Where Is My Soros Money?

The Office of National Drug Control Policy is citing recent increases in cocaine prices as evidence that the war on drugs is (finally!) working. "On average at all levels of the supply chain," USA Today reports, "the price jumped 24% between January and June 2007." Retail prices rose only 15 percent during the same period, but purity also declined somewhat, according to the DEA. "If the price of cocaine goes up, it might bar entry [into drug use] by young people who simply cannot afford it," says DEA intelligence chief Tony Placido. "The real challenge will be how long we can preserve this trend."

If history is any guide, not very long. In 2005 ONDCP Director John Walters trumpeted what proved to be a temporary increase in cocaine prices. He was quieter about an 11-percent price drop between February 2005 and October 2006 that was accompanied by an increase in purity. The ONDCP may be right that the recent price spike has something to do with disruption caused by the Mexican government's crackdown on traffickers who carry Colombian cocaine to the U.S. (One reason for the disruption: The crackdown has intensified violence along the U.S.-Mexican border.) Over the long term, however, the black market always adjusts. If pressure on trans-Mexican smuggling continues, traffickers may switch to other, less risky routes, but there is little reason to expect a lasting effect on retail prices, let alone one that will lead to a noticeable reduction in cocaine consumption. The average retail price paid in undercover DEA buys, about $120 per gram last summer, is around one-fifth what it was in the early 1980s (taking inflation into account).

Still, interdiction looks like a smashing success next to so-called eradication:

Analysts found that Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, the main source countries for the U.S. cocaine supply, are growing and shipping the same amount of cocaine as in previous years.

"There is not more or less cocaine entering the pipeline," Placido says. Instead, he says, Mexican authorities apparently are stopping [some of] the cocaine before it gets to the USA.

Although you would not think the experience with crop eradication in Latin America would inspire imitation, the U.S. government is pressuring Afghanistan to copy the Colombian model of drug control, including aerial spraying of opium poppies with herbicide. According to the lead story in today's New York Times, initially reluctant Afghan officials show signs of yielding to American demands, despite the likelihood that stepped-up anti-drug efforts will alienate farmers and further strengthen the Taliban. 

In light of all this progress, a recent Investor's Business Daily editorial declares "Victory Over Drugs," while worrying that "naysayers" funded by George Soros have hidden the triumphant truth from the American people by dominating press coverage of the war on drugs. After 20 or so years of writing about this subject, I've noticed more than a few flaws in drug policy reporting, but mindless echoing of anti-prohibitionist talking points is not one of them.

Disclosure: I once sought a book grant from a Soros-funded program, but I did not get it. I did get a journalism award from the Soros-funded Drug Policy Alliance, but it did not come with any money. I guess this is really more of a complaint than a disclosure.

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  • ||

    In light of all this progress, a recent Investor's Business Daily editorial declares "Victory Over Drugs," while worrying that "naysayers" funded by George Soros have hidden the triumphant truth from the American people by dominating press coverage of the war on drugs.

    The Soros funded naysayers is that group that calls itself Media Matters right. It must be because Bill O'Really keeps telling me so.

  • T||

    In light of all this progress, a recent Investor's Business Daily editorial declares "Victory Over Drugs,"

    No, the Onion called this one correctly years ago. Drugs have won the war. The government needs to quit this futile dead-ender strategy.

  • ||

    Toilet paper purchases are slightly down this month. Americans are finally quitting that awful shitting habit they've been harboring for over 200 years!

  • Anonymo the Anonymous||

    Anyone want to explain to John Walters what happens to the supply of a commodity following a spike in price?

    I sure don't.

  • ||

    I find it depressing, yet anticpated, that George Soros has dontated to the 2008 Presidential race of Barak Obama and his brother Paul has donated to both Obama and Biden, neither of which has called for the outright end of the Drug War, in direct conflict with the stated goals of the Soros foundation. Again, disappointing but expected.

  • OTC addict||

    I really blame the high price of cocaine on the drug lords. If they would just invest in the gene splicing technology already in use, they could grow cocaine in pretty much any plant. Same thing for thc, morphine, ephedrine-yes it can be plant based, sassafras oil (mdma precusor), etc. There is no reason for drugs to be as expensive as they are.

  • ||

    x

  • ||

    err...

    "The real challenge will be how long we can preserve this trend."

    That smarmy bastard.

