Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bullets from the Drug War

  • The US has lost the "War on Drugs"
  • The losing side is usually not the one to decide when a fight is over or how it ends
  • Unlike other recent defeats, this lost war is a defeat followed by an invasion
  • Mexico is the natural staging area for the invasion (inconvenient though it is for the Mexicans)
  • New franchises are being set up to service the North American drug market (which is the biggest in the world)
  • The CIA has to eat, and all they know how to do competently is run guns and drugs and control thugs; they get a seat at the table
  • The narcs have to eat too, and all they are trained to do is deal (with) drugs; they get a seat at the table too
  • As the federales grow weak in the US and Mexico, the battle lines will advance north of the border, leaving Mexico a quiet and largely intact backwater
  • This is an inter-US conflict, because Americans are the most avid consumers, sellers, and prosecutors of drugs
  • Life in the USA gives everyone a pain that is for many people simply not survivable without drugs: either alcohol, pharmaceuticals or illegal drugs
  • Illegal drugs are far more cost-effective than either pharma or alcohol — government-licensed industries which are either excessively lucrative or taxed heavily
  • As Americans give up hope, they will need to self-medicate in ever-larger numbers
  • They will be far more able financially to afford illegal drugs than either pharma or alcohol.
  • Illegal drugs (and moonshine) are two very large post-collapse enrepreneurial opportunities within the fUSA/бСША [Orlov 2005]
  • This is no longer a war against drugs; it is now a contest between alternative drug distribution systems
  • One alternative is a centralized, paramilitary organization run by CIA remnants, former military, and former police
  • Another alternative is ethnic mafias, which will diversify into many other kinds of trade.
  • The third, nautrally most cost-effective alternative will be provided by informal, local distribution networks based on barter, which will be all that is left once the dust settles
  • The downside of all this is that it will be hard to find anyone sober enough to operate a light switch
  • The upside to that is that the national electrical grid will go away, so there will be little need of that

51 comments :

Peter Dodson said...

Life in the USA gives everyone a pain that is for many people simply not survivable without drugs: either alcohol, pharmaceuticals or illegal drugs

I've always believed that while there are lots of great reasons to change how we live (peak oil, climate change, ecosystem degradation, species extinction), the simple fact that this way of life makes so many people so unhappy is probably the best reason. We can do better and create a world where people feel healthier and happier. Perhaps doing with less and living closer to other humans in real communities will do the trick. I have no idea. All I know is that any society that needs drugs (legal and illegal) in order to do with daily reality is a total boner of a way to live.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant analysis, very much on target. The idea that somehow the war on drugs is fed by a bunch of undesirables is laughable. It is fed by the consumers. This includes middle-aged, upper middle class white chicks like the ones I saw the other day at a school parking lot (not in a slum but in a prosperous part of town), trading little packages. I was walking the dog and they looked at me, waiting for me to move away. They were very likely "soccer moms".

For some reason, this has become a country of losers. What are these women doing? Then they blame youth. If I were youth, I would ignore anything that these sub-adult people tell me and draw my own conclusions from reality.

Legalization _without_ taxation seems the only way to go. If you tax the stuff, the black market will dominate, obviously, since they already have the channels.

The savings obtained by dismantling the entire war on drugs would be enormous. In time, the value of these dangerous products would go down enormously.

Meanwhile, a campaign to help the addicts and to educate people could be mounted, without stupid moralistic tones. These addictions and physical (and social) effects are a medical problem, just like tobacco smoking, excessive drinking, malnutrition or obesity.

Thanks for outlining this so clearly.

Logan said...

I'm confused about what you mean by the illegals being "far more cost-effective": aren't they pretty expensive?

kollapsnik said...

Logan -

Alcohol and prescription drug prices have been increasing along with inflation, but illegal drug prices have been stagnant for a long time. What's more, marijuana prices have stayed the same while the potency, due to new hybrids, has increased dramatically. Even with all the risks associated with drug enforcement, the lack of taxation, regulation, packaging, marketing and advertising and the like results in significantly better value for the end-user.

Butch said...

Hello, Mr Orlov--

Your comment that the CIA "knows how to run drugs" is intriguing...could you point us at some on-line links which flesh out that idea?

