The Baby Boomers like their extortion targets easy and legal, like alcohol and cigarettes, which they can control and tax for all sorts of ulterior purposes without much effort. That way it’s like picking “someone else’s” money off trees, trees originally planted by their Greatest Generation establishment parents. For the more difficult stuff in their own environment, they prefer to keep doing the same stupid things over and over again and expecting a different result every time, as long as it always adds up to zero. You’d think that forty years of trying to pound square pegs down round holes would have taught the Boomers something. But you’d be wrong.
No one or no thing has ever taught the Baby Boomers anything. They already knew everything at birth, and it was all wrapped around that glorious “me” in each of their mirrors.
For all the sky-is-falling hysteria that gets broadcast every week about the health hazards of cigarettes, you’d think that cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, a very wide range of designer and prescription drugs, etc., were just milk and honey, the harmless but incredibly stinky elephant sitting right there in the living room. The difference, of course, is that alcohol and cigarettes were always sitting there as legal businesses under the close supervision of government – making them sitting ducks for all sorts of duplicitous people looking for easy money later. Those other drugs have been kept outside that insider circle so as to ensure that they (1) cannot be controlled and taxed, and (2) bring in at least triple the profits for all involved, from drug traffickers on one side to government employees on the other – all at the exorbitant cost to the sucker taxpayer.
Just to be clear: I believe that people who partake of potent drugs, both illegal and legal, for recreational purposes are mostly stupid losers going nowhere in a society that meets that same description. I also fully support the policy that precludes from professional military service anyone with an infraction involving the use of illegal drugs, including marijuana; the US military is inherently far too dangerous to have people running around who don’t have their maximum possible capacities focused solely on the task at hand at all times. But what really irritates me is how much it costs me to keep the drugs from the losers in my society without success year after year, decade after decade. I don’t consider alcohol, caffeine or nicotine “illegal drugs”, and I long ago came to the conclusion that marijuana should not be illegal, either. I also believe that those wealthy enough to get their potent recreational drugs in prescription form from “reputable” manufacturers should be treated in exactly the same manner as those trading in or using cocaine.
The Baby Boomers’ Great War has been “The War On Drugs”, launched by President Nixon in 1970 after a quarter century of more minor (and more realistic) federal efforts by the Greatest Generation. No war in the history of humanity has ever proven so unwinnable or so incredibly lucrative to everyone involved. This “war” is the Mother Lode of windfall profits, now grown into one of the largest industries on the planet. The single greatest result of the Great War On Drugs has been to triple the costs to the taxpayer, and, since well over half of Americans don’t pay taxes, the cost to those who do pay taxes is easily three times higher than it would be without the stupid war. In the past 25 years alone, US expenditures on police has increased 420%, on judicial 503% and on corrections 660% – and the “war” is still another century or two away from “progress”. This is a war that has been very advantageous to everyone engaged in it except the sucker who has to pay for it all. Even the enemy in this war has managed to grow steadily bigger, stronger and deadlier, seemingly by deliberate design.
For the moment, I’ll set aside the more potent parts of the illegal drug industry (heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.) as well as the huge designer drug industry (such as legal prescription drugs like oxycodone and the wide range of psychoactive hallucinogens) to concentrate on the least dangerous and most widely used of all these illegal drugs –
At least 500 respected economists, including Nobel Laureates such as Milton Friedman, noted in 2008 that reducing the supply of marijuana without reducing the demand causes the price, and hence the profits, of marijuana sellers to go up according to the laws of supply and demand. The increased profits encourage the producers to produce more drugs despite the risks, providing a theoretical explanation for why government attacks on drug supply have failed to have any lasting effect for over forty years. These economists published an open letter to President George W. Bush stating, “We urge… the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition… At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.”
That debate has yet to take place, of course, and probably never will, primarily due to the powerful vested interests that stand to lose so much from a change in the status quo. Despite over $7 billion of taxpayer money spent every year towards arresting and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people across the country for marijuana offenses (2005 FBI Uniform Crime Reports), the federally funded Monitoring the Future Survey reports about 85% of high school seniors find marijuana “easy to obtain.” That figure has remained virtually unchanged for thirty years, since 1975, never once dropping below 82.7%.
