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This is a federal case from Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you an examination of current issues facing our nation in its capital city. Here is an E.R. and correspondent Vic Sussman. In the 1950s the suburban dream was a home in a nice neighborhood good schools a new car out front and a chance to leave the problems of the cities behind. As the decades passed the suburbanites link themselves to the cities with freeways and expressways designed to whisk them home at night over the grimy streets and past the ant hill of urban life. But a funny thing happened on the way to Flower Valley and Woodley acres an old farm a states the suburbanites picked up some hitchhikers named pollution and crime and urban sprawl and a denizen of the city is known as the drug problem. My mother knows I smoke marijuana as she see me smoking around kids. That's the whole story in itself. But it wasn't a completely new
experience and my father's going to tell me not. But I think he I think he suspects it because whenever I burn incense he says that spot I smell you know you know that it's pot but actually burning incense to cover up the snow that never gets done and it's more. I was willing to go that way. I'd like to get some of my friends. I wanted to try. And in doing so it was so cool. And I tried and it was cool. For years the drug problem was associated with the poor the nonwhite and the brutal angry life of the city streets. Marijuana heroin cocaine junkies goofball shooting up were all things suburbanites read about in their newspaper or in the latest novel or saw it played out on their television screen as they saw the good life in Eudora woods and oak crest park and the only weed they worried about was crab grass. Tomorrow was guaranteed a no so why not smoke now.
I mean this is the first generation that didn't as the whole life lived through them. True the ability to destroy every living thing on Earth three times. There are different levels to this. There's the guys shooting smack who is from these homes and there's a guy that's just smoking grass on the experimental level and there's a guy that is selling drugs for a living and there's a college student I think there are a lot of different people there in this aspect of Montgomery County and drug usage. You are hearing the voices of young people who live in what may be the epitome of suburban America. They are 18 to 23 well clothed well fed well educated not all of them use drugs. But all of them live in one of the wealthiest suburbs in the United States. Their fathers are businessmen engineers and federal workers don't give their spirits they don't give them they give projects and then they want the thing to that's them well you know I don't think they really think on that level
but it's just not. Then I give in. That's what we personally that's what I need is what seems like a lot of my friends need they want. You know your son want mommy to pay for college was nice thing but there's a lot of that kind of thing. That's nice where they would need the spiritual more than that I think most the kids my friends would rather live in a poor family is close knit and live in their affluent nothing you know where the fathers got to run out all the time and you know he's working for the kid maybe seeing out every night or working late at the office for the kid with the kid sitting at home you know there's nothing you know. By the time they turn on school or no new love and says I really want to know all this stuff. But they do their home is Montgomery County Maryland.
It lies on the northwest border of Washington D.C. and its links to the capital city have guaranteed it's affluence. You've got a group of kids I imagine who have come from a high family background you know where the parents are doing well and everything the fame the kid will figure well they're going to be supporting you or they're going to have the money is going to keep coming. So what have they got to lose what have I got to lose from. Taking drugs maybe get busted so what. Each morning thousands of county residents stream into D.C. to labor in a beehive of government agencies ranging from the White House and Congress to blank a little plastic board cubby holes buried in federal granite. Other thousands work in the county at 14 U.S. agencies or branches including the Atomic Energy Commission. National Institutes of Health Bureau of Standards and offices of the Departments of Labor Justice Commerce Defense Treasury and Health Education and Welfare get a job
like OK let's just take the job. For instance like I work at a job I hate my job. It's something it's art you know. It's not fine art it's graphic. It's kind of boring but it's less it's less boring than say a typing job or something like that like I have to work in such a job. High You know like a ridiculous situation that I just can't even believe that like the way the government I work for government and is just set up so that like everybody is fighting to outdo everyone else all the time. And like if you're a low man on the totem pole so to speak you really feel it. They make you feel it all the time. You know you just get treated like you're absolutely nothing. So if somebody said go out and get a job and I didn't have to I'll be darned if I would you know. I mean if I didn't if it wasn't necessary like to straighten up this to straighten that means to do all that stuff that such a budget. Well whatever you want to say you know it's nowhere.
