The usual logic and reason that Don Surber employs in his well-researched columns was noticeably absent in his recent "Meth battle is a political diversion."
While it's not unusual for Surber to explain away West Virginia's social and economic ills through the broad brush of Democratic Party control, his statement that "Meth diverts attention from reality, and so many Democrats embrace it" was just the beginning of a terribly flawed argument.
Surber uses the specious measure of overdose deaths due to meth (44 out of 4,793 from 2001 to 2012), to dismiss meth as "... 1 percent of the problem" but "99 percent of the state's focus on drugs."
But overdose deaths are but a fraction of the societal costs that the meth epidemic has wrought in our communities.
It could be argued that just the shifting of health care costs alone to the general public, government programs and the state's hospitals dwarf the impact to our economy than all other drugs combined.
Then we need to account for the costs of law enforcement, adjudication, corrections and recidivism rates on the state's budget as well as the devastating opportunity costs forgone through lost productivity by users as well as their families and communities.
Inexplicably Surber further steps in it when he states that the reason meth is 99 percent of the focus but only 1 percent of the problem is "because the trail of the abuse of Valium or Xanax winds through South Hills, while the public associates crystal meth with trailer parks."
What exactly this means is unclear — and on a number of levels.
Is the case being made that the residents of South Hills effectively control how the various media report drug-related crimes throughout the state?
Or that prescription drug abuse associated with specifically Valium or Xanax by the residents of South Hills has that effect?
Or that the "trail of the abuse" of these drugs is so widespread that there is a Valium or Xanax drug epidemic in South Hills?