Friday, November 21, 2008

The Drug War

The War on (some) Drugs

Lets start with reality. People use drugs. Always have. Always will.

Whoever controls the drugs, controls a huge amount of cash. At the moment criminal drug cartels aligned with corrupt law enforcement and corrupt intelligence, appointed and elected officials, secret societies (notably Skull & Bones), and corrupt banking, software and finance companies. Huge amounts of drug money gets invested in “legitimate” stocks, and funds secret quasi-governmental operations such as Iran-Contra. Central Intelligence and other secret agencies have actively participated in large scale heroin operations in the Golden Triangle (Air America) during the Vietnam war, in Central American Cocaine (Iran-Contra, Mena Arkansas) and currently in Afghanistan with the huge poppy crop which emerged shortly after the CIA organized Afghanistan Campaign (Operation Enduring Freedom). George Orwell would have recognized the genius of that name.

Less affluent neighborhoods in the United States are plagued with Heroin and Crack Cocaine. The thugs who rise to the top of the illegal street trade are self selected – the more violent and ruthless rise to the top. Instead of sales tax revenue and legitimate trade boosting the local economy there are violent street battles and heavy handed police crackdowns. Or lawlessness and breakdown, leaving the children with no chance of a decent future.

That’s what happens when you declare war on drugs. You send a massive chunk of the economy underground, and contribute to all kinds of corruption. Sure, you might have a lot of people in prison, but is that something to celebrate? It seems that the current policy creates far more problems than it “solves”. In fact it doesn’t “solve” the problem, or even move the situation forward in any way whatsoever.

Less affluent communities in the United States, and in many other parts of the world, will remain in a desperate condition for so long as this misguided drug war continues.

There are political forces in this country and elsewhere that see an advantage to themselves in flooding potentially dissident communities with addictive and destructive drugs. Stops the people from organizing effectively to protect their legitimate economic interests. Allows the imprisonment of any potentially disruptive element (eg. young men). There are some twisted people in this world, and some of them have very important jobs.

Drugs are dangerous. But the drug war is far more dangerous. It is time for some clear headed thinking that starts with knowledge and understanding. Enough of this politically induced ignorance. Military based responses to the production and distribution of Cocaine in Columbia have not diminished the flow of product, but they have created an outsized and over-equipped military force. Maybe that was the point. Someone’s idea of a political compromise – I’ll support your drug war if you’ll help me arm this regime that is friendly to certain “American Interests”.

Drug money exists as a tapeworm eating away the inside of our economic structures. Catherine Austin Fitts coined the term “tapeworm economy” and her point of view is very informative on this matter. And Terrence McKenna is another voice representing a legitimate interest. Drugs are dangerous, but waging war doesn’t diminish the danger. In fact the danger of drugs is significantly increased by the fact of their illegality. Decriminalization can lead to more sensible control. There is no control in an illegal system by definition – that’s what makes it illegal, the lack of control.

Drugs are dangerous, but fear is a poor foundation upon which to build a policy. Take a good long look, and then, in the context of a complete reversal in the long term policy of prohibition, decriminalize marijuana, and step back and notice that the world doesn’t fall apart as a result. Notice you might be selling a lot less Prozac and Zanex, but people are happier, and there is a bit more green money being passed around the neighborhood. The more this money circulates, the more prosperity accrues to the neighborhood, and this shows up in the form of more small traders and shops, locally owned and operated businesses. More jobs, better schools, more focused law enforcement, safer neighborhoods, less corruption. Less alcohol consumption – especially among the young.

And having braved the unknown with that one simple step, and having learned what there is to be learned, tackle the problem of addictive drugs with enlightened dispatch. It is impossible to imagine that a policy could be crafted which would produce a more negative result that the current dismal situation.