Monthly Archives: August 2018

Illegal Drugs, Illegal Immigrants Part Three

Illegal Drugs, Illegal Immigrants, Part Three 8/4/18 – Peter Burrows – Blog:

Mexican drug cartels had estimated 2016 revenues from the sale of illegal drugs in the U.S. of as much as $50 billion.  They’ve used that money to corrupt local and state police forces, political parties, businesses and ordinary citizens.  What this means is that there are many Mexicans who are not directly involved in the illegal drug trade who profit from it.

The same can be said of the United States.  Drug dealers spend money on cops, politicians, real estate and legitimate businesses.   How big the penumbra of legitimate economic activity that emanates from the illegal drug business is a big unknown.

Add to that the livelihoods of all those employed in the war on drugs, from cops to judges, and there is a perfectly understandable constituency to maintain the status quo.  Legalizing drugs would upset a lot of apple carts, and not just those of the drug dealers and everybody who works for them.

That said, most people oppose legalizing drugs in principle, regardless of whether it would affect their livelihood.  Nonetheless, one of the benefits of legalization would be a big reduction in the government bureaucracies dedicated to the war on drugs.  These bureaucracies will oppose legalization efforts.

For legalization of drugs such as heroin and cocaine to occur, the public has to support it, which they don’t now.  Whether this will change or not is a big question. The legalization of marijuana that is now underway, state by state, has been instructive. Pew Research reports that in 2000 only 31% of those surveyed approved legalizing pot vs. 61% in 2018.

A 2016 survey (Vox) showed a similar result with 59% approval. That same survey showed only about 15% approval for legalizing heroin, cocaine, or meth.  That may change if synthetic drugs become the problem I think they will. More on that later.

As of today, eight states plus D.C. have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, and another 22 have legalized medical marijuana.  Those states with total legalization have seen price reductions of as much as eighty percent versus the pre-legalized price.  Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in a fifty percent reduction in the amount of marijuana seized at the border.  If the trend continues, the cartels will soon be out of the marijuana business.

Pot smokers in legalized states get not only lower prices, they also get higher quality, more choice and no hassle from the cops.  I wouldn’t be surprised to someday see competing brands of marijuana cigarettes.  “Competing” is the key word.  Competition drives down prices and drives up quality.

The same effects would apply if heroin and cocaine were legalized.  Prices would drop, quality would increase, deaths from accidental overdoses would drop, incarcerations would drop, as would violence and corruption.  The farmers around the world who grow poppies and cocoa would stay in business but their customers would change, e.g. drug companies instead of cartels.

Like other commodities, drug demand is influenced by price, fads, marketing, consumer preference and substitution.  The latter is important, as opioid overdose deaths are lower in states with legalized marijuana.  The cravings experienced by opioid addicts whose prescriptions have expired are alleviated by marijuana, a rational choice if marijuana is legal and non-prescription opioids aren’t.

Opioid addiction, which stems from the over prescription of Oxycontin, Vicodin, etc., is the latest example of a government created drug problem.  I recently filled a prescription for 30 generic Vicodin pills at a dollar a pill.  Should I need refills, (I won’t) I would risk becoming dependent on the drug and suffer withdrawal symptoms.  I would be unable to get my prescription renewed to treat that problem.

The black market would charge me $5 a pill, if I could find them, and even then, I wouldn’t know if I was getting the real drug.  Why not allow me to register as an opioid addict and thereby get the drug for, e.g. $2 a pill along with counseling or something?  As an aside, I don’t think it works as well as advertised, but it works well enough for me to prefer addiction to the pain I experienced.  If I can’t get more Vicodin, please, Great God government, give me permission to smoke a legal joint.

Similarly, methamphetamine might not be as bad a problem if alternative drugs, especially cocaine, were legal and cheap.  Drug consumers make rational choices when they can.

