From Drug War To Real War

Yes. The War On Drugs has turned into a shooting war. In fact it has been a shooting war for quite some time in Afghanistan. So how is that working out? Not well. Here is a bit from 2007 explaining what the DEA is doing in Afghanistan.

Working first with the D.E.A. and then with the State Department, Wankel helped create the Afghan Eradication Force, with troops of the Afghan National Police drawn from the Ministry of the Interior. Last year, an estimated four hundred thousand acres of opium poppies were planted in Afghanistan, a fifty-nine-per-cent increase over the previous year. Afghanistan now supplies more than ninety-two per cent of the world's opium, the raw ingredient of heroin. More than half the country's annual G.D.P., some $3.1 billion, is believed to come from the drug trade, and narcotics officials believe that part of the money is funding the Taliban insurgency.

Wankel was in Uruzgan to oversee a poppy-eradication campaign--the first major effort to disrupt the harvest in the province. He had brought with him a two-hundred-and-fifty-man A.E.F. contingent, including forty-odd contractors supplied by DynCorp, a Virginia-based private military company, which has a number of large U.S. government contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world. In Colombia, DynCorp helps implement the multibillion-dollar Plan Colombia, to eradicate coca. The A.E.F.'s armed convoy had taken three days to drive from Kabul, and had set up a base on a plateau above a deep wadi. With open land all around, it was a good spot to ward off attacks.

Much of Uruzgan is classified by the United Nations as "Extreme Risk / Hostile Environment." The Taliban effectively controls four-fifths of the province, which, like the movement, is primarily Pashtun. Mullah Omar, the fugitive Taliban leader, was born and raised here, as were three other founders of the movement. The Taliban's seizure of Tirin Kot, in the mid-nineties, was a key stepping stone in their march to Kabul, and their loss of the town in 2001 was a decisive moment in their fall. The Taliban have made a concerted comeback in the past two years; they are the de-facto authority in much of the Pashtun south and east, and have recently spread their violence to parts of the north as well. The debilitating and corrupting effects of the opium trade on the government of President Hamid Karzai is a significant factor in the Taliban's revival.

A fifty nine per cent increase? I'd say the drug warriors were making their usual progress. Backwards. The more they fight the stronger their enemies become. Say, haven't I heard something like that before? I'm sure I have.

Let us get a slightly less pro DEA look at what is going on. Here is something from The Guardian in 2001. It is the story of a smuggler.

"The cars come back and forth. I just take it to Mazar and sell it on to the guys who come in cars from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. I do it twice a month," Zafir explains.

From there the contraband wends its way up into the Urals in Russia, takes a left turn, heads for Moscow and St Petersburg before being smuggled onward to western Europe - 90% of the heroin injected in Frankfurt, Barcelona or Edinburgh originates in Taliban Afghanistan.

"Our dear friends, the Taliban commanders, they take the stuff from Kandahar and Jalalabad to Kabul," says Zafir, an alias agreed to protect his identity. "We take it on to Mazar and to Kunduz."

For the past five years Zafir has been a bit-player in the lucrative rackets that make millionaires of Afghan warlords and keep the Taliban fighters in guns, food, and fuel. "I've been working in the heroin business since the Taliban seized Kabul [in 1996]."

Brown-haired, blue-eyed in a turban, pale pink tunic, and black trainers, Zafir sweats anxiously as he discloses the details of the Taliban's heroin trafficking after agreeing to meet at a quiet spot in the mountains north-west of Kabul.

So there it is. Opium growing and heroin smuggling are financing the Taliban. So what makes a pile of vegetables worth its weight in gold? Prohibition. Those DEA guys are economic and military geniuses. Did I mention that they managed to increase the area of poppy growth in Afghanistan by 59%? Yes I did.

OK it is not just America and the DEA. NATO is in on the act.

NATO is fighting a war to eradicate opium from Afghanistan. Allegedly, the goals this time around are different. According to the British government, Afghanistan's illicit drug trade poses the "gravest threat to the long term security, development, and effective governance of Afghanistan," particularly since the Taliban is believed to be the biggest beneficiary of drug sales. Convinced that this time they are doing the morally right thing, Western governments are spending hundreds of millions of dollars bulldozing poppy fields, building up counternarcotics squads and financing alternative crops in Afghanistan. Chemical spraying may begin as early as this spring. But in retrospect, might history not judge this war to be every bit as destructive and wasteful as the original Opium Wars?

Of course it isn't fashionable right now to argue for any legal form of opiate cultivation. But look at the evidence. At the moment, Afghanistan's opium exports account for somewhere between one-third and two-thirds of the country's gross domestic product, depending on whose statistics you believe. The biggest producers are in the southern provinces where the Taliban is at its strongest, and no wonder: Every time a poppy field is destroyed, a poor person becomes poorer -- and more likely to support the Taliban against the Western forces who wrecked his crops. Yet little changes: The amount of land dedicated to poppy production grew last year by more than 60 percent, as The Post reported last month.
So by being a direct instrument of the destruction of people's livelihoods we are making enemies? Who would have guessed that? Why it goes completely counter to DEA logic. Keeping people from feeding their families is supposed to make friends. And they should be eternally grateful. What is wrong with those people? Don't they know Americans and Europeans are their friends? The ingrates.

It seems as if all this effort to recruit people for the Taliban has put the war in Afghanistan in dire straights. (cue up Money For Nothing)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A classified United States' review of its Afghanistan policies is likely to conclude the violence-torn country is in a dire situation, sources say.

