Everything You Need To Know About the War on Drugs

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Here’s the source. (Via Mike Riggs.)

MORE: Over at Hit & Run, Riggs has a correction and explanation for the $1.5 trillion figure.

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50 Responses to “Everything You Need To Know About the War on Drugs”

  1. #1 |  James | 

    Also make sure to visit drugsnotthugs.com and support The 1315 Project.

  2. #2 |  EconomicAnnoyance | 

    Is this graph in constant dollars?

  3. #3 |  Thom | 

    I’m not sure how they get to $1.5T in that chart. That would imply an average (over forty years) of $37.5B/year but the chart itself tops out at $20B. Is the $1.5T an inflation adjusted number? Even so, I’m not seeing how they get there.

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The drug war isn’t about solving a drug problem. It’s about creating a government empire who sole purpose is to benefit the politicians and government employees who are part of it. The worst thing that could happen to the DEA is for drug addiction to subside.

    Luckily, we can afford to dump trillions into our various military and justice department crusades. There is, after all, plenty of money. Just ask Michael Moore or Barrack Obama or Mitt Romney or George W. Bush or Paul Ryan.

  5. #5 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    People forget, while the Drug War rages on, a contradictory pro-drug assault is propagating in the other direction. Consider the multi-billion dollar prescription drug epidemic, and the doctor/pushers and pharmaceutical kingpins who propel it.
    You got a problem? They got a pill. Makes life beautiful.

  6. #6 |  Radley Balko | 

    Consider the multi-billion dollar prescription drug epidemic, and the doctor/pushers and pharmaceutical kingpins who propel it.

    Yeah, I would object to that narrative.

    As would thousands of chronic pain patients who are needlessly suffering because they can’t find doctors to treat them. Like Richard Paey. Or railroaded doctors like Bernard Rottschaefer.

  7. #7 |  Aaron W | 

    Is there a scholarly source for the drug addiction rate and government spending per year on the Drug War? The “Source” you have listed is just a link to the image itself, not the data it was based on.

  8. #8 |  The Late Andy Rooney | 

    Yizmo Gizmo: I think the prescription drug “epidemic” is another cooked up scare campaign , created by drug warriors in order to prepare for the (I hope inevitable) point at which marijuana is made legal.

  9. #9 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Yizmo Gizmo: I think the prescription drug “epidemic” is another cooked up scare campaign , created by drug warriors in order to prepare for the (I hope inevitable) point at which marijuana is made legal.

    Come on, a pill to help you go to sleep, to get a hardon,
    alleviate stress, feel better, concentrate better, eat less, eat more, quit smoking, quit drinking: this is right out of Brave New World. A gram is better than a damn!

  10. #10 |  Zargon | 

    #3
    Yeah, unfortunately, the impact of the chart is, for me, lessened by some seriously suspect math. The area under that line is not 1.5 trillion. It’s somewhere around 400 billion.

    If they’re coming up with 1.5 trillion by taking inflation adjusted numbers (which I don’t see how that’s possible looking at the graph, but supposing the numbers do in fact work out), then the whole graph ought to be displayed as inflation-adjusted. If they’re coming up with 1.5 trillion by adding extra stuff not in the graph… why isn’t it in the graph.

    The facts against the drug war don’t need any extra massaging. Reality is plenty damning in and of itself.

  11. #11 |  The Late Andy Rooney | 

    Yizmo Gizmo: this is nothing new. Wasn’t Mary Todd Lincoln a dope addict (and if I’d lost my spouse and three children, I’d probably become one, too)?

    I agree that we overly rely on pharmaceuticals. I know people who take SSRI’s (e.g., Paxil, Zoloft) for no particualr reason, and who have no psychiatric diagnosis. They’d probably be better off without them, but so what?

    And why not take a pill to get a hardon, if that’s the only option? Viagra is a safe, effective treatment for erectile dysfunction, nothing more. It’s never been advertised as an elixir for a person’s sex life.

  12. #12 |  Adam | 

    “Yeah, unfortunately, the impact of the chart is, for me, lessened by some seriously suspect math. The area under that line is not 1.5 trillion. It’s somewhere around 400 billion.”

