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ABC Discovers Free Market Cure for Curbing Meth Abuse

     When the mainstream media praise free market values, it deserves attention.

 

     But that’s exactly what ABC “World News with Charles Gibson” did on October 1 in a segment about fighting methamphetamine addiction. The show highlighted the work of a part-time Montana rancher and businessman who applied good business sense to the problem in his state.

     When the mainstream media praise free market values, it deserves attention.

 

     But that’s exactly what ABC “World News with Charles Gibson” did on October 1 in a segment about fighting methamphetamine addiction. The show highlighted the work of a part-time Montana rancher and businessman who applied good business sense to the problem in his state.


     “[T]wo-thirds of the people in jail and half of the children in foster homes [in Montana] are there because of meth,” ABC correspondent Bill Weir said. “Stats that inspired a part-time rancher to step forward with an idea – fight the supply by freezing the demand.”

 

     Weir’s report indicated that there are answers to social ills like drug abuse other than government handouts.

 

     According to ABC, the Montana government has taken drastic measures to control the ingredients used to manufacture crystal meth. But, Tom Siebel, a self-made billionaire and 242nd richest American according to Forbes magazine, launched a marketing blitz to discourage the use of crystal meth and has actually helped lower demand.

 

     “Tom Siebel is that rancher and is also a billionaire businessman who saw meth as a consumer product and set out to ‘un-sell’ it to every kid in the state,” Weir said.

 

     The marketing program is called the Montana Meth Project and according to its Web site, the campaign has used 45,000 TV ads, 35,000 radio ads, 10,000 print impressions and 1,000 billboards to show crystal meth abuse at its worst.

 

     “We didn't have a goal to have scary ads or graphic ads or edgy ads,” Siebel said to “World News.” “We had a goal to have effective ads, credible ads – ads that would change attitudes towards methamphetamine.”

 

     The ads are working.

 

     In September 2005, before Siebel’s Montana Meth Project, Montana ranked fifth in the nation for meth abuse according to a report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In the two year campaign against the drug, the results have been dramatic.

 

     “According to state and federal surveys,” Weir explained, “teen use is down by almost half and the number of people testing positive at work has dropped by 70 percent. At the same time, abuse in neighboring states is up.”

 

     ABC’s positive story about Siebel is rare because the news media often cast businessmen in a negative light. According to Bad Company III, a yearlong study by the Business & Media Institute, about 57 percent of the portrayals of businessmen in 2006 were negative and businessmen showed up as criminals one-and-a-half times more often than they did as philanthropists.