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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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No Light at the End of the Drug War Tunnel


Drug warriors are lamenting the high number of deaths of Mexican officials at the hands of Mexican drug lords. The latest victim was Edgar Millan Gomez, the acting chief of the federal police in Mexico City. In the last month alone, four top security officials in Mexico City have been killed. Drug dealers have killed another seven Mexican federal agents along the border. They’ve also killed 170 local police officers.

The reason for all this increase in violence? The president of Mexico, at the urging of U.S. officials, ramped up the drug war. And the more he ramps it up, the worse the situation becomes.

After 35 years of drug warfare, all the drug warriors have to show is a bunch of meaningless statistics showing how many drug busts they made during the past three decades. Yet, the war goes on. No one ever declares victory. They tell us that they just need to crack down more fiercely. Yet, that only makes the consequences worse, as the situation in Mexico reflects.

So, why continue fighting the war on drugs?

One reason is that there are government jobs to consider — the jobs of federal, state, and local drug-war officials. In the minds of public officials, it is imperative that those jobs be preserved at all costs. After all, drug-war officials have mortgages too.

Second, there are government officials who are making big money from the drug war. They’re on the take. The drug war’s black market enables them to make more money than they ever would in a regular marketplace.

There is one — and only one — way to put drug lords out of business immediately. That’s through the legalization of drugs. By restoring a free market to illicit drugs, the sale and distribution of drugs would be handled in the same peaceful manner that alcohol (perhaps the most destructive drug) is handled.

Drug-war proponents respond, “We can’t do that. That would mean that drugs would be readily available to those who wished to consume them. We just need to crack down in war on drugs.”

But drugs have been readily available during the entire 35 years of the drug war. Anyone who wants them can get them. And as the Mexican experience shows, cracking down in the war on drugs simply exacerbates the violence problem.

The fact is: The drug war cannot be “won,” at least not without massive violence and the adoption of a militarized police state to deal with it. Just ask the people of Mexico.

With no drug war there would be no more drug lords, no more drug cartels, no more killing of drug-war law-enforcement officers, and no more drug-war violence.

But of course, drug legalization would also mean layoffs for drug-war officials and no more bribes and payoffs, which is why the drug war will go on indefinitely, until Americans just say no.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.