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«Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_75 rev1 page 75 PART THREE Perspectives No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of ...»

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Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_75 rev1 page 75



No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of

society. If we’re looking for the sources of our troubles, we

shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for

stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

P. J. O’Rourke

Give War A Chance

A lot of people say that we have a heavy sentence for this

crime and light sentence for another crime, and what we

ought to do is reduce the heavy sentence so it’s more in line with the other. Wrong. In most cases we ought to increase the light sentence and make it compatible with the heavy sentence, and be serious about punishment because we are becoming too tolerant as a society.

Rush Limbaugh Show Transcript October 5, 1995 Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_76 rev1 page 76 Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_77 rev1 page 77 Academic There’s No Justice in the War on Drugs Milton Friedman Milton Friedman is the recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize for economic science and a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

This selection first appeared in the New York Times, January 11, 1998.

Twenty-five years ago, President Richard M. Nixon announced a “War on Drugs.” I criticized the action on both moral and expediential grounds in my Newsweek column of May 1, 1972, “Prohibition

and Drugs”:

On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict? For children, almost everyone would answer at least a qualified yes. But for responsible adults, I, for one, would answer no. Reason with the potential addict, yes. Tell him the consequences, yes. Pray for and with him, yes. But I believe that we have no right to use force, directly or indirectly, to prevent a fellow man from committing suicide, let alone from drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

That basic ethical flaw has inevitably generated specific evils during the past quarter century, just as it did during our earlier attempt at alcohol prohibition.

1. The use of informers. Informers are not needed in crimes like robbery and murder because the victims of those crimes have a strong incentive to report the crime. In the drug trade, the crime consists of a transaction between a willing buyer and willing seller. Neither has any incentive to report a violation of law. On the contrary, it is Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company. Reprinted by permission.

Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_78 rev1 page 78

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in the self-interest of both that the crime not be reported. That is why informers are needed. The use of informers and the immense sums of money at stake inevitably generate corruption—as they did during Prohibition. They also lead to violations of the civil rights of innocent people, to the shameful practices of forcible entry and forfeiture of property without due process.

As I wrote in 1972: “... addicts and pushers are not the only ones corrupted. Immense sums are at stake. It is inevitable that some relatively low-paid police and other government officials—and some high-paid ones as well—will succumb to the temptation to pick up easy money.

2. Filling the prisons. In 1970, 200,000 people were in prison.

Today, 1.6 million people are. Eight times as many in absolute number, six times as many relative to the increased population. In addition, 2.3 million are on probation and parole. The attempt to prohibit drugs is by far the major source of the horrendous growth in the prison population.

There is no light at the end of that tunnel. How many of our citizens do we want to turn into criminals before we yell “enough”?

3. Disproportionate imprisonment of blacks. Sher Hosonko, at the time Connecticut’s director of addiction services, stressed this effect

of drug prohibition in a talk given in June 1995:

Today in this country, we incarcerate 3,109 black men for every 100,000 of them in the population. Just to give you an idea of the drama in this number, our closest competitor for incarcerating black men is South Africa. South Africa—and this is pre–Nelson Mandela and under an overt public policy of apartheid—incarcerated 723 black men for every 100,000. Figure this out: In the land of the Bill of Rights, we jail over four times as many black men as the only country in the world that advertised a political policy of apartheid.

4. Destruction of inner cities. Drug prohibition is one of the most important factors that have combined to reduce our inner cities to Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_79 rev1 page 79

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their present state. The crowded inner cities have a comparative advantage for selling drugs. Though most customers do not live in the inner cities, most sellers do. Young boys and girls view the swaggering, affluent drug dealers as role models. Compared with the returns from a traditional career of study and hard work, returns from dealing drugs are tempting to young and old alike. And many, especially the young, are not dissuaded by the bullets that fly so freely in disputes between competing drug dealers—bullets that fly only because dealing drugs is illegal. Al Capone epitomizes our earlier attempt at Prohibition; the Crips and Bloods epitomize this one.

5. Compounding the harm to users. Prohibition makes drugs exorbitantly expensive and highly uncertain in quality. A user must associate with criminals to get the drugs, and many are driven to become criminals themselves to finance the habit. Needles, which are hard to get, are often shared, with the predictable effect of spreading disease. Finally, an addict who seeks treatment must confess to being a criminal in order to qualify for a treatment program. Alternatively, professionals who treat addicts must become informers or criminals themselves.

6. Undertreatment of chronic pain. The Federal Department of Health and Human Services has issued reports showing that two thirds of all terminal cancer patients do not receive adequate pain medication, and the numbers are surely higher in nonterminally ill patients. Such serious undertreatment of chronic pain is a direct result of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s pressures on physicians who prescribe narcotics.

7. Harming foreign countries. Our drug policy has led to thousands of deaths and enormous loss of wealth in countries like Colombia, Peru, and Mexico, and has undermined the stability of their governments. All because we cannot enforce our laws at home.

If we did, there would be no market for imported drugs. There would be no Cali cartel. The foreign countries would not have to suffer the loss of sovereignty involved in letting our “advisers” and troops operate Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_80 rev1 page 80

80 Perspectives

on their soil, search their vessels, and encourage local militaries to shoot down their planes. They could run their own affairs, and we, in turn, could avoid the diversion of military forces from their proper function.

