While we wait for the impact of sequestration to hit, we might ponder this: In an interview with Spiegel Online, a Harvard economist insisted that we could save an amount equal to the sequestration cuts every year just by ending the War on Drugs.
“The prohibition of drugs is the worst solution for preventing abuse,” said Professor Jeffrey Miron. “Firstly, it brings about a black market that is corrupt and costs human lives. Secondly, it constrains people who wouldn’t abuse drugs. Thirdly, prohibiting drugs is expensive.”
The direct costs of our counterproductive drug war have been estimated at more than 60 billion dollars a year. And yet, in all the years we have pursued this war, we have not reduced the percentage of Americans using hard drugs. Instead, that sixty billion dollars a year has destroyed lives, incentivized criminal activity, increased police corruption, laid waste to several South American countries, and decimated inner city neighborhoods.
If our elected officials are really so intent upon reducing the national debt, wouldn’t it make more sense to stop spending enormous sums for a failed policy, and use at least some of the savings for treatment? Better still, we could legalize marijuana–which medical experts tell us is less dangerous than booze–and tax it.
I don’t know whether we’d save more than the sequester, but abandoning a failed, horrifically expensive program would be a far more rational approach than taking an indiscriminate, meat ax approach to the budget.