Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
Drug Wars Cost More as They Achieve Less
By Martin Mann
The United States has spent a staggering $4.5 trillion in federal and state expenditures in the so-called "war against drugs" since 1980, according to Nancy Dunne, a respected financial writer who specializes in the economics of counter-narcotics operations.
"But for all the money and effort, it is a fight the United States seems to be losing," added this knowledgeable ob server.
Federal statistics and data gathered by private drug-control organizations bear out her conclusions.
Seizures of some illegal narcotics have grown only slightly in the past decade, rising from just about 96 tons of cocaine confiscated in 1990 to 109.5 tons expected to be impounded this year.
The street price of cocaine, however, has fallen dramatically over the years, from slightly more than $300 per gram in 1980 to $45 in some parts of the country last year, indicating that supplies are plentiful and readily available.
The price tag of such seizures also has increased steeply, costing American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion this year.
These interdiction efforts haven't prevented marijuana seizures from rising sharply, from under 400 tons in l989 to more than 1,000 tons last year.
Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the White House "drug czar," has vowed to cut the supply of illegal drugs in half by 2005. President Bush made the same types of claims to no avail back in 1989.
As the nation's prison population approaches the startling 2 million mark, a recent study by the Justice Policy Institute found that some 450,000 convicts -- one in every four in mates -- are serving time for drug offenses.
That suggests the entire U.S. anti-drug campaign is headed in the wrong direction, said Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), a former prison psychologist.
"Drug policy is being driven by politics, not by a well-thought out strategy," Strickland warned. "For instance, we now have a huge and highly profitable private prison industry, which lobbies aggressively for building even more penitentiaries -- and, of course, filling them with ever more occupants. That is wrong."
The privatization of prisons has grown in the past decade as a result of the drug war. More and more prisoners, many of whom are non-violent drug offenders, are being placed in privately-owned and operated prisons. Now a multi-million dollar industry, prisoners work for slave wages to make profits for the prisons and their stockholders in bed with globalist corporations, who now have an internal Third World economy to exploit without the cost of ocean transport of the finished goods.*
Drug testing also has exploded into a booming business, said sociologist Lynn Zimmer, whose studies suggest that last year just about half of all American workers under the age of 49 were tested for drug use by their employers.