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Roadmap for America

The Drug War, Part III

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David P. Price, PhD is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

December 28, 2009 | 3,761 views | 72 comments

This is the third in our series on the Drug War, as you cannot explain 40 yrs. of failed policy in a one page column. We have paramilitary armies and a clandestine air force operating on two foreign continents, multiple agencies with $billions in equipment “protecting” our borders, the same agencies creating their own navies, plus the Coast Guard “protecting” our shores, the largest prison population in the world, yet we have had zero effect on drug use!

To say the Drug War has failed is a gross understatement. Our policies have made the situation inexorably worse. As discussed in the first column, we have failed to deal objectively with the problem. We have deemed it to be a criminal problem rather than a social problem. Rather than provide treatment or counseling to drug users, we have warehoused them in prisons. Take someone guilty of nothing more than self-destructive behavior, put them in prison and they feel victimized. They may not have been violent or anti-social before going into prison, but they will be when they get out. In this way we have created criminals.

But it doesn’t stop there. In our second editorial we discussed the first law of business: Rate of Return is a Function of Risk. As our politicians have increased the penalties and resources to law enforcement, the traffickers have not gotten out of the business. Rather, they have raised prices to compensate for their risk. DEA estimates the profit margin on cocaine is 17,000%! With that kind of mark-up you guarantee an endless supply of traffickers.

We have created a vicious circle with respect to trafficking. As you arrest one trafficker several more step forward to take his place. All this has done is create a need for more prisons. But that is not the worst of it.

We have also overlooked a fundamental principle of economics. Some commodities have an inelastic demand. This means for some commodities price has little or no effect on demand. This means when our system has driven up the price of drugs, it has not deterred use, but instead created more crime. That is, our inner city users cannot afford their addiction, so they have turned to street crimes, robberies and prostitution to pay for their habit. Once again, we have created crime peripheral to drug use.

But while low income users have committed crimes to pay for high priced drugs; the drug traffickers have received those high prices. In the 1980’s our system sent so much money to Colombia, the cartels hired their own army (FARC Guerillas) and destabilized the country.

As a result, we sent an army of DEA operatives along with a fleet of helicopters, surveillance and fighter aircraft to Colombia. After billions of dollars we were successful in killing Pablo Escobar . . . who was a great trophy. But did it stop drug trafficking? Of course not.

Today we send billions in drug money to Mexico and like Colombia, the cartels have hired their own armies and are threatening the legitimate government. The violence is right on our border and after 40 yrs. it is time to admit interdiction is not the answer. Ignorance of Power and subsequent interdiction only increases the violence. We must begin to deal objectively with drug use and that means recognizing it is a social issue and the criminals are only the symptom of the problem.

(Next week the final edition)
‹ Previous Blog Entry

Your Opinions and Comments

Over Taxed, MA  
January 6, 2010 6:39pm
RNR and GUOCB, I would like for you sometime to take a look at which advcates free people and free markets. It is the most popular libertarian site on the web. For example, today there is a article "Stealing ... More ›

Over Taxed, MA  
January 6, 2010 2:18pm
"If you feel that "taxes, rules, regulations, licenses, permits, fees, and mandates" are unnecessary, then you must also believe that every individual is an honest one." No. I support just laws such ... More ›

Over Taxed, MA  
January 6, 2010 2:05pm
"...but that fact alone sure doesn't justify legalizing drugs." I never said that it did. I am saying that adults who refuse to be told what they may eat, drink, smoke, or otherwise ingest are not criminals anymore ... More ›

Give Us Our Country Back  
January 6, 2010 7:53am
"Freedom is not thousands of government laws, wars, taxes, rules, regulations, licenses, permits, fees, and mandates. Freedom is the absence of government control." If you feel that "taxes, rules, regulations, ... More ›

Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
January 6, 2010 7:41am
"the use of SWAT teams against peaceful people" They you go again. Speaking of dogs..., that dog don't hunt. Try a better argument. As for the cops over use of SWAT as an argument for legalizing drugs, that ... More ›

Over Taxed, MA  
January 6, 2010 1:47am
" don't even know how good you have it and how free you really are." Freedom is not thousands of government laws, wars, taxes, rules, regulations, licenses, permits, fees, and mandates. Freedom is the absence ... More ›

Over Taxed, MA  
January 5, 2010 8:18pm
"The fact? Can you site a source for this fact? Where is your evidence to support this contention?" Good question. If you are familiar with Sherlock Homes, the evidence is the fact that the dog that did not bark. ... More ›

Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
January 5, 2010 7:35am
"You fail to confront the fact that there was never any crime or violence or danger to children associated with drugs when all drugs were legal for hundreds of years" The fact? Can you site a source for this fact? ... More ›

Over Taxed, MA  
January 5, 2010 3:01am
"It would be an injustice to allow only certain people certain rights." Yes. I have been saying that all along. "If an officer pulled over a person with a pound of cocaine how would he be able to determine ... More ›

Over Taxed, MA  
January 5, 2010 2:46am
"You live in a bubble where you only see the benefits of such topics to your own convenience and fail to see how dangerous these drugs are to people, especially children." I have presented a moral, Constitutional, ... More ›

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