War on Drugs
As the debate over the extention of the Bush tax cuts heats up, with Obama Administration officials foolishly saying that their expiration will have no impact on a fragile economy, Dan Mitchell points out that the working class, lower and middle income earners, will be causualities of the War on the Rich:
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s approach is to look at tax policy only through the prism of class warfare. This means that some tax cuts can be extended, but only if there is no direct benefit to anybody making more than $200,000 or $250,000 per year. The folks at the White House apparently don’t understand, however, that higher direct costs on the “rich” will translate into higher indirect costs on the rest of us. Higher tax rates on work, saving, investment, and entrepreneurship will slow economic growth. And, because of compounding, even small changes in the long-run growth rate can have a significant impact on living standards within one or two decades. This is one of the reasons why high-tax European welfare states have lost ground in recent decades compared to the United States.
From the Wall Street Journal comes a story of two American males arrested on possession of marijuana. The alleged treatment of them seems like something straight of Iraq:
Those two men—Shohn Huckabee, 23 years old, and Carlos Quijas, 36—are being held in a Ciudad Juárez jail. They tell a different story about what happened that night. They say Mexican soldiers planted the marijuana in their truck. When they arrived at the military base, they say, they were blindfolded, tied up, hit with rifle butts, shocked with electricity and threatened with death.
Huckabee elaborates further:
Mr. Huckabee says he was subjected to similar tactics. “I believe what was done to me was torture,” he said in an interview. “When I did not answer their questions, they shocked me with a wire that was in my hands. My whole body froze up. The pain went from bearable to a point where I couldn’t even talk.”
Perhaps I’m looking too deep into this, but this seems like something from a new era. Growing up, the perception I always had was that mistreatment of an American citizen was an act of war. From Vietnam to the Iran Hostage Crisis, that was certainly how mistreatment of our citizens was interpreted.
Is there a zeitgeist shift going on here? Mexican authorities, representative of a country significantly tied to us economically, being belligerent enough to torture American citizens seems like one to me.
It seems to be more and more accepted that the United States is in decline, for an assortment of reasons to be sure. With that decline in economic and political power must come a decline in the fear once held by other countries. When the United States is no longer feared, its citizens are treated just like any others.
Michael Gerson, who served as a speechwriter for George W. Bush, is worried about the rise of libertarianism in the Republican Party:
The Republican wave carries along a group that strikes a faux revolutionary pose. “Our Founding Fathers,” says Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, “they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.”
Angle has managed to embrace the one Founding Father with a disturbing tolerance for the political violence of the French Revolution. “Rather than it should have failed,” enthused Jefferson, “I would have seen half the earth desolated.” Hardly a conservative model.
But mainstream conservatives have been strangely disoriented by Tea Party excess, unable to distinguish the injudicious from the outrageous. Some rose to Angle’s defense or attacked her critics. Just to be clear: A Republican Senate candidate has identified the United States Congress with tyranny and contemplated the recourse to political violence. This is disqualifying for public office. It lacks, of course, the seriousness of genuine sedition. It is the conservative equivalent of the Che Guevara T-shirt — a fashion, a gesture, a toying with ideas the wearer only dimly comprehends. The rhetoric of “Second Amendment remedies” is a light-weight Lexington, a cut-rate Concord. It is so far from the moral weightiness of the Founders that it mocks their memory.
A report from the BBC:
On Thursday, John Stossel discussed the War on Drugs on his weekly show on the Fox Business Channel, taking on the “convential wisdom” of drug warriors.
In case you missed it, you can watch the episode below. It starts off with Stossel debating the drug war with the resident statist at Fox News, Sean Hannity.
A very disturbing trend is occurring in the prosecution of the federal’s government’s “War on Drugs:” an additional war on the country’s canine companions. It started in Maryland in 2008 with the case of a small town mayor:
BERWYN HEIGHTS, Md. (AP) - Mayor Cheye Calvo got home from work, saw a package addressed to his wife on the front porch and brought it inside, putting it on a table.
Suddenly, police with guns drawn kicked in the door and stormed in, shooting to death the couple’s two dogs and seizing the unopened package.
The package had 32 pounds of marijuana, quite a bit of the illegal substance, but certainly not of more worth than the life of a pet.
The trend continued recently with the released video of a raid in Missouri in May, in which dogs can be heard howling as they are shot by a SWAT team:
(Click on the video to watch)
The next story comes with a raid on an elderly woman in D.C., resulting in the killing of her dog:
We often hear that the rise in immigration is related to crime, including violent crime. Is that true? A look at the evidence shows that border towns in the United States are actually seeing a drop in violent crime, despite increasing drug related violence in Mexico:
During the 1990s, immigration reached record highs and crime rates fell more precipitously than at any time in U.S. history. And cities with the largest increases in immigration between 1990 and 2000 experienced the largest decreases in rates of homicide and robbery.
The findings by Tim Wadsworth, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, contradict much of the public rhetoric about the relationship between immigration and crime.
As the Arizona Republic reported this month, violent crime in that state’s border towns has remained essentially flat during the past decade even as drug-trade violence on the other side of the border has burgeoned.
If higher rates of immigration were boosting crime rates, one would expect long-term studies to show crime rising and falling over time with the influx and exodus of immigrants. Instead, Wadsworth found the opposite.
Wadsworth’s work tested the hypothesis, famously advanced by Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson, that the rise in immigration could be related to the drop in crime rates.
Since the prohibition of drugs has apparently worked so well, Mexican President Calderon must be counting on a similar prohibition to seemingly obliterate the presence of weapons among Mexico’s narco-traffickers:
Washington (CNN) — Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed two of America’s most contentious political issues during a speech to the U.S. Congress Thursday, asking for a return of the assault weapons ban and blasting Arizona’s controversial new immigration law as a “terrible” endorsement of racial profiling.
Such a ban would certainly make it less likely that rural gun collectors will have their own “modern sporting rifles” but the idea that a prohibition would end the bootleg sale (and even manufacturing, as that might fall down to bootleggers just as drugs have) of these weapons seems like it’s putting alot of unwarranted faith in the capacity of law enforcement.
I live in the southern Bay Area, where gun crime is not an unknown, but common sense and life experience has shown that these bans do not work. A smarter move for policymakers would be to look into some sort of “third way,” to coin a phrase of anti-communist European socialists, in which the government works in cooperation with sellers and manufacturers so that guns are less likely to end up circulating in urban environments.
The Associated Press has discovered that the War on Drugs has been a failure, costing American taxpayers over a trillion dollars in the process:
After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.
Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked.
“In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,” Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. “Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.”
This week President Obama promised to “reduce drug use and the great damage it causes” with a new national policy that he said treats drug use more as a public health issue and focuses on prevention and treatment.
Nevertheless, his administration has increased spending on interdiction and law enforcement to record levels both in dollars and in percentage terms; this year, they account for $10 billion of his $15.5 billion drug-control budget.
The United States could learn from Portugal, where use of recreational drugs has been decriminalized since 2001. The experiment has been largely successful as drug use has dropped among teens and the focus has turned to rehabilitation over incarceration for drug abusers.