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February 2006
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An idiot-eye view of the black market

Now and then I find something out there that is just so stupid that it really doesn’t even deserve comment… Yet how can I resist?
I don’t know anything about The New Media Journal.us. For all I know, they only have 10 readers (although they do have their own hate mail editor). And Bruce Hanson apparently is (or was) a marine engine salesman in Montana. But that doesn’t stop him from thinking he has the “drug industry lobby” figured out.
The inanity of his latest: Lobbying For Illicit Drugs and Terrorism, can be seen clearly in his closing paragraph:

Is it possible that much of the political rhetoric about eavesdropping, the President breaking the law, civil rights being violated, and demands made to limit the executive branch powers, are just drug users whining and the illicit drug industry speaking out, via their lobby? Is it possible that most of the irrational noise that we have recently witnessed is a lobbying effort to persuade the public to see things their way — the drug users way?

He loves to talk about the “drug industry lobby.” (Also check out Senate Democrats Filibuster Patriot Act on Behalf of Drug Users and Who Really Wants the Logging to Stop?)
But back to the current piece. He starts out by deciding that the only reason people would oppose President Bush’s oversight-free warrantless surveillance program is that they are drug users and are afraid that the government will overhear them talking about drugs over the phone. Of course, he ignores the fact the the issue is about oversight, not surveillance.
But even then, could it perhaps be that some people object because they believe in the constitution or separation of powers, and not just because they use drugs and for some reason talk about it all the time on the telephone to suspected overseas terrorists?
Not according to Bruce, who believes that if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t mind the administration listening in on your phone calls. So I have a test for Bruce: It’s been known that some drug smugglers hide drugs in… unusual places. Just to be on the safe side then, Bruce shouldn’t mind an anal probe to make sure he isn’t smuggling drugs in his rectum. After all, if he doesn’t have anything to hide…
The real issue, though, with Bruce Hanson (and other like him) is the ignorance of how the black market works in comparison to legitimate markets. Note this statement:

Most Americans share a common failure to understand the magnitude of the illicit drug trade in America. Therefore they are unable to understand the political influence of the industry. This influence, which is driven by the resentment of the drug culture towards the government’s prohibition of recreational drugs, continues to grow and shows up as irrational behavior. Until Americans are able to see a cause and effect relationship of this cultural manifestation, they will remain clueless as to the mechanics of the influence.

Note how he assumes that the political interests of the “drug industry” (meaning, I suppose, traffickers and producers) are the same as the “drug culture” (users and… groupies?). And that’s just not true.
Drug users may very well resent the government’s prohibition of recreational drugs. It means that they face potential arrest, that they can’t depend on quality or safety, and that they must deal with criminals to get their drugs.
The drug industry, on the other hand, absolutely depends on the government’s prohibition of recreational drugs. Without prohibition, who would buy from them? Active prohibition reduces competition, increasing profits. The more ruthless and powerful the trafficker, the more they support increased prohibition penalties. They certainly don’t plan on getting caught (and if their own street soldiers get nabbed, they just replace them — part of the cost of doing business.)
Nobody knows whether the drug industry actually funds politicians or political issues (they probably find their money works better to buy police and soldiers), but if they did, they’d contribute to politicians like Mark Souder, Dennis Hastert, and the other drug warriors who make the illicit drug business so darn profitable.
To complete his stupidity, Bruce Hanson tries this comparison:

When the recreational drug industry is compared to their direct competitor, the brewery industry, some reasonable observations and predictions can be made. For instance, it’s reasonable to believe that one industry would mimic the other in terms of their lobbying efforts.

That’s right — he finds it reasonable that a legal industry and a black-market industry would have the same governmental interests!
Black market traffickers and prohibitionists share the same bed, regardless of what Bruce Hanson desires to be true.

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