Monday, July 24, 2006

A War We'll Never Win

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Many people are quick to point out that we approached the war in Iraq with a flawed strategy. They are not so quick to point out that we've been involved in a longer war that we've been losing all along and keep throwing money at; the war on drugs.

It's high time (pun intended) we take a step back and see what a scam this war has been. Libertarian views on this issue have been cast aside without thought and any politician who wishes to remain one will not even broach the subject.

There have been 220 murders in Philadelphia this year thus far (and overdoses are outpacing murders). Care to guess how many of them were drug related? Instead of partial-legalization and increased treatment, we have been throwing money into enforcment, which has landed many in prison for extended terms as well as put many young, inner-city people in the morgue. These draconian drug laws do nothing but cost taxpayers billions of dollars a year in costs that could be returned to taxpayers through tax cuts.

This is a non-partisan issue as the drug laws have been getting steadily tougher from Rockefeller in NY through Reagan's "Just Say No" and Clinton's various drug initiatives. Now we are at the point that no one who holds elected office will say anything bad about this losing battle. I'll say it: The Emperor has no clothes, but he does have track marks.

The Washington Times has an editorial on this subject today:

I understand how difficult it will be to return to drug policy sanity. I had jury duty this summer and was sent out on a panel for a case of marijuana possession with intent to distribute. I wasn't chosen for the jury, but it made me realize how much the Drug War Industrial Complex has to lose if we change our laws. Probably a third of the jobs in that courthouse would disappear. Thousands of lawyers, prosecutors, DEA agents, and prison guards would have to find productive employment. Local law enforcement offices would lose much of their federal funding for high-tech toys.

But America would be a less violent and healthier nation. Billions fewer tax dollars would be disbursed as welfare to the legal industries formed around the drug war. And official corruption, stimulated by the lucrative black market we have created with our policies, would diminish, not just in Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan, but right here in America.

Update: Here's an informative piece on the history of marijuana laws.

Update 2: Just to clarify, I am not calling for the repeal of all drug laws. I do think a partial legalization of marijuana is coming in the near future if only for medicinal purposes. I'm a social libertarian in many respects but I don't go that far.

However, the money that could be raised (and saved) by partial legalization of pot would give treatment programs a large influx of cash. The resultant treatment regimens that can be tried and expanded would be limitless.

We've tried the hardline approach and it has gotten us nowhere. It seems as though we need to see the drug war from a different paradigm.

Update 3: Some folks are at least discussing the issue.

Update 4: As with any war, there will be war profiteers. Interestingly in this war the profiteers are the government. Tens of thousands of DEA agents, state police, local police and DA officers are involved in this war and it has gotten us no where.

The various police unions would make this an ugly battle were money to be cut from the fight. It is in essence, pork. Money from various agencies go to these law enforcement operations including DHS money. Remember those commercials linking drug users to terrorists?

Glenn Reynolds has been writing about this issue for years.

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