Coming from a home like this. The upper middle class and they're saying a lot of friends around me they've had a free meal ticket. And it just continues and when it comes time to work or to start working toward something I think that they it's like they can't swim. They find it very hard to get water in their mouth or whatever and they have a lot of trouble. And I think you have to sort of go back to when this thing really first started. I'm not really sure why I think it would be pretty hard to solve. But I think a lot of it has to do with what came from California. As far as the music world and I think at the end of high school when people were first starting to this is in 66 when people first started experimenting that I was going around with with marijuana and stuff I think it as their first year of college came the Beatles were around and Jimi Hendrix and people like that and it started to be because of the communication of today in the papers and television. And I think television really had a lot to do with it because they could they were seeing
people that were actually living on drugs and had a lot to do with it. And I feel that they were impressed by it by some means it seemed neat that they they seemed very vogue yet they didn't work they didn't. They just took drugs and played music and had fun. And I don't think that they could see going into I think the major thing that they object to is that their parents live in such a small world. Will you know that they now two friends drop by their nightly had an hour not an argument but a conversation about why the need for both dealers and they were I was trying to understand why they sell drugs and basically what they're trying to do and what they you know like what they're trying to stay away from they say they're trying to stay away from being like their parents and ending up in you know squalid Valley or you know some small name place you know like Chevy Chase or Brooklyn terrace or something like that and they want to they want to stay away from this they don't want to become closed in
their minds to a lot of things and I think a lot of this is it lation from drugs I think they've they're becoming they're coming farther away from reality I think they're that they're they're parents a lot of them are small minded but I feel that there is another direction that you can go and if you don't like it there all you know there are alternatives to this kind of a situation but at the present time the only thing they can see is that they don't want to work. And a lot of them aren't really together enough to be in school. It would be easy to call Montgomery County a bedroom community but it has characteristics which set it apart. There is the money the average yearly household income is in excess of $15000. County purchasing power has more than 2 billion dollars. And there is education here you will find one in every four residents is a college graduate. That's three times the national average. And this educational background is
reflected in the county schools considered among the best in the nation with more than $900 per pupil provided by the school budget. Good schools financial security mobility material goods. Wasn't that the American dream. Drugs were something you took for colds. White collared white skinned suburbanites never worried about their children smoking grass or shooting up or ending up dead of an overdose in a bus station bathroom. When you start experimenting with drugs as far as like marijuana and hash. You meet people that are into that you know and like you just you're learning about what ha is you know what it's like to be high on different kinds of HA's and if you stay with those kind of people you eventually come around to most of the so-called softer things first. Just that's just the way it is you may be put to something else but and then I think like Eventually if you stay in it long enough and around it and you start thinking that way you know eventually someone's going to have a needle in his hand you know.
Good possibility and say well here's a new high menu a try if you do enough of it and you start enjoying it you go to higher things and so you just drop some acid or something that you take most going to something like that and you really like and you say well you know first you start that's great. I tried some hash so try some hash and that's even better. They try some mess going to something else. Oh wow that's really something else and they try some and then maybe they snort some coke or something like that and then they say well maybe I should have maybe that would be really cool I just do it a few times and I won't get strung out of anything and you know this guy says Well I got some smack you want to shoot up just a little bit of you know really give you a rush to shooting up. There's nothing better than shooting at it. You know that's what they'll tell you when to shoot it up and you know you know if you like it of course you're going to do it again and then once you do it a few times. You're into that we are talking about Montgomery County Maryland because it is affluent growing and close to the center of political power. Its young people have been told
time and time again that they have been given everything Security education and a future and many young people in regarding these gifts choose instead to get stoned to drop out. So this time we're not asking the politicians or the educators or the clergy or the parents. We're asking the children of the dream what went wrong. The whole country is just you know how things are going to hell because nothing fits in to me like lawns and houses and cars and metal things and buildings and stuff like that it just doesn't. Doesn't mean anything to me. Like I don't want to get whacked out of my head. But if I did it would probably be well if you can understand. I mean people drive around in these crazy machines you know and try to get everywhere faster than everyone else. Stuff like that. Try to get the best job in the you know more cars and more all the stuff he said. It just doesn't mean anything to me. There's a lack of feeling I think and that's why I want to get whacked on my head.
