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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At War With Ourselves
The interesting thing about economics is the lack of emphasis on intention. Economists don't care what the intent of the policy is, only the outcome. The result of this all-consuming focus is that economic analyses have a fascinating way of seeing past wishful thinking. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Jeffrey Miron's analysis of narcotics prohibition, Drug War...
Published on December 22, 2004 by Patrick Breheny

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2.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly essay
The small book is well organized, but hard to read. The large number of in-line or footnote quotations and references makes smooth reading very difficult.

A good, in depth view of the current issues stemmed from the never ending war on drug. Because we live in Mexico, part of the year, a number of references to the drug cartels felt quite germane. The proposed...
Published 12 months ago by Jerome C. Boyer


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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At War With Ourselves, December 22, 2004
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This review is from: Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (Paperback)
The interesting thing about economics is the lack of emphasis on intention. Economists don't care what the intent of the policy is, only the outcome. The result of this all-consuming focus is that economic analyses have a fascinating way of seeing past wishful thinking. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Jeffrey Miron's analysis of narcotics prohibition, Drug War Crimes: the Consequences of Prohibition. Nearly everyone agrees that the United States has a drug problem, and our government arrests 1.5 million people a year fighting it. Is prohibition making the problem worse?

Miron certainly thinks so. Although the book is nominally objective, Miron's personal opinions on the issue are clear. This is not necessarily a criticism - to paraphrase Howard Zinn's argument in A People's History of the United States, the large body of evidence that has been built up in support of drug prohibition compels a one-sided account in order to balance the scales.

The argument goes like this: abridging the rights of citizens to use drugs is morally questionable in the first place; even if you decide that eliminating drug use is a noble aim of the government, the negative consequences of prohibition outweigh its positives; even if they didn't, outright prohibition is the worst way to go about achieving this goal. So why do we spend $33 billion a year on it?

Many negative effects of drug use are self-evident, such as increased corruption, the spread of infectious disease through the sharing of needles, and the transfer of wealth to criminals. Two questions, however, warrant extended analysis: To what extent does prohibition lower consumption? And what is the effect of prohibition on violence? Miron's analysis suggests that prohibition reduces consumption by only about 20%, while leading to dramatic increases in violence.

Some of these arguments are quite convincing, others aren't, while still others are neither, either due to moral subjectivity or to a lack of data. Nearly all of them, however, are thought provoking, and some are shocking. In an example rich with parallels to drug prohibition, Miron describes actions taken by the U.S. government during the 1920s. Knowing that individuals would attempt to use industrial alcohol to produce moonshine, congress ordered industries to change their method of alcohol production, making it unsuitable for ingestion. While their decision to poison their own citizens probably convinced some not to brew their own alcohol, thousands of others became ill or died.

As an example of the tenor of Drug War Crimes, consider the section exploring the idea of rational drug. The section argues that the negative effects of many drugs have been widely exaggerated. In support of this assertion, Miron cites a study of the consumers of certain products, including narcotics. The study finds that the percentage of consumers still using narcotics five years after the study began is similar to that of many legal products. Miron then concludes that heroin, say, is roughly as addictive as chocolate. Given the considerable legal, social, and health incentives to quit using drugs, this hardly seems a reasonable conclusion. But it's interesting, and it's an argument no one else is making.

A larger problem with the analysis is that the case against prohibition is, to some extent, academic. Every country on earth prohibits drugs; if any country were to change that policy, it would become a worldwide drug factory, not to mention violate international law and trade agreements.

Nevertheless, Miron didn't set out to write a book about politics - he wrote a policy analysis, and while his lack of neutrality will surely bother some readers, his overall conclusions are sound. He knows that in many of his arguments, there is no clear answer. The point is that "prohibition has enormous costs with, at best, modest and speculative benefits.... The goals of prohibition are questionable, the methods unsound, and the results are deadly." Given the available evidence, this appears undeniable. What to do instead is a tougher question.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enough is Enough!, July 12, 2010
This review is from: Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (Paperback)
Any objective observer can see that the United States' war on drugs is an epic failure. On the positive side, various states are taking the initiative in legalizing medical marijuana. On the other hand, the federal government still hasn't learned its lesson for decades. Short (107 pages), succinct, and backed by hard data, Miron's book presents a highly detailed critique of the U.S. government's war on drugs and the vast harm it has wrought. In addition, he makes the case for the only right alternative: full legalization of all drugs. Even if one doesn't agree with this conclusion, skeptics should read this book and understand that the approach and consequences of the status quo are unacceptable.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly essay, December 26, 2013
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Jerome C. Boyer "jboyer" (Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico) - See all my reviews
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The small book is well organized, but hard to read. The large number of in-line or footnote quotations and references makes smooth reading very difficult.