With violence up 543 percent, opium poppy cultivation soaring and public support for U.S. intervention dwindling, unnamed sources told CNN Saturday the report's assessment of Afghanistan's future prospects will be grim.

The report, led by Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute of the U.S. National Security Council and including input from 24 government agencies, is expected conclude that even if U.S. President-elect Barack Obama follows through immediately on his campaign pledge to beef up American forces in Afghanistan, the moves will likely come too late to fight an expected spring offensive by Taliban insurgents, CNN said.

Well that is optimistic.

So does any one have any idea about what to do? Yes. Soldiers. British soldiers.

British military commanders in Afghanistan have privately condemned plans to use Helmand as the launch pad for Nato's controversial new anti-narcotics policy, The Independent has been told.

British forces have avoided getting involved in anti-drugs operations until now. They fear the new operation will create another tier of enemies, alongside the Taliban, among traffickers and poppy farmers. However, the recent Nato summit in Budapest agreed, on US insistence, to extend the Afghan mission to include attacking the narcotics trade.

Them Americans are brilliant. I'll bet they get their advice from the DEA. Did I mention that DEA efforts increased the acreage devoted to poppies by 59%?

So how about some more details about how things are going in Afghanistan.

The US and NATO military commanders who till recent were riding on a high horse have suddenly become pessimistic and some have given demoralising statements. It seems that they have begun to see the obtaining ground realities more objectively and have realised that victory through use of force is not possible. They have appreciated that the Afghan Taliban have become too formidable a force and cannot be defeated militarily.
And the spring offensive will start up soon after Obama takes office. And what was the one war Obama promised to win? Afghanistan. Heh. Heh. Heh. He picked the wrong war.

And what is one of the key elements in the failure? I'm sure you have heard this before. But just for the sake of repetition here goes.

Afghanistan has turned into a narcotics state, which is now producing about 90% of the world opium; besides others the Taliban are making good use of opium money to fund their insurgency.
How unexpected.

That is Afghanistan. How about a little closer to home? Mexico. It seems that Mexico is having a few drug problems too.

Mexico in some ways is the most worrying place in the Western hemisphere. A low-level civil war between the drug cartels and the federal government has been fought over the past two years, and the cartels are winning. Senior Mexican officials charged with suppression of the cartels have been moving their families quietly out of the country.
Wow. A narco state on our very own border. I wonder how the DEA never anticipated that. No doubt a failure of intelligence. Of the brains kind.

So what is the internal state of Mexico? It looks like there will soon be a civil war too keep the Mexicans occupied. That should be some fun.

More than 1,100 people have been slaughtered in a blood bath of drug-related violence in one city just south of the U.S.-Mexico border this year - that's nearly four victims each day - and some say it is just part of a large crisis that is will soon spill over the border.

"The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for Americans who visit Mexico, citing Ciudad Juarez as a hotbed of criminal activity. A large Mexican metropolis in Chihuahua State bordering Texas, Juarez is Mexico's deadliest narcotics-war zone with two criminal gangs fighting for power - over city streets and drug-smuggling routes into the United States.

"The State Department is warning U.S. citizens of escalating crime along the border, stating that 1,600 cars were stolen in Juarez in July alone. Public shootouts, muggings, murders and bank robberies are rampant, and Mexican criminals harass U.S. travelers along border regions."

Cold blooded murder, public shoot outs, bank robberies, muggings, drug trafficking, and car thefts are common place in this cesspool.

Cue up Bob Dylan.

So how about a look at some of the recent violence? It is not pretty.

MEXICO CITY (AFP) -- Twenty three died in attacks in northern Mexico in the past two days, officials said, as the United States warned its citizens to increase vigilance when traveling south of the border.

Twelve died in northwestern Baja California State, mostly in the volatile border city of Tijuana, and 11 were killed in Chihuahua, further east.

Border areas where rival drug cartels are battling over key routes into the United States are among the worst hit in escalating violence across Mexico this year in which almost 3,500 have died, including civilians.

And it only gets uglier.
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- A beheaded man was hung from an overpass Thursday, a gruesome display even for this northern border city long used to drug-related violence.

Shortly after the grisly sighting about 5 a.m., police found the victim's head in a black bag in a nearby plaza, said state police spokesman Alejandro Pariente.

Pariente said the body was wearing black jeans, a red T-shirt and white sneakers, and was handcuffed. A banner apparently directed at rival drug-gang members was hung next to the corpse.

The victim's father identified the 23-year-old man.

Elsewhere, masked men gunned down two police officers in a convenience store in Chihuahua City, the capital of Chihuahua state, where Juarez is located, said Eduardo Esparza, spokesman for the state attorney general's office. After the killing Wednesday evening, assailants left a toy pig next to the bodies. Two shoppers also were wounded.

On Tuesday, a man wearing a pig mask was found hung in a residence in Ciudad Juarez. Near the body was a message threatening to do the same to others. Police believe the message was from drug gangs.

Swell. Just swell.

There is only one way to win this. Surrender you fools. The Drug War is going to destroy America if you don't. End Drug Prohibition Now. Any chance of that? No. Obama used cocaine and pot as a youth. Who would listen to an ex-druggie? The only way he could do anything is if the call to end it was bipartisan. I rate the odds of that as slim and none. Or maybe slimmer than none. We love our prohibitions in America. Besides don't criminals deserve to earn a living too? According to current policy: Yes They Do.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 11.11.08 at 09:28 AM


You'd think at some point people would notice creating a black market that funnels money to the most ruthless elements of society not only doesn’t keep anyone from using drugs, it leaves a lot of bodies in the streets and makes a lot of evil men very rich.

