Back when I was a kid andndash; you know, when we only had cassette players, AM/FM radios and 12 channels of television to keep ourselves entertained ...

... When cars had seatbelts, but nobody was forced to wear them.

... When professional athletes earned their muscles instead of buying them.

... When the term "old school" meant the building in which you attended kindergarten had been around since your grandmother was in diapers.

... When diapers were cloth, and meals were served to a table full of family members by a mom who was home all day, not on a plastic tray by a mom wearing a funny hat, making minimum wage just to try and pay bills.

Back when I was a kid, drugs were a little harder to come by.

In order to get beer, one had to convince an older, typically stupider, sibling to make a run to the store to get it.

Now, it seems like everything is super easy to pick up.

Maybe it is just that I've gotten older and smarter or that I know how to better break the law, but I think it is truly because everything has become so much easier to get.

I grew up in a dry town. No alcohol sales were permitted in Monmouth from the time it was officially formed until the prohibition on sales was repealed in 2003.

But, it's not like buying beer, wine or liquor was difficult. All a consumer had to do was drive to the bordering town of Independence, buy alcohol, and drive back.

I guess, for teens, it made things a little more difficult because they couldn't hang out in front of a convenience store and look for a schmuck willing to buy for them without walking a couple of miles.

Now, it seems, it can be obtained everywhere with little to no effort at all.

The Pilot published an editorial last Wednesday on how drug use has been on an "unexpected increase" and how the school board is considering a program to combat the rise.

There are certain things that must take place to combat the scourge of drug use in our school system, but why is it that the school district has to pay to do battle.

Shouldn't parents be instructing their children on the pernicious downside inherent in drug and alcohol abuse?

Certainly the community andndash; and by extension, the school andndash; have a responsibility to educate, protect and ultimately punish the gamin, but the first line of defense begins in the home.

And according to my understanding of the statistics, it's not just the needy that are using and abusing various substances, it is some of our top students and athletes.

What is the difference between the early '90s and today?

Maybe it's not just that alcohol and drugs are more readily available, but that everything is too readily available.

Life is too easy, and the consequences of bad decisions are allayed by how effortless the punishment is. Not only in high school, but in general as well.

Taking away the things that kids involved in drugs and alcohol don't seem to care about isn't a very effective solution, and our community doesn't have the money to lock everyone up.

I don't have an easy answer, but then again, I didn't have to hike two miles to school, in the snow, going uphill both ways, now did I?