14 January 2012

Was It Worth It?


Drug-related violence in Mexico keeps rising, according to government statistics released on Wednesday, suggesting the government of President Felipe Calderón is no closer to resolving a drug war that has killed close to 50,000 people and turned parts of the country into virtual war zones.
During the first nine months of 2011, some 12,903 people were killed in drug-related violence—11% more than the killings during the same period in 2010, according to a database released by the Attorney General's Office. [Emphasis added.]

Since I don’t subscribe to the WSJ, I do not know the breakdown of the statistics behind this.  However, wars do tend to have predictable elements, such as civilian deaths—euphemistically called “collateral damage”—and this war is not likely to be an exception.  And even if there are no civilian deaths, is the prevention of drug use really worth the cost of 13,000 lives?

Yes, drugs are terrible for people.  Drugs are unhealthy, cause personal problems, familial problems, social problems, etc.  There are undoubtedly downsides to drug use, and drug use is certainly immoral to many people.  Again, though, is drug use so terrible as to be worth 13,000 lives?

Also, this war on drugs, like prohibition before it, has led to political corruption, as well as the creation and expansion of underground cartels that are generally not bound by the normal concerns of morality and ethics.  This has all led to an increase in violence and a selective application of anti-drug laws.  Basically, the price of abolishing drugs has been quite, and all that has been purchased is violence, corruption, and the unabated march of increasing drug use.  Was it worth it?

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