The War on Drugs
Solution or Problem?
May 29, 2001
This is the second in a three part series that will examine the failed War on Drugs. In the first installment of this series, we examined and debunked the excuses for continuing this failed initiative, put forth by those who derive benefit from the continued failure of the War on Drugs. In this segment, we will look at who these callous, parsimonious people are and examine their sinister motivation and shrewd tactics. In the final installment, we will present a proven, workable alternative to the failed War on Drugs and show how "controlled" legalization of all drugs would solve the vast majority of the problems that today surround the distribution and use of illegal drugs.
Part 2 -
The Truth Behind the Myth
As shown in the first installment in this series, we hear the phony excuses put forth by supporters of the failed War on Drugs from virtually all sectors of our society. In many cases, even those who have lost loved ones to the effects of the failed War on Drugs, are fooled into supporting its continuation, by the endless, insupportable rhetoric coming from those in positions of power, whose only interest is in gaining even more power and/or wealth (or at least, keeping what they have). They tell us that it is "for the children". But, we now know better.
In that previous segment, we thoroughly debunked all of the major excuses that these callous people would have us accept as justification for continuing this failed policy. Oh, they have other phony excuses, as well. But, once you've shot down their big ones, the others all fall apart like so many competitor's paper towels in a Brawny commercial.
We demonstrated that, in the end, it all comes down to money and power. If drugs were to be legalized, those in power, on both sides of the law, would lose significant money, power or both. Those who would have us keep drugs illegal could care less about our best interests or that of our children.
The motivation of these callous people is obviously wealth and power. But, we really need to dig deeper to understand why each specific group of these callous people want to see the failed War on Drugs continue. We need to understand that those guilty of these attempts to distort the truth, for their own gain, exist on both sides of the law.
To determine exactly who these social leaches are and their motivations, all we have to do is to look at just exactly who it is that benefits from the continuation of this failed policy.
The people who most want to keep drugs illegal are, of course, the drug dealers. That's right. After all, if drugs were legalized, they would lose a fortune, as well as the substantial power that they wield over drug users today.
They would lose a tremendous amount of money by the mere fact that drug users would no longer have to buy their drugs from pushers, at the pusher's inflated prices. After all, who would pay $200-300 to a street dealer for a fix of unknown quality and strength, in an illegal transaction, when he can get a pharmaceutical quality dose for only $20 and it's perfectly legal? The illicit drug dealers would lose all of their customers to legitimate, controlled sources. The illicit drug trade in this country would dry up.
But, the drug dealers' greatest loss would come in the form of the loss of power over their users. They currently wield substantial power over young prostitutes, thieves and other young drug users. After all, having the only supply of drugs in an area gives them the ability to hook a young person and then threaten to withhold their next fix if the young user doesn't steal, run numbers, prostitute or do something even worse for them.
The criminals are acutely aware that the legalization of drugs would hurt them more than anything else that the government could possibly do. Without the money and coercive power provided them by drugs, organized crime would shrivel to a fraction of it's current size.
How many 17 year old girls do you think just woke up one day and said, "I think I want to be a prostitute"? In fact, most young girls who get into prostitution are coerced into the business and the number one factor in that coercion is the threat of the drug dealer withholding drugs. When that kid starts coming down, there is nothing that he/she would not do for that next fix. That's a tremendous power that the drug dealers hold over the heads of their young users - older ones, too, for that matter. Of course, it's all made possible by the failed War on Drugs.
So, you can count on the fact that organized crime will spend whatever it takes to make sure that doesn't happen.
Why do you think that organizations that call for more drug laws are so well funded? Whether they want to admit it or not, many of the large donations that they receive from seemingly legitimate sources, in reality, probably originated from organized crime sources. You must remember that when the government makes it harder to get drugs, it does NOT decrease the supply of drugs - it never has and never will - it only makes the prices and subsequent profits for the drug dealers go up. Guess who wins - the drug dealers.
On the other side of the law, you have our own government fighting to keep up this insane policy for their own selfish reasons. Again, it has nothing to do with protecting our children, and everything to do with their own lust for power.
The enormous federal agencies that have grown up around the failed War on Drugs would evaporate, should drugs be legalized. Bureaucrats' jobs would be lost by the hundreds of thousands. But, even those bureaucrats who are so entrenched that they don't fear for their jobs, still fear the loss of power.
For many years now, and as a direct result of the failed War on Drugs, federal agencies have found it easy to routinely and with impunity, bypass and subvert the Bill of Rights. Just because the police or a federal agency simply cites the War on Drugs as their justification, the courts regularly suspend the Fourth Amendment to allow them to conduct illegal search and seizure operations with impunity.
