How To Win the War on Drugs

Conservatives are unwilling to give up the war on drugs. They are convinced that there is a war of drug lords on innocent victims, beginning with teenage children, and they are uninterested in arguments for de-criminalization.

Conservatives want the State to spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on prisons to house convicted drug pushers — after the fact. Liberals want the State to spend at least an equal amount on treatment and rehabilitation — after the fact.

I’m interested in shutting down the market for illegal drugs. I say that it takes two to tango — buyers and sellers — and I’m for shutting down the tango floor.

We know where it is. There’s one in your town. There are probably more than one. These are dark places of the soul. The users come, desperate to buy a new high or maybe only a way to keep from getting the shakes. The sellers come, greedy for income from the sale of their destructive wares, despite the misery they sow.

And then there are the innocents — children who have money in their pockets and time on their hands. They come in droves, looking for new thrills in a boring, meaningless environment.

What we need is a clean sweep. We need to send local police, DEA officers, and the news media into these hell-holes and shut them down once and for all.

I’m talking about the public schools.

Every day, your local government sends out dozens or hundreds of yellow buses to round up the next generation of addicts. These psychologically weakened, carefully targeted victims are brought to the drug cartel’s central emporium, where sellers can make their initial, price-competitive offer — “The first one’s free!” — and their subversive incantation, “Try it; you’ll like it!” Only the Vice Principal stands between the users and the retail source of their addiction.

Sellers go where the money is, and the people with the money are concentrated for seven hours a day in one convenient, rent-free location.

Users and prospective users are herded into rooms where they must sit for hours in hard, wooden seats, to be lectured at by indoctrinators, whose job, by federal law, is to persuade these children that life can be meaningful and full of hope without the following: (1) the idea that God has any place in the classroom, the voting booth, or the public square; (2) the idea that there will be a final judgment (except for Adolph Hitler) that produces eternal consequences; (3) the idea that mankind is the work of God rather than purposeless, random forces of impersonal nature; (4) the idea that man was placed on earth by God to exercise dominion over the creation, rather than being merely a primate species with the unique competitive edge of opposable thumbs; (5) the idea that individuals are legally and morally responsible for their actions, including their obligation to save for their retirement years and to pay for their medical care; (6) the idea that there are final answers to divisive moral questions (except regarding Hitler); and (7) the idea that a relevant, foundational education for all of life can be successfully imparted in an institution that doesn’t employ full-time coaches. (Technically, point #7 is not mandated by federal law; rather, it is mandated by local voters who will pressure the school board to fire the principal if the football team goes 2-9 again this season.)

Educators know that life cannot be lived strictly in terms of negatives. There are also positive issues dealt with inside the public school classroom, including: (1) the right to get free abortion counseling from school-approved professionals without consulting with parents; (2) the right of every sexual lifestyle to gets its position — intellectual, I mean — discussed in the classroom as one legitimate choice among many; (3) the right of every known minority group (except Nazis) to get at least one positive paragraph in the social studies textbook; (4) the right of every student to gain a sense of self-esteem, except on sports teams; and (5) the right of students to inform any teacher regarding their parents’ attitudes on matters of social or psychological relevance to the school district.

Then, in between classes, students meet to discuss the implications of all this for their lives. “The first one’s free. Try it; you’ll like it.”

When was the last time you saw a local TV news report on a drug bust at a local private high school?

When was the last time you read a newspaper article on a student who overdosed on heroin at a local private high school?

Moving slightly afield, when was the last time the police had to be sent in to break up a gang riot at a local private high school? (I can imagine the newspaper report. “The fight broke out when a group of Catholics allegedly began chanting, ‘infused grace, infused grace,’ during the compulsory morning chapel period. Baptists allegedly retaliated with cries of ‘imputed grace, imputed grace.’ ‘It kept getting louder and louder,’ said Mr. Brubaker, who teaches calculus and is also the school’s headmaster. ‘We finally had to call the police when the Methodists began shouting, ‘prevenient grace.’ It was just terrible. But I can assure the public that we are taking steps to deal with these issues.'”)


What we need is an all-out drug war that targets the primary recruiting centers used by drug-pushers, the retail outlets of choice for the Colombian drug cartel: America’s tax-supported high schools.

If I ever hear of members of Congress calling for this kind of bipartisan war on drugs, I’ll take them much more seriously. When I hear one of them stand up on the floor of either house of Congress and say the following, I’ll be impressed. “As part of the war on drugs, I am today introducing legislation to stop all federal funding of education.” Then his colleague from across the aisle stands up and says, “I am ready to support this bill if the distinguished gentleman from Texas is ready to support my bill to remove all educational institutions from the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board.”

When the demand for illegal drugs is at long last analyzed in terms of the categories that the demand for prescription-only painkillers is analyzed — the chemical relief of pain — then we shall begin to come to grips with America’s continuing drug problem. The war on drugs should begin with a systematic program to eliminate the tax-supported sources of the initial users’ pain, institutions that are also the primary marketplaces for the sale of the painkillers of choice. Until this is done, I don’t think the war on drugs has much of a chance at reducing the level of addiction.

Until then, every time you see a yellow public school bus on the highway, think to yourself, “Free transportation to cocaine central.” On the back of every school bus in America, these words should be plainly visible: “Medellin-Approved.”

January 15, 2001

Gary North is the author of an eleven-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible. The latest volume is Cooperation and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Romans. The series can be downloaded free of charge at