Government Shutdown

The DEA, an 'Utter Failure' by Obama's Own Admission, Will Stay Open No Matter What


Last March Mother Jones, which usually inveighs against the war on drugs, discovered its inner prohibitionist, warning that "More Cocaine Could Soon Be on Our Streets, Thanks to the Sequester." Its "48 Ways a Government Shutdown Will Screw You Over," by contrast, does not include compromising the government's ability to insert itself between you and the psychoactive substances you want—possibly because the Drug Enforcement Administration will remain on the job no matter what happens. According to the Justice Department's current contingency plan, 87 percent of the DEA's staff will be exempt from furloughs because "DEA investigations need to continue uninterrupted so that cases are not compromised and the health and safety of the American public is not placed at risk."

For those who question the connection between DEA investigations and the health and safety of the American public, a fortuitously timed BMJ study provides new ammunition. Looking at data on drug price, purity, and seizures from seven different sources since 1990, a team of Canadian and American researchers finds little evidence that the work of agencies like the DEA has anything to do with the availability of arbitrarily proscribed intoxicants, let alone health and safety:

In the United States, cannabis seizures have increased by 465 per cent between 1990 and 2009. Despite this, the average inflation- and potency-adjusted prices of cannabis decreased by 86 per cent over the same period, and the average potency of the drug increased by 161 per cent. In addition, the average inflation- and purity-adjusted prices of heroin and cocaine decreased by 81 per cent and 80 per cent respectively, whereas average purity increased by 60 per cent and 11 per cent. This occurred despite the fact that seizures of these drugs in major production regions outside of the U.S. generally increased. Similar trends were observed in Europe, where during the same period the average inflation-adjusted price of opiates and cocaine decreased by 74 per cent and 51 per cent respectively….

With few exceptions and despite increasing investments in enforcement-based supply reduction efforts aimed at disrupting global drug supply, illegal drug prices have generally decreased while drug purity has generally increased since 1990. These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing.

In other words, drug warriors are falling abysmally short of their own avowed goals, leaving aside any moral compunctions about using force to stop people from altering their consciousness in ways you don't like. This is Barack Obama's idea of essential government services—or, as he used to call it, "an utter failure."

NEXT: Obama Rejects Republican Efforts to Partially Reopen Government

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  1. I’d rather have the Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone open than the DEA, if it comes to that. SLD, of course.

  2. I bet the guy who was scheduled to give an antidrug speech at an elementary school gets furloughed, while the door-kicking guys stay on the job.

  3. I was going to say earlier today that fedgov response to the shutdown, in particular which operations are deemed ‘critical’ and thus stay open for business, would give us a negotiating point with the big gov folks. Something like this: “OK, let’s just let gov be involved in the critical tasks, as defined by the last shutdown. We survived that just fine, right?” Unfortunately, it appears my definition of “critical functions” and fedgov’s definition are so far apart as to be a nonstarter.

  4. Of course it will. You know how much money police unions give to the Democrats?

  5. I am interested to learn: Who here is a gov employee of some sort? Please denote state, fed, local, etc. I am simply curious – I know a some gov employees that are strongly libertarian (I am a state U employee myself).

    1. Or gov contractor of some sort.

      1. I am an accountant. I defend peoples’ businesses from the feds.

      2. Engineer for a defense contractor. Haven’t been effected by the shutdown, and probably won’t be (not directly anyway).

    2. I am a fed. I am sure some on here would say I am not strongly libertarian. But I certainly am for a fed.

      I sort of fell into being a fed. Loved being in the military but couldn’t stay anymore after I got married and the feds offered the best job. And for the record I am all for the shutdown. I will dip into my savings and stop eating out to bring some sanity to Washington.

      1. I have a family member that is fed, and he is pretty strongly libertarian. He has a colleague that is also libertarian.

        1. I think all L’s I know that are gov employees are all for the shutdown, too. My experience is that L’s tend to value personal gain pretty highly, but not above principle.

    3. Spouse works for quasi gov’t entity with BLM roots. Offspring-in-Law works for FBI. One of offspring Naval reserves.

    4. Computer programmer for a Bioinformatics Lab in my state university.

  6. Just the other day, I saw an article (sponsored by my friendly neighborhood interagency regional drug task force) about the looming epidemic of heroin addiction in Montana. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it ran roughly in the vein of, “Drug arrests for heroin DOUBLED from fifteen to thirty; we’re DOOMED!” Without the DEA to protect us, every single child in America will be addicted to heroin by the end of the week.

    1. Yup – I’m addicted now. Once the shutdown started, I couldn’t stop myself from shooting up. No government agent came to stop me. Those of you who think the shutdown doesn’t have negative consequences, just try to do something illegal right this moment, and see if anyone stops you.

      You see? Told you! Nobody stopped you! Anarchy!

  7. I can picture the MoJo editors being torn over this one. “Drug war bad, but…but…but government shutdown MORE bad!”

    1. Not as difficult as you imagine, they just measure how rigid their anti-conservative boner is with each position. After all, there are some conservatives who have come around on the Drug War.

  8. Did the government shut-down cause a disappearance of alt text? Because if so, it might have gone too far.

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