Meth is a good example of the Whack-A-Mole nature of the illegal drug market.  The Mexican cartels have compensated for the loss of their marijuana business by pushing sales of other drugs, especially meth. The DEA says about 90 percent of the meth trade is controlled by the cartels, and the use of and deaths from meth are growing rapidly. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention puts 2015 deaths from stimulants, mostly meth, at almost 6,000, a 255% increase from ten years ago.

This is the second time meth has become a national problem. Back in the 1980’s, biker gangs began making meth from ephedrine, found in many cold medicines. By 2005, meth seemed to be everywhere, along with the very dangerous labs that produced it.  In 2004, near the peak of the meth problem, police in Portland, Oregon, destroyed 114 meth labs. One city!

When the government shut down the supply of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, the meth labs disappeared here and production shifted to Mexico.  There the cartels set up labs, imported the chemicals they needed and got really, really efficient at making the stuff.  The meth sold today is nearly 100% pure and sells for as low as $5 a hit.

“We’re seeing a lot of long-time addicts who used crack cocaine switch to meth,” said Brendan Combs, a Portland police officer.  “You ask them about it, and they’ll say: ‘Hey, it’s half the price and it’s good quality.’“(The New York Times, 2/13/18: “Meth, the Forgotten Killer Is Back, And It’s Everywhere.”)

Cocaine and meth are both stimulants, unlike the opioids such as heroin, and the meth producers compete against both cocaine and other meth producers and they do so on the basis of price and quality.  It is conceivable that legalizing cocaine may be the most effective way to reduce the danger of meth. If we added the death penalty – and used it! — for meth dealers, that might eliminate the meth problem altogether.

War on drugs, my ass. We’re having a pillow fight on drugs.

The meth resurgence illustrates another trend that has huge implications in the war on drugs: illegal synthetic drugs could well become the number one drug problem in America. Opioids and cocaine are derived from plants that are grown. Meth and other synthetics are produced from chemicals readily available throughout the world, no farmers needed, just chemists.

Fentanyl is the best known synthetic. It is a heroin synthetic that is 50 times more potent than Nature’s version.  It is used most frequently as a skin patch for cancer patients and in post-op recovery.  (I recently had a dose. It was very effective, but I hope I never need one again.)  It costs pennies and small amounts can be sent through the mail in regular envelopes. Small amounts yield a large number of doses. It’s coming in from labs in both China and India, and there is no way to stop it.

The good news is that Fentanyl and its myriad analogues could put the cartels out of the heroin business.  Even if the cartels set up their own labs to produce Fentanyl et al, there’s eventually not going to be much profit in something so cheap and so readily available from a number of suppliers.

The bad news is that the synthetic is so powerful that accidental overdoses are becoming a big problem.  Overdoses stemming from over-prescription of analgesic opioids such as Oxycodone are getting all the publicity but the real problem is illegal Fentanyl. According to the CDC (, overdose deaths in America are running at a 70,000 per year rate, up from 50,000 in 2015.  Most of that increase is from Fentanyl deaths, up from 3,000 in 2015 to over 20,000 today.

The problem is that only 2 milligrams constitutes a deadly dose.  Since the drug is being mixed in with street heroin and used in fake prescription pills with little dose control, we can expect the death toll to continue to rise.

What to do?  The safest course of action would be to legalize Fentanyl as an over the counter drug which then puts the dosage in the hands of the drug companies, e.g. Merck or Pfizer. That way, somebody who purchases the drug will know what the dosage is. There is nothing we can do if that purchaser then overdoses.

In addition to synthetic heroin, synthetic cocaine and cannabis are also available and becoming more like the real stuff as chemists around the world compete to make “better” products.  All of this must add to the business woes of the Mexican cartels.  Are they headed to the dust bin of history? Beats me, but I hope so.

Last year saw a record 28,710 homicides in Mexico, an estimated one third related to illegal drugs, and this year is on track to be over 30,000. The violence is spreading into Central America. Throughout the region, decent people are trying to escape the violence by going to America. Sadly, when they cross into Mexico, they are at the mercy of the cartels.  Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently estimated that human smuggling brings the Mexican cartels over $500 million a year.

