#271 Lou Dobbs Duped By Drug Czar

Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003
Subject: #271 Lou Dobbs Duped By Drug Czar


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #271, 10 Aug 2003

On Sunday, August 10th, the New York Daily News printed a column
written by CNN economist Lou Dobbs. Dobbs’ column came on the heels
of a five-part presentation – The Forgotten War-from his nightly CNN
television show, Lou Dobbs Tonight.

The television series covered a wide range of drug war related topics
and included footage and quotes from both policy makers and reform
activists. However the concluding interview was with U.S. Drug Czar
John Walters who answered all questions from Dobbs with misleading and
frankly inaccurate information and statistics. Dobbs did nothing to
provide a rebuttal to the drug war rhetoric.

Then in the Daily News column, Dobbs gave strong support to the
current drug war tactics and presented reformers as being ‘dopey’ and
unconcerned with the social costs of drug ‘abuse’. Dobbs accepts the
Drug Czar’s definition that any drug use is abuse – for which arrest
is an appropriate way of reducing harm. He bought into many of the
Czar’s drug war distortions, for which honest evidence is presented at

Please consider writing a letter to the Daily News and also to CNN
with appropriate comments on how you believe Dobbs could more
accurately present information about the failed drug war.

Thanks for your effort and support.

It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


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Source: New York Daily News

Contact: voicers@edit.nydailynews.com

The New York Daily News prints short and to the point letters. The
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Pubdate: Sun, 10 Aug 2003
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Contact: voicers@edit.nydailynews.com
Website: http://www.nydailynews.com/
Author: Lou Dobbs

Why Legalizing Drugs Is A Dopey Idea

We’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars in law enforcement,
prevention and treatment since former President Richard Nixon declared
war on drugs in 1971. Yet the use of illicit substances continues to
plague our country.

The federal government spends nearly $1 billion a month on this war,
but users spend more than five times that much to buy drugs.

Beyond the horrific human toll of 20,000 drug-induced deaths each
year, illegal drugs cost our economy more than $280 billion annually,
according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Incredibly, there are those who choose to ignore drugs’ human
devastation and economic cost. Many of them are pseudo-sophisticate
baby boomers who consider themselves superior and hip in their wry,
reckless disregard of the facts.

They also may smoke marijuana, advocate its legalization and
rationalize cocaine as what they call a recreational drug.

And there is a surprising list of libertarians and conservatives,
including William Buckley and Nobel laureate economist Milton
Friedman, who also advocate the legalization of drugs.

Another Nobel laureate, Gary Becker, a professor of economics at the
University of Chicago, told me, “It would certainly save a lot of
resources for society. We could tax drug use so it could even lead to
government revenue.”

He also said, “We would be able to greatly cut the number of people in
prison, which would save resources for state and local

But the cost of drug abuse goes well beyond the expense of controlling
supply and demand. Drug users cost the country $160 billion each year
in lost productivity. Parental substance abuse is responsible for $10
billion of the $14 billion spent nationally each year on child
welfare. And drugs are involved in seven out of 10 cases of abuse and

Pete Wilson, former governor of California, is a strong opponent of
drug legalization. Wilson said the problem that advocates of
legalization fail to acknowledge is that drugs are addictive and,
therefore, not just another commodity.

“Drugs did not become viewed as bad because they are illegal,” Wilson
said. “Rather, they became illegal because they are clearly bad.”

Although the war on drugs certainly has not captured the American
public’s attention, there has been success in efforts to curb drug use
and supply.

According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Study,
the percentage of high school seniors who reported using any drug in
the past month decreased to 26% in 2001 from 39% in 1978.

Crop Report

There are 9 million fewer drug users in America than there were in
1979. And coca cultivation was 15% lower in Colombia in 2002, thanks
to the combined efforts of the U.S. and Colombian governments.

John Walters, national drug control policy director, is optimistic
about the war on drugs. Walters told me, “We have to remember that,
since we got serious in the ’80s, overall drug use is half of what it
was. And that’s progress.”

I would say that is quite a lot of progress, but the job is only half


The CNN Series – The Forgotten War – may be read in full at this




To the editors of the New York Daily News:

Lou Dobbs accepts the wisdom of U.S. Drug Czar John Walters as being
accurate and authoritative and therefore is duped into promoting
continued expansion and perpetuation of the failed War on Drugs.

If drugs are illegal because they are dangerous – per California’s
Pete Wilson – then Dobbs offers no explanation for why we should not
criminalize tobacco and alcohol use. If all drug use is abuse, then
the only way to win the war is to arrest and jail at least 20 million
more Americans who enjoy responsibly using marijuana.

If anyone thinks that citizens truthfully answer ‘Yes’ to telephone
surveys which ask, “Do you use illegal drugs?”, then Walters’
assertion that ‘drug use has been cut in half’ holds water.
Otherwise, this assertion is absurd and Dobbs should be smart enough
to see it.

The many reputable voices Dobbs cites, along with millions of other
citizens who promote reform of current drug policies, are not blind to
the very real risks and damage to people associated with legal drug
use. We simply believe that the policy of criminal drug prohibition
laws result in far greater costs and destruction – does more harm by
far than the drugs themselves.


Billy Bennett


TO the producers of Lou Dobbs Tonight:

Does Lou Dobbs have financial interests in policies which support drug
prohibition laws? His five part series – The Forgotten War – gave a
broad exposure to the many aspects of the current War Against Drugs
and also included alternative ideas and comments from those who
believe serious reform of these policies is needed, but Dobbs seemed
to be persuaded only by those who promote continuation of the failed
Drug War. Your online poll, while admittedly not scientific, showed
over 90% of respondents believe marijuana should be decriminalized,
but Dobbs gave that literally no attention.

Mr. Dobbs repeatedly mentioned the expenditures of billions of dollars
and complained that legalizers ignore the economic cost. And yet, all
of those expenditures are a result of, or increased by, the war on
drugs, which he would have us continue and even escalate. As an
economist, Lou Dobbs should know better.


Pete Guither


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