Cocaine has a 10,000% profit margin from paste in a Colombian field to the streets of America; if it were sold like tobacco or alcohol, it would be only as profitable as competition allowed. No drug dealers in gold chains and Escalades, no addicts blowing their inheritances on a drug problem — and no narcoterrorists in South America and Afghanistan. This is a policy that functions extremely well at only one thing: making drug dealers rich and impoverishing users.

Oil producers can only dream of profit margins like these.

TallDave   ·  November 11, 2008 1:01 PM

Yes, never surrender in Iraq, but definitely surrender in Afghanistan. Brilliant strategies abound.

I know, let's cave in to the thugs! That will make everything roses! If you speak out against them, they cut off your head ( quite literally ), but if you just sanction their activities they will suddenly become all cuddly and nice!

darelf   ·  November 11, 2008 1:59 PM

Tell me one thing - what is the incentive for anyone to lower their prices post-legalization?

Prices are not set by cost, but by demand. The market for opiates has already indicated that it has a tolerance for high prices.

Which means that even if we were to have total legalization world-wide, there would be no reason for the crime to end. The drug lords would simply turn their violence towards anyone who sought to lower the price.

Alcohol is more expensive now than it ever was during prohibition. The only reason the violence went away is because those engaging in it were killed, locked up, or gave up for fear of becoming one of the two.

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 2:39 PM


There is also supply. Opium is a plant. If you can make more money growing opium than wheat more will get planted.

Remember: The DEA increased opium acreage in Afghanistan 59% in one year.

And Brian you don't think ending prohibition had anything to do with getting the criminals out of the alcohol business do you? Nope. The criminals just killed each other off until there were no criminals left. And not only that they killed the owners of all the breweries and saloons that opened up. I read it in a history book some where. I'm sure. And now those criminals still control the alcohol business and kill any one who tries to muscle in.

Do they still teach American history in school? For that matter - do they ever teach economics?

And dude you are getting way better drugs than anyone in the illegal drug market. Send me an e-mail. Maybe we can work out a deal. I'd like some of that. I've always wanted to write a fantasy novel but lacked the inspiration.

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 2:53 PM

Morality cannot be legislated, something those in charge of governments and religions fail to understand.

Or perhaps they are only in it for the money.
Damn, that sounds really cynical and bitter. But true.

dr kill   ·  November 11, 2008 2:55 PM

There is no set of circumstances (absent prohibition or regulation) under which opium will ever be less profitable than wheat. Give a junkie the choice between spending his last dollar on bread or heroin, and he will choose heroin every single time until he ultimately dies of starvation.

Here's something for you to try, Simon. Show me one example of a place where legalization has been enacted that has caused the paradise you envision to come to pass. I'll even settle for one where crime and violence drop, even marginally.

If the DEA is supposed to be responsible for such a massive increase in supply, I wonder what happened to demand. Do you suppose that demand will go down or up after legalization?

What exactly are you arguing, anyhow? Are you arguing that increased drug abuse is not a problem, or that the cure is worse than the disease? In either case, does society have a valid interest in preventing drug abusers from becoming a drag?

Have you got a better idea?

Oh, and shove your self-righteous sanctimoniousness up your ass. There's no reason to assume that someone who disagrees with you is on drugs. There is simply no evidence to support your position. Correlation is not causation.

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 3:38 PM

I seriously doubt that legalization will increase the number of addicts over a period of five years or more. At first, yes. There are people who will try it because it's legal, but there are those who won't because it isn't illegal!

No matter what the law, we're going to deal with about 10% of the population having problems with substances, including alcohol.

Take all the money that's spent on "the war" and use it for rehab, methadone, etc., and the problems will lessen. They'll never go away completely.

Donna B.   ·  November 11, 2008 4:36 PM


Look up what Dr. Marks found in England about giving heroin users a regular supply.

And for God's sake learn something about why people take drugs. Do you get all your information on drugs from comic books?

Ill start you out with a report on the work of Dr. Lonnie Shavelson. You have heard of him haven't you? He is an expert in the field.


Do you know anything about the role of the amygdala in drug addiction? A paragraph or two should be sufficient to show your understanding. Otherwise I will assume you are just insane and making shit up.

But hey. We here at Classical Values always encourage commenters to parade their ignorance. It makes for great entertainment. And heaven knows after Obama's election we could use some cheering up.

Looking forward to your next spew.


M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 4:42 PM


There is only one problem with the opiate methadone. Heroin users don't like it.

Also addiction is a two factor problem.

1. Genetics
2. Trauma

You might like this bit from NIDA on the genetics of addiction:

Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 4:49 PM


Since I'm a nice guy from time to time I'm going to give you a clue. Drugs fill receptors in the brain. Once the receptors are filled the craving stops. However, if you keep the receptors filled the brain makes more so the required amount of drugs necessary to fill them increases.

You knew that didn't you? Here is some help for you re: receptors in the brain.

Round Pegs In Round Holes

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 4:58 PM

Well there are countries that don't have nearly the drug problem that the US has. Of course their treatment of drug users is far harsher than we do to dealers in the US. If you were going to do at least a years time in an oriental prison you'd think long and hard before using. They tend to cold turkey you in an isolation cell first off.
When heroin first started to be a problem in the '50s era Japan and the Government started getting hard on the users, the Yakusa would cold turkey any member it caught....once. They didn't do it out of the goodness of their hearts they just didn't want to loose the cash flow from the member.

toad   ·  November 11, 2008 5:00 PM

You see Brian we know quite a bit about the physiology and genetics of addiction.

