Mar 28, 2010, 2:39 PM
Post #8 of 29
The fundamental problem is that we have made a product illegal that millions of people in the US want to consume. That, of course, makes it more valuable and therefore brings huge profits to those who make, smuggle, distribute, and sell the product.
Re: [Reefhound] Newsweek article on our drug war
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Sooner or later, as with any highly profitable capitalist enterprise, these operations get more and more centralized and integrated. This creates even more profit for the people at the top of the centralized organizations, and employment at least, if not riches, for vast numbers of people.
Then, as these organizations start to seriously compete for turf, violence increases between them, since since there are no legal rules or legitimate channels by which such issues can be adjusted peacefully.
In turn, because the illegality brings attention from law enforcement, efforts are made, usually successful, to focus some part of the vast profits toward buying off as many levels of law enforcement as are necessary to keep things running smoothly. When the military is brought in, the same dynamic applies. Given the low levels of pay for police and military of all ranks, compared to the vast amounts of money available to buy cooperation, how could it be otherwise?
So now we have not only the hundreds of thousands of people engaged in some form of the drug business, and a huge network of police and military, all sharing in the illegal profits provided by a population of many millions who want their recreational drugs and don't see or care much about how the drugs come to them.
And, of course, those in the police/law enforcement/military bureaucracies who are genuinely fighting the drug cartels find that the power and resources flowing to them only increase as the fight goes on, and therefore have a vested interest in keeping the "War on Drugs" going.
Success by the authorities in capturing or killing top drug figures does not reduce violence, but increases it. The reasons are easy to understand. The top figures are, after all, essentially businessmen. They seek stability and smooth-running operations to keep up the flow of profits. Large scale violence, aside from an occasional turf war, distrupts this smooth flow and brings unwanted attention. When these stabilizing figures are removed, power struggles erupt over who will replace them, or who will get which piece of a fragmenting organization. The more fragmentation, the more violence.
What is the answer? Remove the profit by making the product legal, regulating its quality and distribution, taxing it at all levels, and using the taxes generated for genuine drug education (forget "just say no") and rehabilitation services.
Now the illegal operations either go out of business or transform themselves into legal enterprises. The cost of the product plummets, removing the vast profits and the incentives and ability to corrupt the authorities. With no more need to focus on illegal drug trafficking, law enforcement can be refocused on more realistic crime-fighting efforts, and the military can be extricated from civilian law enforcement, an area for which it is entirely unsuited. Vast resources now devoted to the military and law enforcement in the so-called "War on Drugs" can be devoted to more productive uses.
And the US can stay the hell out of Mexico, where its history of involvement has had universally unfortunate results.