    Any percent increase in the cost of cocaine is not equal to one innocent life lost in a botched drug raid.

  • ||

    amen Taktix,
    The real question is what gives the Federal government the fundamental right to be fighting this war?
    What is threatened by drugs?
    We know what is threatened by turf wars, but they are not caused by drugs; rather by the war on drugs.

    I try to call media people on it whenever I hear them say, "drug related violence." It is never drug related. It is always drug war related violence.

  • Underzog||

    Soros is an efficient businessman. He needs people that get results in his attempt to bust the bubble of American supremacy.

    He has "Moveon," "Media Matters," "Center for American progress"; etc. He doesn't need you clowns.

    No offense guys, but you're laughable.

    "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here."

  • ||

    OTC addict,
    Hadn't thought of that before. My eyes mist at the vision of fields of genetically engineered corn. It will be cocaine and ethanol for everybody.

  • Gul Dukat||

    "No, the Onion called this one correctly years ago. Drugs have won the war."

    A people should know when they are beaten.

  • ||

    I try to call media people on it whenever I hear them say, "drug related violence." It is never drug related. It is always drug war related violence.

    No, it's drug war CAUSED violence.

  • ||

    Aww, we had been so troll-free until now...

  • ||

    $120 a gram? Jeez, are they sending out the same guys who bought the $600 toilet seats for the Department of Defense?

  • Stephen||

    I'm skeptical about these prices. In Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and upstate New York -- the only places I've ever been in long enough to know people involved in buying cocaine -- it's ALWAYS between $50-70/gram. Now, purity is highly variable, so maybe this $120/gram is for 100% pure cocaine? But then why do they say that the level of purity has gone down? If these agents think that $120 is a good street retail price for anything less than 100% pure cocaine, their statistics aren't worth a damn.

    Anyway, another reason I'm skeptical is that DEA agents really don't have any interest in getting the best deal -- they'll get their arrest no matter what. Why would you bargain with someone if you're just going to hand them marked bills and later arrest them? Also, organizations have made claims about the potency of marijuana rising when this is patently false (they were just never able to come across good shit -- which is usually not smuggled across the border, and thus much, MUCH harder to find).

  • Jerry||

    Of course, if you are a smart drug user, you could have hedged against the price of cocaine using some portfolio of legit drug companies.

  • ||

    "A people should know when they are beaten."

    So long as people are able to cling to their hysteria, they will never be "beaten."

  • ||

    Uhhh. . . Stephen, have we hung out in Philly? LOL

  • ||

    "A people should know when they are beaten."

    Well, I plan to greet drugs as liberators. The rest of you are just dead-enders in the last throes of your insurgency.

  • ||

    BTW, I think the numbers for drug busts are inflated to make the problem sound bigger for the public. When they find hundreds of pounds of pot, and they say that the bust was $500,000 worth (or whatever figure they use), it's idiotic since they do not take into account economies of scale. A shipment of a million tabs of Ecstasy was taken down, and the DEA claimed that that was $15 million worth of drugs, since people regularly pay $15-20 a roll. Totally silly.

  • JBinMO||

    "No, the Onion called this one correctly years ago. Drugs have won the war."

    There was a surrender ceremony on a battel ship. George Bush on on side of the table, a couple of scrawny fidgity guys on the other....

  • ||

    Aww, we had been so troll-free until now...

    My troll interdiction plan is working. On other previous threads, more trolls made their way in, spreading their mind-corrupting posts. With stepped up patrols, and better anti-troll weapons, this is changing. If some innocent posters get caught in our web, it's a small price to pay for cleaner, brighter threads for those of us who are not here to be assholes. Oh, and our children. We just need to stay the course, and trolls and their evil, life-destroying statements will be a thing of the past.

    Eventually.

    Oh, and I need more money.

  • ||

    I, for one, welcome our psychoactive overlords.

  • ||

    ...the U.S. government is pressuring Afghanistan to copy the Colombian model of drug control, including aerial spraying of opium poppies with herbicide. ...initially reluctant Afghan officials show signs of yielding to American demands, despite the likelihood that stepped-up anti-drug efforts will alienate farmers and further strengthen the Taliban.

    Wow. I'd like to scream. Our drug policy is so f**king stupid, I have to suspect the people who came up with it were stoned out of their minds.

