I’ve often said President Trump does best when he leads with his heart. As a disciple of positive-thinking guru Norman Vincent Peale, the president also believes that the foundation of accomplishing anything is mostly a matter of will.
Though will alone doesn’t fix complex problems, in this particular case, Trump is more right than wrong. The president’s remarks on declaring a national health emergency on opioid addiction contained the key phrase.
“We can be the generation the ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it.”
America might not be able to eliminate crime, sin, violence, disease, or hateful worldviews. These are products of the human heart that cannot be removed by human means. But we can, assuredly, stop addiction to harmful drugs, produced by legitimate companies, sold by legitimate pharmacies, and prescribed by legitimate doctors.
We can do this by eliminating the incentives for these doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and manufacturers to keep pumping out the drugs. We can do this by strictly enforcing laws at the state, local, and federal level regarding illegitimate prescriptions. We can do this by limiting and closely monitoring exactly who gets and takes the drugs. We can do this by providing programs to help current addicts beat their demons.
Opioid addiction can be overcome. When it morphs into heroin addiction, it becomes a much more intractable problem. What it first takes to beat this issue is national will to do it.
Money should not really be a limiting factor here. We didn’t put an economic limit on beating the Axis powers in World War II–the war had to be won, and the Greatest Generation had to be the generation to do it. This drug-addiction enemy is just as pernicious and dangerous. If we have another “war on drugs,” it needs to be this.
The problem we face here isn’t one of money: The Hill noted that there’s only $57,000 allocated to public health emergencies. But Congress can allocate more. They should, and they must. With a $4 trillion budget, enormous federal debt, and foreign problems all over the world, we can’t afford to let our country succumb to an issue that can be solved by national will, like drug addiction.
I’m not saying the problem is simple to solve. I’m not saying that it’s easy. I’m not saying that we can save everyone. I’m not saying that money alone will fix it. It will take a change in the way we handle pain management, medical oversight of surgical recovery and physical therapy, and the signs of dependency. We can no longer pack people off to home from the hospital and let them refill their Fentanyl prescriptions. We can’t let people stockpile opioids. We can’t let pill mills operate. And most of all, we might have to send a few drug company executives to prison for their cynical and shameful enabling.
All of that will require action by Congress. And Congress won’t act unless constituents tell them to act. Political grandstanding by state governors, Congressional reps and senators is not helpful here. This has to be a bipartisan effort.
But without the national will, and the political will, to become the generation that ends the opioid epidemic, we cannot do it. With that will, we absolutely can do it.
Watch Trump’s remarks below:
Here in America, we are once again enforcing the law; breaking up gangs and distribution networks; and arresting criminals who peddle dangerous drugs to our youth. We’re committed to pursuing innovative approaches that have been proven to work, like drug courts. Our efforts will be based on sound metrics, and guided by evidence and guided by results. This includes making addiction treatment available to those in prison and to help them eventually reenter society as productive and law-abiding citizens. Together, we will face this challenge as a national family with conviction, with unity, and with a commitment to love and support our neighbors in times of dire need.
The president won’t declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency” today, but he will ask the acting director of the Department of Health and Human Services to declare it a “public-health emergency,” according to assorted media reports. Perhaps the federal government should do more to fight the epidemic, but those efforts should start with Congress, which under the Constitution is supposed to have the power of the purse. “National emergencies” allow the president to spend money in the affected area immediately, and the rules are laid out in the Stafford Act.