Re:virus: DRUGS

From: Mermaid . (
Date: Wed Jul 17 2002 - 21:10:53 MDT

clarify? is this directed towards me?


From: "Hermit" <>
Subject: Re:virus: DRUGS
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 18:48:43 -0600

Quick comments...

Is there a crazy thinking hazard on this thread?

The cost to society of dealing with drug habits that become unmanageable
(and providing funerals for those who really take it to excess - or who are
killed by drugs tainted by an outlawed industry in pursuit of ever
increasing unregulated, untaxed profits) is undoubtedly less than the cost
of the largest growth industry in the US. Jails and their unfortunate

Prisons - in the US - are a growth industry - worth in excess of $100
billion a year. How much of a growth industry is evident in the fact that
the number of people in the correctional system in the US tripled between
1980 (1.1% of adult population) and 1994 (2.7% of adult population). As one
indication of how much of this is attributable to the "war on drugs", 25.2%
of 1980 federal prisons inmates were held for drug-offenses. By 1994 that
percentage was 59.2%. Mandatory sentencing laws effectively stripped judges
of their ability to exercise judicial discretion, meaning that a person
charged with simple possession was 450% more likely to end up in jail in
1994 than in 1980. And the laws grow ever more brutal as the prison
population increases, giving the industry itself an ever more effective
voice in expanding itself at the expense of the society upon which it feeds.

Even if jail were the only punishment, it should be a massive deterrent to
drug use. Over the past decade, inflation-adjusted prices in the United
States fell about 50% for cocaine and 70% for heroin. Still, between 1989
and 1998, American users spent $39 billion to $77 billion yearly on cocaine
and $10 billion to $22 billion yearly on heroin -while in 1999 the United
States spent $147 billion for police protection, corrections, and judicial
and legal activities. Has the war worked? So you judge. Is the "war on
drugs" really "won"? Is it cost effective? My guess is that as a rational
person, you will answer "no". As we have seen, despite vast margins due to
their illegality, drugs are more available, at lower prices, with a larger
user population than ever before. Even allowing for inflation.

Meanwhile, all these prisoners have a direct cost to society. Just think,
the US has more prisoners per population unit than even the former Soviet
Union. We have around 690 prisoners per 100,000 citizens - and that is the
average. By comparison, that is almost 6 times Canada’s incarceration rate
(115), over 12 times Greece’s rate (55), 19 times Japan’s rate (37) and 29
times India’s rate of 24 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. These figures are
bad, racial disparity makes it worse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration reports that 13% of illicit drug users in the United
States are black. But according to DOJ figures, 35% of all arrests for drug
possession, 55% of all drug possession convictions and 74% of people
sentenced to jail for drug possession are black. A comparison from is telling. In South Africa under apartheid
(1993) 851 black adult men were incarcerated per 100,000. In the U.S. that
figure is 7,226 per 100,000. W!
hich is the most openly racist society left on Earth outside of Israel? If
the US is a candidate, ask yourself if this perhaps has a cost involved with

Using 1994 DOJ figures, each inmate costs society between $20,000 and
$60,000 per year. My memory is that we have previously seen European
estimates (based on Dutch and English experience) suggesting that drug abuse
treatment costs under $2,500 per abuser per year. Are the (much more
accessible) European medical system's costs hugely lower than those of the
US (another indictment if so) or is the "drug cost" argument already leaking
from every angle?

Raising taxes is unpopular, yet the money for the prison industry has to
come from somewhere. Which budgets do you think have been sliced to do so?
Education and health perhaps? Does this have a cost to society? How large?
Over and above the direct proportional decline of budget, would you think?

Now so far, we have only been talking about jail. And prison is certainly
not the only consequence of conviction. Somebody caught using drugs can
never obtain a government job (including the military), a government student
loan or even government assisted housing or social welfare. Obtaining a
minimum wage job (probably not holding any qualifications for more 67% of
those incarcerated don't even hold a high-school diploma) is difficult for a
convicted offender. Even those who earn (or perhaps engage in crime) a
comfortable living are vulnerable to draconian confiscation policies, which
can turn middle-class people into homeless paupers with a stroke of a
bureaucratic pen and even in the absence of a conviction. Many such people
are released from jail daily (where they haven't been permanently been
disposed of by ridiculous 3 strikes laws). They find their families broken
up (, their
assets stripped and their prosp!
ects non-existent. How are they to make a living? Especially when their cost
of living is quite probably higher than the person with a HUD apartment.
Most especially when they really have nothing to lose and presumably no love
for the society which destroyed them and leaves them no hope for a different
future. This wonderful society we have created even takes away their vote,
leaving them without a voice to raise a protest within the system. Much like
children, ex-inmates are stripped of their civil rights - and nobody says a

Wass your answer that, other options not being available, that perhaps they
turn to crime - or join-up to form gangs of similar outcasts preying upon
society. If so, does that have a cost - and who pays it? The politicians who
invented this system? The corporates who employ this forced labor (at rates
of pay averaging an effective dollar-per-hour after the state has taken its
80% cut)? Don't be funny. If there is a price, then society - which means
you and I - is footing it.

And now let us ask ourselves, would providing treatment programs be cheaper?
Maybe even free drugs for registered addicts? I'd be inclined to think so.
It certainly would do what successive administrations have claimed to be
doing - and statistics clearly show have not succeeded. Making the world a
safer place for everyone*.

Raising a plethora of unrelated things, which the speaker imagines are bad
(pollution, waste, etc), only serves to confuse an issue which has been more
than sufficiently confused already. The war on drugs has blatantly cost the
American population more than any other misguided initiative they have
engaged in (and in my judgement, as a nation, she has engaged in more than
her fair share of such).


*Perhaps we could ask the drug dealers to enter the world of legitimate drug
supplies and perhaps we might hope that they could reduce costs and increase
availability (while achieving exorbitant profits) to a similar extent that
they have managed while "underground."


All data in this essay is based on reports available from Federal agencies
most notably the DOJ, together with statistics and information from and both
excellent sites for drug related facts and information - for example, the
economic stat sheet ( makes
fasinating reading indeed.

This message was posted by Hermit to the Virus 2002 board on Church of Virus 

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