Before our trip, I discussed the tragedy of Uvalde and how we focus on the singular spectacular event. I noted many more children are dying from car wrecks, child abuse and other means than Uvalde. We need to be equally concerned with the latter deaths, but we minimize them because they are spread out over time and space.
While we were on our eastern European trip a good friend made me aware of another problem. Opioid deaths have dramatically increased in the last three years. I knew there was an issue. I just did not know the massive extent of the problem.
Sorting through the statistics is tough because there are several categories. Fentanyl is a subcategory of the larger category — synthetic opioids. Some stats are about Fentanyl alone, but other stats lump Fentanyl into the synthetic opioid category. Statistics are further complicated because deaths by synthetic opioids get lumped into all overdose statistics. By any measure the number of deaths is staggering, scary and sad.
It is important to note the statistics are readily available in reports by the CDC and DEA. This is not a right-wing conspiracy theory. The deaths are a national disaster of much larger proportions than school shootings.
Overdose deaths topped 100,000 last year. Approximately 150 people a day die from opioid abuse. As I like to point out, because the deaths are spread over time and space, they do not have the emotional impact of tragedy such as Uvalde.
The lack of impact is unfortunate. Uvalde happened on June 8. I am drafting this on July 22. In the 44 days since Uvalde an estimated 6,600 people have died from opioid abuse.
Meetings are being held, laws are being drafted, people are being fired, news and the internet are still rife with concerns about Uvalde. The concern for 6,600 deaths is not nearly as deep as for the people of Uvalde — but it should be.
One article about opioid deaths caught my eye and I think shows the depth and breadth of the problem. Jeny and are going to Nashville to visit my brother who is battling cancer. I like Nashville. I would not have assumed opioid abuse to be a problem in Nashville. In 2020 around 1200 people died from overdoses and Fentanyl poisoning in Nashville. The deaths increased in 2021. This is not New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, this is Nashville Tennessee!
We need to battle the problem of overdose on all fronts including educating people on consequences for decisions. One of the major possible consequences of taking drugs is death. If you choose to take drugs, you are responsible for the consequences of that decision. Given the power of addiction, my statement is tough love, but a love that will help fight the problem. People must learn to accept the consequences for their decisions.
Another of the big concerns should be reducing the smuggling of Fentanyl and Fentanyl laced drugs into the US. Although clandestine labs are being developed within the US, the Chinese have been major manufacturers of Fentanyl and the Mexican cartels have been primarily responsible for delivery. The southern border is the major location for smuggling operations.
Any discussion of controlling the Southern border is related to the issue of immigration and the political issues related to that topic. I have tried to sort through the information and disinformation to understand the situation. I do not have answers, I am trying to understand the issues. I am very uncertain and unclear about many things, but I believe the following:
1. Controlling immigration is not as simple as building a wall. Building a wall will not halt the flow of immigrants that occurs by overstaying a visa after a legal entry. The money we are spending for a wall might be better spent on electronic and other deterrent techniques.
2. We cannot sustain our country if the current level of illegal immigration continues or increases. An estimated two million encounters occurred last year. We have a crisis.
3. We need to strengthen border controls against smuggling, not only drugs but other issues such as human trafficking.
4. Illegal immigrants are not given the government benefits many opponents would like to claim.
5. I know from my experience with international golfers that many countries have much stronger immigration policies than the US and are still thought to be good countries. Switzerland and Denmark are examples of good countries with strong immigration restrictions.
6. SOME of the concerns by SOME people are rooted in irrational fears of other cultures.
7. And the great rhetorical question is — If America is a such a bad place as some people would have you believe – why are so many working so hard to get here and willing to work hard to stay?
I welcome your ideas about immigration.
1 Good news occurred on our flights home. From Bucharest to London the flight was full. Jeny and I were in a row of three seats. The only empty seat I saw on the plane was the third seat in our row. I got very needed leg room. Although there were a few more empty seats on the flight from London to Dallas, the same thing happened. Once is a coincidence. Twice seems more than a coincidence and was very good news.
2. Athletes in action
As an Iowa graduate, I am very proud of the next one.
3. A new trend called Tips for Jesus.