Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More interesting facts

"The federal government--including both civilian agencies and the Department of Defense--currently spends roughly $18 billion a year to control illegal drugs."
~ Congressional Budget Office, Budget Function 750-01

"[T]he value of the global illicit drug market for the year 2003 was estimated at US$13 bn [billion] at the production level..."
~ United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2005 (Vienna, Austria: UNODC, June 2005), p. 127. (PDF)


All the drug producers in the world make $13 billion a year. The US Federal government alone (set aside states and municipalities) spends $18 billion a year to control drugs.

Why don't we just buy all the damn drugs at the source and burn them? For five billion a year less than we're spending now, we could soak up all the illicit drugs in the WORLD.

The reasons, of course, are legion. What's your favorite?

I doubt it's the most significant, but my favorite is Asset Forfeiture.

The Department of the Treasury' asset forfeiture site says:

There are two types of forfeiture available to the government: civil forfeiture and criminal forfeiture. A civil forfeiture is intended to confiscate property used or acquired in violation of the law; a criminal forfeiture is imposed on a wrongdoer as part of his/her punishment following a conviction. The procedures involved in these two types of forfeiture are very different; however, the results are the same, which is the transfer of rights, title, and interest of the property to the United States.

Their annual statement (PDF) is a Kafkaesque masterpiece of bureaucratic financial obfuscation, but the Department of Justice's separate, unrelated program straightforwardly reports $455 million netted in 2004. This figure has nothing to do with the daily take from state and local drug busts, and stuff like this:

Rudy Ramirez never expected to become a statistic in the War on Drugs when he set off to buy a used car, $7300 in cash at the ready, in January 2000. Ramirez, who lives in Edinburg, Texas near the border with Mexico, had spotted a listing for the used Corvette in a magazine and wanted it badly enough that he talked his brother-in-law into accompanying him on a thousand mile road trip to Missouri to make the purchase. When Ramirez was pulled over by police in Kansas City, however, the tenor of the trip changed.
"They asked if I had any money with me, and I said yes," recalls Ramirez. "I didn't think they would take it away. I had nothing to hide." But the trajectory of the rental car, and the piles of cash, suggested otherwise to police--who suspected him of trafficking drugs from the Mexican border. As Ramirez tells it, he was detained at the side of the road for hours while his car was thoroughly searched and inspected by a drug dog. "They kept asking me, `Where are the drugs?'" he recalls. "I told them they had the wrong guy."
The Drug Enforcement Agency's file on the case indicates that Ramirez gave officers confused statements about both the money and his destination, and that his extremely brief stay in a Missouri motel looked suspicious. What's more, the drug dog "alerted" on parts of the car, indicating that drugs could have been there at one time--which, since it was a rental car, may or may not have anything to do with Rudy Ramirez.
Still, the search turned up no drugs of any kind, and the officers finally told Ramirez that he was free to go--but not before confiscating $6,000 of his money in the name of the federal war on drugs in a process known as "forfeiture." Despite check stubs that he says prove that the money came from a car accident settlement reached several months before, and bank records showing that it was withdrawn from his account just prior to the Missouri trip, Ramirez has, to this day, been unable to get his money returned.

And so on.
Your argument is that there is an (18-15=)
$3 billion savings to be gained in the effort to eliminate drugs. A different way
of looking at it is that the trade now produces (18+15=) $33 billion of commerce.
Of course I wouldn't want that commerce in my neighborhood...
"A different way
of looking at it is that the trade now produces (18+15=) $33 billion of commerce. [it should be 18+13=31, but who's counting? - de Selby]
Of course I wouldn't want that commerce in my neighborhood..."


Actually, the drugs in your neighborhood (the retail level) are valued more like $322 billion, according to the UNODC paper. And that's only the drugs, not the enforcement and punishment industries.
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