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Lying awake last night, I was contemplating how thoroughly the government depends on our cooperation for the functioning of our country.

That’s one of the lessons of the drug war, after all.  The government created the drug war by making drugs illegal: the supposed purpose was to stop the use of certain drugs.  There is no evidence that the use of those certain drugs has been decreased, let alone stopped.  Approximately 6% – 10% of the population distributes and uses drugs freely under the noses of those who claim to control the situation.  When I say there is no evidence, I mean that anyone who wants drugs can get them, just about anywhere – as has been documented by many studies as well as personal observation.  My favorite evidence of our failure is a parliamentary committee recommending that we rid our jails of illicit drugs: if we can’t keep them out of prisons, for heaven’s sake, what would you have to do to open society to control drugs?  Run it with less freedom than we have in our prisons!  Do you want to live in a prison?   Do you think it worth protecting a junkie from heroin to turn your home into a prison?

Compare that to murder, for example: more than 99% of the population agrees that murder is wrong and actively helps the police when it occurs.  Regardless of the propagandistic nonsense that is shown on TV CSI shows, most crimes that are solved are solved because people tell the police who done it.  If even 1% of the population do not cooperate with a law, then forget about stopping them.

If 6% do not cooperate, then you have open drug markets (to those that want them) and the law becomes irrelevant except for two things:

  1. Some unlucky people are caught and punished – without any measurable effect of reducing the availability of drugs.  Those people are typically damaged by the catching.
  2. Most of the 6-10% of people who produce, distribute or consume drugs do not feel safe participating in politics since they do not want to get caught.
So it divides the population into us and them: the good people and the bad.

And that is one benefit of the war on drugs: choose an inconsequential scapegoat; separate them out and blame them for what is wrong in our world; make everyone else feel better (although afraid)!

Divide and conquer kept the British Empire going.  It works for our government, too.


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