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Causes of Terrorism

Excerpts from David R Henderson, The Hoover Institute

"Have you ever wondered why terrorist groups get involved in the illegal drug market and not, for example, in the legal market for Coca-Cola, soap, or envelopes? The inaccurate answer that many people give is that the profits in dealing drugs are incredibly high, which attracts criminals. But profits are not incredibly high, once you adjust for risk; people in that trade have a nasty tendency to die or go to prison, and they insist on being compensated for that risk. Besides, if high profits were what attracted criminals, why don't those same high profits attract normal investors?

"No. The reason terrorists get involved in illegal drugs is that they are criminals; once a market is made illegal, the high risk-adjusted prices of the illegal goods reward those with "criminal skills." One such skill is the ability and willingness to murder people. That's why organized crime took over the liquor industry during prohibitionand quickly exited when prohibition ended."

Simply put, to criminalize something society wants is to ensure that the criminal element will fill society's desire and make a high profit in doing so. Worse, society has to pay extra for the war on drugs, not to mention the burglaries and other crimes addicts commit in supporting their habits, as well as the prison system needed to house offenders committing drug-related crimes. Certainly, making drugs available to young and impressionable people is wrong. Just as certainly criminalizing drug use and possession is, too. The latter has not prevented the former; it is, and has been, far too expensive. Being too expensive for us, our war on drugs and heavy incarceration rate fit bin Laden's strategy of economic depletion perfectly. Isn't education about drugs, and about other temptations, too, a more proper answer? Drugs are driving growth in the US Prison Population. Most of these people are mere users, not dealers. And what are we doing to help them enter the job market upon release?

Additional links:

Afro-Americans Targeted (But not Limbaugh)
BBC Breakfast with Frost
Drug War Facts
Federal Prison Population
Prison Population
Punishment and Prejudice
World Prison Population List<


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