Along about here the bureaucrats always show up with statements to the effect that the percentages would have been higher if not for the efforts of government. Of course, as is always the case with such self-serving hypotheticals, they are entirely unprovable, so they have zero meaning. The only way to “prove” the assertion is to remove the prohibition on supply and see what happens with demand over a similar forty year period (or even a decade). There is a very good reason why the US system of justice requires guilt to be proven by the state rather than innocence to be proven by the defendant: It is not possible to prove a negative. But such phony assurances from government seem to make some people feel better by implying that forty years of incredibly expensive effort has had some positive effect, even if entirely negligible. (It’s pretty difficult to get a “worse” situation than a constant 85% usage figure.) And, of course, no one in government is ever going to put a price tag on each percentage point that “did not go up”.
Another bureaucrat argument is that marijuana is a “gateway” drug, the use of which leads inexorably to the use of far more potent drugs. No one has ever proved this hypothesis, either, and some idiots even claim that cigarette use leads to marijuana use. It’s all baseless self-serving propaganda. The first thing anyone should do when confronted with this stuff is to check out who stands to benefit from it; unverifiable propaganda is always in some group’s self-interest, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort to generate it. The “science” behind it all is based on a half century of highly sophisticated “marketing” research conducted by the many women’s lobbies selling, not the evils of drugs, but their own self-serving nonsense. (Women’s lobbies can sell any nonsense, and they’ve taught a LOT of others how to do the same.) What makes this sort of domination far more effective than it would be otherwise is due to the simple fact that the opposing side is effectively prohibited from presenting its argument, usually by the application of emotion, labeling and censorship, but also sometimes even by law. How hard is it to win a one-sided debate? A one-sided debate is just tyranny.
The 2008 federally funded report shows that marijuana legalization — replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation — would save $7.7 Billion per year in state and federal taxpayer expenditures on prohibition enforcement alone and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 Billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods – a net gain for taxpayers of $10.1 Billion.
If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 Billion annually. (Over the years since 2008, all states have dramatically increased taxes on cigarettes to fund all sorts of things which normal tax revenues have not, especially during the long “Great Recession”, so this tax revenue figure today is probably well above $10 Billion.) Thus, according to the 2008 study, treating marijuana like cigarettes could result in a net gain for the taxpayer of at least $13,900,000,000 — each year. (In 2012, “medicinal marijuana” use had been authorized by voters in a small number of states, even though the federal government still does not recognize such a use designation for a plant it classifies as an illegal drug. Regardless of its federal legality, there were an estimated 2-4,000 small farm operations growing the plant in those states, and they had total sales of $1.2 Billion – which, of course, were taxed by their states. Those tax revenues are likely to set off an epidemic of additional states legalizing “medicinal marijuana” use.)
Then there are all the countless millions of avoided police, judiciary, incarceration and parole cost dollars.
Just think of all the excuses to spend that much extortion money that have absolutely nothing to do with addressing the “health costs of marijuana use” that politicians could dream up in about five minutes! (The whole idea of modern government, of course, is to use someone else’s money to address “my” whines.) A major problem of dealing with marijuana in the same manner as cigarettes, however, is that most of the extortion involving cigarettes these days falls on the very young and the very old. Those voters in the middle who partake much more of marijuana may not relish the idea of screwing themselves as easily as they screw others. (Did you ever wonder why there’s no “fat tax” to help pay for our exorbitant health care costs? The most common American trait anymore is rationalized hypocrisy – which benefits “me” at the expense of “someone else”.) (See Footnote #1.)
In addition to savings on prohibition costs and taxes, legalizing marijuana would also result in a dramatic reduction in jailed convicts, ruined lives and Privileged Class bureaucrats on the taxpayer’s payroll. It’s that last item that generates the most rub, for here we are talking about “me” (Very Powerful Self-Interests) — all those bureaucrats and their unions plus their many and varied agencies dependent on all that taxpayer money flooding in to address what everyone knows is a permanently unsolvable problem. (Does anyone know the story of Sisyphus and his immense boulder?)
The United States is the most policed state in human history, with far more federal, state, county and municipal police on the rolls than ever existed in the Soviet Union. This is so simply because the United States can afford it.* And, despite all our sanctimonious “human rights” protestations over China’s practice of putting so many of its citizens in jail, the US actually has a much higher percentage of its citizens in jail than does China.* A really huge portion of these prisoners were first introduced to American prisons after being caught with a single gram of marijuana. From there, since our prisons are such superb schools for criminals, the road to life-long crime is assured. The whole American drug criminalization process seems specifically designed to meet the ulterior objectives of the huge law enforcement, judiciary and incarceration bureaucracies – “The US Crime Industry”. (See Footnote #2.)
The declaration of the World Forum Against Drugs (2008) states that a balanced policy of drug abuse prevention, education, treatment, law enforcement, research, and supply reduction provides the most effective platform to reduce drug abuse and its associated harms, and it calls on governments to consider demand reduction as one of their first priorities in the fight against drug abuse. But in the US that’s not where the emotion OR the money is. Probably due to their extremely limited attention spans and dismally poor educations, Americans excel at addressing symptoms, while ignoring the causes of those symptoms (very often because the causes might implicate “me”). Primarily due to emotion, taxpayer money is in aggressive law enforcement, a retribution-based judiciary, and dependency-based social welfare – all of whose costs to the taxpayer nearly equal the profits going to the drug traffickers. And, since absolutely nothing in government succeeds better than failure, the more these bureaucrats fail, the more taxpayer money gets thrown at them. Plus, it’s far easier to shift blame to foreign suppliers than it is to a domestic customers, who quite often are “me”. An awful lot of people who never partake of illegal drugs themselves still profit very handsomely from the illegal drug industry. The status quo is just fine — as long as “someone else” is paying for it.
This country is dealing with illegal drugs exactly the same way it did in 1970 – forty years ago. And the result? Illegal drug use, and legal drug misuse, both are bigger problems today than they ever were. This is clearly indicative of something now deeply flawed in our whole society, not to mention our whole “thinking”. Just why do so many find it necessary to escape the realities of our society into drug induced stupors? The question is absurdly about how best to deal with the symptoms, and leave curing the underlying causes to “someone else” at another time, perhaps our grandchildren. No generation in American history has ever been so adept at kicking cans down the road for “someone else” to address later. This talent arises from a 1960s super-spoiled Baby Boomer mentality that only recognizes rights, while conveniently shifting the responsibility parts, naturally, to “someone else”. (As one of those “someone else”, I can assure you that our numbers are almost gone, that we are rapidly approaching extinction. So maybe it’s time for us, too, to just toke up.)
Since most of the illegal drug industry is actually just another way to screw the taxpayer, it’s absurd to think average citizens will ever be able to overcome enough of the government’s own vested interests in order to ever “win”, or even make headway, in the “war on drugs”. So, as with virtually every other major problem in America since around 1970, when the Baby Boomers started taking over, the marijuana problem has to be approached in tiny bits and pieces, and require decades to accomplish what once required a four-day work week among adults. The critical overriding philosophy throughout this long laborious process must be to resist the primary objective of modern government: to place as many “special” people as possible in premium bureaucrat positions paid by taxpayers to accomplish nothing — who then devote themselves solely to attaining the permanent socialist nirvana realized by navel-contemplating left-wing pompous asses with unassailable tenure on university campuses.
One Big (Legal) Racket
Law enforcement officers stole more private property (cash, real estate, vehicles, etc.) from Americans in 2014 than thieves and burglars did. Under “civil forfeiture” laws, authorities seized $5,000,000,000 in property, while thieves took $3,500,000,000. Continuing the recent trend, law enforcement’s take in 2014 was $800,000,000 higher than the total it seized in 2012. Sometimes in America it’s not so easy distinguishing the cops from the robbers. $5 Billion is a lot of “free money.”
In the decade from 2007 to 2017 the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) confiscated $3.2 Billion from people who were never charged with a crime. Primary enabler of this criminal enterprise is the 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which also set up the Equitable Sharing Program that rewards local police forces that assist federal agencies with up to 80% of the “forfeiture” spoils. (“Forfeiture“, in this case, of course is a slick relabeling of the actual “confiscation” that takes place.) But most local police forces also have their own programs. Where records are available, state and local police seized $2.5 Billion in cash from 62,000 people without warrants or indictments between 2001 and 2014 – some even funneling the take straight into police pockets in the form of bonuses. Such practices, of course, are an enormous incentive to continually expand such forfeiture programs into ever more nebulous areas.
Civil forfeiture is a “legal” process in which law enforcement officers take assets from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing or obtaining a court order authorizing the seizure. To get back the seized property, owners must prove it was not involved in criminal activity, i.e., prove a negative. The process was used during the Prohibition years (1920-33) against bootleggers, and resurfaced during the 1980s with the passage of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act when it was seen as an efficient cost-reducing tactic against the traffic in illegal drugs. In recent years it has found much broader and ever more lucrative utility, and the proceeds have literally exploded.
However, the controversial process can easily exceed citizen protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution. Innocent owners can become entangled in the process to the extent that their right to property is violated, with few legal protections and due process rules to protect them in situations where they are presumed guilty instead of being presumed innocent. Even basic protections against search and seizure are upended. (This is all “brilliant” Baby Boomer “thinking”.) The huge financial incentives for the “justice” system frequently leads to law enforcement misbehavior and corruption. Some states and municipalities, seeking new revenue streams, have extended the use of the process to discourage illegal activities such as drunk driving, cockfighting, drag racing, prostitution, gambling in homes, poaching of endangered fish, securities fraud, and other suspected illegal activity. Since the 1990s, as burgeoning government’s need for more and more tax revenues has mushroomed, the number of federal statutes permitting government forfeiture doubled from 200 to 400. State governments have been very quick to follow that example. But the illegal drug industry, and anyone who might possibly be somehow associated with it, or construed to be so, remains the chief target of “forfeiture” practices. As long as marijuana remains an illegal drug, its users remain subject to forfeiture laws.
After police and authorities have possession of cash or other seized property, there are two ways in which the seized assets become permanently theirs: First, if a prosecutor can prove in a courtroom that seized assets were connected to criminal activity, or Second, if nobody tries to claim the seized assets. The latter is the norm; in most instances the assets simply revert to police ownership by default. In many cases, of course, the state was correct that the seized property was the result of ill-gotten gains. (If this is proven in court, then the proceeds from seized property should be allocated to those community charity organizations that try to address the societal problems created by the trade in illegal drugs, i.e., put it back from where it came.) But this still leaves a lot of property seized that was not the result of any criminal activity, or seized property that enormously exceeded the “criminal” violation involved, property seized without probable cause, etc..
A citizen needs a lot of money and time to bring a suit against the state, especially when the burden is on the citizen to prove his innocence, to prove a negative. Just hiring lawyers will take a big chunk out of the stolen funds, if not exceed the amount stolen. So few victims even try to get their money back. If a victim does challenge the seizure, prosecutors sometimes offer to return half of the seized funds or property as part of a deal in exchange for not suing. Sometimes police officials, challenged by lawyers or by victims, volunteer to return all of the money provided that the victim promises not to sue police or prosecutors. Not suing gets the state and its law officials off the hook for any responsibility, accountability and damages for improper actions, since it’s not likely that law enforcement people are going to charge their own members with a crime. According to a report published by the Washington Post, many victims sign such no-sue agreements simply to get some or all of their money back. Since it is extremely challenging to go up against the enormous resources of the tax-funded state, victims of forfeiture often have long and expensive legal struggles to get their property back. One estimate was that only one percent of federally taken property is ever returned to its former owners. (It is extremely rare for law enforcement officials to inform such victims that changes to federal law require government to pick up lawyer fees if it losses in court.) A 1% rate of returning illegally seized property tells those engaging in the activity that it is sure-fire win-win situation for those engaging in it.
In essence, the whole “forfeiture” process is a “legal” self-serving government racket in which the actual “justice system” perpetrators (from police to prosecutors to judges) never have to fear paying a price for stealing the property of the citizens they are supposed to be serving. Any way you look at it, this racket is an enormously lucrative supplement to those humongous tax dollars going straight into government bureaucracies and their very well-compensated bureaucrats. For normal average people, challenging the justice system is an exceedingly daunting task, so it’s not at all surprising that this criminal racket keeps growing by leaps and bounds.