Anonymous said...

FTW, February 11, 2002 -- On January 18, Guerrilla News Network won the Audience Award in the "live-action" category at the 2002 Sundance Online Film Festival. GNN took the prize for its ten minute documentary "Crack The CIA", a film laying down clear, concise, irrefutable evidence of the CIA's long involvement in bringing and selling huge amounts of cocaine into America. The Audience Award is determined by voters at the festival, as well as online viewers around the world.

Using cutting edge video and editing techniques, "Crack The CIA" is a stunning piece of film as well as a damning indictment of the U.S. government's criminal activities. Directed by GNN's Stephen Marshall, edited by Marshall and Kenji Williams, and with an original Hip-Hop soundtrack by DJ Trek-e, the film won acclaim for its cinematic excellence as well as its content. Guerrilla News Network is an alternative news organization dedicated to providing web, television and film viewers with information ignored or only partially covered by mainstream media.

http://copvcia.com/free/ww3/02_11_02_gnnsundance.html

Anonymous said...

Butch: "the CIA "knows how to run drugs" is intriguing...could you point us at some on-line links which flesh out that idea?"


This could be a starting point:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_drug_trafficking

Anonymous said...

Worth mentioning is that the drug trade is one of the very biggest sectors of the US economy. According to some calculations, it is the biggest after "defense". Naturally, figures are only tough estimates (in both cases), since both trades are somewhat secretive. It makes sense that there would be war, in fact a street-level form of "corporate war" for the control of such an industry. In other words, capitalism at its purest.

Carol said...

Interesting exposition of arguments. Everyone knows that no industry exists without demand from its target public, but no one likes to face that reality.

Also, one commenter said:

"The savings obtained by dismantling the entire war on drugs would be enormous."

And another said:

"Worth mentioning is that the drug trade is one of the very biggest sectors of the US economy. According to some calculations, it is the biggest after "defense"."

It is straightforward that the US economy, politics and social structure depends on fighting wars and defending the world and especially their borders against all sorts of wrongdoers - that is part of the general ideology by now.

So it is also very convenient to have this kind of war to fight - and to pay for. Large and fragile borders, mischievous foreigners, mysterious drugs: all this is very frightening and the government needs lots of money and people to combat this threat. Why would they actually want to *end* this or any other war?

kollapsnik said...

"Why would they actually want to *end* this or any other war?"

What *they* want is becoming laughably irrelevant. All *they* know how to do is lose wars and go broke doing it.

Anonymous said...

kollapsnik said...

"What *they* want is becoming laughably irrelevant. All *they* know how to do is lose wars and go broke doing it."

I think your diagnostic is totally correct. And the ability to scare the internal population diminishes as, well, people stop being scared. Nothing wakes people up more quickly than the possibility of hunger. It is the one instinct that cannot be wiped out by propaganda or indoctrination in "values".

I don't think there is a clear idea of the sheer incompetence that brought us here. Yes, there are also very wrong ideas sold as gospel, such as the myth of "free markets", nationalism, etc., but ultimately incompetence is what ruins countries and empires. Power grabs when you're ruined, for example. The example of the Spanish empire is exemplary: total squandering of New World wealth while producing nothing and engaging in enormous atrocities (Flanders wars) in the name of the one true religion (translated into American: "freedom and democracy") with borrowed money. It sank them for centuries.

I tell you, all the stupid things we have seen in the past century can be seen in a history of the Mediterranean. Even some of the slogans and a lot of the fuffles are the same!

Bilbo said...

Nice analysis and timely, too. I was listening to Diane Rehm this morning with Senator Webb and his noble plan, worthy of the Collapse Party, to reduce prison population and admit failure in the war on drugs. Of course the current government will never pass it. I think one of the main reasons why is one not mentioned so far. Is it possible that the very same people getting billions and billions of bailout money are the same people making huge profits off of laundering all the drug money?

Yes there has been a Quiet Coup as stated in The Atlantic.

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200905/imf-advice

Anonymous said...

"Is it possible that the very same people getting billions and billions of bailout money are the same people making huge profits off of laundering all the drug money?"

