Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The War On Drugs is stupid

We've spent a trillion dollars on this boondoggle, we've sacrificed more freedom than you can describe (had to burn the village to save it, and all that), and you still see this:
Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia have seized a container ship operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Co., weeks after authorities found more than $1 billion worth of cocaine on the vessel in what was one of the largest drug busts in American history.


On June 17, border agents found 39,525 pounds of cocaine stashed in several containers on the MSC Gayane at the Philadelphia seaport. The street value of the drugs was estimated at about $1.3 billion, making it the largest cocaine seizure by the agency.
One ship, 20 tons of cocaine.  A billion bucks of drugs on a single ship.

It's way past time to declare victory and brings the troops home.  Legalize it all, tax it (use some of the revenue to fund treatment centers) and be done with it.  This sure isn't working.  It's  a stupid game and we shouldn't play.


Tacitus said...

It's difficult, maybe impossible to do a cost benefit analysis of this situation. It is very Libertarian to just say "do what ya wanna do". It is probably quite naive to think treatment centers would have much impact on what people would "wanna". So in balance with that trillion dollars spent - at least some of which had other societal benefits - what is the price of legalizing more stuff. What is the societal cost of each fatal overdose? The health care tab for life long HIV treatment? What would be the silent expense of a decline in worker productivity (especially on Mondays!)? How much of an increase would we see in disability seen not as a tragic but hopefully short term situation vis a vis a life style? And in a somewhat decadent society where loosening any restriction just marshals the forces to storm the next barrier...what next? If marijuana legalization works out OK in Colorado, expect a push towards legalization of amphetamines and opioids. Heck, a good chunk of the young population is on the former and not a small percentage overall take the latter, why not eliminate the often perfunctory medical observation?
I know I am setting up a line of straw men here and I mean no disrespect to those who hold other views. But if there is one thing that our Progressive fellow citizens have shown us it is that charging ahead without considering the next three developments too often ends......badly.

Michael Stone said...

But it IS working.

It's working for the cops.
It's working for the prisons.
It's working for the politicians.
It's working for the CIA.


Peter B said...

Everyone focuses on the unintended consequences of the War on Some Drugs, but legalization would have them too. OK, increased drug use, yada yada.

But just think how much money the cartels would save in bribes. Officials in the US would have to replace the income stream. So would government agencies which benefit from asset forfeiture.

Lawrence Person said...

I oppose federal drug prohibition on Tenth Amendment grounds.

Anonymous said...

It appears you do not understand the size of the Drug Interdiction and Treatment Industry that has been created to deal with "drug importation, distribution and addiction problems."

Millions of people are now dependent upon that industry for not just income from the jobs, but the feeling of self-worth created by participating in it. "Important work is being done" according to numerous well paid (and probably just as well bribed) politicos.

Legalization with taxation, no matter how much sense it makes, would destroy the scam overnight. I don't know exactly how much money is changing hands - entirely legally - but I'm confident it's huge.

Plus, imagine the hand-wringing and pearl clutching that would ensue when OD'd corpses begin turning up everywhere (at least for a while....). That it would be entirely self-inflicted, and a boon to the funeral industry (some would have money) and livestock and pet food manufacturers (some wouldn't) would be lost in the hysteria.

Chuck Pergiel said...

Somebody is making big money selling illegal drugs, and they are not going to take kindly to anyone trying to legalize them. I'm not talking about the guys on the street. I'm talking about the guys wearing suits & ties and living in big houses & driving fancy cars, the ones who will never get busted because they are too well insulated. You can bet they have lobbyists whose sole job is keep drugs illegal.

Aesop said...

Funny you should mention this.

Last night, the entire ER was drugs and alcohol.
Three trauma victims. All hit by drunk drivers.
Two drunks on their own, unrelated to the traumas.
Three homeless crazies with alcohol and an entire pharmacy in their systems.

I had it easy.
I only had the guy stoned on alcohol and five drugs, and the 20-something chick out of clink for less than a week, after two months in jail, who required TEN staff members, including all the nursing staff, security, and the unit secretary, just to hold her down to draw blood and establish an IV, whose entire body was covered with track marks, scars, and a network of scarred veins, cellulitis from shooting up, several other raging infections which my impending dinner date prevent me from discussing fully, a blazing temperature, impending life-threatening rhabdomyolysis, and biting, kicking, screaming hysterically, spitting blood at staff, and who eventually required full sedation, mechanical ventilation, and an ICU admit, (about $100K of care right there) just to get basic medical emergency care including a CT scan of her brain, of which bill she will pay...$0.

And this was on a QUIET Tuesday night.
I've only been doing this 25 years, and it's getting worse, not better, as legalization of only pot in a couple of states has demonstrated.

When you're seriously interested in discussing the subject, rather than clinging to such farcical notions, start talking about decoupling the addicted form all social services, including 9-1-1, and letting them die on the street, and paying for the bill for clean-up and cremation, and we can talk.

Perhaps even see what happens when you start talking seriously about euthanasia in the brave new world you'd inflict upon us all.
As it is now, people here since marijuana legalization are keeping their kids home from the beach, overrun with homeless junkies, because of discarded needles in the sand.

When you have to explain to some mom why her three-year old will probably get Hep B & C, and why she should have all her kids vaccinated as if they were cops or paramedics working skid row, give a holler. I want to hear your take on that conversation. I've already delivered it or listened to it delivered twice, this year.

Come pull a shift in my ER any weekend, and then start talking such utter twaddle as "legalize and tax it".

With all due respect, sir, that's undiluted mountains of horseshit unable to be calculated with existing technology. If reality offends, you have my sincere apologies for inflicting it upon you.

Nonetheless, it is, quite simply, so far beyond absolutely insane as to demonstrate a total psychotic break with the reality in the world.

Doing it the other way around is just another civilizational suicide pact of granting amnesty without building the wall, nor ever intending to.

Just wondering: how did that one work out for this country since 1986?

McChuck said...

We have not yet begun to seriously fight the "war on drugs".

When we shoot pushers and junkies on the spot, like the Philippines, then you'll know we've actually declared a "war on drugs".

When we declare the northern 20 miles of Mexico to be a free fire zone with artillery and air strikes, then you'll know we've actually declared a "war on drugs".

When we tax all money transfers to Latin America at 95%, then you'll know we've actually declared a "war on drugs".

Murphy(AZ) said...

Many, many years ago, I was enough "into" drugs to have at least tried most of what was available at the time. I quickly decided that I wanted no part of that life, and I've been drug free nearly 50 years now. We were fighting the drug war then and we're still at it. There is not a day that passes that I don't thank God that I didn't get deeper into that hell, but I sit on the sidelines now and watch what's happening to others and it saddens me.

Illegal drugs are stronger now than they were in the '70's, they're purer than they used to be, and they're deadlier than they used to be. Legalize them? The Libertarian side of me says go ahead, but then I run up against the one argument against legalization I just can't get past.

When the phone rings in the early morning darkness, or worse yet, when the somber-faced officers show up at my door with the terrible news that someone I love (who has never used drugs, or even experimented with them,) has been injured or killed by a drug addled stranger, then what do I do?

When I'm busy trying to wrap my mind around the forever life-altering news that has just been dumped on me, will it make any difference at all if the person who ripped my family's fabric to shreds was using legal, certified, taxed and regulated drugs, or something they bought from a nameless, faceless dealer in some smoky back room or on a darkened street corner?

When they're cutting the remains of my once vibrant loved one from the crumpled wreckage of their destroyed vehicle because someone nodded off at seventy miles per hour, will my spouse or child be any less mangled, any less dead, if the other driver was using state-approved drugs?

What kind of "war on drugs" is it if the majority of the casualties are innocent non-combatants? And why does it seem that the more we "de-criminalize" drugs, the cartels seem to be shipping more, not less, drugs into the United States?

What I do know is, if some drug user were to harm any member of my family, I will most likely not care if they were doing legal drugs or not. I'm going to go out and try to make them hurt as much as I do.

Richard said...

As people above have pointed out, both drugs and the War on Drugs have negative consequences. Logically, one would compare the consequences and come up with a position. But you can't because the War part doesn't work. So we wind up with a package of negative consequences that are the worst of both worlds. We spend a trillion dollars and corrupt our police forces and restrict our freedom in myriad ways that have nothing directly to do with drugs and drug use and abuse is higher than ever.

Borepatch said...

Tim, your assumption is that legalizing drugs would lead to higher addiction rates. That seems to be not the case:

Overdose deaths down, HIV infection rates down, crime associated with drugs down. We can think of this as an experiment, but we have 17 years of results.

PeterB, this is actually an unintended consequence of legalization. Portugal legalized drugs because they couldn't afford to keep putting people in prison.

Aesop, you're making my point for me. The War On Drugs has failed - your 25 years of experience is a testament to that. As you say, it's getting worse. In engineering terms, we've created a pessimal outcome (the opposite of optimal).

McChuck, I actually think that Capital Punishment for drug dealers is an excellent argument for legalizing all drugs.

Murphy, I think that your experience illustrates why addiction rates didn't go up in Portugal - anyone who wanted drugs could easily get them, and making them legal didn't attract the people who didn't want them. If drugs were legalized here I rather doubt that you would start taking them just because you could.

Jeff B said...

"... start talking about decoupling the addicted form all social services, including 9-1-1, and letting them die on the street, and paying for the bill for clean-up and cremation, and we can talk."

I'm okay with this.

Let's talk.