Conrad Black on the War on Drugs (and Rupert Murdoch)
Writing at National Review, Conrad Black has many disparaging things to say about the War on Drugs and about the prohibition of marijuana specifically. For example:
For blacks, the chances of being arrested and charged and convicted for cannabis offenses are 300 percent greater than for whites. Sending nearly half a million cannabis offenders to prison each year inflicts a $40,000 annual charge per prisoner, not counting the processing costs of the mass-convict-production U.S. law-enforcement system. Domestic consumption of cannabis is an approximately $140 billion industry in the U.S., which, despite large domestic production, requires large imports, especially from Mexico, Canada, and Colombia. In Mexico, 20,000 metric tons of cannabis are shipped annually to the U.S., and the U.S. is in the position of telling foreign nations to cease production, while it will not impose the same solution on itself nor even make an all-out effort to discourage imports. The result is a virtual civil war in Mexico, where 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence in the last four years, five times the number of Americans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last nine years. The beneficiaries of official American policy are the drug cartels, who make billions on it annually, and maintain private paramilitary forces including armored vehicles, submersible drug-transport ships, and a range of aircraft.
There is room for legitimate argument about what course the U.S. should follow in drug-control policy, but there is no possible dispute that the present course has been such an unmitigated failure that it has aggravated the societal problem, strained relations with friendly foreign countries and destabilized some, and, as Milton Friedman said in 1991, constituted a protectionist bonanza for the most virulent and sociopathic elements of organized crime. In comparison, Prohibition, which handed the liquor business to Al Capone and his analogues, was a howling success, and it was repealed after 14 years.
Off topic, but this passage from Black describing Rupert Murdoch makes for some good reading:
Generally not overly forthcoming, rather monosyllabic, an enigma whose banter is nondescript bourgeois filler delivered in a mid-Pacific accent. His idea of humour is pretty coarse, in the Australian manner, without being very original, or very funny.
Murdoch has no discernible attachments to anyone or anything except the formidable company he has built… no business associate lasts long… Save for Ronald Reagan, he turned on every politician he ever supported in every country where he has operated; he discarded every loyal lieutenant, two wives and countless friendly acquaintances, as if he were changing his socks.
Murdoch is a great white shark, who mumbles and furrows his brow compulsively [with] orange-dyed hair… a man who is airtight in his ruthlessness, unlimited in his ambition, with the iron nerves to have bet the company again and again… is monotonous as a public speaker and unfathomable as a personality…
I have long thought that his social philosophy was contained in his cartoon show, The Simpsons: all politicians and public officials are crooks, and the masses are a vast lumpen proletariat of deluded and exploitable blowhards.
No love lost there, I imagine.