What happens to a society when the people view those in law enforcement as liars, crooks and shysters who get to violate with impunity the very laws they are supposed to be enforcing? Anarchy. And, hopefully, revolution. “All men equal under the law.” (sic) “No one above the law.” (sic)
If you can’t trust the justice system, you can’t trust anything.
The current tiny incremental effort is to authorize the legal use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and to approach it on a state-by-state basis, while leaving the harder national level to “later”. It’s another case of states leading when the sclerotic dysfunctional federal government won’t. Even if the whole rationale for such “medicinal” use is a charade, at least it’s a tiny step in the right direction from a taxpayer perspective. The only “right” direction is one that reduces the costs of this enormous industry to the American taxpayer.
Take Montana. Several years ago, Montana voters approved by an overwhelming majority a citizen initiative to make it legal to establish “medical marijuana” outlets in the state. This is what most state voters wanted. As soon as the vote was in, the new industry started to mushroom, growing by leaps and bounds at a rather alarming rate. Soon city governments were stepping in to try to control this growth. Now the state legislature is wrestling with a whole raft of measures that range from (audaciously) completely abolishing what voters wanted and approved to (wisely) tightly restricting this new industry’s growth. It was obvious that the initial legislation was not well thought through, was just the usual incompetence. All these efforts predictably view medical marijuana as a “problem” rather than as an “opportunity”. And one reason why it’s a “problem” is that Montana has no universal sales tax, so a way to selectively target a specific product (like cigarettes) for oppressive “taxation” has to be established.
In Montana in 2012 about 50% of the excitement over “medical marijuana” is emotional nonsense of the intellectually rigid that is usually associated with something that runs counter to long-established belief structures. (We saw the same thing when Galileo and Copernicus exploded the whole Earth-as-the-center-of-the-universe thing. Expect much of the same nonsense over the upcoming effort to allow women to engage in ground combat roles.) Another 30% of the medical marijuana excitement is deliberately misleading propaganda advanced by various organized vested interests. So only about 20% of the noise is valid stuff worth giving a quick once-over. (And, needless to say, the feds, seeing their own opportunity in the Montana confusion, were quick to storm in and arrest all sorts of people who were operating completely legally under state law, so maybe this was an intent of sloppy state legislators all along. “Let’s create a mess no one wants.”)
Lawyers and politicians found ways to extort incredibly exorbitant amounts of money from tobacco companies and their customers because they were entirely reputable, legally established and permanently fixed entities supposedly subject to government oversight and control from the beginning (much like the real estate, mortgage and banking industries were (sic)). But every month with the illegal drug trade we allow billions of dollars of our inherited national wealth to simply flood out of the country or into the pockets of hundreds of thousands of Privileged Class bureaucrats.
Why? Because we’ve been so locked into the naïve thinking done for us by our fathers and grandfathers that we can’t be creative enough to come up with better approaches ourselves – approaches that work in today’s world. We haven’t figured out a way to tax a disreputable, criminal and ever-mobile enterprise. So the legal cigarette people pay the piper, but the illegal drug people get a free pass – along with humongous profits. My! Aren’t we just brilliant!? And brave bullies, too. Picking on, and piling on, only the very easiest of targets….
Since this is a “war” absolutely guaranteed never to end, the best we will ever do is maybe reduce some of the taxpayer’s costs. Permitting the establishment of a small medical marijuana industry is a good step in the right direction, regardless of whether or not it’s all a medical sham. It is no more of a problem than the local brew, alcohol, gambling or cigarette businesses. It’s just novel, needs time, experience, maturity. The idea is to make marijuana like cigarettes — establish an entirely reputable, legally established and permanently fixed industry subject to responsible government oversight and control. Once we figure out how to do that, while also allowing the industry to survive and make a profit, we can begin to control and extort (tax) it accordingly.
