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Raymond Richman       -       Jesse Richman       -       Howard Richman

 Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog

War on Drugs Killed Thousands Here and Abroad and Cost Taxpayers Trillions  
Raymond Richman, 4/28/2017

The immense cost of the U.S. war on drugs is unbelievable. Its cost in money and resources has been hundreds of billions of dollars. It cost in lives lost and careers ended runs into the hundreds of thousands. In spite of its costs, the drugs problem is worse than ever. It is not only a national, state, and local government problem but an international problem, involving many countries around the world, the UN, and numerous international bodies as well. Thousands of persons have been incarcerated whose only crime is marketing substances that drug users demand, a market response to a failed anti-drug policy.  And the drug user is seldom prosecuted although he is the one governments are trying to save from addiction and spends billions trying to rehabilitate. Are we crazy or what?


Drug users, who include a number of Hollywood and society celebrities as well as  ordinary people seeking a high while engaging in private sexual activities, ordinary thrill seekers, caused the death of thousands of innocent people, including judges, soldiers, and an army of black and white workers growing, marketing and distributing the drugs. You would think that the USA would have learned from its experience with its prohibition of alcoholic beverages. The eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted in 1919 and repealed in 1933. It caused thousands to become rum-runners, to engage in selling drugs, to open speakeasies, and to become racketeers like Al Capone.


The War on Drugs" began in 1914 with passage of a law to forbid prescribing drugs for addicted patients. Between 1915 and 1938, more than 5,000 physicians and pharmacists were convicted and fined or jailed. Hardly any patients were prosecuted. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in 1930. In 1971, it was reported that ten to fifteen percent of the servicemen in Vietnam were addicted to heroin. In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%. Prisons became a booming business. In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the "War on Drugs" resulted in the incarceration of one million Americans each year. What was their crime? Meeting the demand of their fellow-citizens for drugs.


The growing of opium in Afghanistan was banned by the Taliban and that led to the easy occupation of Afghanistan by U.S. troops who were expected to overturn the ban. Then, under UN urging, the U.S. banned the growing of opium in Afghanistan and U.S. troops destroyed opium crops in the field. The Taliban announced they would no longer ban opium growing and were welcomed back as liberators from U.S. domination.


Latin America is another area where we attempted to ban coco production and it resulted in thousands of deaths in Mexico and Colombia. Ever since the drug war began, under all Presidents, there was an increase in narcotics consumption and addiction. Although everyone agreed that the drug trade would continue as long as there was a demand for narcotics, government policy was to spend huge increasing amounts to interdict the supply.  

As with alcohol, the government should legalize drug production and use and levy a tax on narcotics and addictive drugs sold without prescription.  Billions could be collected in revenues. Why should taxpayers spend billions to prevent others from consuming drugs. The only education required is teaching that one must pay for one’s own

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]