Over at Confessions of a Street Pharmacist Dive Medic points out that cops are a waste of money. He provides excellent evidence that police cost us more than they save us. He’s right, of course.
The thing is, he’s looking at it from the wrong direction. Police aren’t an investment *we’re* making — they’re an investment the government is making, and for them it’s paying off quite nicely.
A cop could spend a day investigating a car break-in, and maybe even catch the guy, and all they’d get is several hours of paperwork and maybe a low-level misdemeanor charge. Or he could site there on the side of the road and write traffic tickets, and bring in thousands of dollars for his city. And if he does that long enough, he’ll get promoted to the drug team, where civil forfeiture brings in millions of dollars for police offices across the country. Which do you think the bosses want? As long as the skells aren’t hurting too many civilians, and not too many cars get broken into, it’s much more profitable for them to go where the money is. And it has the added value of keeping the citizens under a little bit more control.
That VIPR roadblock in Texas? That certainly wasn’t about terrorism. The police were thrilled, though — they made eight “quality” arrests — mostly of drug possession, and a few for prostitution. The people of Houston are sure safer now that those people are off the street.
Back when he was running for office Obama said he’d let the states decide on medical marijuana. Yet his justice department is still routinely raiding dispensaries, and stealing as much as possible through asset forfeiture.
And that’s the reason the drug war will never end. If it ended today, we’d save what? 40 or 50 billion dollars? That’s nothing, because all of the oversized, overpaid, and over-armed departments of drug warriors will all have to get honest jobs, and nobody wants to be the one signing their pink slips.