Prohibition Not Appetite is the Problem

1280px-Panama_clashes_1989Don Boudreaux  at Café Hayek highlighted yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article by Mary Anastasia O’Grady where she asks “What Really Drove the Children North”? Her answer, “Our appetite for drugs caused the violence that made life unbearable in much of Central America.” O’Grady, through Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly who now heads the U.S. military’s Southern Command, identifies the root the problem as “our appetite for drugs”. Both fail to see that the violence is the result, not of the demand for drugs, but or drug prohibition─the war on drugs.

Thus while O’Grady concludes:

Gen. Kelly writes that the children are “a leading indicator of the negative second- and third-order impacts on our national interests.” Whether the problem can be solved by working harder to bottle up supply, as the general suggests, or requires rethinking prohibition, this crisis was born of American self-indulgence. Solving it starts with taking responsibility for the demand for drugs that fuels criminality.

While it is a step in the right direction for the mainstream press to at least mention the possibility of ‘rethinking prohibition’, actually ending the war on drugs, not thinking about it is the only long term solution. Thus for better analysis developed prior to O’Grady which provides a strong case for an actual solution, readers should refer all who are concerned with this ‘crisis’ to Mark Thornton’s excellent and to the point Mises Daily, “How the Drug War Drives Child Migrants to the US Border.” Thronton’s  no holds barred conclusion:

When you try to make sense of parents sending their children on such a dangerous undertaking, just remember it is just another despicable result of the war on drugs with few solutions.

The Economist recommends the repeal of the war on drugs and the legalization of drugs globally as the solution. Its second best solution is for the United States to finance an effort to rebuild the institutions (i.e., police, courts, prisons, etc.) and infrastructure (i.e., military, transportation, and education systems) in the countries of Central America:

Such schemes will not, however, solve the fundamental problem: that as long as drugs that people want to consume are prohibited, and therefore provided by criminals, driving the trade out of one bloodstained area will only push it into some other godforsaken place. But unless and until drugs are legalised, that is the best Central America can hope to do.

In other words, ending the war on drugs is the only solution.

Comments

  1. Conditions in Central America have been bad for a long time and the drug was has been going on for a long time. Talk radio, (yes admittedly anti-Obama), has discussed recent improving conditions, for instance that murder rates have even declined in some of the most affected countries. Also, the Marines were not in Central America a hundred years ago because of a drug war. The problem of thousands of children illegally coming to this country is a recent phenomenon brought on by the federal administration’s statements, practices, and policies of leniency and “amnesty.” the administration is more than happy to blame it on the drug war and many libertarians are happy to exploit the perceived crisis to advance legalization. Drug legalization may be the best means for improving conditions in many Latin American areas, not to mention a step toward advancing liberty, but the war on drugs is not the proximate cause of our current immigration debacle. The best means to advance liberty at this juncture in history is to not let up on the current administration and use any political means to bring about significant changes therein.

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