Comments: Mexico sends the war into Texas, but it's too late to call out the National Guard

@ iang,

With regards the US "option on exporting misery" south of the border one could simply say "What goes around comes around".

However it is an object lesson in why "bullying is bad" and "might is not right" and to a lesser extent why all empires fall.

A notable economic theorist once noted that there were two ways to solve the drugs problem the Indian way or the Chinese way. That is in India they used to just except that a certain percentage of their people would become unproductive and live comparativly short lives due to the use of non medicaly prescribed drugs, the solution was to minimise their cost to the state and society. The Chinese solution was to immediatly drag anybody involved in any way in drugs users, suppliers or even those who might be innocent (ie somebody else grows plants on their land) into the town square and execute them, then charge their family for the bullet.

Both the Indian and Chinese solutions can be seen as at either end of the line of solutions, and as with most extream solutions they fail when ever circumstances change even slightly (in both cases improved economic development).

What most people don't realise is that the number of drug addicts compared to users is generaly very small and is often much much smaller than the number of muggers or house breakers of which the addicts often form a minority membership. But the addicts have a very disproportianate effect often commiting several crimes a day without any kind of caution to "feed the habit" or more correctly "feed the drug dealers profits". But although their reward per crime is usually pitiful, the damage they cause due to their lack of caution has high costs to the victims. In fact it is quite extrodinarily high both in financial and mental terms. This has given rise to a second set of individuals who's profits the drug addict feeds and that is the industries built up around repairing the damage. Usually the cost is spread throughout society via insurance of one kind or another.

I suspect that the solution to the drugs problem is not in attacking either the addicts or the suppliers with endless wars but to remove the profit for both the dealers and the associated industries that repair the damage they do.

The simplest way to do this is to reduce the price of drugs below a point where the associated criminal activity and consiquent damage occurs. The easiest way to do this is to create an "open market" that is regulated only by the likes of (bier) "purity laws". Oh and of course this market being essentialy legal would be taxable like any other.

It would also help reduce terrorism, it is no secret that the likes of the Taliban in Afghanistan and similar organisations world wide including back in it's time PIRA gain the finances to buy weapons and recruits through the control and selling of drugs and it's associated criminal activities [there is also in addition the aspect of "political inclusion" in any removal of a terrorist threat which I don't propose to go into here other than to say it is equally as important].

However although "remove the profit" will mainly remove the crime and damage aspects and help curtail organised crime and terrorism it will in all probability create other social problems the same as is see with alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

The solution to those problems are again in part market forces, most of us require medical or social care / benifit in one kind or another throughout our lives. We are already talking about "taxing the obese" and limiting access to medical and social care for those who use alcohol or tobacco to excess. Likewise some insurance companies give discount to those who can show they lead "healthy lifestyles". Various studies have suggested that such measures actually work quite well but have (politicaly inconveniant) long ramp up times.

Thus there are established "carrot and stick" market solutions that work compared to "bombs and bullets" military solutions that always end up failing in the long term.

For a society to exist and flourish it needs to be dynamic, and this means we need to continuously re-evaluate our thinking and position on current societal norms even at quite fundemental levels. If we don't then society decohears and starts to fracture, civil protest starts and if oppressed it will eventuall turn into civil war if those responsable for the oppression do not fall first by other more peacfull means (such as the ballot box).

Overall "society cannot afford illegal drugs" the cost is to high, relife via extreme solutions are at best temporary and don't work long term. Military action never works long term, it's purpose is to deter aggression by others and act as a brief draconian "game changer" or political fulcrum where the normal rules of society are suspended (ie the likes of "though shalt not kill" etc)

Posted by Clive Robinson at November 19, 2011 05:13 AM
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