Friday, September 3, 2010

More Victims of the War on Drugs (part I)

Whenever I watch the evening news in Spanish, I am bombarded with daily incidents of massacres and assassinations in Mexico, stemming from our jointly led war on drugs. In the last four years along nearly 30,000 individuals have been killed, They dead include traffickers, soldiers, policemen and countless civilians. The violence has escalated to the point were drug cartels are assassinating politicians and policemen who we presume are either opposed to them or back their rivals. The war on drugs has greatly exacerbated Mexico's issues of corruption and an anemic civil society.

I personally find drug use abhorrent and socially corrosive, however it has become clear that the cost of our endless war on drugs far outweigh any benefits. This is true in the United States, which has spent billions incarcerating drug users and even more true in Mexico, which is on the verge of becoming a failed state.

I believe the futility and immorality of the drug war are obvious to most politicians, so why do so few support even a modest decriminalization of marijuana? Like most forms of state intervention, the war on drugs imposes net economic and social costs for the nation, but benefit politicians and their corporate allies. Mass incarceration earns billions for those who own prisons. And clearly it has swollen the ranks of bureaucrats, policemen and prison guards. Although this may appear beneficial during a time of high unemployment, a bloated state imposes a heavy burden on the private sector and limits its capacity to provide employment. But, no matter how high the costs of government initiatives may be on the general population, few politicians are willing to rescind programs that expand their power and influence. I am hoping that more Americans and Mexicans will wake up and force their politicians to pursue more humane and effective drug policies or consider the most outspoken critic of the war on drugs, Dr. Ron Paul.

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