Hey, How's the Drug War Going?


Afghanistan is trying to systematically destroy its biggest source of income. AP has a progress report:

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan has hit record levels—up by more than 40 percent from 2005—despite hundreds of millions in counternarcotics money, Western officials told The Associated Press…

"It is a significant increase from last year … unfortunately, it is a record year," said a senior U.S. government official based in Kabul, who like the other Western officials would speak only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive topic…

In response, the Afghan government has developed a fool-proof plan: more prisons!

Next week, the Afghan government will present a wide-ranging anti-drugs strategy. Officials are moving to amend laws, train judges and prosecutors, build high security prisons and establish special courts for drug barons and senior drug smugglers.


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  1. Would someone explain to me why it wouldn’t work to simply use the money to just buy the drugs from the farmers? I can’t imagine the trafficers pay much, and couldn’t it then be made into legal narcotics?

  2. PapayaSF,
    Where I live there used to be bounties on rattle snakes, until it was discovered that some enterprizing people were breeding them for the bounty. If we bought up the entire crop, it would only encourage more growers.
    The growers will soon realize that the supply is not being purchased due to any market demand, but by an unlimited prohibitionist demand to buy it off the market.

    A bidding war will occur between government buyers and the illegal drug marketeers, prices and profits will rise, other growing locations will be found.

    The drug war continues as before. Life goes on.

  3. PapayaSF just illustrated how a lack of understanding of economics is one of the reasons we are stuck with the WOD.
    Does everybody here understand why legalization would take drug dealers off street corners?

  4. I agree with Ruthless. Just look at what legalization did for hot dogs.

  5. NoStar:
    I tend to think that your Bidding War hypothesis is correct. More buyers competing will only drive the prices up even higher.

    I do. If they were legal, the price would go way down and then it might be more profitable to grow wheat over there and dealers on the corner could make more money stocking shelves at Wal Mart. It sure seems to me to be the best solution.

    Just because everybody could use drugs – were they not illegal – doesn’t mean that they would use them. And if they didn’t cost so much in the first place then there wouldn’t be the same motivation to kill others in turf wars or hold up a 7-Eleven for drug money.

  6. NoStar: it’s not that kooky an idea. To wit, most of the black market markup is at the import and wholesale distribution stage, not at the farmgate. If there’s a bidding war, then the profit margins for the cartels drop. There’s a point beyond which it’s not feasible to accept a risky venture, only tolerated due to the profits.

  7. daksya,
    Except that (as i stated before) new growing areas will be found. After US sprayed paraquat on Mexican fields, even better bud was grown in B.C. Canada. The profit margins produced by a black market can only be reduced by legalization.

  8. daksya: Exactly. We could probably outbid the cartels for the raw material for less than what we now spend for the poor results we are getting.

    Everybody else: Yes, I understand the libertarian preference for legalization and the silliness of much of the WOD. Do you understand the political infeasibility of legalizing opium? I see my suggestion as a semi-legalization, one that doesn’t fix all problems but might help in Afghanistan.

  9. Yeah, it might help in Afghanistan but poppies aren’t that hard to grow and cultivation will move to a new location. Then the government will have to buy twice as much to make the plan work. When the growers find a new area, there will be three times as much to buy…

    Do you see the problem with your solution yet?

  10. “one that doesn’t fix all problems but might help in Afghanistan.”

    In addition to what NoStar is trying patiently to teach you, do you think the world really cares about Afghanistan?
    Like Colombia, it’s just another rathole for quietly pouring US tax dollars.
    It’s “earmarked.”

  11. Ruthless is pretty close to right. We certanly need drug-producing states with their militarized conflicts to justify all the government jobs we need to pay for here in the US to pick a winner in the theaters of operations.

    Legalizing drugs wouldn’t help much as regulating them like OTC drugs/alcohol would create a whole different black market, and likely a domestic one. At least the DEA wouldn’t have to travel as much…

  12. When these drugs were legal, some of the supply was used for legit medical purposes, a few people bought it to get high, and that was about it.

    After legalization, the producers with higher costs would be driven out of business by the lower cost producers. As the producers become more affluent, their labor costs rise, and they are in turn driven out of the market by producers in more impoverished areas.

    It’s much better than the war on poverty. It’s a great way for third world countries to get income.

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