Vice Squad
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Who bears the costs of drug prohibition?

Earlier today the Vice Squad host Jim Leitzel argued that the political support for such an apparently wasteful policy as drug prohibition probably has something to do with the fact that "Prohibition rains havoc upon inner cities, but much less so upon middle-class neighborhoods." That is probably true, but even "much less" havoc can impose considerable costs. More important, who pays most of the taxes that fund the prohibition policy? Also, I am sure that the middle class is the main consumer of the illegal drugs and, therefore, has to pay extra for the stuff. In addition, middle-class consumers are always in danger of being caught. I think the most likely explanation for the apparent political support of the prohibition is that somehow the costs borne by the middle class are underappreciated by it. As a person who is used to assuming that over the long run people generally act at least close to rationally, I am not comfortable with such explanation, but nothing better comes to mind so far.

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