Pandering to Economists

Economics professor N. Gregory Mankiw has an OpEd in the New York Times What If the Candidates Pandered to Economists?
It’s a light piece about how the campaign might be different if McCain and Obama were trying to court the votes of economists, and it includes:

Liberalize Drug Policy
Many economists marry their support of economic freedom with a similar support of personal freedom. Drug policy is a case in point. A 2006 poll of professional economists asked whether the United States should legalize marijuana. Those in favor outnumbered those opposed more than three to one.

Interesting, but it misses the point. It’s not just that economists are more freedom-loving. It’s that they understand economics; they know the immutable laws of supply and demand. From this, they know that drug prohibition won’t (and cannot) work. Period. Anyone who has absorbed even Economics 101 and applied it to the drug war can see this clearly.
The U.S. formulation of drug policy is done with a complete ignorance of economic principles — it’s as stupid as having a space program that never considered the effects of gravity.

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