    I found the author of the chart on twitter. He says “short answer: chart shows only fed drug control, $1.5T refers to all costs assoc. w/ drug prohibition, blog on it shortly”

    https://twitter.com/mgroff

  13. #13 |  Zargon | 

    #8

    Come on, a pill to help you go to sleep, to get a hardon,
    alleviate stress, feel better, concentrate better, eat less, eat more, quit smoking, quit drinking

    Indeed, behold the wonders of living in the 21st century, where a wide variety of medical problems, addictions, and even undesired (by the patient) behavior can be modified non-invasively and generally inexpensively with pharmaceutics.

    Oh wait, this is a bad thing?

  14. #14 |  Personanongrata | 

    Everything You Need To Know About the War on Drugs

    The regressive wealth redistribution scheme known as the War on Drugs is operating perfectly. The US government operating under the decades long guise of illicit drug eradication, interdiction and incarceration has perfected the flim-flam of the masses and as an added bonus destroyed our very way of life.

    Congratulations Richard Milhous Nixon your scheme has exceeded your wildest dreams.

  15. #15 |  This sums it up nicely… | House of the Dread | 

    […] the Agitator: Your tax dollars at […]

  16. #16 |  AlgerHiss | 

    Could you imagine….could you ever imagine, what LEOs would do if there was no more drug war.

    I mean, these people would literally lose all sense of being and have no idea what to do on an average work day. Probably half of them could go find something else to do as the workload had just been slashed.

  17. #17 |  el coronado | 

    Shorter Everything You Need to Know About the War on Drugs: “Cui Bono?”

  18. #18 |  Sam | 

    I think that this graph should have the green axis be in percentage of the total national budget…

  19. #19 |  Jack Dempsey | 

    It’s not like the money could be better spent somewhere else.

  20. #20 |  Aresen | 

    Does that include the cost to the people who’s lives were ruined, not by drugs, but by the WoD?

  21. #21 |  twency | 

    There are already some good concerns raised above. I’d like to note as well (or re-emphasize if it’s been mentioned and I wasn’t paying attention) that the graph purports to compare a relative with an absolute. It compares the rate (percent) of addiction (however calculated) with the number of dollars spent (however calculated). A more intellectually honest comparison would be number of addicts vs. number of dollars spent, or percent of population addicted compared to percent of GDP or something similar.

  22. #22 |  Dante | 

    All they need to do is spend more money and the drug addiction rate will go down and the war would be “won”.

    If they would just lock up more people, then people would stop using drugs, and the war would be “won”.

    If they just get tougher on drug users, like harsher prison sentences and more SWAT raids, then the users would quit and the war would be “won”.

    Of course, if indeed the war was “won”, we wouldn’t need the warriors who fight the war, because it was “won”.

    And that is why the drug war will never end. Too many government jobs depend upon keeping it alive – so it grows and grows no matter what.

  23. #23 |  En Passant | 

    #4 Dave Krueger wrote October 12th, 2012 at 12:59 pm:

    The worst thing that could happen to the DEA is for drug addiction to subside.

    Nope. It doesn’t work that way, as somebody, maybe the late Thomas Szasz, pointed out years ago.

    If addiction rates increase, drug warriors need more money to increase their efforts, or to use new and more expensive methods.

    If addiction rates decrease, drug warriors need more money because their methods are effective, and more money will eliminate addiction entirely.

    Their logic is impeccable.

  24. #24 |  Bart | 

    I prefer my graphs with a little more background information. This is hearsay the way its presented.

  25. #25 |  James | 

    About the amounts…

    The yearly figures are from “The National Drug Control Budget” which no longer includes things like incarceration costs or the costs related to the prosecution of drug cases (it used to).

    The $1.5 trillion is the 40-year total (although estimates for this range anywhere from $1.2 trillion to $2.5 trillion depending on methodology).

    It’s similar to how war funding isn’t included in the defense budget.

  26. #26 |  Adam | 

    http://www.mattgroff.com/questions-on-the-1315-project-chart/

  27. #27 |  johnl | 

    The axis for addiction is messed up. If the quantity plotted takes on values between 1% and 2%, then the axis should not go to 10%.

  28. #28 |  akromper | 

    I’d like to see some data added that reflected the cost of drugs by the respective consumers.
    It would seem a forgone conclusion that massive gvmt expenditures have resulted in little to no effect on the long term addiction rates. Only in increasing the amount of money recreational users are likely sending outside the country and not spending within our own economy. So much for the compounding value of a dollar spend domestically, eh?
    Guess that doesn’t likely fit into any candidates tax cut/revenue calculations.

