As one can expect from Schlosser, it is a thoroughly researched and tries to look at these industries in an objective manner, and does not necessarily try to conclude with some left wing conspiracy. Basically there are lots of books that cover the topic of marijuana in the United States and the war on drugs. Being an Australian where possession of small amounts up to three ounces in some places is pretty much a misdemeanor that results in a small fine, it is difficult to understand the nature of the war on drugs as it plays out in the United States. In a way the war itself is scary because it has been suggested that if you are caught with even one joint you can be classified as a dealer, locked up, and have all of your possessions confiscated, even before you have been convicted. In a way I believe that this is a really heavy handed approach, particularly since the laws date back to the s, where the Dupont company pushed for the criminalisation of marijuana so that it could dominate the textile industry.
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As one can expect from Schlosser, it is a thoroughly researched and tries to look at these industries in an objective manner, and does not necessarily try to conclude with some left wing conspiracy.
Basically there are lots of books that cover the topic of marijuana in the United States and the war on drugs. Being an Australian where possession of small amounts up to three ounces in some places is pretty much a misdemeanor that results in a small fine, it is difficult to understand the nature of the war on drugs as it plays out in the United States. In a way the war itself is scary because it has been suggested that if you are caught with even one joint you can be classified as a dealer, locked up, and have all of your possessions confiscated, even before you have been convicted.
In a way I believe that this is a really heavy handed approach, particularly since the laws date back to the s, where the Dupont company pushed for the criminalisation of marijuana so that it could dominate the textile industry. Another argument is also that since it is only recently that marijuana has become a popular Anglo-saxon drug up until the sixties marijuana was predominantly a Mexican pleasure, and its narcotic purposes were only used in cure-all potions made by chemists, who in those days did not necessarily need a license to practice.
In a way, it feels as if marijuana did not exist prior to the sixties, and that modern drugs, such as meth-amphetamine, did not exist until the late 90s which is not true because allegedly Hitler used it during World War II and also apparently fed it to his troops.
It appears however that this book is about the black market and how the black market influences all of our lives. In a way we are all exposed to the black market, whether we smoke pot, or rent dodgy videos from those dodgy video stores that have no windows. This is where the second case study comes into play: illegal immigrants.
Schlosser looks at the strawberry growers, but this applies to a lot of industries across the United States and while it happens in Australia, the fact that we do not have any land borders with poorer nations, we have a lot less illegal immigrants than do the United States. The reason illegal immigrants are so popular is because the laws do not apply to them, so they can be paid under the minimum wage, which means more profits for the business owner, and that they are not affected by the unfair dismissal laws or any of the other laws that apply to legitimate employees.
While the section on the porn industry applies to the black market as well, much of this has more to do with the freedom of speech amendment than it has to do with the black market even though while the industry was fighting the obscenity laws the profits coming from the porn industry were effectively a part of the black market. Mind you, this section surprised me because I was expecting it to deal with Hugh Heffner or Larry Flynt, but they barely made a mention in this section. I guess the reason is that we are dealing not with what is termed as soft porn if there is such a thing but with hard core pornography.
Mind you, porn has been around as long as there have been people willing to pay for it even though before photography, we had to pay for live shows, and then we might as well go to a brothel , however with the advent of film, television, and now the internet, access to it has become a lot easier. Through three distinct essays dealing with marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography , he examines the history, underlying economics, policy effects, and future directions of products and services that America can neither seem to abstain from nor openly embrace.
The essays have markedly different style and tone, making a comprehensive review challenging. So, I will take the easier route: briefly reviewing each section. He interviews people on both the smoking and the busting ends of the spectrum, and makes a convincing case that pot is, by income, the most profitable cash crop in the country, above corn a position advocated by some long-time federal investigators, among others.
He makes a solid if somewhat dry case for these points, backed up by considerable evidence. To his credit, his treatment of the issue does a fair job of both humanizing migrants and of explaining the pressures on growers to use migrants, giving the reasons for poor labor conditions without demonizing or forgiving unnecessarily. Schlosser could have done much better.
Despite its lengthy exposition and its mere page length, the story of Reuben Sturman could easily be an HBO TV series on par with the best serial television ever produced. The story is so incredible it can be hard to believe, with Sturman and his rival Richard Rosfelder of the IRS spending decades locking horns with great victories and defeats.
The story has a femme fatal, a prison break, money laundering of the highest caliber, the Mob, and explosions. From his first run-in with the law in to his eventual death in , Sturman waged a personal war on the U. Unlike the first two essays, which have a prescriptive tone, hard-core porn is essentially a done deal in America.
While a "war on porn" has been pushed by the Bush administration, a conflict Schlosser anticipates but had not yet had a chance to see emerge, he rightly treats it as a futile battle: porn and prudes locked horns for decades, and porn won. As a result, Schlosser spends very little time telling us how things ought to be and can focus on telling us how it was.
This helps to make his more eye-popping assertions even more striking. Truth is stranger than fiction, and Schlosser is determined to uncover the truths about areas of American living and business that many people would rather not examine at all in fiction or otherwise.
Though it lacks the powerful, life-changing punch of Fast Food Nation, this is nevertheless an excellent book that every adult American should read.
Reefer Madness Indeed such is the stated importance of these books that buying them rather than reading them appears less an act of intellectual curiosity than one of social responsibility. Perhaps that is why so many have become bestsellers. At any rate, surely it is time someone wrote a book about the global fall-out of this particular cultural trend.
Hashish to ashes
In Reefer Madness the best-selling author of Fast Food Nation turns his exacting eye on the underbelly of the American marketplace and its far-reaching influence on our society. Exposing three American mainstays — pot, porn, and illegal immigrants — Eric Schlosser shows how the black market has burgeoned over the past several decades. He also draws compelling parallels between underground and overground: how tycoons and gangsters rise and fall, how new techonology shapes a market, how government intervention can reinvigorate black markets as well as mainstream ones, and how big business learns — and profits — from the underground. Reefer Madness is a powerful investigation that illuminates the shadow economy and the culture that casts that shadow. And while this segment is never discussed in the newspaper business pages, Schlosser tackles it with the same in-depth analysis and compulsive readability that made his Fast Food Nation a best seller. Reefer Madness spotlights marijuana, migrant labor, and pornography, three of the most thriving black market industries, and analyzes the often-tenuous place each holds in society as a whole. While each of the three could be the subject of its own book, Schlosser keeps his scope narrow by concentrating on the lives of the participants in the underground economy, especially Mark Young, an Indiana man given a life sentence for participating in a marijuana sale, and Ohio porn magnate Reuben Sturman.
ISBN 13: 9780618446704
Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market