Thanks to the failed War on Drugs, all of your tangible assets can now be confiscated by the government without a warrant, with no better justification than they "THINK" that your assets "MAY" have been obtained or maintained with the proceeds from drug deals and it's up to you to prove otherwise. Of course, after they've taken all of your money and you have no money for lawyers, what do you think would be your chances of proving your innocence or getting your property back?
Thanks to the failed War on Drugs, government agencies are now allowed to go on what is referred to as "fishing expeditions" into the private affairs of innocent citizens, just looking for some small "indication" of illegal activity. The chances are that at some time in the past, you have been a subject of one of these "fishing expeditions". You may even now be the subject of such a program.
Thanks to the failed War on Drugs, your bank account is monitored by your bank, on behalf of the federal government, under the "Know Your Customer" (KYC) guidelines and "Suspicious Activity Reports" (SAR's) are filed with the feds whenever your banking "PROFILE" changes. Even though the KYC rules were killed by vast public outcry, when first proposed, Congress managed to sneak those rules into the Patriot Act, along with dozens of other provisions that have nothing to do with terrorism.
So, if you get a large inheritance or make a killing on an IPO and you deposit it in your bank, your bank will file an SAR on you, with the FDIC. That information is then passed on to other agencies. In many cases, that SAR is seen as justification for warrants to allow electronic surveillance of you and your family. Even George Orwell would cringe at the thought.
Thanks to the failed War on Drugs, the government electronically monitors most, if not all, of your electronic communications with tools like ECHELON (see the Echelon Pages) and CARNIVORE (see The Wire Tap Myth), using the War on Drugs as their excuse for violating our Fourth Amendment rights.
Thanks to the failed War on Drugs, all of us are now presumed by our own government to be "Guilty, Until Proven Innocent."
In fact, the rights of literally millions of law-abiding citizens are being violated daily, by a myriad of government agencies and all in the name of the War on Drugs - a war that was lost a long, long time ago.
Perhaps, even worse than either the drug dealers or the government, is the parsimoniously complacent media. The drug dealers and the government both stand to lose massive amounts of power and influence, should drugs be legalized, ending the failed War on Drugs. Granted, that doesn't make it OK. But the media, on the other hand, only stands to lose a few ratings points, and even that, would be occasional and temporary. So, what it comes down to is that, for a few ratings points, the media is willing to sacrifice their responsibility and put our whole society at risk.
These are the people who are supposed to be the watchdogs. They're supposed to be uncovering scandal, not covering it up. Although, by reporting the truth about the failures of the War on Drugs, the media would make great headlines, be able to charge slightly more for advertising for the few months that the story remained in the headlines and do a great service to the country, they see it differently. You see, such truthful reporting would certainly bring about an end to the War on Drugs, which would also bring about an end to the almost daily headlines and ratings points that that the War on Drugs has supplied them for more than 20 years now.
As obvious and utterly complete as has been the failure of the War on Drugs, it would seem that a responsible media would be asking the same questions that are asked here. But, the operative word in that statement is the word, "responsible". In fact, we have a very "irresponsible" media. They have chosen to sacrifice the lives and Constitutional Rights of Americans for a few ratings points. This, from the fourth estate. This, from the people who should be the final guardians of our rights and liberties.
But, the media has become big business. They are now more concerned with coaxing a few more dollars out of advertisers, than with informing the public of the truth behind a crisis that is making almost daily headlines for them, driving up their ratings points, but only increasing their revenue marginally. They aren't sacrificing our society for anything as seductive as power. No. All they are concerned with is ratings points.
For that reason, the media deserves our utmost contempt.
The saddest part of all is that the largest group of supporters of the failed War on Drugs are the people who have the most to lose from it's continuation - the uninformed masses, who neither use or sell drugs, nor gain power from enforcing a failed drug policy, nor stand to lose ratings points by reporting on this failure. These are people who, like me, cheered when President Reagan declared the War on Drugs, because we thought it was the right thing to do. These are the people who have been duped into believing that their continuing support of the failed War on Drugs is "for the children". These are the people who have been duped into believing that we are actually "WINNING" the War on Drugs. And sadly, these are the people most likely to suffer, as a direct result of the continuation of the failed War on Drugs.
For that reason, I believe that we should not rush to condemn that last group. Their only fault is that they, like me and millions of other concerned Americans, including President Reagan, thought the War on Drugs was the right thing to do. Who would have imagined in 1983, that the government of the greatest nation on earth could not stop the flow of drugs if they made a concerted effort. We all believed that it could be accomplished.
