Friday, August 10, 2007

Legalisation beats aerial spraying

A footnote to my ealier Column: today’s (August 10, 2007) Financial Times reports that “The US and UK yesterday unveiled a new counter-narcotics plan for Afghanistan, including a stronger eradication effort, in an attempt to deal with the growing poppy cultivation problem in the war-torn country.” That’s bad enough. It then goes on to say “The US wants to use aerial spraying as one way to tackle eradication.” The terminal stupidity and inability to learn of those in charge of the US anti-drug programs and policies never fails to amaze me. Short of showing Allied troops bayoneting babies on prime time news, aerial spraying must be the best way of creating popular support for the Taleban. We know how successful these policies were and how much support it created in the Andean coca growing regions…. In a different, non-drug context, the goodwill lost by the US through its experiments with defoliation through Agent Orange in Vietnam, should have given the US (anti-) Drug czars pause for thought. But learning simply does not take place. When paternalistic morality interferes with normal brain functioning, costly, indeed dreadful things can happen. Fortunately, the aerial spraying proposal “has met strong resistance from many European, Afghan and NATO officials who fear it will undermine counter-insurgency efforts.” I hope the European, Afghan and NATO officials are successful in preventing a worsening situation from worsening even more rapidly. Until we legalise all opium derivatives, that is the most we can hope for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Before you make so strong conclusions you have to look at labor force participation rate in the USA. It was actively growing between 1970 and 1990 from 59% to 67%. This caused the low productivity growth, which compensated the labor force growth in order to retain tha same real GDP growth rate.

No European country suffered this problem at the same level due to very modest population growth.

By the way, the strong labor force growth resulted in the USA in high inflation -