Once that whole medicinal system is in place and working, then we can begin to decriminalize marijuana in stages and then control and tax it just like we do the beer, alcohol and tobacco industries. Despite the fact that they can also rationalize the gambling industry, including hugely lucrative state-government-run lotteries, vested interests in government can be expected to resist this process with marijuana every step of the way – since it represents a really large portion of taxpayer costs going straight into their pockets that is very likely to decline with de-criminalization. But independently thinking elected officials, appropriately representing the people rather than the government, should have no difficulty reaching the correct decisions, and then defending those decisions to the public, especially after a half century of monotonously insane history going nowhere.
Unless government unduly perverts the whole medical marijuana business, the forces of the marketplace will eventually do a better job of control and policing than bureaucrats ever will. The more “legal” it is, the more open and aboveboard it will become. On the other hand, the more it gets “regulated”, the more it will seek ways to circumvent the regulations, to become more “illegal”. We should view its shops like we do restaurants or bars or clinics and require them to meet the same standards of cleanliness, record-keeping, etc.. Many “controls” are already on the books elsewhere, especially in the areas of health and safety, drunk driving, open container, public disorder, loitering, etc.. If the illegal aspects of the marijuana industry are reduced or removed, marijuana costs and profits will drop along with open market competition, thus reducing the criminal incentives.
The key is to not get too hung up on details of the medical marijuana business that make it too much a “special” case and cripple the long-range objective. We should look at it like a cottage industry in home brews, one or two of which could possibly become the next Coors – operating legally within the same system originally set up for small mom and pop shops.
Once it becomes routine, then we can follow California’s lead on decriminalization in stages. California already has a thriving legal and controlled medical marijuana industry, which is a small part of the state’s cannabis industry. California’s illegal domestic marijuana market, the state’s largest crop, has an annual value of $14 Billion; taxing it would net the state $1.4 Billion a year and make a big dent in the state’s irresponsible debt. California authorities made more than 61,000 arrests for marijuana-related misdemeanors in 2008. Law enforcement costs to the California taxpayer of marijuana are $300 Million a year; most citizens think this is a waste of taxpayer money. With these and similar facts as background, the state’s 2010 Proposition 19, an initiative that, if approved, would have legalized various marijuana-related activities under state law, allowing local governments to regulate these activities, to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorize various criminal and civil penalties. Before the initiative failed a popular vote of 47%-53%, Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 1449. Effective 1 January 2011, SB 1449 turns the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor into an civil infraction. Some believe that the Governor’s action was what made the difference in causing Proposition to fail a popular vote. (Many voters favored Prop 19 because they objected to the criminal aspect to the possession of such a small amount that it could only be intended for personal use.) But popular support for Proposition 19 as measured by opinion polls consistently falls at or above 50% and is not likely to go away. California’s one recent legal change — decriminalizing the possession of up to one ounce (28 grams) — will save that state tens of millions of taxpayer dollars annually, not to mention tens of thousands of young lives not ruined.
But there is also a major role to be played by parents. As a man who has spent much of his life living in foreign cultures, I know that we have severe problems in America that are not matched in most other advanced cultures. One major difference is usually in the way we “forbid bad things” to our young, rather than in openly teaching them from a very early age about “moderation”, responsible enjoyment of some “finer things in life”, like wine. It’s amazing how the open and familiar becomes so much less enticing. In fact, parents in most other advanced cultures despise the way we deal with such things – because the misuse by our young gets shown via popular media to their young in ways which their kids then seek to copy. So our LACK of proper adult teaching undercuts their whole far more responsible adult teaching process everywhere.
Now, if we could also just start extorting all those prescription and designer drugs, that the wealthy misuse for their own enjoyment, just like we extort alcohol and cigarettes…..
* > The Justice Industry. Government bureaucrats with guns are as ubiquitous in American society as flies on a farm. We have more justice people policing Americans than we have military people policing the world.
In the federal government alone there are an astounding 40 agencies with 100 bureaus whose personnel have law enforcement authority. In 2004, federal agencies employed approximately 105,000 full-time personnel authorized to make arrests and carry firearms. Nationwide, there were 36 federal officers per 100,000 residents. About 3 in 4 federal law enforcement officers (working outside the Armed Forces) were employed within the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice. (These numbers have steadily increased since 2004.)