Some of this “business” will dry up as the illegal drug business disappears, but not all. People want to get to America for reasons other than to escape drug violence.  This means we’ll still need a wall, virtual or otherwise.

If it were up to me, anybody caught facilitating illegal immigration/invasion would be executed.  Any illegal in America would forever be denied citizenship and public benefits of any kind.  Any cost of incarcerating illegal immigrant criminals would be sent to the Mexican government.

At the same time, “racist” me would pay Mexican doctors, nurses, electricians, plumbers etc., to immigrate to America.  A million dollars tax free for a Mexican heart specialist? Sounds about right.  I wonder how long it would be before Mexico began cooperating in controlling our mutual border?

Illegal Drugs and Illegal Immigrants, Part Two

By Peter Burrows 7/13/18

In 2012, the U.S. White House Office of Drug Control Policy asked The RAND Corporation to estimate the market size of four drugs: cocaine (including crack), heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine (meth). Their report, released in 2014, estimated that, “drug users in the United States spend on the order of $100 billion annually on all four drugs (in 2010 dollars),” a figure they estimated to have been constant for a decade, with big shifts in the drugs purchased, e.g. meth up, cocaine down.

The report did not add the expense of police, judges, prisons and street crime associated with illegal drugs. Of course, there is no way to put a price on the hundreds of deaths associated with drugs, from cops to gang-bangers to innocent bystanders.

Neither did the report add the cost of the chaos and carnage our appetite for drugs causes in Central and South America. This is a national disgrace. Those of us who want absolute control of our borders must realize we have a moral obligation to people escaping the violence that we are responsible for. These people should be granted asylum, at least temporarily.

The problem is that then EVERYBODY trying to enter America will claim drug cartel hit-men are chasing them. The solution is to legalize the sale of marijuana, heroin and cocaine.

This is NOT a new idea. Nobel economist Milton Friedman made the case for legalization decades ago. Here are excerpts from an interview he gave in 1991 on “America’s Drug Forum,” a PBS talk show. (Available on You Tube. You will understand why Friedman didn’t like being called “conservative.” Questions and answers paraphrased for brevity.)

Question: How would America be changed for the better if drugs were legalized? Friedman: I see America with half the number of prisons, half the number of prisoners, ten thousand fewer homicides a year, inner cities in which there’s a chance for these poor people to live without being afraid for their lives, citizens who might be respectable who are now addicts not being subject to becoming criminals in order to get their drug, being able to get drugs for which they’re sure of the quality.

Question: What is the proper role of the government in this? 
Friedman: The proper role of government is exactly what John Stuart Mill said in the middle of the 19th Century. The proper role of government is to prevent other people from harming an individual. Government, he said, never has the right to interfere with an individual for that individual’s own good. The case for prohibiting drugs is exactly the case for prohibiting people from overeating. We all know that overeating causes more deaths than drugs do. If it’s in principle OK for the government to say you must not consume drugs because they’ll do you harm, why not that you must not overeat? (Friedman then made a similar case against skydiving, skiing, i.e. where do you draw the line on personal behavior.) 

Question: Is the drug problem an economic problem? 
Friedman: No, it’s a moral problem. It’s a problem of the harm which the government is doing. The prohibition of drugs produces, on average, ten thousand homicides a year. It’s a moral problem that the government is going around killing ten thousand people. It’s a moral problem when the government turns people into criminals for doing something we may not approve of but which harms nobody else, e.g. being arrested for smoking marijuana, being thrown in jail, having their lives destroyed.

If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. What do I mean by that? In an ordinary free market, potatoes or beef, anything you want, there are thousands of importers and exporters. Anybody can go into the business, but it’s very hard for a small person to import drugs because our interdiction efforts make it enormously costly. The cartels can afford fleets of airplanes, sophisticated methods and so on. By keeping goods out and arresting, for example, local marijuana growers, the government also keeps the prices high. What more could a monopolist want? He’s got a government who makes it very hard for his competition and who keeps the price of his product high.