  29. #29 |  Jack | 

    >>>>Come on, a pill to help you go to sleep, to get a hardon,
    alleviate stress, feel better, concentrate better, eat less, eat more, quit smoking, quit drinking<<<<

    And don't get me started on THE MACHINES! A machine to wake you up in the morning, a machine to pump hot water into your shower, a machine to brush your teeth, a machine to trim your beard, a machine to make your coffee. a machine to get you to work, machines to direct traffic along the way, a machine to tell you when to meet your clients (who travelled to your office in a flying machine), a machine to cut your lawn, a machine to entertain you. A machine to give you an orgasm…

  30. #30 |  John C. Randolph | 

    Anyone know where Tricky Dick is buried? I want to be sure to piss on his grave before I die.

    -jcr

  31. #31 |  Steamed McQueen | 

    @#30 John C. Randolph:

    Ol’ Tricky Dick is buried here: http://www.travelin-tigers.com/ztravel/prznixo.htm

    Go on and give it a go. Couldn’t be any worse than when I banged a shoe on Brezhneyevs grave!

  32. #32 |  Dorothy | 

    @#21, I agree. The population numbers were not stagnant, therefore you can’t graph the percentage and then graph hard dollars.

  33. #33 |  Worth it? § Unqualified Offerings | 

    […] agree with Radley: The contrast between rising drug war spending but flat addiction rates really tells you everything […]

  34. #34 |  johnl | 

    @21 and 31, if they plotted the number of addicts instead of the proportion, it would just make that line slope slightly up. Which would make for a funny story.

  35. #35 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    John C. Randolph,

    Oh, leave old Nixon alone. He never pretended to be anything but a Lawr ‘n’ Owda business as usual Republican. I never liked him much, and want no part of recent efforts (which I consider misguided) to rehabilitate the silly bugger, but at least he didn’t say one thing about Pot while he was running for election and then do another. You want to urinate on a grave, look up FDR’s. HE’s the one who let the experience of having to preside over the repeal of Prohibition slide right over his head.

  36. #36 |  Alfred Packer | 

    I was taught years ago that to understand anything in American society you needed to follow the money. Quite simply the question here is “who stands to make money by actually winning the ‘War on Drugs’?” So far I haven’t been able to identify a single potential beneficiary.

  37. #37 |  citalopram | 

    Yeah Radley, GM crops are fiiiiine:

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/332822#ixzz29FJEK9Gr

    Go work for Monsanto.

  38. #38 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Alfred Packer,

    The question that is relevant is “Who stands to make money by continuing the War on Drugs?”. Winning is a pipe dream, since it defines as a condition of victory one that has never existed in the history of human affairs – a total lack of drug abuse.

    Also; you single out American society, as if the follow the money edict was peculiar to Americans. Can you name me a society to which ‘Cui Bono’ does NOT apply?

  39. #39 |  Mr Evilwrench | 

    There is no “win”, and no expectation of winning; it’s just a front for more .gov intervention in our lives. Statists on both sides of the aisle revel in it. They can take our money and turn it against us. The “war on poverty”? Much money, and ever more each year, yet “poverty”, however they define it, doesn’t seem to go down. Education? You see a graph very similar to the above, and all we get for it is top-heavy administrations, time wasted on touchy-feely, and a declining place vs the world. Security? How many terrorist plots have the TSA stopped? Oh yeah, none. Yet they’re forever tightening the thumbscrews. Pattern?

  40. #40 |  Delta | 

    Agree with others above: As bad as the unsourced $1.5T figure is, the irreparable problem with the graph is a comparison percentage addiction to absolute dollars. Hypothetically: If population + inflation had increased at the rate of the dollar line, then it would actually be sensible to be spending that amount to keep the addiction rate constant. What you really need is addiction-rate vs. enforcement-expenditure-rate or the like.

    As it is, the graph is (unfortunately) a textbook case of lying with graphs for raw propaganda purposes.

  41. #41 |  Upbeat99 | 

    Somebody please send this to the Tea Party

  42. #42 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I don’t need no stinkin’ graph. The government shouldn’t be spending ANY money on the drug war, because taking drugs, in and of itself, should not be a criminal offense. Nor should prostitution or gambling or drawing pictures of naked people.

    The drug war is about empire building, not making the world a better place (unless you’re talking about making the world a better place for all the government employees who are beneficiaries of it at taxpayer expense).

