After more than 30 years of death, destruction, and failure, the two
primary advocates of the war on drugs are public officials and drug
lords. The reason is obvious: these two groups are the biggest
beneficiaries of the drug war. The drug lords make money off the war --
big money. And government officials make money off the war -- big money.
One of the major ways that government officials make money off the
drug war is through bribes. Government inspectors at international
crossing points are bribed to look the other way when a drug shipment is
coming across the border. Drug agents are bribed to look the other way
with respect to drug distribution. Prosecutors and judges are bribed in
return for reduced sentences.
No doubt about it: The drug war is one big, rotten, corrupting
government program, one with absolutely no redeeming benefits whatsoever.
It would be difficult to find a better example of a domestic government
program that produces more death, damage, corruption, and infringements
on privacy and liberty.
Another way that government officials make money off the drug war is
a legal one -- through the asset-forfeiture laws. These are laws enacted
by public officials that enable the cops to seize assets supposedly
involved in a drug-law violation and keep the assets for themselves. The
program has turned into one big moneymaker for the cops.
There are innumerable horror stories of how the cops have used the
drug war to steal -- I mean, seize -- people's property and convert the
property to the cops' own use. This past Monday's issue of the Boston
Herald relates a recent horror story about asset-forfeiture abuse.
The article stated that Logan International Airport cops spent
$300,000 for a fleet of brand new SUVs, along with couches and other
furniture and flat-screen TVs. To pay for the items, they used the
drug-war money they had seized from people.
One of the downsides, from the standpoint of representative
government, is that the drug-war seizures help police departments to
become self-funding fiefdoms and, therefore, not so dependent on the city
councils that budget their money. In 2009 Troop F, the unit that bought
those SUVs and other items, seized $1.5 million, up from $500,000 in
2009. No doubt the cops are going to make certain that that number
continues to go up.
State police spokesman David Procopio expressed his belief that the
seized money should be left in the hands of Troop F because they're the
ones who seized it. By the way, the federal government gets to keep 20
percent of the loot, without even lifting a finger.
Or here's another example, taken from Radley Balko's website "The
Agitator" and from this article on Opposingviews.com.
Michigan cops went after a guy based on information that he had one
stem of marijuana in his house. What was the cops' motive in busting
him? Well, one possibility was that they were simply concerned about the
man's health and well-being and wanted to prevent him from smoking that
one stem of marijuana. Another possibility, however, is that they were
interested in the man's very expensive musical equipment, DVDs,
computers, and other electronics. The cops seized it all. Unbeknownst
to them, however, there was an open mic that recorded their excitement
over all the goodies they were seizing. The recording is posted on
I ask you: What are the chances that any of these cops, state or
federal, would ever call for an end to what is quite possibly the most
deadly, destructive, corrupt, and failed government program in history?
The chances are nil. The drug war is a cash cow for public
officials, not only in terms of bribes but also asset seizures. It has
been for decades. They're not about to give it up, at least not without
a fierce fight.
Of course, public officials would never admit that the reason they
fight for the continuation of the drug war is out of self-interest. They
have to continue playing the game, piously claiming that the only reason
they favor the continuation of the drug war is so that they can finally,
once and for all after several decades, shut down the drug lords.
What the cops don't realize (or maybe some of them do) is that the
only way to shut down the drug lords, immediately, is to end the drug war
by legalizing drugs. Continuing to wage the drug war only ensures that
the drug lords will continue supplying drugs and that the cops will
continue making busts, and that both groups will continue making beaucoup
bucks off the war, which is really what the drug war is all about.
--Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom
HOW WOULD YOU CONTROL THE DRUG FIASCO?
So, what can we do about illegal drug sellers and corrupt enforcers?
Back in the 1930's, we heard about the opium dens in China and that
drug addiction was like "riding the dragon" where when once hooked you
couldn't get off. We heard that illegal drug dealers trying to snare new
users were the world's most vicious criminals. We feared having
anything to do with drugs, and we weren't even aware drugs might be
available locally except for people in pain.
Years 1920 to 1933 during "Alcohol Prohibition", huge fortunes were
made as law enforcers were bribed and rival bootleggers killed each
other. Willing drinkers joked that they were "striking a blow for
liberty" when imbibing illegal alcohol. The present drug trade now has
reached that same disrespectable acceptability, as so many acquaintances
ask if we have any drugs to share with them.
Ending "Prohibition" also ended bribing government officials, deadly
gang violence, and brought in added alcohol tax money.
Some counties continued to ban alcohol, much to the delight of local
bootleggers, who donated large sums of money to campaign for continuing
banning legal alcohol.
Much as I hate to say it, it seems that the only way to take the
profit out of our drug trade and to save the Mexican government from
their drug lord captivity is to legalize and control drugs like we did
with alcohol. --REAL NEWS Editor