We See Nothing

The Atlantic has an interesting article on how moving people out of crime ridden neighborhoods has moved the crime with them as well. In the whole piece, not one single commentator mentioned the rhinoceros in the room. Drug prohibition. The American price support system for criminals. Oh it gets mentioned in passing. The usual "drug addicts are bad" kind of stuff is in there. No policy prescriptions however.

The answer the policy people prescribe is more police. That is the ticket. Subsidies for the gangs on one hand. More police to fight them on the other.

I guess things have not gotten bad enough in the good neighborhoods for the policy elites to notice. Give it time.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Welcome Instapundit readers. May I suggest a look at why people take drugs. The short answer? Because they need them.

posted by Simon on 06.21.08 at 02:54 PM


I wish more people would point out that our current drug policy is actually an extension of our agricultural policy, i.e.' price supports for major drug runners and dealers.

Not that I condone drug use - far from it. I can't think of a more idiotic thing to do with yourself, save perhaps having an eating disorder or being addicted to self mutilation. The former being psychological disporders, that somewhat insulates them from my charge of idiocy.

However, we accept drug addiction as a mitigating circumstance for crime, which is wrong. My policy proscription? Decriminalize drug use, back off on the militarization of police forces and the expansion of police powers (e.g., no "no knock" warrants except where human life is at risk), and drop the hammer on crimes committed regardless of the drug habits of the perpetrator.

Fell free to use that, by the way. You got the blog, it's your bully pulpit.

Steve Skubinna   ·  June 21, 2008 4:14 PM

The latter being psychological disorders, I meant. Oh Lord save me from another response from Pablo. I mean PABLO.

Steve Skubinna   ·  June 21, 2008 4:18 PM

Wars on vice are a stumbling block to both the left and right. Both sides wish to prosecute such wars, but also wish to be seen as opponents of tyranny and supporters of liberty.

This trick can't be done. Proof has been before our eyes for a hundred years, yet the citizenry won't see it.

Brett   ·  June 22, 2008 9:00 AM

Even if all illicit drugs are legalized tomorrow, there isn't going to be a tremendous leap in supply. Mereck and Pfizer aren't going to start mass-producing crystal meth, it's always going to be done in some down-trodden trailer park.

And after all those tobacco lawsuits, I bet Phillip Morris can't wait to grow the Mary Jane.....

So, I just can't forsee the major jump in supply that pro-legalization advocates claim that will cease all gang wars and make PCP cost as much as aspirin.

Techie   ·  June 22, 2008 10:22 AM

Techie's got a good point (blame the lawyers for this one), but it just gets built into the price.

At price substantially below the current price of illegal drugs, I gotta think a manufacturer would be able to buy enough insurance and have enough attorneys on the payroll to profitably sell drugs.

Yes, they would cost more than a bottle of Tylenol and a pack of marijuana would be more than a pack of cigarettes. Still would be less than today's prices. Thugs would be out of business.

Bill   ·  June 22, 2008 10:42 AM

“Memphis Leads U.S. in Violent Crime.”

That's from the article, that, apparently, you didn't read.

It also mentions a gang rape, and theft from a girl scout.

There's another rhinoceros in the room: the idiotic presumption that drug policy explains everything. Sometimes rape, murder, and stealing from girlscouts is simply the act of a scumbag, and not the indirect result of a policy of not letting people sell cocaine. Believe it or not.


Sk   ·  June 22, 2008 10:45 AM

Drug prohibition? You've got to be kidding me. You've missed the point entirely.

K T Cat   ·  June 22, 2008 10:49 AM


>Thugs would be out of business.

And then what? They pick up a service job at Starbucks?

I'm seriously asking. I don't see _any_ good policy that works.

John Davies   ·  June 22, 2008 10:51 AM


What a thinly-disguised argument for drug legalization. "Subsidy for gangs."

Pfft. You ARE the policy people. You're also the customer. It's YOU we should be putting in jail.

Want to end drug pushing? Perp walk a few bloggers for purchasing. Let Average Joe know what happens when you create a market.

Drug pushers only exist as long as there are customers, like yourself, willing to buy. The entire drug war could be ended by putting a few white moms and dads into jail and onto the 6 o'clock news having their kids, cars and houses taken from them.

How's that for a policy prescription?

justareader   ·  June 22, 2008 10:54 AM

Amazing fact:

With the end of alcohol prohibition the number of scumbags per capita in America declined.

It was almost like the policy of prohibition was creating scumbags or something. Not all of them to be sure. Enough to get noticed.

