Some good reading

“bullet” Brian Cook talks about “The Wire”

In a recent story in The Nation, Chris Hayes used 2,200-plus words to argue why progressives should back Sen. Barack Obama. I’ll use only seven: Obama’s favorite TV show is The Wire. It’s certainly true, as Hayes noted, that Obama, like every presidential candidate, won’t be saying one word about the prison-industrial complex or the disastrous consequences of the “war on drugs.” But it’s heartening to think that at least he’s tuning in to one of the few public forums that fiercely drags such issues into our consciousness.

“bullet” A relatively good OpEd in the Wall Street Journal! (not even in the real part, but the usually execrable opinion pages) by Mary Anastasia O’Grady about the drug war in Mexico shows people who actually understand the basic principles of economics.

Under prohibition, only criminals can serve the market for illegal narcotics. And they have a lot of incentive to do so since prohibition pushes prices up. These market dynamics have given rise to transnational crime networks — modern, savvy businesses run by ruthless killers bent on preserving their income. Anyone who tries to get in the way risks becoming a statistic. Last year in Mexico there were 2,713 homicides attributable to organized crime, up from 2,120 in 2006 — according to the intelligence arm of the country’s attorney general. […]
Mr. Medina Mora suffers no illusions about his office’s capacity to shut off the supply of drugs to the U.S., or for that matter in Mexico, where drug use is on the increase. That’s a welcome relief: After decades of a war on drugs claiming thousands of innocent lives, poisoning institutions in developing countries, and raising the incentive for pushing narcotics on children — all the while delivering not a modicum of success — the argument for attacking supply to end demand is by now tedious.
Instead, Mr. Medina Mora is a realist. “The objective,” he says, “cannot be destroying narcotrafficking or drug-related crime, because demand is inelastic.” “It is very important not to lose perspective on the goal,” he tells me. “Trying to get rid of consumption and trafficking is impossible, as a bold objective.”

The entire OpEd doesn’t hold completely together, but still… this is impressive.

[Thanks, Daniel]

“bullet” Radley Balko at FOX: Straight Talk: Should Tax Dollars Be Used to Help Drug Addicts Avoid Overdoses?

We’re told that certain drugs have to be prohibited because they’re too dangerous. But we should also resist efforts to make them less dangerous because doing so might encourage drug use.
It’s a bizarre argument until you consider the real motivation behind it: In truth, it’s not so much about the harm some drugs do; it’s about an absolute moral opposition to the use of some drugs.
Even if they were completely harmless, some people simply don’t like the idea that we can ingest chemicals that make us feel good.

[Thanks, Tom]

“bullet” This is refreshing. Sheriff cuts ties with MDEA

Sheriff Donnie Smith of the Washington County Sheriff‰s Department has ordered his staff members not to work with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency until further notice.
Smith made the order in a memorandum that was sent out Friday to his department‰s patrol deputies and other law enforcement officers.
“Until further notice all operations with Maine Drug Enforcement Agency are suspended,” the memo reads. “No personnel from the Washington County Sheriff‰s Office will participate in any operation involving Maine Drug Enforcement.”

Note: It’s not because the Sheriff has decided not to fight the drug war — merely that shenanigans on the part of the MDEA had gotten pretty bad — but still…

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