In Spain, it is vox populi that laundered drug money financed a large part of the real estate bubble, comparatively a much larger one than the one in the US. And what was Madoff doing with all those billions? Surely they were invested somewhere, they were financing something... no mention has been made in the media of what he did with it.

In any case, buying land and financing "development" is a classic laundering mechanism.

Kurt said...

Looks like it Pharma -VS- the CIA. Check out the section "the other legalization movement" here:

http://www.slate.com/toolbar.aspx?action=print&id=2175730

VK said...

Greetings Kollapsnik,

Once again you have me chuckling at such a serious topic. If you weren't an engineer doomer you could've gotten in on the stand up comedy scene.

Your articles are very enlightening and many a time I find myself going back to them and uncovering hidden gems. The future is indeed very scary but thanks for what you do on educating ignorants such as myself.

Anonymous said...

Con muchos saludos,

Excellent!

What´s telling is that SOTB the green stuff sells so cheaply you could stuff a pickup truck entirely full of it for under 500 US, but next to no one bothers with that kind of business. Foreigners come and get it instead.

Frightening neighbors, right...

And those neighbors happen to be the very agrarians doing what 98.5% of the US are not doing - all the farm and food work.

Pretty neat, how the states have demonized, even expatriated almost their entire food-producing class of people (who are native Americans to boot). The "war on drugs" in effect is a war against that species of crop, making it an agriculture war on all accounts.

I don´t think Darwin would put long money on such a society, Kollapsnik. Really dumb to wage war on your kitchen help.

- la Amazona

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that Crime proceeds are the biggest proceeds in the world. Bigger than oil or defense.

I also read that *they* prefer to launder through hedge funds, commercial real estate bubbles, LBO's...

Apparently no time for savings banks.

Jon said...

I saw a 60 Minutes segment decades ago about legitimate businesses profiting from the drug trade. In that segment it was a chemical company (rhymes with POW) that made hydrochloric acid. There was only a legal market for about 10 percent of the HCl manufactured globally. The rest was used in the manufacture of cocaine. This was just one example of a ‘legal’ substance that derives its profits directly from an illegal activity. Now think of mundane things like cell phones, ships, submarines, helicopters, limos, trucks, post it notes, paper clips, those little paper circles you use to reinforce three ring binder pages… All of these are as equally required in illegal businesses as they are in legit ones. Old Mr. Dow would take quite a hit if we ever won the war on drugs.

Jon.

Shadow Explorer said...

reading this really made my day. I remember you mentioned you were thinking of giving up on the blog. please don't!

everyone i've let read your book has found it precious and comes to your blog now.

also I have added a link to you on my blog - www.riseupforthenewday.net

it's towards the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis, which confirms the analogy between the collapse of the two superpowers:

http://counterpunch.org/floyd04012009.html

They will run everything to the ground, here and elsewhere (sadly).

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dmitri, for your comments. FYI, marijuana prices have been falling, thanks to indoor growing which makes it available all year round. Prices in the Emerald Triangle, where I live, have dropped as much as 50% for primo bud. I know growers who are happy to get $1000 a lb for grass that they'd have asked $3000 for only a few years ago.
--Cosh

Anonymous said...

Butch, it was well known in the 60s that the CIA was running opium out of the Golden Triangle to keep the Montagnards onside during the Great Military Adventure in Vietnam. (Also to help finance other covert operations.)

Someone even made a comic movie about it, iirc, "Air America".

Anonymous said...

Does anyone consider the wrecked lives as we make criminals of our kids for pot? According to NORML, there were over 800,000 arrests in 2007 for simple possession of pot.

If you are a Conservative, think of the police budgets, the paper work, the time and billions in tax money wasted chasing this harmless dragon (while accepting campaign donations from deadly alcohol, tobacco and pharma corps...)

If you are just human, consider all the pointless paranoia, hiding, hatred of the state, distrust of everything generated by the "war on drugs." Hmmm, maybe that's a good thing??

Just open the prison doors for all the pot smokers, and pray they don't sue for compensation for their lost years and shattered lives - all for a naturally growing natural herb. Complete insanity - and frankly, no matter what you think about weed - America just can't afford this kind of incompetence anymore. We're too broke to be so crazy.