We were wrong!
It's very difficult to admit that you were wrong, especially when you have made a strong personal commitment to a failed initiative. Having made such a commitment, you tend to ignore the warning signs and make excuses for the failures, in the hope that you can pull off a miracle and not end up looking foolish.
That's what has happened to these people. In their desperation to avoid admitting total failure, they have allowed themselves to become susceptible to the propaganda put out by those who derive benefit from the failed War on Drugs. They no longer take the time to think the problem through completely, because deep inside, they know that if they did, they would have to admit that they were wrong. They replace logic with constant repetition of the sound bites put out by the government and media. I know what they are going through. Until 1989, I was one of them.
These are generally good moral people who just want to do the right thing. Their only fault is that they don't want to admit failure, and so, have bought into the "for the children" excuse and just stopped thinking. I would not be surprised if most of them have honestly convinced themselves that all it will take to win the War on Drugs is a little more time and money. Of course, they have conveniently forgotten that they thought the same thing before each past round of spending on the failed War on Drugs.
So, rather than condemn these concerned, but misguided individuals, we should reach out to them and encourage them to look deeper. Don't try to change their minds. That will just make them become more entrenched in their folly and bury their heads further in the sand. These are, for the most part, intelligent people. All we need to do is raise a few questions in their minds, to get them started thinking again. The facts and logic will do the rest.
That's a combination that is unbeatable. But, in order for it to work, it requires that we get these people thinking again. Just keep in mind that we need to raise questions in their minds, not walls.
Combating These Powerful Forces
Those are powerful forces allied against a sane drug policy. What can "We The People" do that will have the same effect on both the criminals and the government officials who put our children - indeed, our very society - at risk by continuing this failed War on Drugs? In the movie "Trading Places", Eddie Murphy's character said, "It occurs to me that the best way to hurt rich people is to turn them into poor people." There's a lot of logic in that statement. In this case, we could paraphrase that statement to say that the best way to hurt the powerful people, who continue to cause these problems in our society, is to take away their power.
The first step is to vote out any legislator, at any level of government, who supports the failed War on Drugs and replace them with legislators who will end this folly and implement a proven positive drug strategy. If you can't bring yourself to vote for a candidate in another party, you can at least vote against those legislators in the primaries. If those irresponsible legislators don't have any opposition, then run against them yourself and give others a choice. By removing those avaricious legislators and replacing them with those who have the best interest of the country at heart, we achieve several positive results. Those results will be discussed in greater detail in the final installment of this series. But for now, here are just a few benefits to consider.
- We eliminate one of the main sources of problems - corrupt politicians.
- By voting him/her out, we turn him/her into a person without power.
- When drugs are legalized (with controls), the drug dealer loses significant power, as well.
- When drugs are legalized (with controls), the drug dealer also loses significant income.
- Drug related violence and deaths will naturally drop.
The list goes on. But, I will leave that for the final installment in this series, in which we will look at a successful alternative to the failed War on Drugs. We will examine the significant successes that have come from this alternative. And, we will learn why our own plans should be based upon such a system.
The next thing that you can do is to educate yourself on this issue, to such a point that you will be able to recognize pro War on Drugs propaganda in all of its permutations and be prepared to counter their lies with facts, at a moment's notice. Direct others to this article and the links below.
There is nothing as threatening to those in power, as an informed people.
The War on Drugs has failed. There is a viable alternative to pouring more and more money into a failed program. There is no excuse for the United States not to implement such a system. All that prevents it is the greed of those in power.
Part 3 of this 3 part series looks at a proven successful alternative to the failed War on Drugs and calls for replacing the failed War on Drugs with a program based upon the successes of other countries. Read it now by following this link:
Copyright 2001 John Gaver
All rights reserved.
Sign the Resolution for a Federal Commission on Drug Policy
Note: This resolution does not ask anyone to support any particular plan for solving the drug problem, and makes no mention of legalization. It only asks for an open and honest review of the nation's drug policy by our government - something that they have thus far resisted. They just don't want to confuse people with the facts.
Check out these excellent sources of information and commentary on this subject:
Drug War Facts - Just the Facts, but well sourced
America Locks Up 2 Millionth Inmate - It's a World Record!!!
Adolescent Drug Use and Drug Control Efforts
The War on Drugs Clock - It's ticking a shameful total
Recommendations of New Mexico Governor’s Drug Policy Advisory Group
The Effective National Drug Control Strategy 1999
Justice Policy Institute
Forfeiture Endangers American Rights (FEAR)
National Center for Health Statistics - recommended only for experienced researchers
Bureau of Justice Statistics Report on Prison Population