Monday, January 19, 2009

Mexico, sending its drug violence our way?

The above AP article by Traci Carl describes the disruption presently occurring in Mexico as a result of their drug wars. Vicente Fox, when he was elected, promised to deal with the drug problem there, and he arrested the drug king-pins, but all that did was create space for a lot of new king-pin wannabes. Filipe Calderon succeeded Fox in 2006 and sought to do better, but he hasn’t. Things have gotten worse.

Retiring CIA chief Michael Hayden told reporters on Friday that “Mexico could rank alongside Iran as a challenge for Obama – perhaps a greater problem than Iraq.” That’s an interesting assessment. Obama will have to manage the drawing down of the troops in Iraq, but perhaps Hayden doesn’t consider that a very serious problem, so what problem can Mexico’s drug wars cause?

Traci Carl quotes Manuel Infante, a Mexican architect to say, “There is a wave of barbarity that is heading toward the U.S.”


At various times, people I’ve debated have suggested that Mexicans posed as great a problem to America’s equilibrium as Muslims do to France and other places in Europe. I have never agreed with that assessment, and the Mexico drug problem doesn’t change anything. The Islamic problem in Europe is caused by Islamic Radical fanaticism. God is telling them to go out and kill and maim infidels. That is not what is going on in Mexico. Great numbers of people are attempting to make as much money as possible by selling illegal drugs. That’s a very different matter.

No one has proposed a good solution for the Radical Islamists. Some Social Scientists have engaged in wishful thinking: perhaps as they grow older they will give up making bombs and will mellow like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn and engage in teach at universities in less violent activities like teaching in universities.

But in the case of the drug dealers, there is a solution, a rather simple one and it has worked before (in regard to alcohol): declare drugs legal. Sell them over the counter in liquor stores along with booze, and the drug dealers will be put out of business as quickly as the bootleggers were, and you would free up have the jail cells in the nation. People have argued that drugs are a more serious problem than booze and therefore should never be declared legal, but I’m not convinced of that. What I have read suggests to me that drugs, if they were declared legal, would be no more harmful than alcohol is. Anything you can say about drugs can be said about alcohol. And if you know of some drug that harms the body more than alcohol then add in cigarettes. Most alcoholics also smoke and cigarettes are still legal.

Every objection I’ve heard could be handled by economic controls: Make the less harmful drugs readily available, suitably taxed of course. And then levy heavier taxes on the more dangerous drugs. The rationale for heavy taxes would be that the state will now have to clean up drug users’ messes; so they should pay for that service up front in taxes. Haven’t we done that with cigarette taxes? Follow that with the same sort of Draconian penalties that have been applied to drunk drivers. I’ll grant that drug use will cause problems, but they will be the same sorts of problems presently being caused by alcohol use. But look about you. When is the last time you heard of a Bootlegger Turf War?

In the meantime, all you Americans who live close to the Mexican borders, get yourself several Rottweilers, German Shepherds, or the like, and then get yourself a gun or two and hope for the best. The police don’t have this one under control.

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