Friday, October 12, 2012

A Complete and Utter Failure

Here is an interesting graph via the Hit & Run blog, showing U.S. addiction rates for illegal drugs, versus the amount of federal money spent on drug enforcement:

A note on the $1.5 Trillion figure from Hit & Run:
. . . the dollar amounts on the right Y axis don't add up to $1.5 trillion. The creator of the chart, documentary filmmaker Matt Groff, Tweeted the following in response to a question about where the $1.5 trillion figure comes from: "Short answer: chart shows only fed drug control, $1.5T refers to all costs assoc. w/ drug prohibition, blog on it shortly." 
. . . So, yes: There is a huge problem with the chart, in that 40 years of federal drug control spending does not add up to $1.5 trillion (though minus the "$1.5 trillion" in the middle of the image, the chart does accurately represent the growth of the federal drug control budget and the relatively flat rate of addiction to illicit substances). But even if the chart were designed to reflect "all costs associated with drug prohibition" over the last 40 years, with the right Y axis reflecting the growth of state and federal drug control spending, it would still be wrong, because $1.5 trillion doesn't nearly cover it.
What have we gotten for our money? No knock raids and a militarized police force. A loss of many traditional civil rights, especially relating to search and seizure. A huge prison population and associated industry.  Huge amounts of money flowing into the coffers of terrorists and drug cartels. Destabilized countries and high murder rates. Basically, the failures of Prohibition times 1,000.

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