Neither the Cops, Nor the Cage Guards, Nor the Dealers

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We had lunch with an old friend last week. We hadn’t seen him since our school days in the ’60s. He told us the following story.

“It’s amazing. I’ve lived there all my life. But I’m a little different, I guess. My brothers are doctors and lawyers. I did them a favor by being the black sheep of the family. So they didn’t have to be.

“I live in a rich neighborhood. But I don’t work much. I can’t work at all now, since I had my motorcycle accident. And I guess people wonder how I could live in such a place. Well, the answer is simple. My father was an eye surgeon and he bought it in 1941 and gave it to his children when he died.

“Well, somehow, the idea got out that we were drug dealers. The police started keeping an eye on us. There was an old van parked on the property. They figured it was for transporting drugs. And then, I had a couple of Mexicans helping me on the farm. They figured those guys must be drug runners. I don’t know how it all happened, because I’ve been there for more than 60 years…and anyone could have asked me what was going on.

“But one night, I’m in bed and these guys in combat gear bust down the door and point rifles at me and my wife. It was a SWAT team of some sort. And then my son came home. They asked him what he was doing there. He told them he lived there. So they arrested him too…

“Of course, the door wasn’t even locked. They could have just turned the doorknob. But I guess that wouldn’t have been so exciting…

“They let me out of jail in a matter of hours…but only after signing a paper saying we wouldn’t sue the police for false arrest, etc. If I didn’t sign the paper they said the arrest would be on my son’s record for life…”

How do things like that happen? How do the police and drug enforcement agencies make such a mistake?

Well, there’s a lot of money in the drug trade…and not just for the people who traffic in drugs. The drug dealers make money. The drug fighters make money too. In short, the illegal drug industry has been zombified.

The dealers make money because the drug fighters restrict supply, keeping prices, and profit margins, high. The drug fighters make money because they are on the front lines in the war against drugs! They put on uniforms and pretend to be combating serious crime. They get jobs, helicopters, cars, guns, sophisticated machinery…and much more.

And then, when they actually catch someone with drugs, the lawyers come into the picture…and the prosecutors…and the prisons. Guess what is said to be the most powerful single lobbying organization in the state of California? Prison guards! The whole thing is immensely profitable. Everyone wants a piece of it.

The war on drugs may be a colossal waste of money and a stain on America’s escutcheon, with millions of dollars wasted and thousands of people sent to prison for no good reason. But neither the drug dealers nor the drug fighters want to see it come to an end.

Bill Bonner is the author, with Addison Wiggin, of Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of The 21st Century and The New Empire of Debt: The Rise Of An Epic Financial Crisis and the co-author with Lila Rajiva of Mobs, Messiahs and Markets (Wiley, 2007). His latest book is Dice Have No Memory. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind The Daily Reckoning.

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