World Affairs

Fighting the Wrong War?

Gary Becker argues that the war on drugs has failed and that alternate approaches involving legalization, regulation and high taxes might achieve current results along with other benefits without the large social and individual costs associated with the current prohibition.
Richard Posner generally agrees with Becker arguments:

If the resources used to wage the war were reallocated to other social projects, such as reducing violent crime, there would probably be a net social gain. For one thing, it is particularly costly to enforce the law against a �victimless� crime, more precisely a crime that consists of a transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer.

In addition, he points out that:

The political source of the war on drugs is mysterious if, as I am inclined to believe, there is a legal substitute for every one of the illegal drugs:…
…it is apparent that our society has no general policy against the consumption of mind-altering substances, and there seems to be a certain arbitrariness in the choice of the subset to prohibit.

To get a sense of just how large the failure has been on a global scale check out the maps that Michael Stastny has posted from the World Drug Report 20041. Note what country is either number 1 or 2 in usage for each category. Stastny has an interesting supposition about his government:

Maybe Austrian authorities know that watching TV does more harm to your brain and health than taking drugs once in a while and that stigmatizing long-term users doesn’t help either.

So, a war on TV instead of drugs? Well, no. We do not need any increased government intervention in media. But I would accept regulation and taxation of now illegal drugs as a first step out of the current quagmire. The proper long term goal is, though, to completely remove the government from any involvement in “transactions between a willing buyer and a willing seller.”
Via Marginal Revolution where you can find more here.
1The report and the above referenced maps appear to overlook certain other popular drugs, e.g., alcohol!?

rumsfeld tells it like it is

rumsfeld says:

The troubling unknown, he said, is whether the extremists — whom he termed ”zealots and despots” bent on destroying the global system of nation-states — are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them.
”It’s quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this,” Rumsfeld said at an international security conference.
His remarks showed a level of concern about the long-term direction of the U.S.-led global fight against terrorism that Rumsfeld rarely addresses in public.
His remarks also elicited commentary:
Should we put this quote on every campaign web-site, bumper sticker and campaign commercial going forward?
Heavens, yes.
The Poor Man:
The Bush Administration appears to be in the grips of irrational Bush-hatred
Brad Delong:
If even Donald Rumsfeld believes that Al Qaeda is growing stronger, who is left to defend the Bush administration’s conduct of the War on Terror?
Oliver Willis
The Failure Of Donald Rumsfeld
I can’t believe he said this.
Rumsfeld fears U.S. losing long-term fight against terror
Pessimist at The Left Coaster at the end of a long commentary:
It’s time for another regime change. Here in the United States of America. This November if not sooner.
An interesting phrase given who he works for….. anything less than complete confidence and unswerving loyalty to the administration line isn’t high on the top 10 list of ways to get yourself invited to a certain ranch in Texas.
Yep, rummie should have resigned when he had the chance.

Iraq Occupation to End!

This administration works very hard to get their preferred spin on what they consider to be their issues. And now, as noted by the NPR folks after the speech both bush in the speech and other administration officials over the last several weeks have been acknowledging that the liberators have now become the occupiers.
What the NPR folks did not comment on is that we now know when the occupation will end! bush told us:

The first of these steps will occur next month, when our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens who will prepare the way for national elections. On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, and will not be replaced. The occupation will end, and Iraqis will govern their own affairs. (emphasis added)

There you have it. But, he then goes on to say that US troops will remain in Iraq.
It all seems to be games with words and for this administration that means it is all about politics and relection and suggests the following:
First, and likely the bush expectation, is that starting on July 1 the bush election campaign administration will tell us that our troops are the invited guests of the new puppet oversight authority (it is hard to call something not created by the Iraqis a government). Nothing meaningful will have changed but the administration will try to sell the ongoing occupation as not owned by bush and hope that the American people will not see through the semantic shenanigans.
The second scenario is that the new oversight authority tells the occupiers to get out(and do not think that the puppets will make this decision on their own). This could happen as an alternative to the first scenario or as a follow on.
Rove and company will be waving their wet fingers in the wind to decide when the second option will play best with the largest chunk of likely voters. They will trade their hard core war supporters for a victory in November if necessary…and all under the guise of they told us to leave.
We now know the reason the administration has been so focused on June 30. They believe that they will be able to deflect criticsim and blame for staying in Iraq, departing Iraq, killing civilians by saying that all they do is at the request of the Iraqi interim authority.
The main plan bush gave the American people was one to cover his tracks.

Send Them to Jail Now

After reading this in the NYT Mark Kleiman says:

What makes me sick is that some of the CIA officers may get hung out to dry, but there’s no probability whatever that the lawyers safe in their Washington offices who approved all this garbage — in your name and mine — will ever be called to account.
There’s a simple principle that applies here. No human being, or small group, is fit to be trusted with absolute and unreviewed power over another human being.

Yet more reasons why waiting for an election may be waiting too long.