  • ||


    J sub D | October 8, 2007, 7:37pm | #

    I, for one, welcome our psychoactive overlords.



    As opposed to our present, actively psycho overlords.

  • ||

    isuldur
    A (legal) drug is liberating me as I speak.
    In an hour or two, I will become a troll needing to be stomped.
    What goes around comes around.

  • ||

    Let me apologize for my above comment. Most people who use drugs are nowhere near as stupid as our anti-drug planners, even when they're high.

  • ||

    Aresen, LOL, you cynical bastard.

  • ||

    "If the price of cocaine goes up, it might bar entry [into drug use] by young people who simply cannot afford it," says DEA intelligence chief Tony Placido.

    Well, they can't afford it unless they mug a few more people, I guess. Oh yeah, doesn't forcing drug prices up mean the terrorists are getting more drug money now too?

    Say it, Tony: "I am a terrorist."

  • Mith||

    "I guess this is really more of a complaint than a disclosure."

    That made me laugh really hard...

  • ||

    Yeah. I'm still looking for John Cynical. He owes me years of child support.

    In any case, it's Turkey Day here and I'm off to gorge on the eviserated and roasted carcass of a deceased domesticated avian.

    [In the words of Johnny Hart: "It may be Thanksgiving to you, but to the turkeys it's the St. Valentine's Day Massacre."]

  • bill||

    "If the price of cocaine goes up, it might bar entry [into drug use] by young people who simply cannot afford it," says DEA intelligence chief Tony Placido.

    Good thing meth is still cheap. Don't want the kiddies to go without. IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN!

  • ||

    Good thing meth is still cheap. Don't want the kiddies to go without. IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN!

    Yeah, not to mention Ritalin and Adderall. And certain funny "Dutch" cigarettes of course which I know absolutely nothing about!

  • ||

    A hit of Acid still costs just as much as it did 10 years ago...

  • ||

    A hit of Acid still costs just as much as it did 10 years ago...

    I read all the acid humanity will ever need was made in the 1960s. I wonder if its true.

  • ||

    Cesar, I suspect they made enough so that if it kept its potency, it could get everyone high forever. According to Wikipedia, the dosage of a hit is ~30 micrograms, meaning one gram of LSD would provide 33,333 hits, and a kilo would provide 33,333,333 hits.

    LSD, like a lot of drugs, loses potency over time. I don't know if any made in the 60's would still be useable.

  • ||

    LSD, like a lot of drugs, loses potency over time. I don't know if any made in the 60's would still be useable.

    Exposed to air, it degrades into strychnine after a few days, so unlikely...

  • ||

    Taktix®: you never know, though. Some hippy might have set aside a hermetically sealed kilo in a cryogenic lab somewhere - waitin' for the revolution.

  • ||

    $120/gm.? WTF? Last time I bought it here in Arizona (6 months ago) it cost me $100/3.5gm. That's only $28.57/gm. and the quality was quite good. Mind you, I bought 10.5gm's because I was heading to Vegas for the weekend, but still...

    That's a big improvement over the price 10 years ago when I moved to Europe (where price and quality stink).

  • Paul||

    "If the price of cocaine goes up, it might bar entry [into drug use] by young people who simply cannot afford it," says DEA intelligence chief Tony Placido. "The real challenge will be how long we can preserve this trend."

    I take it that DEA intel chief Tony Placido is very, very young and has no sense of history.

  • ||

    Taktix®: "Exposed to air, it degrades into strychnine after a few days, so unlikely..."

    The strychnine - lsd thing is an urban legend. It doesn't degrade into anything toxic.

  • ||

    free markets, freer minds?

    or

    free minds, freer markets?

  • T||

    A hit of Acid still costs just as much as it did 10 years ago...

    So no inflation? Damn. That'd be good to know if I still did drugs.

  • ||

    Glad to see others have commented about $120/gram being a ridulously high price! Here in SC it's about half that and was much cheaper when I lived in San Diego. If I was a dealer and the buyer didn't balk at that price, I would be suspicious!

  • Ben Bernanke\'s helicopter||

    Uh... hasn't the price of milk gone up about just as much? The price of the Euro certainly has (in dollars.)

    Blame The Federal Reserve's quiet superinflation of M3... the price of all international commodities are spiraling up in dollar terms...

  • han||

    That even if Kambakhsh did insult the Prophet

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