Thursday, March 11, 2010

The War on... What, Exactly?

The War on Drugs has been going on for so long, it's easy to forget it's still happening, which is why this article very helpfully brings us back to reality about not only the "war's" futility but also the corruption of the industries feeding of the war's funding along with the very real human costs.

... There is no serious War on Drugs. Rather, there is violence, nourished by the money to be made from drugs. And there are U.S. industries whose primary lifeblood comes from fighting a war on drugs. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, has 225,000 employees and a budget of $42 billion, part of which is aimed at making America safe from Mexico and Mexicans. Narcotics officers in the U.S. cost at least $40 billion a year. The world's largest prison industry would collapse without the intake of drug convicts, and, in recent years, of illegal Mexican migrants. And around the republic there are big new federal courthouses rising that would be cobwebbed without the steady flow from drug busts and the Mexican poor coming north.
The drug industry is the second-largest source of foreign currency in Mexico, just behind oil. It earns somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion a year -- no one really knows, including the people in the industry. It also creates enormous numbers of jobs in the U.S.: We spend billions a year on narcs, maintain the world's largest prison industry, which is absolutely dependent on the intake of drug felons, and we have about 20,000 agents on the border who feed off drug importation.

Scary stuff. And it shows no sign of getting better.

Personal antidote: I remember drug news having much more immediacy when I was living in Albuquerque, three-hours from the Mexican border. And there's the second customs road stop on I-25 20 minutes north of Las Crusas, a good 60 miles north of the border. Can't imagine what the place looks like with the construction of the giant wall...

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