Legalization is a way for us, as citizens, to stop our government from using its power to engage in the immoral behavior of killing people, taking lives away from people in the U.S., in Colombia and elsewhere, which we have no business doing. Right now, Uncle Sam is also taking property without due process of law. The drug enforcers are expropriating property, in many cases of innocent people. That’s a terrible way to run what’s supposed to be a free country. ——–

I urge interested readers to explore Dr. Friedman’s thinking on the many You Tube clips that are available. Sometimes he goes a little over the top, as when he said the government was “going around killing ten thousand people,” but if confronted, I’m sure he’d smile and say, “Does it make any difference to the victims who pulls the trigger?”

The question to ask is: Will we be worse off with legalized drugs than we are now? I want to emphasize that nobody who favors legalization thinks recreational use of these drugs is a good thing. There will be costs involved, and they will be very visible, but it’s a matter of choosing the lesser evil.

With legalization, we will need to spend a great deal more on rehabilitation and education, but that cost should be compared to what we now spend on incarcerating drug users and purveyors. Plus, rehab needs will probably expand as drug usage grows in response to both lower prices and the removal of legal penalties. How much? Beats me.

Marijuana legalization by different states gives us some insight on what happens to prices and demand after legalization. The website recently discussed pricing and they noted that an entrepreneur could buy a pound of marijuana in legal California and make about five times his cost by selling it in illegal New York. From this it would appear that, so far, legalizing marijuana results in about an 80% drop in price.

The price drop has led to an increase in demand in legal states, but nobody knows by how much since nobody knows how big the black market was. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a substantial increase in marijuana use, but I note that at one time almost 50% of the adults in America smoked cigarettes. Now, less than 15% do. Hopefully, marijuana use will eventually be lower than that.

The biggest obstacle to legalization in the past may have been that there were too many people benefiting from the status quo. I’ll cover that in Part Three, plus look at how synthetic opioids are disrupting the illegal drug business, both for good and for ill.



Illegal Drugs and Illegal Immigrants

Have you heard of political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? You will. The 28-year-old just won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District, beating an incumbent Democrat who had held the seat for 20 years — 20 years! — and who outspent her by a factor of eight. And it wasn’t even close: she beat him by 15 points.

How did she do it? It doesn’t hurt that she looks a little like Julia Roberts. She’s also an articulate campaigner who exudes warmth and self-confidence. She’s very likable, but the secret to her success may be that she’s a Hispanic who sounds like Bernie Sanders. She wants Medicare for all, tuition-free college, a guaranteed Federal job for everybody, and she’d abolish ICE and impeach Trump. Democrats around the country are enthralled.

However, before the lovely Ms. Ocasio-Ortiz becomes the Democratic nominee for President, they might want to consider the demographics of her district, as laid out by Star Parker in her July 4 column. The Census Bureau breaks down the demographics as 50% Hispanic, 9% black and 16% Asian; 45.8% are foreign born and 67.8% do not speak English at home.

This is not the demographic profile of America —-yet. Some of us horrid deplorables think that the Democratic party would like to see an America that looks like that. In fact, deplorable me thinks that if given the power, the Democrats would like to have open borders, instant citizenship, ballots in Spanish and a voting age of 10. (“If you’re old enough to go to the bathroom by yourself, you’re old enough to vote.”)

It wouldn’t be long before there would be a Constitutional Convention to do away with that pesky checks-and-balance BS that was imposed hundreds of years ago by a bunch of racist white men. No more First Amendment, no more Second Amendment and, Thank You God, no more Twenty Second Amendment. That’s the one that limited Presidents to two terms.

Barrack Obama would run again, and the vote would be so overwhelming that future elections would be considered a waste of time. Caudillo for li —-I mean, President for Life. Then we could fulfill the dream of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who has said that it would be great if America could “be like China for a day, so we could do what’s right.” A day?? Don’t be such a piker, Tom. FOREVER!