And you me boy? You are just parroting superstition. What we call in the biz Cargo Cult Science. Perhaps if you had even a smidgen of education on the matter you might not find yourself the subject of ridicule.

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 5:04 PM

well yes toad.

If we killed off the million or so heroin users in the country we could end heroin use - for a while. Until genetics and trauma made more.

And I like your idea of severe punishment for victims of trauma. A truly compassionate response to suffering. Jesus would be proud.

Sexually abused as a child? Take heroin for relief? We gonna abuse you some more. I like that idea. Lucky we don't hate Jews in this country isn't it?

"Distrust anyone in whom the desire to punish is powerful" Friedrich Nietzsche

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 5:13 PM

Show me one example of a place where legalization has been enacted that has caused the paradise you envision to come to pass.

Well, there was the United States before 1914. But no one enacted legalization.

Perhaps the right word should be relegalization.

But paradise? I don't think that's what humans tend to produce, regardless of legislation or lack thereof.

Eric Scheie   ·  November 11, 2008 5:17 PM

Wow, Simon. I didn't even have to post anything for you to respond several times. I must be far more ignorant than I thought.

Why is it that so many on your side of the drug war instantly assume blind ignorance in anyone who doesn't think that legalization is going to change a damned thing? I'm perfectly aware of the physiological impact of narcotics.

Your solution to "trauma" is to let people self-medicate to the point where they are at best a financial and emotional burden on family and society?

Perhaps you know of a few junkies that manage to hold down a job sufficient to care for themselves and pay for their heroin. I don't. The only junkies I've ever known of were completely useless when they were high, and the only thing they were doing when they weren't was looking for their next fix. I don't see what legalization does to take care of that.

I also don't see how the violent crime goes away. Remember, junkies aren't going to be able to make enough money to buy the stuff no matter how cheap legalization makes it, and there's no way in hell you're going to get the general public to go along with subsidizing it. Which means that the crime moves from the streets to the drug stores.

Tell me -- other than being able to claim that you've achieved ideological purity in governance with respect to drug policy, what's to be gained? I see no reason to believe that the money saved by not having a DEA would not be immediately spent cleaning up after the drug users anyhow.

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 6:12 PM

OK Brian,

Let me start simple. What is the role of the amygdala in addiction?

One or two paragraphs will do and we can go from there.

I'd also like you to tell me a little about the CB1 receptor and its function in the brain.

Since you claim science is on your side: give me some.

Please also tell me the results of Dr. Marks' research on heroin addicts in England and why his trials were shut down.

Also a sentence or two on the work of Dr. Lonnie Shavelson would be helpful.

I eagerly await your response.

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 6:32 PM

Remember, junkies aren't going to be able to make enough money to buy the stuff no matter how cheap legalization makes it,

So if legalization makes heroin costs $1 a day addicts couldn't panhandle the money? How about if it was $10 a day.

While you are at it Brian please tell me what the cost of heroin actually would be in a free market? Please provide a link.

I think you are making shit up.

So here is some shit I just made up. Heroin costs a penny a dose to make. Care to provide contrary evidence?

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 6:43 PM

Look, I'm not here to be sarcastically dismissed. I made no claim that anything is on my side. I've never heard of "Dr. Lonnie Shavelson", and I don't care who he is. Science doesn't enter into the argument for me. The fact that you seem to think I need credentials to think your argument is inconsistent says more about you than it does me.

Quite frankly, I don't give a flying fuck WHY people turn to heroin. Addiction is not germane to the argument against the DEA.

You said that the DEA caused a 59% increase in the poppy crop. You also claim to understand supply and demand. Where did that 59% go? SOMEONE BOUGHT IT. And that someone was not likely at the DEA. Which means that your claim is at best hyperbolic.

You spilled millions of pixels with an emotional reaction to news that suits your view that the "war on drugs" is an unalloyed evil. Whether that is true or not, there is no evidence to suggest that the DEA has increased demand for heroin.

So, now that we've gotten that out of the way, perhaps you'd like to tell me where the demand is. Oh yeah, junkies.

So, are you arguing that prohibition creates addiction? Or are you arguing that the DEA consumed the additional opiates?

All the doctors and science in the world can't change the fact that SOMEONE is buying that opium, and most of them are doing so to stay stoned.

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 6:49 PM

Also explain why a war with Mexico would be cheaper than just giving heroin to addicts?

Or why losing Afghanistan to the Taliban is better than providing free heroin to users?

You know - cost benefit shit.

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 6:50 PM
Heroin costs a penny a dose to make. Care to provide contrary evidence?

Aspirin costs even less. Does that mean $3.49 for a bottle of Bayer is robbery?

It's fucking irrelevant to the argument you started with - that the DEA has caused an increase in demand.

And frankly, I find it intriguing that you're ok with a bunch of junkies hassling the general public so they can stay stoned.

If these people are so fucked up that the only way they can cope is with heroin, maybe it's time to re-evaluate their existences. I'm not willing to believe that the bulk of addicts are all victims of sexual abuse.

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 6:54 PM

M - if the war in Afghanistan was solely about heroin, you might have a point.

I don't know if you heard about it, but there was this attack in New York a little over seven years ago. It was in all the papers. The guys that did it? Well, they were harbored by the Taliban. Yeah, THAT Taliban.

We aren't blasting the shit out of the mountains in Afghanistan to stop people from getting heroin. We're doing it to stop the assholes who blow up civilians for laughs from profiting from it.

Maybe if we hadn't gone along with the whole NATO idea and just flattened Afghanistan in the first place we wouldn't be having this argument. But the Taliban is still an issue because we're too afraid of bad press to blow a bunch of people up.

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 6:59 PM

We legalize heroin here's the first thing that happens; the market gets flooded. The next thing to happen would be pharmaceutical manufacturers getting into the business. That means heroin of higher purity and at a lower price. This thanks to higher standards and the economies of scale. Heroin in solution for injection, in powder for snorting, in pill or tablet form for ingestion. A patch or gum for slow release.

Now ponder this; for all the money being spent on heroin in this country every year, why are so few people ending up in trouble about their heroin use? Even with the markup heroin is cheap, yet a lot of money is spent for it. That should tell you something.

Alan Kellogg   ·  November 11, 2008 7:16 PM

No Brian I'm not claiming that prohibition creates heroin users.

I'm claiming it finances criminals and terrorists.

If you are OK with financing criminals and terrorists then I think our discussion is not going to be productive.

I'm not claiming that making supplies available to users legally will end the need to use.

Here is what I claim.

1. People use drugs because they need them to supplement the body's production of receptor fillers when the body's production of receptor fillers is insufficient.

2. Not making supplies legally available supports criminals and terrorists.

By your arguments we might as well go after insulin junkies.

And the fact that you don't know who Lonnie Shavelson is is telling. How about Dr. Marks' heroin trials in England? Or what Dr. Raphael Mechoulam found out about the CB1 receptor and PTSD?

You know your loudly proclaiming you ignorance is not a persuasive argument. What would you think if I said "I don't know a damn thing about what I am talking about but I know what to do about the problem" would you find that persuasive? So far that is what you proclaim.

You might as well tell me "I don't know a damn thing about nuclear reactions and so here is how nuclear reactors should be built".

Discussion of the drug problem always brings out people with that attitude. It is not the first time I have run into that.

The old "my mind is made up don't confuse me with facts" shit will not cut it with me. Or to paraphrase your attitude "I have seen a few addicts and therefor I know what addiction is all about".

Dude. Your ignorance is showing. And you are proud of it. Well you know what they say about pride.

People smarter than you are and better educated too, 100s of thousands of them, have been trying to make drug prohibition work for 90+ years with no success. All the while funding criminals and now terrorists too.

Give it up dood. It is a lost cause. Human desire and ingenuity will defeat any regime you can think of. If it is impossible to keep drugs out of prisons why do you think it can be done in the wider society? Because you want to hate junkies? Well good luck with that.

Nobel Economist Milton Friedman says drug prohibition is socialism for criminals. A price support mechanism. Is that what you want? Are you one of them fookin socialists?

The Drug War as a Socialist Enterprise by Milton Friedman

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 7:23 PM

Let me add to what Alan K said. Since the start of the War On Drug Users the price of heroin on a per dose basis has declined by a factor of 600.

Now that is some success.

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 7:35 PM

M - You're confusing pride of ignorance with giving a fuck. Tell me what relevance this Lonnie Shavelson has to the discussion at hand. Appeal to authority is no way to support an argument.

I think the "war on drugs" has been an abject failure. It's done nothing to stop the abuse of drugs, nothing to reduce the crime, violence, or squalor.

I never said I knew everything about addiction. I simply do not care. You're in pain? Fine. You want to make it my problem? NOT FINE.

You can end the drug war, you can make drugs legal. You will not make the crime associated with the drugs go away. If I misinterpreted your argument as being that it would, I apologize for that.

You argue that the drug war funds terrorists, but that's bullshit in big steaming piles. It's the DRUG USERS that do that. Legalizing the drugs isn't going to get people to stop taking them, it'll probably increase usage. Do you think that legalization will suddenly cause everyone in the US to grow opium poppies to supplant the ones from Afghanistan? Hell no. So long as it's cheaper to grow them there, that's where they will come from.

And then you argue with yourself by first calling the war on drugs a price support mechanism, and then saying in the very next post that the price of heroin has decreased by a factor of 600. Not a very good price support mechanism, is it?

Your argument is bogus. The only argument to be made is this: The war on drugs has been ineffective in its stated goals of reducing the inflow of drugs into the United States and reducing the number of drug users in same. Therefore it ought to be done away with and something else tried in its place.

Any argument beyond that is either unnecessary or bullshit.

If addicts are going to be there regardless of the legal status of heroin, and are going to be functionally useless in most cases either way, being angry at the DEA is misplaced.

If the opium poppies are going to be grown in places where the money goes to bad people, they will find a way to undercut anyone else in a free market, so that won't change either.

You are against the "war on drugs" from a purely ideological standpoint. You are against it because you believe in unlimited freedom for an individual to harm himself, consequences on third parties be damned. That you have to fall back on appeals to science, addiction, the amygdala, CB1 receptors and PTSD only masks the fact that you are uncomfortable with some part of your own belief.

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 8:00 PM


I never said the DEA increases demand. I said it increases supply. A decline in price per dose by a factor of 600 should tell you that.

Dude your anger on the subject is so high that you can't even read. Why does the discussion of drugs make you so angry?

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2008 8:00 PM

M - Projection isn't just a river in Egypt.

I'm not angry at all. Given the vigor with which you've responded to me (by like a 3 to 1 ratio at least) I'd say you are the one getting emotional.

I'm just confused. How did the DEA increase supply? And is that supply going unused? If not, then wouldn't that indicate that absent government interference the supply would have risen to meet that demand anyhow?

Or are you trying to tell me that the DEA artificially increased the supply to enrich the warlords in Afghanistan?

