Pubdate: Thu, 07 Sep 2000
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2000 Chicago Tribune Company
Contact:  435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-4066
Author: Andreas M. Danckers


LIBERTYVILLE -- As we distribute another chunk of the umpteen billion 
dollars devoted each year to the "War on Drugs," it behooves us to ask: 
Exactly who are the beneficiaries of our ongoing campaign of criminal 
prosecution and military intervention?

- - Not actual or potential users, whose consumption of illegal drugs 
persists with all the vigor of Prohibition-era drinking.

- - Not our courts and prisons, swollen to the point of bursting by those who 
cannot resist the economic appeal of drug selling or the self-gratification 
of drug use.

- - Not youth seeking work, whose modest opportunities for honest income pale 
in comparison with the riches available via the drug trade.

- - Not law enforcement, whose officers are no more immune to black-market 
corruption than the people they apprehend.

- - Not public health, which is burdened by diseases arising from and spread 
by the backroom use of unregulated and contaminated drugs.

- - Not our inner cities, where entire populations are held hostage by the 
violence that surrounds this law-made lawlessness.

- - Not the welfare programs, which end up supporting those who have been 
dragged down economically by their criminal records.

- - Not our civil liberties, which are increasingly curtailed by the 
government's need for new means of prosecuting this "war."

- - Not the governments and economies of developing countries, which have 
been distorted by the staggering profitability of the narco-trade.

- - Not our foreign relations, as we coerce trading partners to adopt our 
anti-drug stance and insert ourselves into their local politics.

- - Not the environment, into which we dump herbicides and defoliants that 
poison drug crops and drug users alike.

- - Not the public trust, which has long been undermined by government 
misinformation concerning the facts of drug use.

Instead the people who actually benefit from the "War on Drugs" are the 
black-marketeers themselves, the millionaire kingpins who, if drugs were 
merely commodities, couldn't afford their jets and yachts.

And then there are the peddlers: Not drug pushers, but the peddlers of 
influence and money who distribute the billions that pay the salaries of 
all those drug warriors.

These are the direct beneficiaries of the "War on Drugs" and, not 
surprisingly, they are the ones who advocate fighting harder and spending more.

As for the rest of us, well, we're just casualties of war.

Andreas M. Danckers
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart