A Modest Proposal-For Arizona

Posted: 3 May 2010 in Everything Else...
Tags: , ,

The following is a “modest proposal” for the lawmakers of Arizona.  According to CNN, Arizona’s Governor, Jan Brewer  stated the following as her rationale for signing SB 1070:

Border violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state.  There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of the drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.

Clearly then, drugs and drug violence are (at least partly) behind SB 1070.  The drug business–for it is just that–is a highly lucrative, if risky, one.  The reason is a simple matter of economics.  Since the beginning of the much talked about “war on drugs” under Richard Nixon in 1973 billions of dollars have been spent attempting to affect the supply side of the trade.  Arguably, this has led to the pernicious effect of raising the price of drugs, making the risk of engagement worth taking for many.  Indeed, attempting to control the supply along the southern US border has helped create the hyperviolent gangs that seek to control it. High risk, high reward: this kind of illicit business always attracts the most violent elements of any society.

Thus, since Nixon, the USA has engaged in a high-stakes attempt to influence the market in drugs by focusing on supply-side tactics.  Given this you might think that my modest proposal would be to legalize (or at least decriminalize) drugs.  But you would be wrong.  While studies show that legalization would lower the price of drugs, wrest control of the trade from drug cartels (not as much money to be made) and provide a source of much needed tax revenue, I do not expect the hard-on-crime-law-and-order lawmakers of Arizona to accept this free market solution (unlike their liberal neighbors to the west who are toying with the idea in relation to marijuana at least).  No, my modest proposal is much more palatable, has an elegant justification and allows Arizona’s lawmakers to show they are tough on crime to boot.

The solution is born out of a simple finding in a study conducted by Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) and colleagues,  based on the World Health Organization’s Composite International Diagnostic Interview in 2008.  Degenhardt et al concluded the following (among other things):

Higher income was associated with higher rates of both illegal and legal drug use.

And there you have it–the answer to the problem of drug use and drug violence in Arizona.  To see how you must understand that the government has been all wrong in its attempt to reduce the drug trade by focusing on supply side.  Rather than that it must focus on the demand side.

So here is my modest proposal: the lawmakers of Arizona must immediately pass a law that will give officers the right to stop any and all luxury automobiles and demand immediate drug tests of all vehicle occupants.  Since higher income is associated with higher rates of drug use to “dry up the swamp” of demand the wealthy must be subjected to tests of drug use at the discretion of police officers.

Further, any person tested and found positive for any elicit drug should be subject to immediate trial in which the blood or urine test evidence is submitted to a special “drug courts judge” who can provide a speedy verdict.  There should be no “third strike” allowance but rather immediate and public execution of anyone found guilty of having used drugs.  While the law could begin using routine traffic stops of high-end vehicles (Mercedes, Lexus’, Jaguars–with a special focus on tinted glass SUVs: you know how the wealthy like to have their privacy), eventually the Arizona government could merely use filed tax returns to require random tests of all household members living in households with incomes that pass a certain “wealth threshold”–say $150,000. Finally, the public executions should be televised and done en masse using the method of deliberate overdosing of those convicted of drug use with lawmakers (including the governor) “turning on” the symbolic overdose drip. (Perhaps the federal government could get in on the action by similarly prosecuting and executing “high profile” illicit drug users–including those who abuse prescription drugs–such as pop celebrities, radio talk show hosts and professional athletes).

The advantages of this proposal are clear:

1.  Public executions of this type are sure to stop drug use in its tracks in short order (after all, this is what the lawmakers of Arizona have certainly learned–make the crime pay enough and people will stop committing it).

2. The law maintains the preferred strategy of profiling while shifting it to those who are driving the criminality by their behavior.

3. The law relies on a profiling criteria that is based on hard scientific evidence rather than on racial profiling that is useless in a part of the world in which the indigenous population is the one most likely to be profiled.

4.  The law balances a clearly failed market intervention on the supply side with one on the demand side that is likely to have a less costly and greater deterrent effect.

5.  The law allows lawmakers to maintain their tough on crime commitments.

I call you to join me in a letter writing campaign to our friends in the state house of Arizona to encourage them to consider this modest proposal

Dedicated to my grandson Jaime…
  1. Brian Gumm says:

    Delicious satire, Robb! Well met.

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