Your Tax Dollars at Work

From the “don’t they have anything better to do?” file:

A crook calls up a couple of friends. “I got a lick,” he says. “There’s this cocaine dealer. I know where he stays. Help me jack him.” The friends agree — where’s the harm in jacking a dealer? But there is no dealer. The crook is a government informant, and he’s prepared to swear that the plan was to rob the dealer of more than 10 kilos of cocaine (recordings of conversations between the players are ambiguous) and sell it. Out of thin air he has just created a federal cocaine distribution conspiracy for which his two “friends” are going to go down hard.

You’re paying the informant for this work. You’re also paying the cops who run him, and the prosecutors who will prosecute the accused, and the judges who will preside over their cases, as well as myriad other participants in the criminal “justice” system. If they don’t have money to hire lawyers, you’re paying their public defenders.

You’re paying a huge amount of money to “fight drugs.” The money goes to the participants in the system, and the people and companies that support and supply all of those groups. The “war on drugs” is a massive redistribution of wealth from the taxpayers to the players in the system.

Assume that such a redistribution of wealth might be justifiable if it provides some amount of benefit to the taxpayers. Does the war on drugs pass the test? By any metric that I know of, it fails. We have more prisons than ever before, and they’re more crowded with people charged with narcotics cases than ever before. Yet — most importantly — there are more drugs available, more cheaply (according to a DEA agent I know), than there were 30 years ago when the “war on drugs” began.

A good lawyer defending people accused of drug crimes can make more money from the war on drugs than any judge, prosecutor, cop, or prison guard. Individually, we have more at stake in the war on drugs than almost anyone else. Yet ours voices, along with those of the families of people imprisoned in the “war,” are the loudest voices in opposition to the “war.”

Robert Guest at I Was the State has a post today entitled Put Me Out of Business — End Prohibition. He talks about how, even though he stands to lose a lot of business if drugs are legalized, legalizing drugs is the right thing to do.

Robert is right. Of course.

0 responses to “Your Tax Dollars at Work”

  1. When you say legalize drugs, do mean legalize or do you mean decriminalize? Or is there a difference at all here Stateside. In Europe possession of small amounts ( and what is small varies by jurisdiction ) is largely decriminalized. While you can still be prosecuted for trafficking if you’re handling more volume than Marks & Spencers, much of Europe has taken away needless prosecution of people possessing drugs in small amounts for personal use.
    The drug trade quite like prostitution exists only because there is a market for them. While decriminalization tends to weed out (no pun intended) the ‘innocents’, there is still a much larger problem looming and the war on drugs doesn’t address that: Why people are using drugs in the first place. There are strong correlations to drug usage and poverty, lack of education etc. This doesn’t explain drug usage amongst the educated and affluent but they represent a much smaller proportion of users than those that really can’t ‘afford’ to be using drugs in the first place.

    The government and usage of conspiracy statutes is a bit of a conspiracy itself. Too many prosecutos are only able to hang their case on this notion of conspiracy that often is too far removed from actual commission of a crime. While I don’t want criminals running free for lack of prosecution, I don’t want innocent people behind bars because of guilt by association. Conspiracy as a crime echoes too much of witch hunting and McCarthyism for my taste

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