February 21, 2006

War on Drugs: Demand & Supply

It should be clear that America's drug problem is homegrown and that any effort to combat it must be centered here. We must confront the real source of our problem, the demand for drugs. Frequently, American government officials prefer to criticize other countries that supply the American people with drugs rather than dealing with the demand for drugs in their native soil. The less than creditable John Negroponte the U.S. Director of Intelligence is the most recent.
A vicious cycle can develop in which a weakened government enables criminals to dangerously undercut the state’s credibility and authority. [..]

We are particularly concerned about this cycle in countries on the other side of the world, such as Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Burma, and those close to home, such as in Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico. About 90 percent of detected cocaine destined for the US was smuggled through the Mexico– Central America corridor; nearly all Mexican heroin is for the US market; and Mexico is the primary foreign supplier of marijuana and methamphetamine to the US.
With recent discovery of tunnels connecting Mexico and the United States which was use to smuggle drugs, the steady stream of illegal immigrants crossing the border and national security concerns leads to calls for border fence.
"You have to be able to enforce your borders," says California Rep. Duncan Hunter, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He's proposing a fence from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas. "It's no longer just an immigration issue. It's now a national security issue."
Leaving aside the topics of immigration and national security building a border fence will not stop the demand for drugs here in America. As long as a demand exists for illegal drugs, a supply will exist to meet it. Supply reduction efforts fails to reduce drug abuse because of what experts call the "balloon effect" - squeeze drug production in one area of the world, and price incentive cause it to pop up somewhere else.
Rumsfeld recently told Members of Congress that the United States would be better off reducing demand at home rather than chasing drug production around the globe. "If demand persists, it's going to find ways to get what it wants," Rumsfeld told members, "And if it isn't from Colombia, it's going to be from someplace else." -- January 12, 2001
Stopping drugs from entering United States from Colombia, Mexico or anywhere else in the world should continue to be a focal point, but an equal amount of the government and American peoples efforts should also focus on reducing the demand for drugs.

This an election year, one of the questions I will ask any candidates Democrat or Republican running for office is do you have any demand side policies or ideas to deal with the problems of drugs in America?


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