You know I think about the roots of this country in relationship with the drug problem with you know cause and effect to get through it. There seems to be something like you know your history seems to be one of progress and double talk. You know who really is really progressive and could really successful was that one of the anyone who's very successful to me Kelly and Lester taking them with somebody else on the way up the suburban life from wherever the lower area whatever it is it's a ghetto or or just anything. I think you had a fight for survival. I mean the people were you know they their job their job was the whole thing I mean they had to get food into a faster feed the four kids or whatever thing like that. So anything they did along the way to do this was justified by the you know the need for survival need to get along like that and not you up in the suburbs. Man you're not really you're not fighting for your life anymore. You just now you're starting to fight for social status I believe and if you're fighting for the social status I mean if you're
still using the same tactics that you used to get up from the lower floor area to the suburbs and from the suburbs up there if you're going to use those same dirty tactics you're going to you're going to end up with. Part prosy is just going to be in a post hoc regime which is what the whole you thing I think is against and by and by with brains this guy is against for that matter just just as hope ocracy one saying one thing doing here. I think today's children more or less have had the free meal ticket and they're in college. A lot of them and I think that's a very real situation I think the education they're getting really isn't real really open or away or it could be and I think they just seem so much junk and so much garbage in hypocrisy in government that they just they can't see were going anywhere towards that's going to do them any good so they go away from drugs and things as more or less elevate that feeling that they have. If you look at
Woodstock I think Woodstock was I mean I don't see where it was really any different and it's good that they got together and they had a festival and no one was hurt. You know there was no violence or everybody got along. But I think they were as euphoric not euphoric but utopian about that as maybe Hitler's use was you know I mean they were peace and all this kind of stuff and I don't I don't think that's where it's I really don't I think it's it's being a better person to yourself and being a better person to the people around you and that's fine if they can really do it right I don't understand why you do these things. You try to make it a good life for you here in suburbia. And you know what is it did you want. You know what can we do for you. And I would probably come back was saying something like oh let's just forget it you know because no matter what I say to them they don't he did anyway. See I think the people all of a sudden realize that they they need love and friendship and
trust and honesty rather than parents who really don't care but they try to pretend they care like you go to your parents and you say. I skipped school today you know and she says well I guess that's all right you know what if you know why I did it and the kids probably say well don't you care. You know and then I can solve a problem I say well it's this word and it's generation gap and this is no such thing as that in my opinion. And we were there for it to hurt your feelings at times but they don't they don't want to be honest. They may put me in jail which is a possibility but I think about going to jail I'm going to get along with I'll never know any of these guys get all my freedom again when I get support people I'm going to tell people what I mean if I go on alert. You know eventually we're going to take
what we got to like every kid that ever see is the same which this guy is going to stand for that even the kids the day you know the little kids the 1 6 and 7 they relate more to us than they did or parents you know I don't think they're going to stop the flow pressure to succeed pressure. Pressure to make a lot of money well you know pressure to succeed and they're raising the kid just feels I don't want to do this man I want to have anything to do with it. My mom tells me all when you know you're going to be a doctor because you know for some reason maybe mom wanted to be a doctor she never could have something like this so you're going to be a doctor and the kid says I don't want to I just don't want to hear what you're going to do it anyway I said Wow. And the kid maybe you know he's one of those pressure you need to release or escape or maybe he needs an excuse not to be a doctor or whatever and I mean if you get himself busted I mean it's a pretty I don't think the medical so she would have
to have a little things you have to do all this apocrypha see that exists in our country you know and it has as a result it's developed a lot of pessimists and that's for the strain aeration might might might turn on because they feel that well you know what's the sense you know those two worlds only got three years left at most anyway. And so right. You know so I might as well take advantage of of any little bit of enjoyment I can get now or get as good of a lot of this as this work and in facing reality that that you have to go to work for someone every day for most of your life and spend a good part of your day at least eight hours in a lot of times if you're ambitious you spend even more. Dressing the way someone wants you to dress acting a certain way not telling anybody to go to hell or trying to be nice and
doing work that you may not even in even in reality probably don't even believe in just doing it because it's something that you seem to be able to pull off I mean something that you're just gifted in some way that you can just you can do a certain thing and I think that people today like they I think they see that they're there as well they can't believe in working because it's someone in go out make himself a couple thousand dollars in a day. I mean how are you going to tell him to go to work and work a whole week and really work as a tailor and bring home 78 dollars or $60 or even $100. And how is it I don't see where they can't see doing that they can't see giving up the way they want to look and how they want to dress and just being in that kind of. A small world I think where someone's always telling you what to do. You know they don't. I just don't see why they should do that. And there are other means of getting around I feel like selling drugs is one of them. They can sell drugs and make a lot of
money even if you get caught. If your father is rich enough and you get a lawyer you can get out. Congressman live in Montgomery County. Senators live here. White House aides military leaders diplomats advisers architects and technicians for the American system and their children too are blowing dope and mainlining smack and shooting speed and dropping acid and sometimes frying their brains. These are not ghetto youth. We cannot call them culturally or financially or educationally deprived. We cannot use any of the pat phrases used to excuse or pardon or cancel out the agony of black children and brown children Welden by slums Here indeed is what we told the slum child to strive for the money the cars the houses the goods and services and the security. Well they don't know how to deal with the drug problem because they don't know anything about the problem and that's why counsellors maybe people that have been you know. You