Anonymous said...

Opportunity for asset striping in Flint MI. I’ve been in need of 26 tons of aluminum siding.

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/03/city_of_flint_shutdown_offthec.html

Anonymous said...

it has always been a war for those whom choose freely what they want versus those whom must control everything and everybody else. we whom can see the future can tell it be another long costly battle that wins nothing but more dead to fill the graves scattered about. pick your side wisely for the misinformed can be a deadly trap in chosing the wrong side. live free forever, Wildflower 09

M. Pyre said...

America just can't afford this kind of incompetence anymore.

There's no incompetence at work. Calling it that merely shows you don't understand the minds you pretend to attack.

What is "competence"? Isn't it roughly equal to "skilled at achieving what you intend to do"?

I see no incompetence in a War on Drugs. I see competent oppression, competent punishment for small-scale no-harm events, while big-scale huge-harm white-collar crimes go unpunished.

It's not incompetence.

It's high competence. You just misunderstand the agenda.

kollapsnik said...

M. Pyre -

Correction:

"America just can't afford this kind of competence any more."

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment about competence and incompetence... If one were to look at it from afar, perhaps the main goal is to scare, to create an atmosphere of fear. If so, there is a high level of competence. The Edward Bernays model of propaganda and brainwashing is probably the most successful social control device ever invented. It has survived every change in media, every change in technology. Perhaps a free Internet could defeat it, but it is a colossal task. While blogs like this one talk to people who like to explore and analyze, most people want a very simplified version of things, such as: Who's good and who's bad? Who's boss and who obeys? Etc.

The Bernays model offers extreme simplicity that CANNOT be countered by a reasoned analysis and seems to be immune to the usual tools, such as ridicule, irony, sarcasm, parody, etc.

Not Freud but his evil nephew Bernays is the "competence champion" of the twentieth century. I call him a genius because geniuses do not just solve problems but invent universal tools.

I recommend the BBC documentary A Century of the Self on the work of Bernays...it's on YouTube and elsewhere.

M. Pyre said...

Exactly, Dmitry!

EXACTLY!

Anonymous said...

On the "competent acts" of the bosses: can it really be that there is an evil plan to ruin everything? If so, the many conspiracy theorists (Bilderberg group. New World Order, an so on) would be right. While people in groups are capable of doing things that they would never do individally --atrocities are an exampe--, I have trouble believing that the collapse is orchestrated.

Savaging what they can, yes, that I understand. Stealing as much as possible as quickly as possible, yes. But killing the goose, if done purposefully, is a highly incompetent act. For example, creating a "growth model" based on the production of suburbia is incompetent as soon as you take the long view.

It is on this type of incompetence (energy, suburbia, agribusiness) that the bosses have to be judged. The stealing, bad as it is, does not leave the same dire consequences as fostering a completely wrong lifestyle, destroying the family, etc.

Anonymous said...

This one is for Dmitry: lots of forsaken boats available for the taking:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/business/01boats.html?_r=3&hp

Even derelict boats make for good planters... and it looks like these are not derelict right now, just abandoned.

kollapsnik said...

"On the "competent acts" of the bosses: can it really be that there is an evil plan to ruin everything?"

Um... no. Of course not.

The competence in question is in punishing blue-collar "drug crimes" while rewarding a whole slew of white-collar economic crimes (such as the recent "bailouts").

As far as the whole "masters of the universe" conspiracy theory, let me say this: what drives people to it is an irrational fear of chaos. Many people would rather think that their universe is run by someone, even if that someone is evil, than to realize that it is not being managed by anyone at all. Coupled to that is a fear of responsibility: if nobody else is responsible for all that's going wrong, then you might be. Also, there is a business plan behind the whole thing: run a talk show, get people angry, angry people call in, others tune in, listen to commercials... profit!

kvalitet said...

Bury the "conspiracy theory" term and replace it with "allegation of corruption".

That helps clear the mind.

Anonymous said...

"As far as the whole "masters of the universe" conspiracy theory, let me say this: what drives people to it is an irrational fear of chaos. Many people would rather think that their universe is run by someone, even if that someone is evil, than to realize that it is not being managed by anyone at all."

