Monday, April 20, 2009

The case for drug legalization

Clive Crook makes the argument for drug legalization:
Even a casual observer can see that much of the damage done in the US by illegal drugs is a result of the fact that they are illegal, not the fact that they are drugs. Vastly more lives are blighted by the brutality of prohibition, and by the enormous criminal networks it has created, than by the substances themselves. This is true of cocaine and heroin as well as of soft drugs such as marijuana. But the assault on consumption of marijuana sets the standard for the policy’s stupidity.

Nearly half of all Americans say they have tried marijuana. That makes them criminals in the eyes of the law. Luckily, not all of them have been found out – but when one is grateful that most law-breakers go undetected, there is something wrong with the law.
The prohibition of drugs causes violent crime for the same reason the prohibition of alcohol did in the 1920s: When people can't resolve their disputes via the legal system, they tend to resolve them with violence instead.

Even our President has used illegal drugs and turned out O.K. Imagine how much worse his life would have turned out if he had been thrown in jail to punish him for harming himself. The prohibition of drugs is far more harmful than the drugs themselves.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Full economic recovery will likely take years

Even after the recession ends, reaching potential GDP will likely take years:
As the recession grinds on, more and more of the nation’s means of production — its workers, its factories, its retail outlets, its freight lines, its bank lending, even its new inventions — are being mothballed.

This idled capacity, like baseball players after a winter off, takes time to bring back into robust use. So even if the recession miraculously ended tomorrow, economists estimate that at least three years would pass before full employment returned and output rose enough for the economy to operate at full throttle. ...

The mathematics are daunting. The shortfall is running at more than $1 trillion in annual sales and other transactions. Only once since the Great Depression has there been such a severe loss of output — in the 1981-82 recession — and after that downturn, it was seven years before the economy regained the lost production.

Recovery from the current recession could be similarly sluggish.