The current mayor Daley of Chicago said that drug prohibition was responsible for 85% of the crime in Chicago. Since it isn't 100% it is obvious that legalization as a policy will be a failure. Kind of like the surge in Iraq is a failure: soldiers are still dying.

M. Simon   ·  June 22, 2008 11:02 AM

At one time, these illegal drugs were legal. We used to give drugs such as herion to our babies to soothe them and to help with the DTs of alcoholics. Bayer had injection kits readily available. There are very good reasons why illegals drugs are illegal. For that matter, if you want to have drugs such as pot, hash, and meth sold over the counter, then why should we have to have a prescription for antibiotics? On last thing, even the most liberal of countries regarding drugs do not allow you to grow your own or possess much!

TexasDude   ·  June 22, 2008 11:03 AM

Several years ago Police Chief Ruben Greenburg was asked how he had reduced violent crime in Charleston, South Carolina. He replied that:

1) While it may be possible to rehabilitate people, nobody has yet demonstrated consistent success with any method so at this point in time we are not able to rehabilitate criminals.

2) Most crimes are committed by small number of people who commit a lot of crimes. Most violent crimes are committed by a small subset of this group.

3) After the age of 45, there is a substantial drop off in the number of crimes committed by those inclined to criminal behavior.

The policy of tracking the criminal behavior of individuals and then locking up the worst of them until they are middle aged seems to work pretty well. As more middle class people become victims, I imagine that we will see this strategy applied more widely. If crime becomes bad enough in your state, you might consider executing murderers.

Mark in Texas   ·  June 22, 2008 11:05 AM

You are correct. There is a very good reason why drugs are illegal. Racism.

A speech given at a judges convention by a professor who studied the subject: Drug War History.

M. Simon   ·  June 22, 2008 11:10 AM


You have to truly understand government to appreciate a policy of creating criminals then policing them and locking them up.

You would have to say it was not about crime. It was about jobs.

M. Simon   ·  June 22, 2008 11:15 AM

Which drugs do you propose legalizing or decriminalizing? All of them? Some of them? Have you met somebody on meth? Do you think tweakers are safe to be in public? Cause they aren't going to stay peacefully in their homes. Is it just 'recreational' drugs that should be legal? Can we do away with the FDA? Why have illegal morphine when heroin is legal?

David   ·  June 22, 2008 11:18 AM


I propose that we make the same dugs illegal that were illegal in 1900.

M. Simon   ·  June 22, 2008 11:22 AM

Journalists can have such a stupid world view.

Here's an example from this week's San Jose Mercury-News....

A 12 y/o girl was hit and killed by a car driven by an illegal alien. Of course, the prescription, on page 1, above the fold, second paragraph, is that this proves we need to let illegals have driver's licenses.


Whitehall   ·  June 22, 2008 11:32 AM

May I suggest a look at why people take drugs. The short answer? Because they need them.

Wrong. People start taking drugs because they are fun. They provide excitement in a way ordinary life can't. They can make you feel so good. Making them legal will not change that appeal, especially among the young who are always seeking out new thrills. Making them easier to buy will only increase the pool of people that decide to experiment with them.

Libertarians have two great fantasies:
(1) legalizing drugs will solve the problems of crime in America including among the underclass and (2) open borders is just swell.

Dan Morgan   ·  June 22, 2008 11:32 AM


I do see your point about the FDA. Without the government keeping its thumb on the drug industry, cartel profits would be a lot lower, and entry into the market a lot easier. Kind of like the ICC and the shipping industry.

Personally I think a UL for dug makers would work out much better for all concerned. Without politics. Of course if we have little use for politicos they won't feel as important and they certainly won't be paid as well. They might turn to bribery. Can't have that. Now campaign contributions are another story. Best to contribute to both sides. You can never be too careful.

Did I mention that pot is a cheap anti-depressant? And who are the leaders of the Drug Free America Campaign? Wouldn't be companies whose top profit producers are anti-depressants would it? Or how about pot's anti-tumor properties. Why isn't that studied more? Politically incorrect?

Or how about the CB1 receptor system in the body? One of the largest. Found by an Israeli. Why? We don't do cannabinoid research in America. Especially if it might turn up something useful. Drugs R Bad. M'Kay?

M. Simon   ·  June 22, 2008 11:38 AM


Don't let your ignorance show too much but not even the NIDA believes that crap. Get with the times.

The NIDA says: Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

And just in case you missed it the drug war is a Class War.