You may well be right in this. If you can put a name on "the man" (or group), at least you have someone to hate and blame. I think such conspiracies are a dangerous path to take. Once you're in that thinking mode, everything seems to confirm the belief. Very destructive for the soul. I hope people stay away from all that and spend their time constructively, doing something, learning something, creating something. I do think that the idea of nobody at the helm drives Americans insane. The idea that things just happen and there is no manager and no quick fix (or no fix, as in continuing the lifestyle).

Let's hope that anger takes the back seat to sanity.

Anonymous said...

I just read that Washington, D.C. is proposing to free about 80% of its prisoners.

Why did I not ever hear Obama talk about the obvious, i.e., an amnesty for nonviolent convicts? Does the man need it spelled out for him?

If he can't see this "jubilee" that is staring him in the face, how is he going to do the other jubilee, the financial one?

I am afraid that we may come to see Obama as the guy who missed all the cues. And if he didn't miss them, he ignored them, same thing.

Meanwhile, the word out is that the G20 has fixed everything. Time to take out the accordion and sing a few old country tunes to accompany this charade.

Shadowfax said...

Too bad the people abandoned the boats instead of their Mcmansions.

My guess is the boats for the most part were just play toys from the excess credit bubble.People who never even thought of peak oil etc.

I have been living aboard my self made catamaran for 7 years and of course can't contemplate abandoning her,my home ,my seastead,/doomstead.

Anonymous said...

Excellent panorama of the US economy by Peter Morici:

http://counterpunch.org/morici04032009.html

Morici addresses once again the Big Elephant in the room: the trade deficit with China. Nobody in the Obama team even mentions this. The corruption and collusion are hard to believe. This situation with China is potentially explosive and should be addressed immediately, but it won't be.

Anonymous said...

A classic you should know about is Ginsberg's CIA Dope Calypso written in 1972. Live You tube version at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhDV
iHTOZ5c
Lyrics found easily on the web also.

Zhu Bajie said...

Drug law enforcement employs a lot of people. If cannabis leaf, coca leaf, poppy sap were legal and freely available, what would all the narco cops, prison guards, drug lawyers do for a living?

Zhu Bajie

Zhu Bajie said...

"Morici addresses once again the Big Elephant in the room: the trade deficit with China. Nobody in the Obama team even mentions this. The corruption and collusion are hard to believe. This situation with China is potentially explosive and should be addressed immediately, but it won't be."

Probably some idiot will want to start a war with China, kill my students for saving their money.

Zhu Bajie, American in China

Anonymous said...

Orlov, I read your excellent book. It's a great read and very informative.

I think the "masters of the universe" and "conspiracy theory" memes are overly abused. I disagree with your psychological explanation of why people believe in explanations that differ from the official government and big media explanations of world events.

I think many people would find this dismissal on psychological terms to be insulting. I find people who reject official explanations (as you do so often as well) to be some of the most intelligent people I know.

Anyway, a more nuanced terminology would be very helpful. Maybe "state -sponsored collusion" or "premeditated fraud".

This interview is a must see. Without wanting to sound hyperbolic, I would say it is a must-see for every American.

It is an interview with William K. Black who wrote "The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One."

Black never uses the word "conspiracy". He's too smart for that. Instead he describes in detail the way this ongoing fraud by Treasury and Wall Street took place and is still taking place.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/watch.html

Transcript:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/transcript1.html

Anonymous said...

Calif and Southern Oregon will be significantly impacted as gangs move into the medical weed business which will be very easy pickings. Most of the current growers have been using the medical weed business to hide their long running illegal distribution but as you note a rougher element will be coming to town, something they never understood.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Black interview link. Yes, widespread fraud, corruption and collusion, no need for conspiracy theories of world domination. Old-fashioned theft is plenty attractive, why invent new sins!

Jon said...

The ever prolific Anonymous said:

"Thanks for the Black interview link. Yes, widespread fraud, corruption and collusion, no need for conspiracy theories of world domination. Old-fashioned theft is plenty attractive, why invent new sins!"

