Saturday, May 15, 2010

US War on Drugs Has Cost $1 Trillion and Ten Times More Deaths Than 9-11 and Met None of Its Goals

MEXICO CITY — After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives (MP: 28,400 in Mexico alone in just the last five years, more than ten times the number of casualties in 9-11, see chart above, data here), and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread. Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked.

"In the grand scheme, it has not been successful," Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. "Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."

21 Comments:

At 5/15/2010 3:37 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Recall that drugs are used to escape what is perceived as a desperate state in life. We tried to ban another substance, booze that provides another temporary way out of the life of quiet desperation most live, that end with a big crime way, all be it mostly domestic.
Since many want an escape, legalize and tax (to pay for treatment programs like the one that used to exist in Lexington Ky) at least weed, opiates, cocaine and the like. Drugs like crystal meth are a theat to others so they can remain banned. In essence if the drug mellows a person out, or knocks them out, legalize it. Of course you enforce laws against operating machinery while under the influnce of drugs, and allow banning their use for those in safety sensitive situations.

 
At 5/15/2010 4:49 PM, Blogger happyjuggler0 said...

Mark,

How many of those deaths are drug abuse related, and how many are prohibition related?

I suspect the vast majority are prohibition related deaths, and therefore the title of your chart is bad framing.

 
At 5/15/2010 5:00 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

"Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread."

Drug users don't care, which says something about using drugs.

 
At 5/15/2010 6:19 PM, Anonymous grant said...

Heres food prices for march 2010.
Up 2.4% and the 5th consecutive monthly increase.
Veges up 55%
Fruit up29%
Eggs up33%
Red Meat up11%
Dairy up 10%
Looks like the food price theorists could be right.

 
At 5/15/2010 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MP: 28,400 in Mexico alone in just the last five years, more than ten times the number of casualties in 9-11.

Many drugs are legal in Mexico, including pot, which is the most smuggled drug. Why isn't legalization working?

 
At 5/15/2010 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drug users don't care, which says something about using drugs.

Excellent point. How many times have you heard some sanctimonious pot-head lecturing people about "no blood for oil". How about "no blood for weed or cocaine". These assholes don't care how many people get killed or how many lives are ruined, as long as they get their fix. They could just as easily grab a beer and spare a child, but they don't give a shit. It's all about them.

 
At 5/15/2010 6:32 PM, Anonymous grant said...

Is the euro sick? It has dropped from 1.50 before the Greek tragedy to:
30th mar:1.3478
13th april:1.3591
1st may:1.3326
7th:may:1.2765
11th may:1.300
12th may:1.2670
13th may:1.2771
14th may:1.2595
15th may:1.2470

 
At 5/15/2010 6:34 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

It is odd that we are propping up a narco-state in Afghanistan, now the world's largest producer of opium. Sometimes, US Marines protect poppy plantations of those loyal to President Karzai, who also runs in opium.

Hey. makes sense to me--and then let's throw the book at some guy doping it up at home.

PS There are unintended consequences of invading, and then occupying a nation for nine years and running. Plus it costs a trillion dollars or so.

 
At 5/15/2010 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes, US Marines protect poppy plantations of those loyal to President Karzai, who also runs in opium.

You, "Benny", are both stupid and malicious.

WASHINGTON — Fifty Afghans believed to be drug traffickers with ties to the Taliban have been placed on a Pentagon target list to be captured or killed, reflecting a major shift in American counternarcotics strategy in Afghanistan, according to a Congressional study to be released this week ...

“We have a list of 367 ‘kill or capture’ targets, including 50 nexus targets who link drugs and the insurgency,” one of the generals told the committee staff. The generals were not identified in the Senate report, which was obtained by The New York Times ...

For years the American-led mission in Afghanistan had focused on destroying poppy crops. Pentagon officials have said their new emphasis is on weaning local farmers off the drug trade — including the possibility of paying them to grow nothing — and going after the drug runners and drug lords.

The New York Times

 
At 5/15/2010 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is odd that we are propping up a narco-state in Afghanistan, now the world's largest producer of opium. Sometimes, US Marines protect poppy plantations of those loyal to President Karzai, who also runs in opium.

"Benny", you've written this lie on several occasions now. It seems that in this case, as in so many others, you do not know what you are talking about. NATO decided not to eradicate poppy fields in an area that they had just liberated since the farmers had already planted and were dependent on the crop. They decided to either buy the crop or indict it at another level. Almost all the opium poppies grown in Afghanistan are grown in Taliban controlled areas. Once they are liberated, the growing of opium poppies is forbidden by law:

Opium cultivation has been largely wiped out in 20 provinces where security has been improved, and in the seven most insecure provinces, poppy is still farmed.

Although the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO force that General McChrystal commands, no longer carries out eradication programs itself, its official position is that it supports the Afghan government’s efforts to eradicate, and lends backup and protection to the provincial officials, who are responsible for carrying out the eradication program.

“Marja is a special case right now,” said Cmdr. Jeffrey Eggers, a member of the general’s Strategic Advisory Group, his top advisory body. “We don’t trample the livelihood of those we’re trying to win over.”

