers, they reduce hugely.

    They just about damn well disappear if you remove the rather dubious "harm" of "productive resources diverted due to drug production", which is the largest cost quoted in the index.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Rogan Polkinghorne,

    Haha that's what I was thinking Simon. Statistic of the day really.

    Damaging...probably.

    Interesting...definately!

    A-town • Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

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