The estimated 17,575 state and local law enforcement agencies in 2004 employed nearly 1.1 million persons on a full-time basis, including 732,000 sworn personnel (those with general arrest powers). These agencies also employed approximately 105,000 part-time employees, including 46,000 sworn officers. Local police departments were the largest employer of sworn officers, accounting for 61% of the total. Sheriffs’ offices were next, accounting for 24%. The remainder were employed by the 49 primary State law enforcement agencies (8%) or special jurisdiction agencies (7%).
Operating budgets of local police departments totaled $55.4 billion for fiscal year 2007. Overall local police operating costs for fiscal year 2007 were $116,500 per sworn officer, $88,200 per employee, and $260 per resident. About 1 in 3 local police departments received money, goods, or property from a drug asset forfeiture program, with more than $300 million in receipts overall (less than 1% of total operating budgets).
And these huge numbers do not include the far larger numbers of law enforcement support personnel, people employed in the judicial system or people employed in the incarceration and parole industries without guns or arrest authority at all levels of government. Then there are those they arrest, try and imprison.
Over 2,400,000 incarcerated people cost US taxpayers about $80,000,000,000 – every year.
In 1980, the US had only 320,000 people incarcerated
That’s an incredible increase under the Baby Boomers of 750%.
> The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world (June 2009: 748 inmates per 100,000 US residents, or 0.75%). In 2009 American prisons and jails held 2,297,400 inmates, of which 92.9% were male and 7.1% were female. Also, about 30% were Whites; 38% were Blacks; and 21% were Hispanics. About 1 in 100 adults in America is in jail. Nearly one million (43%) of those incarcerated in state and federal prisons, as well as local jails, are serving time for committing non-violent crimes. In addition, there are about 100,000 held in juvenile facilities in the US.
The US also has the highest total prison and jail population in the world (December 2009: 7,225,800 people on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole — about 3.1% of adults, or 1 in every 32 adults. These figures have steadily and dramatically (quadrupled) increased since 1980. The US has less than 5% of the world’s population and 24% of the world’s prison population. After the US rate of 748, the next highest incarceration rate is in Russia (625). The American rate is seven times higher than in Europe or in China.
About 1 in 9 state government employees works in “corrections”, and about $75,000,000,000 is spent on “corrections”.
Low-tolerance laws during the 1980s passed to combat rising drug and drug related crimes led to low-tolerance and mandatory “three strikes” laws to combat all crime. (Government prosecutors, using the full power of the state, love to “pad their résumés” with lots of “tough on crime” convictions that will lead to higher elected office, and that same “thinking” then infects politicians passing laws.) Today, only about 17% of prisoners are in jail because of drug crimes. Because the emphasis in the US is almost solely on warehousing criminals in “crime academies”, with almost no attention to rehabilitation, recidivism rates for US prisoners are incredibly higher than for any other location in the world.
Footnote #1: Sex For Money. The War On Drugs is not so different from keeping humanity’s oldest profession – prostitution – illegal. Making commercial prostitution a violation of laws, of course, is precisely what causes the disease, violence, slavery, human traffic and similar forms of abuse that characterize this industry. Just as with Prohibition (of alcohol, 1920-33), the illegality of the activity is what drives it underground and makes it immediately subject to all sorts of lucrative criminal activity. And, just like the War On Drugs, it benefits most those who make their living in the enforcement, prosecution and judicial system, at the expense of the sucker taxpayer. A rational person would conclude that, since none of those undesired by-products is found where commercial prostitution is legal (and controlled and taxed), then this might be a smarter way to go. But it doesn’t work that way. This is another of those inexplicable cases in a Baby Boomer society where emotion trumps logic and solutions are for “someone else” far down the road.
