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The Economic Argument has legs

Commenter Kaptinemo has been saying for some time that states will wake up to drug policy reform through economic realities. Here’s another editorial that reflects that growing awareness.

Brockton, Massachusetts Enterprise:

If there’s a bright side to a financial emergency, it’s the opportunity it presents to stop spending money on things that aren’t working.

Consider substance abuse. Researchers and therapists understand that addiction is an illness, but because of its association with property crime, the political system’s primary response has been through police and prisons.

Massachusetts, like most states, escalated this battle in recent decades. Its prison population grew 368 percent from 1980 to 2008, according to the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Drug Policy Task Force, while the population of county jails jumped by 522 percent.

That comes at a price: Massachusetts last year spent $1.4 billion incarcerating people. That’s more than the Legislature spent on public higher education.

Are we getting our money’s worth? In a word, no.

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11 comments to The Economic Argument has legs

  • Jesse

    An awesome, and inevitable sign of shifting public perception- and yet, it seems to dodge the big issue like so many other editorials.

  • kaptinemo

    Pete and friends, all I’ve been doing is pedantically belaboring (and I’m really sorry for being such a boor about it) what is now proving to be the painfully obvious.

    Having been trained as a sociologist, you have to take into account all manor of factors in performing sociometry, the ‘sizing up’ of a society in order to see where it’s heading. I and many, many others saw that the DrugWar was dependent upon a robust economy, and the fact of the matter is, we haven’t truly had one for decades, since we shipped our industries overseas. We’ve been living in la-la land, thinking a debt-supported ‘service’-based economy could be maintained in perpetuity.

    We all now know that’s not the case. As I keep saying, the piper has stopped playing and wants his pay…and our pockets are empty. We produce little more than guns, bombs, and MBA’s and the world already has plenty of that sh*t to go around. That means we must cut back on what we’re already spending too much on, and re-evaluate what we can actually afford and what we cannot. Needless to say, anything that’s a net drain on our finances and produces nothing but even more debt is an example of the latter. (Spotlight on the actor wearing the DrugWar T-shirt.)

    Since we didn’t get the Peace Dividend at the end of the Cold War,with a necessary restructuring of our industrial base to a less bloated state, we will now get something much less desirable, a ‘malaise’ that will make what happened here in the 1970’s and in Japan in the 1990’s look like kindergarten. But that malaise will carry with it an opportunity to right ancient wrongs, simply because we can’t afford the programs associated with them.

    I wish it could have been a matter of rationality triumphing over ignorance and stupidity, and at a time of relative prosperity. But now it’s gonna hurt big time…so the sooner drug prohibition’s over, the better. Because everyone could use a little mental analgesia to face what might be coming down the pike soon.

  • claygooding

    The economical impact of Americans growing their own pot and not sending their money out of our country but using it too purchase goods and services will be one of the most beneficial stimuli to our economy that could happen.
    Instead of giving millions too a few and waiting on the money to trickle down,the consumer will be redistributing the cash flow.

  • Jon Doe

    Yes, this guy gets it. The economic argument for ending prohibition shouldn’t focus on the potential tax revenue (which could end up being a lot less than is currently claimed) but should instead focus on the tax money that will be *saved* when this foolishness stops. Money, like this journalist points out, that could easily be redirected toward the education system.

  • Malcolm Kyle

    Here’s my first ever post here at the DWR.
    http://drugwarrant.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=73

    It was the sure possibility of an irreversible economic crisis, care of the War On Drugs, that made me become so fanatically involved with it’s overthrow. The crash of 29 was ten years into alcohol prohibition, it’s repeal got the economy up and moving again.

  • Hope

    And yet, they press on.

    Ambassador: US-Mexico Drug War Aid Is On Track

    http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v09/n1091/a06.html?397

  • Sukoi

    Off topic but I’m curious to see if they are able to actually see the elephant in the room in this documentary from the Discovery Channel:

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/explorer/4092/Overview

    I had problems making the link “clickable” – you’ll have to copy and paste.

  • Sukoi

    I guess not…

  • ezrydn

    That’s interesting, Sukoi. Out of all their bullet points, the directly mention Mexico. It’s still “don’t look in the mirror, look out the window.” They could stop alot of that crap if they’d just open their eyes.

  • just me

    I figure we will either stop useless policies/laws …or.. we will continue to law our selves out of the very freedoms we cherish.

    I would just hoped we would do it out of wisdom rather than empty pockets…As long as we get there I guess.

  • During the economist panel in Albuquerque we had a bit of a talk about this. Jeffrey Miron reminded us that we should do well to remember that _in fact_ the kind of money we’re talking about are small when compared to the state budget. That’s why he always remembers to inject the topic of personal freedom into the discussion.

    Another trick is to make the bad investment – however small – come off as significant by showing the effects on real people and real events. In fact, it is significant for those affected.

    On the society level it just isn’t so much the money in adn of itself, but the consequences of discrimination and stifled freedom that’s horribly damaging.

    Guess the message is to count real, living people and not money.