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Wall Street Journal: We Have Lost the War on Drugs

By Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy | The Wall Street Journal

Starting with the fourth paragraph:

The total number of persons incarcerated in state and federal prisons in the U.S. has grown from 330,000 in 1980 to about 1.6 million today. Much of the increase in this population is directly due to the war on drugs and the severe punishment for persons convicted of drug trafficking. About 50% of the inmates in federal prisons and 20% of those in state prisons have been convicted of either selling or using drugs. The many minor drug traffickers and drug users who spend time in jail find fewer opportunities for legal employment after they get out of prison, and they develop better skills at criminal activities.

Prices of illegal drugs are pushed up whenever many drug traffickers are caught and punished harshly. The higher prices they get for drugs help compensate traffickers for the risks of being apprehended. Higher prices can discourage the demand for drugs, but they also enable some traffickers to make a lot of money if they avoid being caught, if they operate on a large enough scale, and if they can reduce competition from other traffickers. This explains why large-scale drug gangs and cartels are so profitable in the U.S., Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and other countries.

The paradox of the war on drugs is that the harder governments push the fight, the higher drug prices become to compensate for the greater risks. That leads to larger profits for traffickers who avoid being punished. This is why larger drug gangs often benefit from a tougher war on drugs, especially if the war mainly targets small-fry dealers and not the major drug gangs. Moreover, to the extent that a more aggressive war on drugs leads dealers to respond with higher levels of violence and corruption, an increase in enforcement can exacerbate the costs imposed on society.

The large profits for drug dealers who avoid being caught and punished encourage them to try to bribe and intimidate police, politicians, the military and anyone else involved in the war against drugs. If police and officials resist bribes and try to enforce antidrug laws, they are threatened with violence and often begin to fear for their lives and those of their families.

Read on at The Wall Street Journal

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An ounce of cannabis in Fla

An ounce of cannabis in Fla is a Felony.

They will arrest, humiliate and wreck sick peoples lives in Florida for merely trying to cope with chronic pain or cancer by using a natural herb that will grow almost anywhere.

Dr Paul avoided Fla during the elections and we Paulians in Fla watched with disgust the support in Fla for the likes of gingrich the traitor. You may want to consider how they will treat you if you vacation in Ft Lauderdale and catch you and your partner smoking a joint for whatever reason.

I hear they are restoring human rights in places like Colorado, Washington State, of course California ( let's not forget 10,000 people coming out to hear Dr Paul in Berkely! )

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good things is my religion. Thomas Paine, Godfather of the American Revolution

No.7's picture

+1 bump


The individual who refuses to defend his rights when called by his Government, deserves to be a slave, and must be punished as an enemy of his country and friend to her foe. - Andrew Jackson

I surrender!

It is just another excuse for the police to harass people and for the government to make money through taxes for enforcement and the courts. When are Americans going to realize we have give our freedoms away?

depends on your perspective.

if you are a corporation and you run prisons then the war on drugs is going fantastically well.

The Prison-Industrial Complex

"Over the past twenty years the State of California has built twenty-one new prisons, added thousands of cells to existing facilities, and increased its inmate population eightfold. Nonviolent offenders have been responsible for most of that increase. The number of drug offenders imprisoned in the state today is more than twice the number of inmates who were imprisoned for all crimes in 1978... Three decades after the war on crime began, the United States has developed a prison-industrial complex—a set of bureaucratic, political, and economic interests that encourage increased spending on imprisonment, regardless of the actual need. The prison-industrial complex is not a conspiracy, guiding the nation's criminal-justice policy behind closed doors. It is a confluence of special interests that has given prison construction in the United States a seemingly unstoppable momentum. It is composed of politicians, both liberal and conservative, who have used the fear of crime to gain votes; impoverished rural areas where prisons have become a cornerstone of economic development; private companies that regard the roughly $35 billion spent each year on corrections not as a burden on American taxpayers but as a lucrative market; and government officials whose fiefdoms have expanded along with the inmate population..." An old article, but good at explaining the phenomenon. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1998/12/the-pris...

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir


As corporations pay off politicians/judges, and an urgent desire to rid the Consitution, humans will be jailed simply to sustain corporate profits with maximum growth potential/dividends.

Of course, that has been happening all along.

This is the year that America dies.

"What if the American people learn the truth" - Ron Paul

Nice bit of sound economics.