Drug trafficking is different from other crimes because, among other reasons, those who work in it obtain stratospheric profits. which gives them the resources to buy sophisticated and powerful arms, diverse vehicles (submarines and planes included), the capacity to corrupt officials at every level of the hierarchy, and strong incentives to continue recruiting operators and gunmen. Through significantly minar the cartels' funds, the task of confronting them becomes a lot more effective, and the social costs, less (as is the case with criminal bands engaged in other common crimes). The idea behind the eventual legalization of drugs is precisely to eliminate a extremely high profitability derived from the black market, which is a product in turn of the prohibition beginning in 1908. But while this is going on, legalization should be viewed as the way to subtract a portion of the capos' funds. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that this be achieved by trying to seal off the northern border to stop the cash flow that comes from the United States to Mexico. A greater effort to impede money laundering and confiscate the fortunes of the capos could strike greater blows and impose lesser social costs.Crespo's explanation of how legalization would be an improvement is perfectly reasoned; it wouldn't make crime go away, and he might have added that it could cause a near-term spike in certain crimes. Regardless, a generation after legalization, it's unlikely that the remaining criminals would have been able to replace all the lost drug-trafficking income. With less cash, they'd be less of a threat.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Crespo on Legalization
José Antonio Crespo made a good case for legalization earlier this week: