Sunday, July 16, 2006

Myopia And Moronic Drug Policies

You know, the writers at the Economist are usually pretty quick to point out when government regulation of markets causes perverse behavior. So its inconsistent (but probably not surprising) of them to not mention the issue at all in this article about Afghanistan. They say that Afghanistan needs to spend less time growing poppies and more time growing wheat, but the solution that they propose totally misses the point:
Poppy-growing will end only when Afghans can earn money some other way, when junkies in rich countries stop taking dope and when, perhaps, Afghanistan has robust enough institutions to enforce its laws.
But, you know, another solution is available as well... make the damn things less profitable. The regulation of poppy-derived narcotics by rich countries is the reason it makes more sense for Afghans to plant poppies rather than wheat. If a major government, say... oh... the US, were to suddenly legalize opiates, many Afghans would suddenly discover the utility of planting a crop that they can both eat and sell. And this solution doesn't even require the government of Afghanistan to be able to enforce its laws; presumably Afghan farmers would start growing something else of their own volition. You know, this whole situation in kind of funny in a perverse way. The War on Drugs is now contributing to conditions which are detrimental to the War on Terror. I mean, based on what The Economist says it sounds like the warlords who are causing so much strife and general instability in the region pay for a large chunk of their operating expenses with money derived from growing poppies. That would be an interesting strategy, arguing for drug legalization on the grounds that such actions support the war on terror. Because its not just Afghani warlords who profit from drugs. What other crazy outfit, recently in the news, derives revenue from trade in illegal drugs. Could it be... North Korea? Do you see, oh do you see, boys and girls, how the stupid stupid War on Fun has contributed to current global instability? Its clear that anyone who is anti-drug is objectively pro-terror. End of discussion.

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