Drug War Calculus: The Costs We Don't See

Adam Ozimek tallies the drug war's victims:

It’s hard to grow up in any class in America without knowing someone with some kind of drug problem. So when voters in this country think about the costs of decriminalization, I think they’re probably mostly considering the people they know who would have developed worse drug problems had they been more available. What they don’t think of are the Mexican villagers being harassed and [murdered] because our drug laws create profit centers for their criminals.

Who we are or aren’t thinking about is important, because the only way the utilitarian calculus of our drug laws comes down in favor our of current system is if you value the well-being of Mexicans as being worth an order of magnitude less than Americans.

(Photo: Closeup on one of the corpses of two murdered men found near the Costera Avenue in Acapulco, Mexico, on February 5, 2011. More than 30,000 people have been killed in violence related to the drug trade across Mexico since December 2006, when the government of President Felipe Calderon launched a major military offensive against organized crime. By Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images)