  43. #43 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    If you (good voting people of the USA) let the state spend money on something, they will. It doesn’t matter what it is. They floated the balloon of “war on drugs to protect da chillren” and you embraced it.

    Now, you have a $1.5 trillion nipple that the state is not even close to considering giving up.

    Good luck.

    I’m sure “health care” isn’t going to end up the same way!

  44. #44 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @#41 Upbeat99,

    Somebody please send this to the Tea Party

    Why? Is the Tea Party the group to blame for the war on drugs? Not even close. Democrats and Republicans have filled the prisons, murdered thousands, and increased the debt much, much, much, much, much, much, much more than the TP.

    Let’s look at the most famous “Tea Party” member of Congress: Rand Paul. Google “Rand Paul on the war on drugs”.

    HOLY FUCK, Upbeat99! Google must be lying because he sure has a good track record when compared to the ass-hats in the Democrat Party and the rest of the Republicans.

    Not a TP, but damn!

  45. #45 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #44 | Boyd Durkin

    @#41 Upbeat99,

    Is the Tea Party the group to blame for the war on drugs? Not even close. Democrats and Republicans have filled the prisons, murdered thousands, and increased the debt much, much, much, much, much, much, much more than the TP.

    Let’s look at the most famous “Tea Party” member of Congress: Rand Paul. Google “Rand Paul on the war on drugs”..

    Look at one of the more famous republicans: Ron Paul. Does the fact that he opposes the drug war let the rest of the republican party of the hook? Of course not. The Tea Party (assuming they are even an significant entity anymore) is basically a subdivision of the republican party and they sure as hell don’t speak with any plurality in opposition to the drug war.

    Having said that, I have no clue what upbeat99 meant by his comment. He could just as easily have said “send this to the republican party” or “send this to the democrats” and it would have been equally meaningful (or meaningless).

  46. #46 |  el coronado | 

    ….and yet, Upbeat *didn’t say* “send this to the democrat party”, did he. Very, _very_ few people here _ever_ say things like that. For all the talk of the wonderfulness of Libertarianism and free speech and thinking outside the box and “Peace/Love Dope!!”, etc., I continually find a significant number of folks here clinging to the same old depressing stereotypes that Teacher made the memorize back in school. GOP = hates the little guy; in thrall to big bidness; law-n-order zealots. Meanwhile, the dems, according to state-schooled indoctrination, are our *friends*! They’re for the little guy! They Fight the Power, man! And they’re certainly gonna end this foolish, caustic, destructive War on Drugs and Black People……just as soon’s they finish up more pressing issues & can then get around to it. Never mind they’ve had since….1914.

    The whole GOP=Scrooge/Dems=Santa Claus theme is complete and utter bullshit, as we’ve seen over the years. They’re *all* puppets of the same set of Puppet Masters; the primary difference is that the GOP seems to want to follow their ‘tax & spend’ instructions 20% slower, and maybe a little bit cheaper. Maybe.

    Yet even now we STILL have slogan-chanting rubes mindlessly aping Teacher’s dogma by typing in horseshit like, “Send it to the Tea Party, dude!” – “thinking” they’re being nonconformist and edgy. Read a book, rubes. Look into Obama’s and, say, Chuck Schumer’s biggest corporate contributors. You’re gonna find LOT of big companies, especially banks….just like the other guys get. Again, if I’m full of shit, kindly point me to sweeping legislation passed by democrats and signed into law by a democrat President ending the Drug War. Or EO’s from a democrat President to that effect. Or mass Presidential Pardons of minor drug “criminals”. Can’t do it, can you. Ever wonder why, rubes?

  47. #47 |  Jim | 

    @31 – The shoe banger was Khruschev.

  48. #48 |  giantmecha // Blog Archive // The war on drugs | 

    […] From here. […]

  49. #49 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Does the fact that he opposes the drug war let the rest of the republican party of the hook? Of course not.

    Not a position I hold (Rand Paul lets Repubs off hook for drug war). But, you used the least Republican Republican to make your point by comparing him (to his son) the Tea Party’s most famous and highest office holder. I’m not proposing it proves anything, but one is a corner case and the other is a corner stone.

  50. #50 |  How Collecting Opium Antiques Turned Me Into an Opium Addict - Dogs | Dogs | 

    […] Everything You Need To Know About the War on Drugs […]

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