Changing the demographics of America has been the long-range plan of the Democratic party for over 50 years, starting with the 1965 Immigration Reform Act. Here’s what Democratic consultant Patrick Reddy wrote in 1998:

“The 1965 Immigration Reform Act promoted by President Kennedy, drafted by Attorney General Robert Kenndy, and pushed through the Senate by Ted Kennedy has resulted in a wave of immigration from the Third World that should shift the nation in a more liberal direction within a generation. It will go down as the Kennedy family’s greatest gift to the Democratic Party.”

Hello, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Note that Reddy did not say this would be the Kennedy family’s greatest gift to AMERICA. Finally, a few of the stupidrepublicans (one word) are starting to wake up to what’s going on. I’m hoping the near-hysterical reaction to the Trump Administration’s pathetic border control efforts will wake up a few more.

On July 1, open borders advocates held over 700 rallies and marches around the country, one right here in Silver City, to protest the Trump Administration’s treatment of illegal immigrant families apprehended at our border with Mexico. The protesters don’t want children separated from their parents at detention centers.

In the short run, this is to protect children from predators in the general population of detainees. In the long run, incarcerated criminals are of course not accompanied by their families. Regardless, Trump caved to the pressure and ordered the military to prepare detention facilities that would accommodate family units. That’s OK by me. Very expensive, but no one likes to see children separated from their parents if it can be avoided.

Unfortunately, the response to this will be more illegal immigrants posing as “families” and the problem will be worse than before.

What to do?

The first step I would take would be to eliminate the asylum option. Today, anybody can walk up to our border and request asylum. The reason for the request doesn’t have to be that you are escaping political or religious persecution, the intended purpose of our asylum laws. For example, women can claim they are escaping domestic abuse, or men that they are escaping gang violence.

Typically, after a brief detention, most are given a date for an asylum hearing and then released, free to go Anywhere, USA. Over half don’t show for the hearing. After all, mission accomplished. Of those who do show, very few are granted asylum, e.g. less than 12% of requests from Hondurans, Guatemalans and El Salvadorans are actually granted. Those lucky folks get cash, medical care and a housing allowance.

Better than a green card, baby.

Predictably, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the law did not include domestic abuse as sufficient grounds for asylum to be granted, he was attacked by Democratic Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi for his “staggering cruelty.” But as Sessions said, the asylum law “is not a general hardship statute.” If it was, every poor person in the entire world would qualify, PRECISELY WHAT THE DEMOCRATS WANT.

Ironically, the poverty these people are escaping is for the most part due to the political/economic realities of socialism and other totalitarian governments that inhibit individual economic freedom, the very thing the left-wing, open-borders crowd wants for America.

However, there is one class of asylum seekers who deserve our help: people escaping the consequences of America’s War on Drugs. Again, the problem is that every asylum seeker will claim to be fleeing the violence attendant to illegal drugs – and there is a Hell of a lot of violence.

Please read an article by Daniel Davidson in The Federalist, June 26, 2018: “With Cartels In Control, There Are No Easy Answers To The Border Crisis.”

Davidson wrote: “Violence in Mexico is out of control – and getting worse. National elections in Mexico are set for July 1, and so far, 121 political candidates, most of them running for local office have been assassinated, along with dozens of their family members. …across Mexico drug cartels have infiltrated local and state police forces, political machines, and major industries. Candidates who speak out against corruption …are especially in danger.”

Because of the Gringoes’ insatiable appetite for drugs, Mexicans are being murdered by the hundreds, many of them the very best people in their society. I don’t know why every decent human being in Mexico doesn’t hate our guts.

In 2014, the Rand corporation estimated the size of the illegal drug business in America at $100 billion. That is a BIG business. The irony is that it wouldn’t BE a big business without the war on drugs. The basic materials are cheap. The drugs are expensive because they are illegal. Legalize the drugs and most of the profit goes away, and so does most of the drug violence.

Therefore, the second step I would take to alleviate the border/illegal immigrant problem would be to end the war on drugs by legalizing the drug cartels’ big money makers: heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Some states have already legalized marijuana.

This is a discussion worth having, don’t you think? My next article will continue the topic.