On the Other Hand...
by Jim Davies
What The Drug War's For
Anyone able to reason independently will have realized long ago that what the media SAYS the Drug War is for (to reduce drug usage, especially by teenagers) is not what it's REALLY for. Today, we'll look at its true raisons d'etre. Just to dispose first of the myth, still promulgated by government and media: if the War had the serious purpose of reducing drug use, it would have been abandoned years ago because it is a manifest, massive failure. Its intensity has been steadily increased over a period of 85 years, and in the same period the percentage of Americans who regularly use drugs now illegal has not made any significant change at all; it's stayed at about 8% of the population.
By "significant", I don't mean that the rate hasn't fluctuated at all, just that no trend is visible. Some years it may be 7% or 10%, but look at the long term and it's a straight, flat line. Since the Generals prosecuting the Drug War are not fools, they must know this. Since they know it and do nothing, it must be that they do not care. Since they don't care, reducing drug use cannot be their true purpose, political propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding.
So while usage reduction is obviously the "sales pitch" that secures continuing public support for their war, we must look elsewhere for its true objectives.
Sounds trivial, but it's a major reason! All those Federales and State and local cops who love to throw their weight around in well-publicized drug busts would, absent the Drug War, be employed otherwise and usefully, or not at all. Since those same people are the ones "best" able to advise on whether or not to prolong it, we need not be surprised that it continues.
This motive force was most easily first noticed in the mid-1930s. Alcohol prohibition had just been very properly repealed, and thousands of ex-enforcers were looking unemployment right in the face - at a time when getting a job was tougher than it had ever been, even for those unhindered by popular resentment against former "Revenuers".
What they did was a stroke of evil genius: they spread the fiction that "Marihuana" was about to ruin the entire younger generation, and got Congress to set up a "Drug Enforcement Agency" - with us, alas, to this day. They were able to invent a Menace, have it prohibited, and then get jobs in a tax-funded Department to enforce its prohibition. Nice work, if you can get it!
The main reason the Government continues the war on drugs is that it provides a ready excuse to harass and spy on the whole Underground Economy.
All countries whose governments tax incomes or regulate businesses have an Underground Economy, consisting of people who wish to deal with each other without the alleged benefits of government help. Before its collapse the Soviet Union had so regulated agriculture "above ground" that what was once a major wheat exporter had become incapable of feeding its own people: instead, fully one third of all food actually eaten there was being produced, distributed and sold by the tiny underground farming trade.
So, underground economies are often of great benefit to society; despite the "black" market name for them that government people use, they are truly "white", free markets that feed people and deliver what they want to buy.
And governments just detest the idea that people can trade with each other without supervision. Such practice challenges their whole excuse for existence; if free markets work, who needs government? - Who, indeed?!
Just as serious, underground markets pay no taxes. So vast amounts of money that government people have ordered surrendered to them, get retained instead by the owners. Outrageous!! - so any excuse they can find to undermine and destroy these secret, free economies is vitally welcome to Government Man.
The excuse of "drug abuse" is a godsend; so long as raids on bank accounts, seizures of cash, houses and cars, and violations of privacy can be passed off as having something to do with saving your kids from the Drug Menace, the violators and confiscators can continue without popular outcry. In my opinion, the real Drug Menace is the vast illusion that any government is ever needed.
Here's one allegation I cannot prove, unfortunately: it is that those politicians who vote most vigorously to continue the drug war are receiving the biggest campaign assistance from its alleged targets.
At first, that idea must seem bizarre; but consider the good old Latin question, "Cui bono?" - Who benefits?
If the drug war were abandoned - if prohibition were repealed - the Big Losers would be those who, today, are making wads of money by distributing now-illegal drugs. The prices would plummet to that of aspirin, and those huge profits would vanish as surely as did those from smuggling alcohol in the 1920s.
So, who has most to gain from continuing prohibition? - the kingpin drug smugglers, obviously. Who, then, is most eager for it to be continued? - again, those drug lords. Would they pay bribes (excuse me, campaign contributions) to make that happen? - You betcha. It's just a cost of doing business.
Cops, Pols, spies, tax gatherers and drug lords. Welcome to the real movers and shakers behind today's phoney Drug War; which slaughters innocent children in its crossfire, imprisons half a million of us without just cause, tramples the Bill of Rights, and traps you and me in its regulatory death-grip.
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