But this particular activity has one major perverted twist: when the prostitution is conducted legally, such as within marriage or similar relationships, it is perfectly acceptable, even admired. Just about any way you look at it, it’s still sex in exchange for pecuniary reward. What other purpose is served by all that attention focused on men having to “remember” (and amply reward) events like proposals, marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc., with very expensive trinkets? Those who benefit most from this form of legal prostitution, of course, are also those among the forefront of keeping commercial prostitution illegal – for their own obviously self-serving purposes. This has to be one of the most convoluted rationales in contemporary western society – totally devoid of even a modicum of logic, not even pretending to be somehow based on “equality” considerations. How many women offer men a huge diamond ring to share their bed with them, until the men decide they don’t want to anymore? Women, including those aggressively prosecuting the prostitution industry, even compete with each other to see whose “charms” have resulted in the biggest rewards from the dumbest of men. Prostitution is evil – unless, of course, it benefits “me”. It’s not the activity that is evil; it’s the competition.
It’s like why you have to pay $1,000,000 for a cab driver’s license (yep, a million bucks) in almost every major city in America. (Which person can pay a million dollars just to drive a taxi as his livelihood?) Those who control the city cab business to their own benefit don’t want the competition that would come from the entry of individual entrepreneurs. Those who pass such laws (for sufficient rewards paid to them), of course, know that they create a monopoly in a theoretically capitalist society, a monopoly that enables artificially inflated fares to be charged to captive customers with no legal choice. Prohibition of competition from individual entrepreneurs pays really lucrative dividends – at the expense, as usual, of the average schmuck.
Drugs, prostitution, cab licenses – they’re all variations on the same theme. Sometimes really stupid things that have been going on for a very long time in our society begin to make a little sense when you look for those who benefit most from the stupidity, and who pays the tab.
Footnote #2: Incarceration rates have tripled in the US over the last thirty years (since 1980) – at a truly humongous cost to taxpayers. (Very many of these imprisoned are due to nothing more than offenses related to minute amounts of marijuana. The only people who benefit from such really idiotic prosecutions and mandatory sentencing requirements, naturally, are those employed in the burgeoning and very lucrative ‘justice’ system. It’s all part of the ever dumber, ever larger and ever more intrusive, American Police State – a truly ironic legacy for the Baby Boomer mobs who demanded an end to all rules when they were young in the 1960s. It’s all designed, of course, solely to favor the “special” people.)
Since drug use, including cigarettes and marijuana, is so widespread throughout society, it provides the perfect excuse for all these police officials to intrude ever more into the private lives of all citizens, even right into their homes. Drugs (along with imagined “terrorists” under every rock) are rapidly turning America into the world’s most sophisticated Police State hiding behind a “safety and security” smokescreen and employing the world’s most advanced technology to snoop around literally everywhere at will. It’s getting so that it’s very difficult for anyone who’s paying attention NOT to see a despicably creepy Stasi-style voyeur when spotting any American police official. While laws protecting privacy in telephone and mail communications remain on the books, most people have shifted to using the public internet or radio waves for this purpose – which are not protected. Neither is privacy protected from a wide range of other recent technology. Personal privacy in America has become a delusional fiction. There IS no privacy in America. There is only intrusive police state powers under something shamefully titled the “Patriot” Act ostensibly intended to ensure “safety and security” to all cowering cowards everywhere as they sing about the “land of the free, home of the brave”.
Literally everything personal in America is now readily available to government bureaucrats on each and every one of its citizens. These days police even use technology to record our movements, to see through physical privacy barriers, including clothing and walls. Next comes the ultimate Big Brother terror – a constantly humming presence with cameras and guns and gas constantly hovering overhead ever ready to peer, to record, to pounce, to disable, to exterminate, by remote control – the ultimate Police State population control Predator drone operated by pasty two-dimensional fatso creeps peering into computer monitors far away while filling up digital dossiers a million times faster than thousands of Stasi clerks could ever do. And all in America, “land of the free, home of the brave”. Right.
Tomorrow’s “detectives” will be computer programs, no brains required. These twisted people will use that software to seize on any excuse to invade your soul, and own it. Having spent so much of my life fighting totalitarian regimes on the extreme right and the extreme left, I now can’t stop the hair on the back of my neck from standing up whenever encountering an American police official, especially when I know that their technical, if not intellectual, capabilities far surpass anything the Nazis or Communists ever imagined. And all due to pot, and “terrorists” who go ‘boom’ in the night. This American prison may be a fitting consequence of a population that has been taught (marginally) for forty years what to think, but not how to think, all according to the laws of politically correct censorship, .. but it scares the living hell out of me.