Today’s Ignorance Courtesy of Jack Cafferty

CNN’s Jack Cafferty writes in his column today:

One senior Harvard economist estimates we spend $44 billion a year fighting the war on drugs. He says if they were legal, governments would realize about $33 billion a year in tax revenue. Net swing of $77 billion. Could we use that money today for something else? You bet your ass we could. Plus the cartels would be out of business. Instantly. Goodbye crime and violence.

Really Jack?  The cartels would be out of business?  Goodbye crime and violence?

I hate the illogical “War on Drugs” as much as the next literate, reasonably well-informed person – and don’t get me wrong, hyperbole is one heck of a literary device – but, no.

No, the cartels would not be out of business (according to UN estimates – p. 127 here – North America consumes less than half of the global illicit drug market).  No, it is not immediately obvious that crime and violence would decrease (see points 5 and 7 here).

The War on Drugs in its present form is ludicrous.  However, overstating the dissenter’s position does nothing to illuminate this insanity.

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2 Responses to Today’s Ignorance Courtesy of Jack Cafferty

  1. Chris says:

    You’re correct that the cartels wouldn’t instantaneously (or ever) disappear. In some ways they’re very astute businessmen. Just as the crime bosses in the 30’s shifted direction after prohibition ended the current crop of organized crime would find alternate sources of revenue. Although they will have a tough time finding something as lucrative as the drug trade. My guess is that there would be a significant drop in drug related crime with respect to crimes committed to obtain drugs. Just as today we don’t see many people committing crimes to obtain alcohol.

    On the flip side I’d expect to see a slight increase in crimes committed under the influence of drugs for two reasons.
    1. After legalization you’re likely to see a temporary surge in drug use, just as The Netherlands experienced.
    2. Crimes committed under the influence such as DUI or assault will be committed regardless of the legal status of drugs.

    Legalization would go a long way towards marginalizing drug cartels in Mexico. The US has the climate and available land to produce marijuana in-house.

    A more interesting question is what happens to the drug trade in places like Colombia & Afghanistan where they grow cocoa and poppies, crops we don’t have the climate for. Without corresponding legalization in those countries I’d expect to see the cartels to remain strong.

  2. Joe Cure says:

    Exactly, especially with respect to your final point.

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