Because your argument doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Supply is a function of demand, not the other way around. Look to the housing market to understand that - a classic case of overproduction led to gigantic inventories of unsold product and a price crash.

Do you have any evidence to suggest that there are vast caches of unsold heroin in the market?

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 8:21 PM

Hmmmm, I wonder what the casualty rate would be if you could walk into a drug store and buy anything?
I've only know one heroin addict who quit (anecdotal evidence isn't I know) but he told me he still craved it. How did he put it, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, so every weekend I have a good cry." I've got a relative hat is pretty much addicted to everything and he started as a teenager. My dad bailed him out every time he messed up, countless treatment programs, he's 54 now and living with my now broke father.
From the bi-polars on the streets who wouldn't take their meds but would self medicate with street drugs, I acquired a little pity for some of the one I got familiar with, but all in all you had to treat all of them as dangerous and diseased. The experience pretty well pegged my pity meter out. Especially when they would fuck up the civilians.
I never had much use for Ross Perot but during one interview They asked him if he would legalize drugs and he said know. They threw the "well alcohol is legal and regulated why not the other drugs?" His reply was yes alcohol is legal and regulated and has a long history of use. "But look at the problems we have it. So you want to add more?"

toad   ·  November 11, 2008 8:53 PM

Perhaps it would be helpful to look at the drug war the way I tend to: as just another front in the larger culture wars.

If you assess drug prohibition purely at face value - i.e. its efficacy in eliminating the use of prohibited drugs - then yes, it is a dismal failure with little if any hope of a reversal. But what if elimination of drug use isn't the real goal of drug prohibition? What if, as I suspect, the real goal of drug prohibition is merely to keep drug use from becoming respectable or widely accepted in the mainstream culture? If those are indeed the "victory conditions", then as far as social/cultural conservatives are concerned, the drug war is not only not a dismal failure, it is for all intents and purposes already won, and now it's just a matter of preserving that victory by keeping drugs stigmatized and firmly ensconced on the margins of the national culture. Indeed, the mere existence of drug prohibition and a vigorous enforcement regime are likely all that is needed to accomplish this.

If the drug war is just another culture war, socons probably aren't going to be moved by any cost-benefit analysis that says it's a failure. To socons the drug war isn't just about the tangible costs of drug use but also the intangible, unquantifiable and utterly unpredictable impact of drug use being not only tolerated, but embraced by and assimilated into the mainstream culture. You might say they aren't looking merely (or even mainly) to save would-be druggies from themselves, but also to save the nation collectively from itself. If that's the case, reason alone won't be enough for "drug pacifists" to make their case. They will also have to find some way to fight the culture warriors on their terms.

Joshua   ·  November 11, 2008 10:08 PM

According to Brian's theory, Miller Brewing is engaged in drive by shooting duels with Budweiser. Meanwhile gangland assassinations are occuring between Jim Beam Distillery and the Jack Daniel's boys.

Supply and Demand is much more powerful than government enforcers Brian. And it will be even stronger as technological trends in the twenty first century.

As for drug addicts being a drag, that's because dumbass government finks force taxpayers to pay their medical bills. Make the users pay their bills. If they can't, they will be selected out of the genepool.

Robert   ·  November 11, 2008 10:26 PM

Robert - According to Brian's theory, the criminal element was eliminated forcefully so that Miller, Budweiser, etc. could get back to doing business respectably. Had prohibition never happened, the mob wouldn't have happened either.

Supply and demand are VERY powerful. But looking at alcohol, how many people are truly addicted to it? I'm not buying the research that M points to that claims that heroin is not addictive, it's the people who take it that are addictable. It doesn't add up. Unless there's some magical signal that attracts the addictable to heroin that nobody knows about, it's far more likely that heroin causes the body to either underproduce the appropriate stimulants, or heroin causes the receptors to become exceptionally sensitive to the point where the heroin is needed to maintain some semblance of "normal". See also fibromyalgia and seratonin uptake.

As to your last bit, we know that's not going to happen. Our representative system will not allow for us to simply throw junkies out on the street to die.

Finally, my argument is that heroin, cocaine, and other substances that work as they do are significantly different than alcohol in terms of the way they affect mind and body, and need to be more stringently controlled. The present methodology isn't working, but something needs to be done to limit the impact such drugs have.

brian   ·  November 11, 2008 10:41 PM

Brian said:

Our representative system will not allow for us to simply throw junkies out on the street to die.

That's because it is run by jackasses that decide by the "heart" instead of logic. When the treasury goes tits up, those jackass finks will get fixed.

Brian said:

and need to be more stringently controlled

Another thing, stop looking at the state bureaucracy as something invincible. It is definitely NOT. If you were even fully aware about the phenomenon of the super-empowered individual and the technological trends of the twenty first century, you wouldn't have any such foolish notions. Take a look at the "Globalguerillas" blog. Lookup "fifth generation war" and desktop manufacturing. If you think the state is all powerful, you are dead wrong.

Robert   ·  November 11, 2008 10:53 PM

I don't think the state is all powerful.

I have no faith in the individual to do the right thing either.

My worldview is informed by the belief that humans are basically evil. Humans are only good when they are forced to be. This is the basis of -- and reason for the existence of -- all religions.

The technological trends of the twenty-first century are meaningless when coupled with the hard-wired impulses of the -500th century.

Our little experiment in self-government is still a work in progress. But there are things which a government must exist to deal with. Anarchy does not work, can not work, and will not work. The representative republic is the only form of government that has even approximated liberty for all men. We've managed to create a system that tempers man's baser instincts without being a boot on the neck.

