Saturday, November 10, 2007

Quote of the Day: You Can Fight Or Ignore Economics, But Economics Will Win Every Time

Attempting to put all the drug dealers in jail is simply not possible. There is a demand for their job function, so the only effect of jailing somebody who has taken on that job is to create a job opening at a higher pay rate.

The War on Drugs is a War on Economics. You can ignore economics if you want. You can even fight economics. But economics is going to win every time.


~The Angry Economist

11 Comments:

At 11/10/2007 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the drug dealers that have mental health challenges and want to deal drugs to harm society--regardless of the cost to themselves?

Economics just lost.

 
At 11/10/2007 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have anything to back up your broad asertion that drug dealers are mentally ill and just want to harm society?

 
At 11/10/2007 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, we shouldn't have a war on robbery or murder either?

The last economic survey that I saw on this indicated that a street level drug dealer was making less than the minimum wage for his efforts and risk.

 
At 11/10/2007 3:43 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"So, we shouldn't have a war on robbery or murder either?

What's the financial return on either one of those tranactions?

"street level drug dealer was making less than the minimum wage for his efforts and risk"

Agents selling policies for State Farm make less than the regional managers or the CEO...

 
At 11/10/2007 8:07 PM, Blogger holeydonut said...

There's a point where the free market would result in the harm of the society at large; and we see that with crimes of violence, theft, etc.

It could be argued that any source of Supply and Demand would be a good thing; but I find it almost comical to use the notion of supply and demand to rationalize drug dealers. I don't care to get into some philosophical debate on the true market price of meth if the trafficking and selling of it were legal. What I'm saying is that it's laughable to to condone drug use under the shield of the free market.

The free market shows again and again that it cannot regulate itself; and the people in a free market would seek to harm each other if given free reign to do so. I'm sure there's a demand out there for food products that *could* have toxins in it. There are some poor people that may wish to take on the risk and I'm sure without laws someone would be willing to sell their poisons to their willing buyers.

Proponents of "free market rules all" would say that regulation on keeping food edible for all places an artificial burden on food suppliers and therefore drives the cost of food out of reach of those poor people who would have otherwise only afforded their potentially poisonous food.

Give me a break. If there were no regulations then the unscrupulous businesses would sell their low-grade food to the wealthy as well. The free market thrives on greed, profit, and self interest. Laws are meant to protect society from itself in the free market. And if laws make it so cocaine is illegal - then so be it.

Sure there are inefficiencies in the law (I'm sure there are lots of examples presented on this blog). But you'd think highly educated people would avoid blanket statements asserting that the war on drugs is a useless venture. They might as well say all laws are useless because the free market regulates things much better.

 
At 11/10/2007 8:24 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

It could be argued that any source of Supply and Demand would be a good thing; but I find it almost comical to use the notion of supply and demand to rationalize drug dealers (grocery stores that sell alcohol). I don't care to get into some philosophical debate on the true market price of meth (vodka) if the trafficking and selling of it were legal. What I'm saying is that it's laughable to to condone drug use (alcohol use) under the shield of the free market.

Sure there are inefficiencies in the law (I'm sure there are lots of examples presented on this blog). But you'd think highly educated people would avoid blanket statements asserting that the war on drugs (alcohol) is a useless venture. They might as well say all laws are useless because the free market regulates things much better.

 
At 11/10/2007 8:47 PM, Blogger holeydonut said...

I don't quite understand the implications of your parenthetical additions. You could have just as easily inserted the words "illegal oxycotton", "asbestos baby rattles", or "dog fighting in Michael Vick's house."


Are you saying that you would rather the government give up and not regulate any narcotics....

Or are you saying that you would rather the government wage a war on alcohol...

Or are you simply pointing out a double standard where alcohol and cigarettes are legal while marijuana and LSD is not...

Or are you saying that the free market will regulate themselves to the best good for all where we can see in today's society that seen that the free market will consume alcohol at a level that is optimal for the society. Of course, there is still that pesky thing about not being allowed to drive while drunk.

 
At 11/11/2007 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the goal of a greedy, profit-driven business be to stay in business so they can feed their greed and desire for profit? It's kind of hard to feed those things with a shoddy product; thus I would propose that any businesses that are supposedly resorting to selling toxic products to poor people aren't exactly driven by greed and profit.

 
At 11/11/2007 4:20 AM, Anonymous Ian Random said...

I wonder why the police bother with prosecution. Why not concentrate on ruining the market? Like knock-offs hurt fashion houses. Selling enough fake dope might ruin the market. Without prosecution and imprisonment, you might save money.

 
At 11/11/2007 11:07 AM, Blogger holeydonut said...

re: "Wouldn't the goal of a greedy, profit-driven business be to stay in business so they can feed their greed and desire for profit?"

At a micro-level I'm sure there are lots of people who will gladly replace long-term viability with a quick profit today. Whether or not the demand is sustainable for the long-haul is hardly the concern of the individual who can find a sucker today.


I still think Economists have a double-standard in terms of what they view as the government oppressing their free-market ideals. For the most part, the laws, policies, and all those government frictions in place are mostly the byproduct of the free market.

Society at large has placed some value on trying to keep heroin away from their kids and families. Even if it comes at the cost of billions of dollars attempting to do something impossible. Most people are content with the friction and spending of the dollars because it demonstrates a society motivated by trying to achieve utopia rather than a society that has just given up.

Officials and policymakers out there thought it was in their best interest (and apparently the public's interest) to spend lots of money to try to regulate drugs. With the exception of some economics, society has rewarded those who attempt to regulate cocaine and PCP while generally punishing those who try to regulate alcohol.

The Government is inefficient because it represents an extremely slow evolution of a society trying to figure out what it wants. And the government is populated with people who are often motivated by self interests. The consequence of all the friction results in all those abuses of subsidies, bickering over taxes, inefficient tariffs, etc.

But by and large society has identified that it would rather have this huge amount friction and governance in their lives than deal with a pure level of un-regulated anarchy driven only by the ideals of the free market.

 
At 10/25/2009 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not true that markets cannot be successfully outlawed.

Slavery was successfully outlawed for instance.

 

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