Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Narcotics-Industrial Economy

The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, recently wrote an editorial for the Guardian decrying the irresponsibility of entertainers such as Amy Winehouse who glorify drug abuse, making the point that drug trafficking is compromising the rule of law in West Africa now, as it had previously done to most of South and Central America.

The very first commenter (Billy Beaver) summed up my thoughts well:

If the commerce in these [narcotics] is causing trouble for the countries that grow or process them, or where they are transshipped, then we have the stupid 'war against drugs' to blame.

This futile, unending and unavailing effort on the part of the nanny states, ostensibly to protect us from our own inability to avoid nasty habits, keep drug prices unnecessarily high and thus invite criminal participation.

The vast numbers of police, armed forces personnel, judges and other assorted and otherwise useless civil servants feed the anti-drugs propaganda machine because they too have no wish to see their well-paid, cushy jobs disappear. (emphasis added)
I think the point that the war on drugs is an industry with entrenched special interest groups of its own is often lost in the midst of all the moralizing and sob stories that crop up in dealing with public policy towards recreational drugs.

It's as much an industry for the police as it is for the drug traffickers. And law enforcement constantly uses the drug war as a cudgel in public policy disputes to encroach on civil liberties.

Maybe I'm just cynical...

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