I neglected to mention that the Becker-Posner Blog has addressed the drug war, first by Economist Gary Becker and then a response by Judge Richard Posner
These are a couple of highly respected scholars, and so it’s nice to see them talk about the failure of the drug war, and to see them apply the tools of their trade to the problem. (I’ve always felt that economists should be stepping up more to explain to our politicians that drug demand is inelastic — and what inelastic demand means.)
Becker has the better argument in his call for legalization. Posner is uncomfortable with it (although he agrees that the cost of the drug war has not been worth it, despite what he believes is a “partial victory” in the war), so he tries to talk economics, in which he comes off completely incompetent (he should leave that to Becker, and stick to the legal stuff). Also, as Tbag notes on his blog Posner has some bizarre notions of legal substitutes for illegal drugs (cigarettes for pot? liquor for heroin?). I know what he’s trying to say, but it doesn’t work very well.
Tbag also has an interesting comment regarding his own views on the drug war…
Without sending my libertarian allies on this issue running for the woods, I’d like to propose government control over distribution.
I wouldn’t worry about it, Tbag. I think this is one issue where libertarians would prefer government control over the current system… at least for now.