Because that's what we do! We invented God, but then Nietzsche came along and said Nein to that. Darwin reminded us that everything is ultimately a random event and that evolution has the foresight and intent of drying paint. For a while it was space aliens, fascists, The Russians (Sorry, Dmitry. Nothing personal,) ultra conservatives (or ultra liberals.) Now it’s big hellish conspiracies operating in a secret bunker buried beneath Davos with plans to take away our second amendment rights to run with scissors.

Absurd, but it makes for a good story.

Jon.

Anonymous said...

You don't need a conspiracy when you own the banks and the military.

The major weapons producers (some 300 families) are primarily the same kin employed to govern the US, who also have controlling shares in the banks and pharmaceutical giansts, who use the weapons walmart of the pentagon/state department to train most armies. Why go into the weapons business and then put yourself out of business by pushing peace?

In 1999 the US was training 112 armies (with an annual avg of training/arming at least 70 armies/year) with key involvement in 92% of armed conflicts worldwide - usually arming/training both sides. The secret services are these key families' protection squads who go about the world minding "murken interests." Big business by a few major shareholders.

All the same people.

That's the trouble with the word "conspiracy" which denotes furtive glances down alleys, leaky boats, fear of being discovered.

Does a rancher "conspire" against his livestock? No. His cattle and chickens live or die at his whim. Same deal with the ruling (British-derived) aristocracy who control the US MICC/banks. They will just do what they want.

Democracy is a total illusion. Voting once every few years is not any serious voice in the management of any nation. Any vital democracy would involve meaningful grassroots activities on a very frequent basis. People in the states kick back and let "adults" go to DC to make decisions for them.

Therefore the word "conspiracy" just complicates the analysis of whether democracy exists.

Anonymous said...

Another cold shower by Michael Hudson, reporting after the G20 meeting:

http://counterpunch.org/hudson04062009.html

The situation, to put it clearly, is calling for lots of pitchforks. They may be aimed at the wrong people, though. Pitchforking some mid-level toadies may provide some release, but in fact is almost guaranteed to worsen the situation. You know the world is fucked when you don't know who to pitchfork!

Jon said...

‘You know the world is ###### when you don't know who to pitchfork!’

In ‘Crime and Punishment’, Raskalnikoff wished to strike out against these very sorts of pitchfork-ready, masses-oppressing bourgeoisie that you are describing. Unfortunately, he killed an innocent shop keeper who never did him any wrong, instead. If only he had gotten to the real PTB.

Sorry, there are no carefully organized oligarchs running things according to multi generational, trans global timescales. Just small acts of good and evil committed by millions of opportunistic people added together and rolled up until they become larger and more far reaching, kind of like one of those Escher drawings. They may appear structured but are, in fact, just another example of self organizing systems. In other words, we are the oppression we live in. To some parts of the world, we are the evil ones. Watch out for those pitchforks!

Jon.

Anonymous said...

Jim Kunstler has a hilarious rant today, dealing with the pitchforks, among other things:

"http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/

This bit is particularly good:

"...the executives of Citibank, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and a long list of hedge funds, will be found cringing in their wine-lockers behind a measly layer of privet hedge when the tattooed minions of Glen Beck come a'calling."

When it comes to vivid descriptions of disaster, you gotta hand it to Jim.

kollapsnik said...

My personal favorite is

"By the time Lloyd Blankfein sees the torches flickering through his privet, it will be too late to defend the honor of his cappuccino machine."

Lloyd and his machine huddling behind a privet... thanks for the tasty image, Jim!

Looks like "Shotgun-ready projects" should be the new buzz words. No fiscal stimulus required.

Anonymous said...

Pitchforks...

"You know the world is fucked when you don't know who to pitchfork!"

The biggest problem IMO is that sector of the public who can't figure out that THEY are the ones being pitchforked. "Don't criticize the president." Have you heard that one?

Trouble with preznits is that they distract the masses from watching the truly powerful playerz. Methinks Hollywood itself has gone global/live.

Chicago Dan said...

Print your own?
http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2009-04-05-scrip_N.htm

Natural progression when a society losses ability and/or faith in the current coin of the realm.
I guess if the Fed can crank out billions of worthless fiat then why not you.