Treatment vs Recreation

Round Pegs In Round Holes

M. Simon   ·  June 22, 2008 11:43 AM

How can government destroy the illegal drug industry?
The same way it destroys other industries.
First legalize sale and distribution of drugs.
Next, tax the crap out of them as legal entities. Tax them within an inch of their lives. And send in the jack booted IRS and franchise tax board, and ATF guys to enforce our tax laws, as we do now with cigarettes. It's much easier to put thugs in jail for not paying taxes than for running drug syndicates.
Third, compete unfairly against them. Open low cost safe drug clinics which provide limited amounts of low cost drugs to soften the transition from addiction to sobriety, which will be inevitable once the price is sky high due to onerous taxes.

bc   ·  June 22, 2008 11:44 AM

Wow, this is like mad libertarian la-la-ville. You sound like a bunch of lefty ideologues who latch onto one idea (Freedom, man, Freedom--pass me some of that, dude) and don't think through the consequences. NO ONE HERE has answered the questions others have posted: What drugs specifically should be legalized? With legalized [answer to first question], do we still need prescriptions? For what? Finally, do you have numbers that prove or even strongly suggest that legalizing drugs will reduce crime?

And no, an off-the-cuff remark from Mayor Daley is not proof. And no, a faulty analogy to alcohol prohibition doesn't hold water--a couple of drinks a day does not make one a sputtering dope addict.

Pass me some of whatever y'all are on.

Jack   ·  June 22, 2008 12:00 PM

The entire drug war could be ended by putting a few white moms and dads into jail and onto the 6 o'clock news having their kids, cars and houses taken from them.

Because, after all, using a mild intoxicant like marijuana means that you deserve having your property, family and freedom taken away.

Frankly, rolling a stop sign in a school zone is more detrimental to society.

Of course, when they start jailing those suburban moms and taking away their homes and property that will only hasten the time when we are free to do with our own bodies without government interference.

What moral right do you have to say that I can't use marijuana?

Bozoer Rebbe   ·  June 22, 2008 12:16 PM

Want legal drugs? Wanna fly without wings? OK, fine.

Then register with the gov't as a legal drug user and:
1)Become a ward of the state
2)give up your right to vote-we have enough inebriates voting
3)give up your driver's license-ditto the above
4)give up any possibility of acquiring professional licenses or qualifications

Do your drugs in a nice safe little corner and don't get in the way of adults who are trying to make things work. The rest of us don't want to have to clean up you messes. There are enough to clean up already.

Trouble is, y'all want to have your cake and shoot-up too.

Bob   ·  June 22, 2008 12:21 PM


If they will do that for alcohol drinkers as well as users of other dugs I'm all for it.

Alcohol is one of the most toxic drugs known to man. Excessive use destroys the brain and the liver. People intoxicated by it can't be trusted.

And tobacco? Harder to kick than heroin.

So let us not be unfair. All dangerous drugs. And white sugar. Or at least Twinkies.

If the Government is going to punish drug use then every drug user should be equally punished. Pleasure has its price and Government wants to collect its share.

Anti-depressants make you feel better? Double the tax. People will pay a lot to feel better.

M. Simon   ·  June 22, 2008 12:41 PM

Bob, you forgot:

5)get sterilized-one generation of dopeheads is enough.

Dave   ·  June 22, 2008 12:55 PM

If drug policy is the rhinoceros in the room then public housing is the tyrannosaurus rex. Public housing, whether massive projects or house by house subsidies always creates crime centers. Drugs may indeed finance the gangs but housing subsidies always create the slums in which they thrive.

Ken Hahn   ·  June 22, 2008 1:07 PM

At the risk of sounding like one of those "lefty ideologues who latch onto one idea (Freedom, man, Freedom--pass me some of that, dude) and don't think through the consequences," I think it's often forgotten that the drug laws even prevent doctors from prescribing drugs unless they are prescribed for government-approved reasons. Medicating emotional pain or treating addiction are not government-approved reasons.

As a first step (perhaps it would be a compromise), I'd like to see doctors freed up from such limitations on their right to practice medicine.

Even from a communitarian standpoint, I think it's preferable for users to get drugs from medical sources, which could theoretically help them quit if they so desired.

Why is it in society's interest to force people to buy drugs that get you high only from illegal street sources?

So that the immoral suffer more in the process, and can also be imprisoned?

Sorry, it makes no sense.

Eric Scheie   ·  June 22, 2008 1:23 PM

The War on Drugs was first a politcal 'get elected' issue. it is now a government jobs issue.

The only accomplishment of the War on Drugs is to make pot so expensive that crack is cheaper.

