Monday, December 11, 2006

War on drugs: tilting at windmills

David Seaton's News Links
Living in a country like Spain, where possession of drugs for personal use is not a crime and taking drugs (not selling them) is treated as a health problem, it is hard for me to understand why the American prisons are filled to the top with users. Is it a form of racial repression? In one of Milton Friedman's last interviews, quoted in the article from the Seattle Times that I'm featuring below, the Nobel prize winning economist said, "Should we allow the killing to go on in the ghettos? 10,000 additional murders a year? ... Should we continue to destroy Colombia and Afghanistan?". He was in favor of legalizing drugs. So am I. I don't see how things could be worse than they are now. This is a problem of social exclusion. The question that should be asked in the USA is: why does it seem impossible for so many of its citizens to live in the United States without being stoned out of their minds? DS
Drugs: the other war we can't win - Seattle Times
Abstract: There are 2.2 million Americans behind bars, another 5 million on probation or parole, the Justice Department reported on Nov. 30. We exceed Russia and Cuba in incarcerations per 100,000 people; in fact, no other nation comes close. The biggest single reason for the expanding numbers? Our war on drugs — a quarter of all sentences are for drug offenses, mostly nonviolent. So has the "war" worked? Has drug use or addiction declined? Clearly not. Hard street drugs are reportedly cheaper and purer, and as easy to get, as when President Richard Nixon declared substance abuse a "national emergency." Drugs crossing our borders have been widely blamed. To stem them, President Bill Clinton launched Plan Colombia, carried on enthusiastically under the Bush administration. The plan's modus operandi is war from the sky — aerial spraying that has covered 2.4 million acres of Colombia's coca plant and opium poppy fields — almost as much territory as Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The U.S. Embassy in Bogotá has become our second-largest diplomatic mission, employing more than 2,000 people. Still, the U.N. reports, Colombia last year produced 776 metric tons of cocaine, enough to supply 80 percent of the world market. Great victory. In Afghanistan, the provider of a huge portion of the world's heroin, production is soaring with the profits funding insurgents and criminals. Drug cartels with their own armies regularly engage NATO forces — as serious a threat as the Taliban. High-level government officials and police are reportedly corrupted. And the U.S. still presses eradication programs that alienate villagers.(...) We'd be incredibly better off if we had treated drugs as a public-health issue instead of a criminal issue — as the celebrated Nobel Prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman, in fact advised us. Friedman, who died last month at 94, witnessed America's misadventure into alcohol prohibition in his youth. "We had this spectacle of Al Capone, of the hijackings, the gang wars," wrote Friedman. He decried turning users into criminals: "Prohibition is an attempted cure that makes matters worse — for both the addict and the rest of us." And in one of his last interviews, Friedman asked the relevant questions: "Should we allow the killing to go on in the ghettos? 10,000 additional murders a year? ... Should we continue to destroy Colombia and Afghanistan?"(...) Race remains a disturbing factor: The federal penalty for crack cocaine, favored in poor black neighborhoods, remains 10 times that for regular cocaine, more popular among whites. READ IT ALL

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is why the economy in America is doing so well according to republicans?