Monday, March 07, 2005
The Idiot factor: Tiahrt embarrases Kansas
Kansas Representative Todd Tiahrt, Republican, angered AIDS activist by putting a ban on programs that distribute needles to addicts. Tiahrt, who spearheaded the move, with the help of other conservatives, complain that this program encourages drug use. AIDS activist claim this program saves lives and these representatives actions will literally kill people (The Wichita Eagle, August 1, 1999).Besides the AIDS issue, Washington, DC’s home rule advocates were also angered that the federal government is dictating what programs they can operate on the local level. The bill also included a ban on the use of medical marijuana.This is not the first time Tiahrt has led an effort to halt needle exchange programs. Last year he voted for a house amendment to ban the use of any tax money for needle exchange programs. (The Wichita Eagle August 8, 1998) The programs are used to prevent the spread of AIDS.Critics have argued these programs work. Since were started, there has been a 30 percent drop in AIDS among intravenous drug users, according to the National Institute of Health. At least 60 federally funded studies have shown that such programs work in reducing AIDS, while showing no significant increase in drug use. (The Wichita Eagle, 4 May 1998). Presently, needle exchange programs are endorsed by DC Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.Representative Albert Wynn, Democrat from Maryland, called Tiarht’s move “arrogant and misguided.” Washington DC has one of the nations highest rate of new HIV infections.Tiarht said the program promotes drug abuse and doesn’t work. In this latest effort, he sites a study done by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that claims the public health risks of needle exchange programs outweigh their benefits.The ONDCP is a hawkish “war on drugs” organization. By using them as a source, we see That Tiarht is more concerned with his twisted sense of morality than the public welfare.