Can anyone tell me of a case where a bunch of stoners shot up a liquor store in an attempt to steal money for pot?

Only crack and crank heads are violent.

dr kill   ·  June 22, 2008 1:47 PM


Your writings appear to assume that the demand for illegal drugs is driven by addicts. Please show evidence for this? I would think that 80% of demand is for recreational use and mostly from young people in the middle class. Legalizing drugs will increase drug use among this group.

People are drawn toward getting a buzz, just like from drinking alcohol. From wiki:

The psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel, who has studied this field, refers to intoxication as the "fourth drive", arguing that the human instinct to seek mind-altering substances has so much force and persistence that it functions like the human drives for hunger, thirst and shelter.

Dan Morgan   ·  June 22, 2008 2:28 PM

It's not drugs or racism. It's a**holes. There is an epidemic of a**holes. The more you tolerate them, the more you get. And in addition to criminal a**holes, there are quite a few educated a**holes who write articles and reports and blog posts trying to normalize/justify the behavior of these a**holes.

But don't worry. President Obama will fix everything.

Jenn   ·  June 22, 2008 6:30 PM


If people are occasional users what is the harm? Other than enriching criminals due to our price support system.

Once upon a time Americans were smart enough to figure out what to do in such situations. Evidently drugs do make Americans stupider, with the greatest effect evident among non drug takers. Amazing.


Yes, a-holes. But government has made being an a-hole profitable. We get more of them.

M. Simon   ·  June 22, 2008 7:21 PM

Any legalization for regulation type argument (from abortion to drugs) fails to take people's perceptions into account. Many people actually think that the law defines morality, not the other way around. To them, if it's legal, it's socially acceptable, and as such, they'll do it. The number of a**holes didn't decrease at the end of prohibition, the same a**holes just decided they couldn't make enough money on booze for it to be worth it. Simple assumption that drug users follow a strict supply/demand curve ignores the medical fact of chemical/psychological dependency. Legalization may or may not be able to help shut down one money source for gangs, but they're not idiots, they'll just find another source. The biggest casualty of all will be all the idiots who think that just because drugs are legal, then they are safe and morally permissible, which they most certainly are not.

Also, it is in society's best interest to prevent people from getting high specifically so they don't commit crimes while high (same reason we ban DUI and public drunkenness in post prohibition America) because people whose senses are impaired are likely to harm other people, it's a simple fact. The reason why we as a society want to prevent these people from self-destructing is because we CARE about the drug addicts.

bookstopper   ·  June 23, 2008 12:42 AM

Simple assumption that drug users follow a strict supply/demand curve ignores the medical fact of chemical/psychological dependency.

That is where the whole law enforcement model breaks down. Are you dependent (in "addiction" sense) on insulin if your body does not produce enough?

Now how about cannabinoids? Endorphins?

So let me get this out of the way.

Drugs Do Not Cause Addiction.

So what does cause "addiction"?

One: you have to have the right (wrong?) genetics.
Two: you need to have been traumatized (from mild to severe depending on genetics).

All this is mediated by the amygdala. You can look it up.

Fortunately the medical establishment is wising up. They have adopted the self medication model for drug use. i.e. people take drugs because they need them.

Eric wrote a wonderful article a while back about Schizophrenia and Tobacco. This is in fact modern medical practice. Ask the psychological intake nurse at your local emergency room about drugs.

No one knows how to fix this. So what should medicine do in such a case? Keep the patient comfortable until the need for endorphin replacement therapy is over (in any one year about 5% of heroin users spontaneously quit).

The reason is explained here: Fear memories, the amygdala, and the CB1 receptor. Fear memories implanted in the amygdala decline over time. Not at the same rates for all people. But in a sufficiently large population you can make predictions.

We see that drug use peaks in the 16 to 25 cohort and declines after that. Why? Well those are the years of peak psychological stress. For most of the population there is no long term implanting and use declines with change. For some the need ends more slowly. For others it is life long.

What then? All I can say is that our policies do not match what we know. Of course things were worse when we weren't even aware of our ignorance.

M. Simon   ·  June 23, 2008 4:37 AM

I'm so rad on this issue that I oppose the requirement of a doctor's permission to buy pharmaceuticals. We're so used to this practice that most of us no longer recognize it for the tyranny it is, and how much it authorizes the government to torment the citizenry.

The government should never be empowered at the behest of the medical establishment. I admire their deep learning in medicine; their political philosophy is that of bullying children who haven't advanced past the seventeenth century.

Brett   ·  June 23, 2008 8:26 AM

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