Friday, April 1, 2011

Is the American War On Drugs Responsible for the Thousands Dead in Mexico?

A recent report in the UK Guardian put the 4 year death toll of the Mexican Drug War at 35,000. Unfortunately, this report was from January, so the actual total is undoubtedly much higher now and includes one American ICE agent.

As Mexico's #1 importer of illegal drugs we pump upwards of $39 billion annually in illicit proceeds into the Mexican Cartel's pockets which in turn they use to buy weapons and slaughter innocent people. (link)

At first blush, one would be quick to blame the users of those drugs. While to a certain degree that may be true, it may be a very narrow view of the overall problem. Another viewpoint would be to blame the American War On Drugs.

As CATO Legal Policy Analyst David Rittgers points out in this Pod Cast, The [drug] cartels have access to an unlimited supply of money because of our prohibitionist policies in the US. The prohibition of drugs in the United States has inflated the price of drugs to such a high level that profits from their sale are astronomical. It is these profit incentives that make the Drug Cartel's stop at nothing to protect their "turf" and channels of importation into the United States.

One must ask, is the War On Drugs worth the overflowing prisons/jails in the US, the billions of dollars it has cost to wage it, and now the thousands of lost lives in Mexico?

The sad part is, we have an example in history from which the Federal Government should have learned its lesson. In the 1920s, Congress experimented with the prohibition of alcohol. However, by 1933 it learned it was a futile battle.

On February 20, 1933, a new Congress acknowledged the failure of alcohol
prohibition and sent the Twenty-First Amendment to the states. Congress
recognized that Prohibition had failed to stop drinking and had increased
prison populations and violent crime.

Yet, the Federal Government continues to wage its losing battle against drugs. As was the case during Prohibition, all the arrests and incarcerations
haven’t stopped the use and abuse of drugs, or the drug trade, or the crime
associated with black-market transactions. Cocaine and heroin supplies
are up; the more our Customs agents interdict, the more smugglers import.
And most tragic, the crime rate has soared. Despite the good news about
crime in recent years, crime rates remain at high levels.

Alot of Conservatives would claim that if drugs were legalized, crime would soar even higher. However, this is an ignorant outlook. The violent crimes associated with drugs aren't caused by the mere use of drugs. As the Mexican Drug Wars should make readily apparent, the violent crimes come from fighting over the sale of the drugs. Do you see "Bud Light" cartels killing each other to sell a keg to the local bar? NO!! Why? Because when a product goes from illegal to legal, the supply of the product goes up and the price goes down, disincentivizing cartels from seeking the much more meager profits.

There are now examples from around the world that prove this point. Under Portugal's new drug laws, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail. In the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled. (link)

Another example is the Netherlands who also have a very liberal drug policy. The result? The Dutch government has announced that it does not have enough prisoners to fill its prisons, and as a result is closing down 8 prisons. Currently, the Netherlands has the capacity for 14,000 prisoners, but only has 12,000 people to fill those jails.

The case for legalization is strong and becomes stronger by every innocent Mexican citizen that is slaughtered with the blood money supplied by the US. Is it time to put an end to the charade?

For an extensive look at the failed American War On Drugs, I invite everyone to read the report CATO provided Congress on the issue.

1 comment:

  1. Hard for me to argue with that. We do overlap our goals in some aspects.