Last week Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) requested $100 million to fight the heroin "epidemic" by going after traffickers in New York. In my latest Forbes column, I argue that Schumer's description of the problem is misleading and that his solution is bound to fail. Here is how the column starts:
Last week Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked for "an emergency $100 million surge" in federal funding to "to quickly combat the fact that New York City has become the hotbed for the East Coast heroin trade." Schumer declared that "heroin trafficking and usage are at epidemic levels," adding that "seizures of heroin in New York City in 2014 have already surpassed those of any previous year since 1991, which demonstrates an alarming trend that we must nip in the bud."
Depending on how you define epidemic, you may or may not agree with Schumer's description of the problem. But it is abundantly clear from a century of efforts to suppress the heroin trade that his solution—more spending on supply-side measures such as seizing heroin and prosecuting heroin dealers—is doomed to fail.