A good, in depth view of the current issues stemmed from the never ending war on drug. Because we live in Mexico, part of the year, a number of references to the drug cartels felt quite germane. The proposed solutions are debatable, But the statement of facts seems genuine.

The content is probably worth 4 to five stars. But it takes too much effort to go through it, thus the 2 star rating.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-Legalize Now!, March 29, 2009
This review is from: Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (Paperback)
"Drug War Crimes" is spot on. And we, the American People, would be best served by Re-Legalizing Marijuana Right Now!

The MERP Model for Re-Legalization will destroy the Mexican Drug Cartels and much, much more. Please visit and post the following link far and wide. This subweb is both for understanding MERP and implementing MERP. We need everyones help on this. Get on the mailing list now! Let's Re-Legalize Marijuana in 2009 World Wide.

MERP Headquarters
The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy Project (MRPP)
[...]
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FAILED WAR, April 5, 2009
This review is from: Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (Paperback)
This is a book that every American needs to read. Recreational drug use is a very poor choice because it destroys free will and prevents individuals from being well-adjusted, happy, functioning members of society. However, the American "War on Drugs" is a failed war that empowers criminals and creates far more problems than it solves. As controversial as the position of legalization of drugs is, it is the only solution to removing the motivation for criminals to remain committed to creating generations of illegal drug users who fund their criminal empires. -Michael Jaquish (A retired law enforcement officer) Tales of a Country Cop in AfricaThe Role of the Security Officer: A Comprehensive Instruction Manual of Safety and Security for the Security Profession in America
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I see why it's from a minor publishing house, February 23, 2010
This review is from: Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (Paperback)
I should start out by saying that I agreed with the author's thesis before I even picked up the book. What I was looking for was to see how well this thesis could be put into words and how well it could be brought across. This book succeeded about 60% of the way in bringing it across.

Good points:

1. The book is very pithy and concise (oftentimes books like this can get bogged down in statistical detail and just drag on and on and on). It has a decent bit of information.

2. One can see that the author was trying to use formal economic reasoning without the aid of graphs. In one case, we could see that he was talking about Pareto Optimality, but not turning it into an upper division Econ. course.

3. The breaking of the book into "positive" and "normative" aspects of the discussion was a brilliant idea!

4. Miron carefully balanced detail against readability (too much of one makes less of the other). But in this case, he erred a bit too far on the side of minimal detail. The book could have dealt with the relevant topics at slightly greater length.

Bad points:

1. The book is very heavily based on Miron's own research. I guess that there is nothing wrong with citing your work, but there were something like 70 pages of text and Miron self-cited no less than 14 times (as in, 14 different refereneces used many times throughout the book). You never know if you have something until someone else replicates it, and it would have gone further toward convincing me if I saw some of the results replicated by other researchers.

2. The section on trying to guess what drug deaths/ problems would be like by extrapolating based on what happened when Prohibition (of alcohol) was eliminated seemed a bit....... stretched. I might like to have seen something like a comparison of the predicted deaths as a result of alcohol vs. the measured amount. And then the same type of reasoning could be used to quantitatively predict the number of deaths in the event of the repeal of drug laws.

3. The book was supposed to deal with positive (as in, not normative) aspects, but the author incessantly used the word "implies." As in "A implies B." That sounds too weak and makes his conclusions sound excessively tenative.

4. Miron's discussion on decriminalization (vs. outright legalization) gets a bit weird. He talks about doctors being able to prescribe drugs for patients who want/ need them. But does anyone know how long it takes to get an appointment with a primary care physician (let alone a specialist)?

5. p.62. The author dismissed the evidence about the relationship between drug use and accidents just a bit too lightly.

6. Miron could have teamed with someone whose job it is to make things like this more readable (Levitt and Dubner wrote "Freakonomics" and one half was the writing finesse and the other was the formal economic reasoning) and brought them on as a co-author.

In summary, I can see very clearly that when Publishing House labels are too small/ obscure, it is probably better to just avoid their books. This has been the third book that I have read that has come from a Little Know Publisher. This book has been a minor disappointment and the other two were *major* disappointments ("Vagabond Zoo" and "Fair Women, Dark Men"). But thank God for Amazon.com recommendations to help me see which books were more well read (and yet on the same topic)!
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Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition by Jeffrey A. Miron (Paperback - March 1, 2004)
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