Angels in America: John Walters, the lesser angel
In a bizarre article drug whiner in chief John Walters, apparently "exasperated by pessimism about the war on drugs'' said: 'Washington is awash with lobbyists hired by businesses worried that government may, intentionally or inadvertently, make them unprofitable. So why assume that the illicit drug trade is the one business that government, try as it might, cannot seriously injure?'
Perhaps inadvertently, Mr. Walters may be asking the right question. The main problem is that he may not be able to accept the answer. As Walters indicates, many businesses are hiring lobbyists to influence legislation in order to remain profitable. The problem with the drug industry is that it is illegal, and the profitability of the industry is a direct result of that prohibition. As per The Economist, , the drug industry can buy 610 KG of coca leaves for US$610 from poor Bolivian farmers, and process it into one KG of cocaine powder, a product carrying a price tag of US$110K once it hits the eager nostrils of users. With profit margins like that to preserve, the last thing the drug lords want is legalization. Indeed, given the economic results of prohibition, paraphernalia is starting to suspect that lobbyists are hired by drug lords to support prohibition, rather than the opposite. As per a recent report
endorsed by 500 economists, including right-wing legend Milton Friedman, legalization of marijuana alone would save about US$7 billion in government expenses, while taxation would bring in at least US$2 billion in revenues. Do you really think drug lords want that money to go to the government? Actually, would drug lords even exist under legalization? The answer, provided by the example of alcohol, is straightforward. Who drinks moonshine nowadays?
Of course, fact-based policy is not what Walters is about. Having studied political philosophy at the University of Toronto is apparently credential enough for Walters to describe the drug war in "Lincolnian" language: 'There are certain requirements of civilization -- to keep the better angels of our nature in preponderance over the lesser angels.'
Paraphernalia agrees. We also like better angels in preponderance over our lesser angels (whatever that means). We just don’t think we should send angels to jail. Then again, maybe Walters is occupied feeding his own lesser angel: the lust for power and the fat budget that comes with his position.