from the time-to-rethink dept.
A report at Alternet gives some context to the amount spent by the U.S. on its drug policy.
- 1,100 - The number of Americans that die each year due to violent crime caused by the drug war
- $51 billion - The amount that the U.S. government spends each year on the war on drugs
- 61 percent - The percentage of individuals targeted by drug-related SWAT raids who are people of color
- 82 percent - The number of Americans who believe that the government is losing the War on Drugs
- 18 months - The age of Bounkham "Bou Bou" Phonesavanh, a recent American casualty of the drug war
The article goes into further details on the number, including:
On May 28, a team of police officers raided the Phonesavanh's home, with the mistaken belief that the residents were involved with drugs. As they entered, they tossed a flashbang grenade that landed directly in the crib of baby Bou Bou, which exploded within point-blank range - critically injuring him.
In a harrowing article, his mother, Alecia, described seeing "a singed crib" and "a pool of blood", and later being informed by medics: "There's still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs". Alecia said that the sole silver lining to this story is that it may "make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the war on drugs".
Fortunately, Bou Bou has been making a gradual recovery, but his family is relying on donations to support their living and medical costs.
BBC reported the UK's Office for National Statistics considered for the first time the contribution of the hidden-economy to the GDP:
For the first time official statisticians are measuring the value to the UK economy of sex work and drug dealing and they have discovered these unsavoury hidden-economy trades make roughly the same contribution as farming and only slightly less than book and newspaper publishers added together.
Illegal drugs and prostitution boosted the economy by £9.7bn equal to 0.7% of gross domestic product in 2009, according to the ONS's first official estimate.
A breakdown of the data shows sex work generated £5.3bn for the economy that year, with another £4.4bn lift from a combination of cannabis, heroin, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines.
Joe Grice, chief economic adviser at the ONS, said: "As economies develop and evolve, so do the statistics we use to measure them. These improvements are going on across the world and we are working with our partners in Europe and the wider world on the same agenda.
"Here in the UK these reforms will help ONS to continue delivering the best possible economic statistics to inform key decisions in government and business."
Alan Clarke, a UK economist at Scotiabank, said that although the government would not feel the benefit of illegal work in terms of income tax take, there would be a spending boost.
"A drug dealer or prostitute won't necessarily pay tax on that £10bn, but the government will get tax receipts when they spend their income on a pimped up car or bling phone."
Keeping with the theme, I can "estimatedly project" two things from the above:
- if GDP is to include hidden-economy and beyond-damnd-liers have free reign to estimate it as they see fit, don't be surprised when the estimated rate of inflation and consequently your mortgage rate will vary in no relation with the as-reflected-by-your-payslip-economy
- if hidden-economy is officially recognized but still not taxed, where's the incentive for others to run their business in the open?
SN mates, what do you make of it?
Common Dreams reports
Norm Stamper is a 34-year veteran police officer who retired as Seattle's Chief of Police in 2000. He is currently a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com). He is the author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.
Chief Stamper uses elements of recent police-involved events to construct an account of an assault by a SWAT team on the home of what is thought to be a low-level, nonviolent drug offender—executed on the wrong house.
As Radley Balko points out in his superb book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, SWAT incidents of the type fictionalized above are proliferating at a frightening pace. In the '70s, the nation's roughly 18,000 municipal, county, and state police forces conducted a few hundred such operations a year. By the '80s the number had grown to approximately 3,000. And in 2005, the last year of collected data, there were more than 50,000 SWAT operations. Today's count is surely much higher.
Balko's book offers a depressingly abundant supply of all-too-real examples of city and county police officers shooting innocent citizens, getting shot themselves, dispatching beloved family pets, doing major damage to private dwellings, shredding the Constitution, souring relations between police and community, and scarring families for life.
Chief Stamper specifically mentions the grenade that severely injured Baby Bou Bou, whom we discussed here.
[...]how to reverse the militarization trend? As Seattle's police chief during the World Trade Organization's 1999 "Battle in Seattle," and acutely aware of my own unwise reliance on militarized tactics, I realize just how difficult the task will be. But that should not stop us. Here are five steps that can help us turn things around.
- Residents of cities across the country must rise up and reclaim their police departments.
- Sustained social and political pressure for demilitarization is essential.
- Local political jurisdictions must implement independent citizen oversight of police practices.
- It is vital that all law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with their communities, set and enforce rigorous standards for the selection, training, and systematic retraining of SWAT officers and their leaders.
- End the drug war.
We discussed that last point just the other day.
It's now been six months since Colorado enacted its historic marijuana legalization policy, and two big things have already happened:
Colorado's cash crop is turning out to be even more profitable than the state could have hoped.
Tax revenue from marijuana sales is expected to top $130M over the next fiscal year.
Denver crime rates have suddenly fallen.
The Denver city- and county-wide murder rate has dropped 52.9% year-to-year since recreational marijuana use was legalized in January.