Can any policy, however high-minded, be moral if it leads to widespread corruption, imprisons so many, has so racist an effect, destroys our inner cities, wreaks havoc on misguided and vulnerable individuals, and brings death and destruction to foreign countries?

Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_81 rev1 page 81 Don’t Surrender: The drug war worked once. It can again.

–  –  –

William J. Bennett is a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation and served as the first national drug czar in the Reagan administration.

This selection originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2001.

George W. Bush recently announced the nomination of John P.

Walters to serve as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The new “drug czar” is being asked to lead the nation’s war on illegal drugs at a time when many are urging surrender.

The forms of surrender are manifold: Buzzwords like “harm reduction” are crowding out clear no-use messages. State initiatives promoting “medical marijuana” are little more than thinly veiled legalization efforts. The film Traffic portrayed the war on drugs as a futile effort. In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 74% of Americans believe the war on drugs is a failure.

And yet recent history shows that, far from being a failure, drugcontrol programs are among the most successful public-policy efforts of the later half of the 20th century. According to a national drug survey, between 1979 and 1992, the most intense period of antidrug efforts, the rate of illegal drug use dropped by more than half, while marijuana use decreased by two-thirds. Cocaine use dropped by threefourths between 1985 and 1992.

Why is this record described as a failure? For those who would legalize drugs, all drug-control efforts must be painted as disastrous.

Copyright 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_82 rev1 page 82

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But for most Americans, frustration with the drug issue stems from the fact that over the past eight years we have lost ground.

During the Clinton administration, our nation’s drug policy suffered a period of malign neglect. President Clinton’s two clearest statements about illegal drugs were his infamous statement “I didn’t inhale” and his immediate and dramatic cut in the size of the federal antidrug staff. Morale and political leadership were both compromised, and a national cynicism about drug use resulted.

Hiring a four-star general may have fooled the public and the Washington press corps for a while, but it didn’t add up to a meaningful program.

To paraphrase Arthur Miller, attention was not paid, and the problem quickly worsened: Between 1992 and 1999, rates of current drug use—defined as using once a month or more—increased by 15%. Rates of marijuana use increased 11%. The situation was far worse among our children: Lifetime use of illegal drugs increased by 37% among eighth-graders and 55% among 10th-graders. We have reached the point where more than one-quarter of all high school seniors are current users of illegal drugs; indeed, rates of monthly drug use among high school seniors increased 86% between 1992 and 1999.

We must re-engage this fight. What we were doing in the 1980s and early 1990s—vigorous law enforcement and interdiction coupled with effective prevention and treatment—worked. It can work again.

The most important component of any antidrug strategy is prevention. Children who reach the age of 21 without using illegal drugs are almost certain never to do so. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America has crafted some of the most memorable and effective advertisements in history, encouraging children to turn down illegal drugs.

The message that drug use is dangerous and immoral is the essential key to prevention.

In addition, we must continue to develop effective treatment programs. Many criticisms have been leveled at America’s lack of treatHoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_83 rev2 page 83

Don’t Surrender 83

ment capacity, but more troubling is the lack of treatment efficacy.

However, 12-step programs (akin to Alcoholics Anonymous) have been shown to be both inexpensive and effective in private-sector drug treatment. Hopefully, their success can be extended to public-sector treatment as well.

Everyone agrees on the necessity of effective treatment and strong prevention efforts. Some people, however, believe that law enforcement should have no role in the process. This is an altogether simplistic model: Demand reduction cannot be effective without supply reduction.

It is true that there will always be a supply of illegal drugs as long as there is a demand. But forceful interdiction can help to increase the price and decrease the purity of drugs available, a critical means of intervening in the lives of addicts, who can only beg, borrow, and steal so much to support their habit. Government reports document that recovering addicts are more likely to relapse when faced with cheap, plentiful drugs. Aggressive interdiction efforts, then, are not supply reduction so much as the first step in demand reduction.

Some people will admit that there is a place for law enforcement, but contend we spend too much on this effort, to the detriment of demand reduction. In fact, according to Robert DuPont, who led the nation’s antidrug efforts under Presidents Nixon and Ford, there has never been as much federal money spent on prevention education as is being spent today. The United States’ total spending on drugdemand reduction far exceeds the amounts spent in the rest of the world combined.

A more pragmatic point: While treatment is often centered at the individual and local levels, interdiction and law enforcement must be federal responsibilities. Given the scope and complexity of drug trafficking, the federal government can and must assume the responsibility for stopping the traffic of drugs across and within our borders.

The drug czar’s first concerns, then, must be interdiction and law Hoover Press : Huggins/Deadlock hhugdw ch3 Mp_84 rev1 page 84

84 Perspectives

enforcement, if only because they are tasks no other agency can perform as effectively.

I believe that the position of drug czar ought to remain at the cabinet level, but more important is the president’s personal support and commitment to the office. I had that backing, and I expect the new drug czar will enjoy that same support and commitment from Mr. Bush. If Mr. Walters is to have any success, he must enjoy it.

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