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 12:00 AM
the phenomenon of the super-empowered individual

Given the amount of damage a normal individual can do, the idea of a super-empowered one scares the crap out of me.

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 12:06 AM


I think a war with Mexico will add a little realism to the debate. Or losing Afghanistan to the Taliban.


We are losing Afghanistan due to the war on opium there. To the Taliban. Yes that Taliban.

So are you willing to suffer another 9/11 in order to keep opiate users from getting what they already get (at inflated prices)?

But hey. It can't happen here.

When it does happen I will have the grim satisfaction of saying you heard it here first.

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 8:14 AM


There is no liberty for pot smokers. A drug more benign than alcohol. It causes fewer deaths a year than aspirin.

But I suppose you need some one to hate. Fortunately I have been giving you more than your two minutes a day. You must be thrilled.

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 8:19 AM


The whole fibromyalgia episode was shameful. We treated people in severe pain as if they were "junkies" and punished them severely for "excess" opiate use.

That should be a lesson to you.

Obviously not.

What if the rest of the heroin uses fall in some similar category where medical science (advanced as it is) does not understand all the factors involved.

Will you be proud of your position then?

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 8:25 AM

I'm not even going to TRY to decipher how your last three posts are in any way related to either the topic at hand, or reality in general.

We are losing Afghanistan due to an unwillingness to be sufficiently violent in suppressing a bunch of 7th century throwbacks because George Bush is sick of the media kicking him in the balls and the European "assistance" we have from NATO is as useless as tits on a bull.

Afghanistan has been producing opium forever, and will continue to do so. That doesn't mean I have to accept junkies on the streets. Hell, if Limbaugh can end up hooked on REGULATED opiates, how the fuck are we supposed to deal with unregulated ones?

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 9:07 AM


In other words you are saying that doing anything is useless and a waste but we should keep doing it any way.

I like that.

If only I could get my hobbies subsidized.

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 10:04 AM

His reply was yes alcohol is legal and regulated and has a long history of use. "But look at the problems we have it. So you want to add more?"

We have had 5,000 years of experience with hemp. Probably as long with coca and opium.

It is not a question of can you get it but where.

So we can go with drugs + criminals or just drugs. I'm for taking the criminals out of the equation. But hell if you think the criminals need the subsidy I can accept that. It would at least be a rational argument.

Did I mention that the price of heroin has declined by a factor of 600 since 1970? Prohibition don't prohibit nothing.

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime,
It won't prohibit worth a dime,
It's filled our land with vice and crime.
Nevertheless, we're for it.

Franklin P. Adams, 1931

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 10:17 AM

No, what I'm saying is that decriminalization will not solve any problems, only change the name assigned to them.

What needs to be done is to get rid of the addicts who are a net drain on society. Once that's taken care of, then the dealers and other assorted criminal parasites will go away. Simply calling off the "war on drugs" isn't going to actually achieve the results you predict.

The vast majority of alcohol consumers are responsible with it, yet I have to endure police checkpoints looking for that 1 in 10000 that just has to be irresponsible. Ditto pseudoephedrine. I'm being inconvenienced to keep the shallow end of the gene pool well-stocked. Which hacks me off to no end.

But if you mean to end the drug war and allow the free flow of narcotics into the hands of imbeciles, you'd better have a way of cleaning them up that doesn't further impede my non-abusive life.

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 10:32 AM

What needs to be done is to get rid of the addicts who are a net drain on society.

Ah. The German Solution. Now we are getting some where.

BTW the drugs already freely flow to imbeciles.

Prohibition has nothing to do with "can't have".

It has everything to with "where from".

Any one in America who wants an illegal drug can find a supplier.

I'm always amazed at folks who think that prohibition dries up supplies. Simple economics tells you it increases supplies. Raise the price paid and more supplies come into the market. Econ 101.

I'm always amazed at how the mention of drugs makes people stupid. It is a source of endless amusement.

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 10:44 AM
It has everything to with "where from".

Ok, so what's your idea? You think that someone in the US is suddenly going to become the least-cost provider of high-quality heroin? Econ 101 right back at you.

I'm always amazed at how the mention of drugs makes people stupid. It is a source of endless amusement.

And I'm always amused at how some people are so willing to believe that if only we stopped prohibiting drug use that people would just stop using drugs.

Simple economics tells you it increases supplies. Raise the price paid and more supplies come into the market. Econ 101.

No, simple economics tells you that if demand for a product does not dry up in the face of legal prohibition that the market will bear a higher price and absorb almost any amount of production. Besides, didn't you just say two posts ago that the price of heroin DROPPED because of prohibition?

Unicorns farting rainbows tells you that supply is divorced from demand.

The one question of mine that you STILL haven't answered is this:

What happened to all the additional opium that was grown and shipped out of Afghanistan?

Actually, you know what? I've become convinced that you are arguing in circles in hopes that I'll go insane and have to be institutionalized so that the conversation will end and you can declare yourself the winner.

I concede. You have driven me to the brink of being as insane as you are. If I keep this up, I too will be able to believe that a single external force can cause the price of a good to simultaneously go up AND down.

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 11:12 AM

No, what I'm saying is that decriminalization will not solve any problems, only change the name assigned to them.

In fact it will solve 90% of those problems: violence, incarceration, black markets funding terrorism. The only problem it doesn't solve is the same problem we have now: some people are addicts.

There is no set of circumstances (absent prohibition or regulation) under which opium will ever be less profitable than wheat.

Nonsense. If you're starving and not an addict, wheat is much more valuable than heroin even now.

