10A010 Drug Insanity by Jim Davies, 8/27/2010
According to the government research body NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) about 20,000 people a year die in the USA from the use of illegal drugs. NIDA's table conveniently compares that figure with others: another 20,000 die from abusing drugs prescribed by government-approved physicians, 85,000 from using alcohol, and "440,000 from disease related to tobacco." NIDA does not mention a single death resulting from the use of one illegal drug, marijuana.
Every death is a tragedy, especially "premature" ones that occur without completion of a normal life span of 70 or 80 years. But out of an annual total of more than 3.5 million deaths in the USA, 20,000 doesn't seem an especially large number, warranting extraordinary attention. It's one death in 175, or 0.57%.
For over a century, however, the use of recreational drugs has received increasing and very extraordinary attention from government, without any noticeable effect on the rate of usage. That activity has provided plenty of lucrative but wholly unproductive jobs for government narcs, but no other benefit at all. It has, however, brought a very large downside.
Making illegal anything people actually want doesn't cause it to vanish, it merely jacks up the price; for those supplying it must incur substantial extra costs. Low-cost advertising such as TV, newspapers and eBay are closed to them. They cannot stock a shelf in the local pharmacy or Wal-Mart, but have to use live street vendors ever watchful for police patrols. Each node in that distribution network needs to be paid enough to make a living - plus a risk or danger premium. Then the supply has to be done secretly, with attendant high costs; it's not possible merely to fill a 40' container in Bogota and ship it to Miami or Long Beach, complete with an open manifest.
Large costs and secret operations lead to large profits, and one speculation is that the obvious solution (to decriminalize the stuff) has been ignored because "drug lords" have chanelled handsome campaign contributions to Congresspersons who will vote to continue the supposed War on Drugs. Meanwhile the collateral deaths - people killed in turf wars between rival drug vendors who cannot settle differences peacefully in court - go on rising. In Mexico this week it was announced that during the last four years, 28,000 have died in that country as a result of its government's attempt to interdict the Northward flow of illegal drugs. That is ((28000/4)/20000 =) 35% of the US drug-use deaths, in one foreign country alone.
It's hard to estimate the total annual death rate resulting not from drug use but from the attempt to ban them - but it is certainly more than that 35%. Those dying from usage do so from self-inflicted wounds; the others are casualties in a wholly needless and useless war. To continue that war, as government is set on doing, is abolute madness.
This is one (but only one) example of how government is irrational, not just in its essential nature and establishment, but in the lunatic execution of its policies.