Pubdate: Mon, 10 Dec 2001
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2001 The Dallas Morning News
Author:  Bob Ramsey, Drug Policy Forum of Texas


Re: "Drug cash keeps poor farmers afloat," Nov. 19.

For years and years, The Dallas Morning News has been reporting on the 
latest plan to reduce South American acreage under cultivation for coca and 
opium. Nobody seems to notice that the same figure of 600,000 to 650,000 
acres keeps showing up in news stories every year, distributed in varying 
proportions among Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. Demand is inelastic; if they 
grew more, the price would crater.

The total land area required to satisfy America's lust for drugs peaks out 
at 1,000 square miles, roughly equivalent to Ben Cartwright's mythical 
Ponderosa Ranch or Dallas County. South America has 2.5 million square 
miles suitable for growing coca and poppies,  2,500 times what's needed.

The next time you fantasize about stopping drug production by pretending to 
buy off a few thousand impoverished farmers, don't forget about the other 
99 million impoverished South American farmers sitting on fine 
drug-producing land.

Instead of buying more thimbles to bail out the ocean, it's time to 
recognize the drug war as a depraved agricultural price-support program. It 
is a money-sucking porkfest that makes its quotas persecuting minorities 
while hacking away everybody's freedom.

Bob Ramsey, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Irving
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