know been in the situation I mean how can you know something about something that you don't know or you haven't studied or you're not educated about like you know you pull a cop out of somewhere. I don't know. You just you know just some guy graduates from high school becomes a cop and he's supposed to deal with. People that take drugs where he may have come from a place where nobody takes drugs and he doesn't even know what drugs do. So he can't possibly deal with people. I mean make a sense to wipe out OK if there's problems in that country and the kids react in this way you know say you know just not to have all the kids hey you know shape up you know where you can butt out and let you know the car was in there the kids are saying I mean having I don't think I don't think more laws are the answer. And I just don't think being increased pressure would be the end. I think maybe you might need another thing like Alcoholics Anonymous going on like they have with the you know the alcohol industry get at the very psychological basis
of the need to use this drug. The problem is it's probably to me even it's confusing because I don't see what it's going to put more people in jail or more you know more penalties among people and I don't think that's really going to do anything at all I think understanding the problem trying to do more research about it and find out more about it is one direction to go and I think there's there are centers that need to be put up for people to where they can go and talk to instead of having you know I think it's just basically that they have no one to talk to a lot of times and. You know with the advice of a 17 or 18 or even up to a 21 or 22 year old person who's using drugs is just usually pretty poor. And I think that's what they are instead of going to their parents because they feel their parents have put them in a situation they go to their friends and their friends are into drugs and a lot of times you find people older ages in this too they come in up to 40 and 50 years old that are outcasts of their own
generations and they're in there too and it's just a mishmash of really sick people a lot of times it could be any county any suburb. They could be anyone's children. But it is ironic that they live in Montgomery County. It is significant that surrounded by wealth and the symbols of success and bound up as they are with the fortunes of the nation's capital. It is significant that so many of these young choose to travel the dissipative paranoid and often dangerous avenue of drugs or just have to be there when my friends that seem very stable were nuts. But marijuana is a stimulant a mild stimulant increases your sense of touch. Percent of sense of hearing everything seems latter seems more clear. Sense of taste is it's phenomenally increased somewhat. So it's a nice experience now that I don't do it. People really kind of look at you strange say maybe she's in New York or you know you go to a part of the West so you know I don't want to meet
and they look a real strange you know you got to do something you know but I don't do it anymore. A lot of kids don't do it anymore I think. Well I think a lot of people stop because their friends really burn their heads and you know there was a friend of mine. I remember it was about a few years ago he had and it wasn't from tea but he he just have all this rubber cement and glue and also stuff and he just burned himself out completely couldn't remember his name his brain was like Swiss cheese. It was cheese and everything. There's another guy. He was violent and he's do all sorts of things saying things I think you want around somebody is neighborhood and doing things to the houses and painting fences and things like that. He got put away but I think you'd have easy had a lot of drug users and I have drug if drugs were legal I think you'd be adding another alcoholic class. I mean not not because a person can rise over this over this problem of drugging this handicapped thing doesn't mean that everybody Well I think you're gonna just end up another
class to go in the gutter. Today I think a person would rather pop a pill or get stoned and drunk you know drink himself and really do a lot of bad physical damage. You know but I don't think that they realize that they're doing physical damage on the other hand to. I mean you take speed or some of those pills I think you can really mess yourself up you can mess up your nervous system. A lot of some of my friends have also years just from being so nervous and so upset about the world and yet by standing themselves in that nothing's going to change. I think a lot of the press getting down to Iraq what is the problem more or less I think is they just don't see where they can do anything. You know if they figure their fathers couldn't really do anything or didn't even want to do anything what the hell can they do. So let us place the blame. Let us blame the system let us blame the parents. Well explain the power structure. Let us rain down words permissiveness conservatism liberalism. Let us invoke patriotism call upon God lash out at the media the politicians let us blame the
children. The young people let us blame Spiro Agnew Dr. Spock Richard Nixon Jerry Reuben Orwell's Disney. Let us pass new laws or repeal old ones. Give us more police more power more jails or legalize everything. Anything goes. Are there only two alternatives. Quiet desperation on one side and the Yellow Submarine phony high of the drug scene on the other. Must we must our children choose between two kinds of unhappiness. Are there no other choices. Are there no alternatives for happiness. Perhaps we have flown to the moon and forgotten how to walk. I don't think I'm going to practice the hypocrisy I mean of a verity fighting in the dirty infighting on the way to get up to some place with shot which gives me a couple extra letters behind my name or maybe a couple extra thousand dollars in the bank which you know really isn't being used all that much.
I'm not going to go into all that kind of stuff. I mean I just live my life and if I ever live it to just enough to succeed you know just enough to be able to exist happily. I'd like to see people get along better but like you people start sharing you started talking to each other and they wouldn't be so scared of all of them. Society would be able to change trust and honesty and communication. This is Vic Sussman reporting from Washington. You've been listening to a federal case a weekly examination of the national issue from the perspective of our nation's capital. A federal case is produced with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
A Federal Case II
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National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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"A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Politics and Government
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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Chicago: “A Federal Case II; 15,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 12, 2024,
MLA: “A Federal Case II; 15.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 12, 2024. <>.
APA: A Federal Case II; 15. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from