On Drug Dealers
Before you say to yourself, "Oh, good, another drug addled hippie, writing about legalizing drugs so he won't get busted", allow me to submit to you my credentials.
- In college, yes, I used my share of drugs. Yours, too.
- I haven't touched any drugs in over 10 years.
- I have two small children, so, to set a good example, I don't drink, either.
- I have nothing to gain, personally, from taking either side on the issue, only America does.
Now, on with the show.
America needs to legalize drugs.
There, I've said it. Now you can all say whatever it is you think, just as long as you read this the rest of the way through, think about it, and decide then. First, let's look at some of what keeping
drugs illegal has done:
- There are currently 1.2 million people in U.S. jails for non-violent drug offenses. (That's trafficking and possession to you and me, folks.) Almost $24 billion will go to keeping them in jail each year. That means every man, woman and child in this country will pay $88 this year to house drug offenders. That's a whole week of minimum wage work (for a large chunk of the country, an entire week's pay), just to house people whose major crime was trying to destroy themselves. [Source: Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice]
- Since there's danger and excitement in dealing drugs, it attracts money. Drug gang leaders earn between $50,000 and $130,000 on their misdeeds annually. (For reference, Habib down at the Kwik-e-mart, who sold you the pack of smokes that will eventually kill you, makes about $14,500 per year.) [Source: Soros.org]
- Now, because earnings are so high, these people are willing to fight bloody, murderous gang wars to keep their turf. You don't see 7-11 and Convenient employees taking AK 47's to each other to settle their differences.
Of course, with that much money floating around, it's clearly in some people's best interest to keep drugs illegal. Let's enumerate a few of those folks, shall we?
- Drug dealers. Obviously, the main beneficiaries of illegal drugs are those who profit off of the very nature of dealing in illegal substances. Just as the bootleggers of prohibition (Al Capone, Joseph Kennedy) made their fortunes running booze, today's drug cartel honchos amass millions of dollars. By making drugs legal, the laws of supply and demand would break these people. (Or, turn them into Enron like executives.)
- The DEA. 9,629 people suck down a whopping $1.8B annually. Now, I'm all for putting government employees out of their cushy jobs and into the real workforce, where
they'd have to learn to get by on merit, but these guys are at the top of my list. Their whole goal in life is to keep drug prices shored up, so drug dealers can continue making a profit. That's the type of corporate bailout that I can't stand to see.
- The FBI. The drug control portion of the FBI's budget is $817 M.
- The CIA and NSA. No, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. They raise money by selling drugs just like every other government does. Hell, man, their annual budget wouldn't even cover
the cost of putting their spy sattelites up, much less paying people to look at the data.
- Local police forces. While the feds spend a total of $20B annually on tracking down drug
offenders, the combined totals spent by the states equals that.
If you're keeping tabs, we're up to $66B so far - or $245 per American. Still seems like a small amount. However, we're now up to two and a half weeks of minimum wage annually. That means, if taxes were 100% of your paycheck until your tax bill was paid, the first 19 days of
the year would be spent paying for tracking down and punishing people who want
to get high.
(You'll notice that I bring up minimum wage a lot. That's because most of the people who want drugs to remain illegal use the excuse that drugs hurt the poor. I'm trying to demonstrate that the poor are more badly screwed by the government than by their neighboorhood drug dealers. )
How would legalization help?
Good question. Forget about the $66B wasted by the feds annually. (Well, of course, it all adds up, and the more waste we eliminate, the more we can put into productive wealth creation, thus
helping ease the burden on the poor, but that's another post, for another day.) Let's talk about immediate benefits.
- Drug sales could be taxed to high heaven. We do it with cigarettes. When I quit smoking 5
years ago, I did it because it was costing me $4 / pack. I smoked a pack a day. For $120 / month, I could get a second car, or DSL, or, well, whatever I wanted. Roughly half of that cost is taxes. Now, with all that tax money coming in from the drugs, there is money that could be spent on rehabilitation centers. (For the record. I'm opposed to income taxes, I
think they're total bullshit. But I have no qualms with taxing individual goods and services, and using that money wisely. The way I see it, if drugs weren't legal and taxed, that tax money wouldn't be coming in, so why not use it for drug education and rehab?)
- There would be no more turf wars.
Let me tell you a little story. I live in Washington, DC. Not in the best neighborhood of DC, either, and DC isn't exactly Idyllville, USA. There's three drug dealers who sit across the street from my house, dealing all day, every day. When I first moved in, I asked the cops, "Why don't you arrest them?" Their response?
“Those guys have been dealing there for the last 20 years. They’re peaceful and quiet.
If we arrested them, there’d be a power vacuum, and the gangs would start shooting each other for that piece of real estate. Instead of a lot of out of state traffic on your street, you’d see machine guns. Which do you prefer?”
- Thousands of federal employees would have to get real jobs. Since the government was
never intended to be a jobs program, this is an excellent thing. Billions of dollars would be freed up from the budget, to be spent on worthwhile things, like tax cuts.
- Terrorists would have to seek other forms of funding.
- People could say that there is one less thing in their lives that the government is deciding for them.
- People who are determined to destroy themselves on drugs get to check out of the gene
pool earlier, leading to stronger breeding pairs.
If there weren’t a demand, there’d be no more supply. If the demand weren’t high enough to make it worth the risks of selling dope, then there would be no drug dealers. The demand isn’t going anywhere. The only way to stem the tide of crime is to make drugs legal. So a few people who place no value on their lives and brains die of overdoses, so what? They were going to do that anyway. This way, they at least get refinery pure stuff, instead of a hot load of heroin and rat poison. Ending prohibition hurt the mob. Legalizing drugs will hurt the gangs. America will be stronger with legal drugs than without. The wasted resources alone could launch thousands of small businesses, and essentially end unemployment.
Just my $0.02, I could be wrong.
But probably not.