The only reason heroin is expensive is because the supply is contricted. Laws can't change demand.

TallDave   ·  November 12, 2008 12:17 PM

TallDave - the violence won't go away. Incarceration is only a statistic. And you'll go from black markets funding terrorism to free markets funding terrorism. I mean, do you think that suddenly the people growing opium in Afghanistan are suddenly going to abandon the Taliban just because we legalized the stuff?

In other words, there won't be any change in anything but terminology.

Nonsense. If you're starving and not an addict, wheat is much more valuable than heroin even now.

Which is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Buggy whips aren't terribly profitable in an automotive culture either. But we're talking about the economy of ADDICTION. To an addict, the choice between food and heroin is not so cut and dried.

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 12:21 PM

What needs to be done is to get rid of the addicts who are a net drain on society

Even if that weren't impossible, it's based on a false premise. William Stewart Halsted, one of the most famous and prestigious doctors in our nation’s history, a man known as “the father of American surgery,” was a secret lifelong morphine addict.

William Stewart Halsted (September 23, 1852 – September 7, 1922) is considered by many to be the most innovative, influential and important surgeon America has ever produced

Not exactly a drain on society.

Remember, junkies aren't going to be able to make enough money to buy the stuff no matter how cheap legalization makes it,

Yes, they are. See Halsted.

TallDave   ·  November 12, 2008 12:22 PM

TallDave - the violence won't go away.

Yes, it very obviously will diminish, just as it did when Prohibition was ended. Drug dealers don't have turf wars if there are no drug dealers.

The absence of access to established conflict resolution mechanisms (e.g. courts, arbitration) backed by state force is the primary driver of drug violence. It's a paradigm in which the person who most ruthlessly employs violence wins.

Incarceration is only a statistic.

Incarceration ruins lives and costs me, the taxpayer, a fortune.

And you'll go from black markets funding terrorism to free markets funding terrorism.

Enterprises operating within the law are much less likely to fund terrorism. We have created a situation in which terrorists enjoy a near-monopoly on drug production.

I mean, do you think that suddenly the people growing opium in Afghanistan are suddenly going to abandon the Taliban just because we legalized the stuff?

Yes! They support the Taliban because the Taliban lets ethem grow highly profitable poppies. If anyone can grow opium poppies, there goes the primary reason to support them, and the profit drops to something similar to that of corn, beans, rice, wheat and other crops.

TallDave   ·  November 12, 2008 12:30 PM

Nonsense. If you're starving and not an addict, wheat is much more valuable than heroin even now. --- Which is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

Well, you said "under any circumstances," not "the discussion at hand."

But OK, let us disccus the discussion at hand :)

To an addict, the choice between food and heroin is not so cut and dried.

Indeed. Addicts, esp heroin addicts, have what is known as a “time horizon problem.” They are unable to think beyond their next fix, which is an overwhelming compulsion, as difficult to resist as food to a starving man. Imagine for a second food has been made illegal, you haven’t eaten for a week, and you have to buy hot dogs for $100 each from an unsavory character who may be selling you poison instead, and you will understand why addicts have trouble functioning under the current drug law regime, and commit crimes for money.

TallDave   ·  November 12, 2008 12:39 PM

Dave, you're just as blinkered about this as Simon.

What makes you think that a junkie with a "time horizon problem" is going to be able to keep it together long enough to make enough money to buy cheap heroin? Why wouldn't he just hold up the drug store to get the fix, or rob someone on the street.

Legalization only hides one symptom of the underlying problem - that very few heroin addicts are Dr. Halsted. Many are Bradley Nowell. Most are unknown because they don't accomplish a damned thing.

And if you're going to advocate that giving junkies free heroin on the taxpayer's dime, I'll slap you.

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 2:23 PM

Tall Dave,

Re: the time horizon problem.

Dr. Marks in a study done in England found that addicts' time horizon problem can be greatly improved with a steady supply of heroin.

About 1/2 were able to hold regular jobs and 2/3s stopped committing crimes.

M. Simon   ·  November 12, 2008 2:47 PM

What makes you think that a junkie with a "time horizon problem" is going to be able to keep it together long enough to make enough money to buy cheap heroin?

Well, again, put yourself in his shoes: you need lots of money for illegal, expensive food and you need to find a criminal to provide it. You can't think of anything else.

Halsted didn't have this problem, and consequently functioned quite well.

Legalization only hides one symptom of the underlying problem - that very few heroin addicts are Dr. Halsted.

Rather, very few are given the opportunity to be.

And if you're going to advocate that giving junkies free heroin on the taxpayer's dime, I'll slap you

I'll settle for not wasting vast amounts of taxpayer money on a scheme of interdiction and incarceration that accomplishes little beyond inflating profit margins for drug dealers, which profits are then used to fund terrorists and Marxists.

TallDave   ·  November 12, 2008 2:53 PM
which profits are then used to fund terrorists and Marxists.

It keeps coming back to this assertion. It's called the fallacy of the predetermined outcome.

You're assuming that the marxists and terrorists aren't going to be the least-cost provider, or that some trade obstacle will be erected barring such. In which case good luck getting consumer electronics or oil either since they all come from marxists or terrorists these days.

On that note, I'm out.

brian   ·  November 12, 2008 3:06 PM

You're assuming that the marxists and terrorists aren't going to be the least-cost provider

Of course they aren't. Why would they be, if others were allowed to compete?

What you don't seem to realize is that our drug laws are granting a monopoly on production to those who don't participate in our morality crusade.

Talldave   ·  November 12, 2008 10:11 PM

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