Pubdate: Sun, 05 Nov 2000
Source: Galveston County Daily News (TX)
Copyright: 2000 Galveston Newspapers, Inc.
Contact:  PO Box 628, Galveston TX 77553
Fax: (409) 740-342
Author: Heber Taylor
Note: Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News.


Sometimes, the coffee drinkers play a game called the Stupidest Thing in 

Most of the time it's funny. Someone will mention that someone sold the 
Navy a $4,000 toilet seat. Someone else will have seen a $5 million study 
on the economic impact of tulip farming in Delaware.

When my turn came to talk about the silliest government program, I said I 
thought it was the War of Drugs.

No one laughed.

It was one of those gaffs I'll probably never recover from - or be forgiven 

One of the ironies is that I am a moralistic, judgmental prude about drugs.

I think people who spend money on cocaine might as well make a 
tax-deductible contribution to an organization that murders honest judges 
and journalists in South America.

I also see the effects of addiction in Galveston. Every day.

People who buy cocaine pay the bills for thugs who enslave people in 
distant lands and who poison our neighbors next door.

I think it's clear we ought to fight drugs.

I also think it's clear that what we're doing is not working.

Suppose you were a CEO of a large organization. Suppose your one corporate 
goal was to reduce the importation of a competitor's product.

Your bonus is riding on this, so think hard.

Suppose, in your first year, that your competitor's imports were up 50 
percent. You go to your stockholders, hat in hand, and ask for another year 
and more money.

Maybe they give you a year.

But who would look at 20 years of wildly escalating imports and wildly 
escalating expenditures and conclude that next year, you ought to be given 
more money to do what you did last year?

Well, if you are the drug czar, the answer is Congress.

One more irony: This country had a far more coherent drug policy under 
Richard Nixon, arguably the worst president in our history, than it does now.

Nixon argued that spending heavily on drug interdiction didn't make 
economic sense. He argued that the only way to curtail supply was to 
curtail demand.

His drug policy included funds to educate young people and to treat addicts.

His argument against putting all the funding into intercepting drug 
shipments was simple. With luck, law officers might intercept two out of 
every 10 shipments from the cocaine cartels. That would leave the cartel 
with a measly profit of somewhere around 8,000 percent.

Nixon realized that, by increasing U.S. spending on drug enforcement, he 
might cut the cartel's operating profits to, say, 6,000 percent.

He did not believe that would force the drug lords to liquidate their evil 
factories and transfer their money to the stock market.

Since the Nixon era, we have gotten tougher and tougher on drugs by 
spending more and more on law enforcement.

Bottom line: Demand for cocaine is up. So are the profits of our ruthless 

Next year, though, our plan is going to be to put those jerks out of 
business by spending more than ever and finally cutting their profits to 
6,000 percent.

I doubt that will work.

But I am absolutely certain that's our plan.

I know because we've tried that plan every year since Nixon left office. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake