Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, March 21, 2005

The War on Drugs

The Becker-Posner blog takes on the war on drugs this week, with Becker leading:
After totaling all spending, a study by Kevin Murphy, Steve Cicala, and myself estimates that the war on drugs is costing the US one way or another well over $100 billion per year. These estimates do not include important intangible costs, such as the destructive effects on many inner city neighborhoods, the use of the American military to fight drug lords and farmers in Colombia and other nations, or the corrupting influence of drugs on many governments.

He recommends legalization, combined with a massive excise tax, analogous to the taxes on cigarettes and liquor. They both point out that legalization of drugs would greatly reduce the opportunity costs of law enforcement, freeing up scarce law enforcememt and confinement resources for other uses. As Posner says,
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.
Back in 1998, Milton Friedman made similar arguments in a NYTimes editorial.
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