Afghan officials, however, are divided. Though some support the American position, others, citing a constitutional ban on opium cultivation, want to plow the fields under before the harvest, which has already begun in parts of Helmand Province.

“How can we allow the world to see lawful forces in charge of Marja next to fields full of opium, which one way or another will be harvested and turned into a poison that kills people all over the world?” said Zulmai Afzali, the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics.

The problem of Marja’s opium harvest is being discussed intensely by General McChrystal’s advisers, but none of the proposed solutions have proved satisfactory. One idea was to buy up and destroy the opium harvest, but opponents of that proposal feared that it would only encourage more opium cultivation — and might be illegal under United States law, turning American troops into de facto drug financiers.

Another idea was to give incentives to farmers to change to legal crops next year, while this year concentrating on interdiction of smugglers and the laboratories they use to make opium or heroin from the poppy paste.

The New York Times

 
At 5/15/2010 8:35 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Dudes, get a grip. Afghanistan now accounts for more than 90 percent of world's output of opium--and we have occupied the country for nine years, at a cost of a trillion dollars.

"Opium production has been wiped out in 20 provinces"--well then how has Afghanistan become the Wal-Mart of poppies?

Let me guess--those were provinces not aligned with Karzai. You don't pay tribute, you don't get protection. In effect, US soldiers have become Karzai henchmen--it is inescapable, and inexcusable.

The excuse for all of this is that the poppies make Karzai stronger. His government would collpase without poppy production.

The facts are clear: Afghanistan produces the vast bulk of the world's poppies,. and it is under US supervision. US soldiers protect regions loyal to Karzai. This is not disputed.

There is a lot of unintended consequences when we invade and then occupy another nation for nine years and running. You can call me stupid, but I never did anything that stupid.

Shoot up and help fight terrorists!

 
At 5/15/2010 10:45 PM, Anonymous grant said...

Happy birthday bengie!

 
At 5/16/2010 12:55 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Anon said: "How many times have you heard some sanctimonious pot-head lecturing people about "no blood for oil"...It's all about them."

Yes, it's like Al Gore wanting the masses to live in the dark, while he lives in a big bright house.

 
At 5/16/2010 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The price of drugs is going up, if you have to kill more people to prtect your supply.

 
At 5/16/2010 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it's like Al Gore wanting the masses to live in the dark, while he lives in a big bright house.


Not sure I follow the analogy.

Al gore wants the masses to live in the dark.

Potheads don't want to trade lives for oil.

Al Gore livesin big bright house(s).

Potheads kill people for oil.


????

 
At 5/16/2010 1:38 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Middle of quote: "These assholes don't care how many people get killed or how many lives are ruined, as long as they get their fix."

Gore lectures the masses about their emission levels, while he emits at a high level.

"It's all about them" (the Al Gores of the world).

 
At 5/16/2010 2:19 AM, Blogger Sackerson said...

Before all this gets converted into an argument for legalising yet more damaging and physically/psychologically addictive mind- and mood-altering substances, please read this sober consideration by a medical doctor with long experience of the health and social consequences of drugs - legal and illegal:

http://www.city-journal.org/html/7_2_a1.html

 
At 5/16/2010 9:32 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well Professor Mark this is indeed an interesting story, maybe even a story with some legs...

I mean a trillion dollars is nothing to sneeze at...

Then again if money is part of the problem lets talk about some serious money...

From the Cato Institute, Sept. of '04: $9 Trillion Didn't End Poverty -- What to Do?

I can't help but wonder if this gigantic waste of extorted tax dollars doesn't have something to do with the costs associated with the war on drugs...

 
At 5/16/2010 5:15 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

The interesting issue is one of which libertarianism one supports one for property, or one for social rights. The social rights view would say that as long as you don't hurt anyone else anything goes, if you want to kill yourself go ahead its your right. Statistics should be gathered on the situation pre drug prohibition, to see the rates, (don't use anecdotes numbers are needed).
Yes people can wreck their lives but a fully libertarian view would say thats their right to do so. (Perhaps after being told the consequences of their action nothing more)

 
At 5/16/2010 6:17 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

>"The interesting issue is one of which libertarianism one supports one for property, or one for social rights."

Lyle, what does this mean? I don't think there are opposing libertarian views on property and individual liberty.


>"Statistics should be gathered on the situation pre drug prohibition, to see the rates, (don't use anecdotes numbers are needed)."

Yes, that might be interesting. Why don't you see what you can find on this?


>"(Perhaps after being told the consequences of their action nothing more)"

I believe a fully libertarian view would be that people need to figure things out for themselves. If a family member, or friend - someone you care about is involved, you would likely feel an obligation to help, but people you don't even know exist would pretty much be on their own.

 
At 5/18/2010 3:20 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Drug users don't care, which says something about using drugs.

Most Americans are killing themselves with food. Maybe we should ban that too?

How about knives? Guns?

Actually, the violence associated with drugs is mostly on the supply side and they aren't trying to kill their customers. So, as a user you're pretty safe. What this really says is that drug prices are high enough that people will take all kinds of risks to sell it to customers.

 

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