How the Plummeting Price of Cocaine Fueled the Nationwide Drop in Violent Crime

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    Nov 13, 2011 2:58 AM GMT
    A bit of counterintuitive reasoning... but also why I am firmly in the camp that believes we should legalize all forms of drugs. Sure you do have victims but by legalizing you have far fewer peripheral casualties.

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2011/11/cocaine-plummeting-price-nationwide-drop-violent-crime/474/

    Starting in the mid-1990s, major American cities began a radical transformation. Years of high violent crime rates, thefts, robberies, and inner-city decay suddenly started to turn around. Crime rates didn't just hold steady, they began falling faster than they went up. This trend appeared in practically every post-industrial American city, simultaneously.

    "The drop of crime in the 1990s affected all geographic areas and demographic groups," Steven D. Levitt wrote in his landmark paper on the subject, Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s, and elucidated further in the best-selling book Freakonomics. "It was so unanticipated that it was widely dismissed as temporary or illusory long after it had begun.” He went on to tie the drop to the legalization of abortion 20 years earlier, dismissing police tactics as a cause because they failed to explain the universality and unexpectedness of the change. Alfred Blumstein's The Crime Drop in America pinned the cause of crime solely on the crack epidemic but gave the credit for its disappearance to those self-same policing strategies.

    Plenty of other theories have been offered to account for the double-digit decrease in violence, from the advent of "broken windows" policies, three strikes laws, changing demographics, gun control laws, and the increasing prevalence of cellphones to an upturn in the economy and cultural shifts in American society. Some of these theories have been disproven outright while others require a healthy dose of assumption to turn correlation into causation. But much less attention has been paid to another likely culprit: the collapse of the U.S. cocaine market.
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    Nov 13, 2011 3:06 AM GMT
    On this we can agree.
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    Nov 13, 2011 9:40 AM GMT
    The INTERNET...

    I just skimmed the article but I think one of the main reasons mentioned for the drop in cocaine prices was due to cheap meth, which could easily be made at home with household products.

    This reminds me of the study where sex assaults dropped drastically with the increasing availability of internet porn.

    As to the legalization of drugs, although I'm tempted to say "why not?", I think there would still be a lot of "collateral damage" from careless and reckless behaviour.
    Just look at alcohol abuse.
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    Nov 13, 2011 9:49 AM GMT
    NiklasErik saidThe INTERNET...

    I just skimmed the article but I think one of the main reasons mentioned for the drop in cocaine prices was due to cheap meth, which could easily be made at home with household products.

    This reminds me of the study where sex assaults dropped drastically with increasing availability of internet porn.

    As to the legalization of drugs, although I'm tempted to say "why not?", I think there would still be a lot of "collateral damage" from careless and reckless behaviour.
    Just look at alcohol abuse.


    There is little doubt that there will always be collateral damage from substance abuse of any type. I mean look at soft drinks - and the collateral damage from obesity. The question is how to minimize it - and usually it's ironically to just get out of the way (in the case of obesity - the best place to start would be reducing subsidies for farming/corn).

    Look at the massive bureaucracies that the drug war has created. The drug war itself kills thousands in the US and Mexico. Just as the prohibition created many producers of moonshine - some of them poisonous, such is the case with drugs -

    "Prohibition fuels firestorm of new dangerous drugs"
    http://www.cityam.com/forum/prohibition-fuels-firestorm-new-dangerous-drugs

    Do away with all drug controls and the issue of a lot of crime disappears overnight. People don't have to steal to get it anymore, and it becomes less stigmatized, people can try it and move on. The research on drugs and their addictiveness suggests that they really aren't an issue for most of the population - in fact a very small minority as the Tipping Point pointed out repeatedly. These costs however are far smaller than what we have today - a very violent class of thugs who facilitate the drug trade today and an equally large and growing bureaucracy tasked to destroy it.

    Hey, the upside would also be more social spending available to treat that minority where it is a problem and probably substantially lower costs for law and order (not to mention the costs of prisons).
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    Nov 13, 2011 9:53 AM GMT
    Anyone with any sense knows prohibition does not work. All controlled drugs should be legalised and the anti-drugs effort concentrated on drug abuse prevention education, particularly for young people.
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    Nov 13, 2011 10:25 AM GMT
    I think "legalize drugs" people are oblivious to the impact of drunk driving.

    Until we can demonstrate the ability to control a 5,000LB vehicle and not kill someone while high on weed, nothing will change.

    Never mind that we kill people every day with the same situation and the person is either stupid or distracted.

  • suedeheadscot

    Posts: 1130

    Nov 13, 2011 11:07 AM GMT
    This is weird - there was a book out by a couple of economists a while back called Freakonomics who said that the drop in crime was actually due the abortion rate being introduced, not the tumbling price of cocaine dropping!
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    Nov 13, 2011 11:46 AM GMT
    RobertF64 saidI think "legalize drugs" people are oblivious to the impact of drunk driving.

    Until we can demonstrate the ability to control a 5,000LB vehicle and not kill someone while high on weed, nothing will change.

    Never mind that we kill people every day with the same situation and the person is either stupid or distracted.



    No one in their right mind would advocate legalising driving whilst under the influence of drugs. Legalising drugs (i.e. their possession and consumption) is not the same thing as legalising any crime committed whilst under the influence of drugs.
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    Nov 13, 2011 12:40 PM GMT
    suedeheadscot saidThis is weird - there was a book out by a couple of economists a while back called Freakonomics who said that the drop in crime was actually due the abortion rate being introduced, not the tumbling price of cocaine dropping!


    Confirmed!

    But I also think that drug laws need massive reform.
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    Nov 13, 2011 1:01 PM GMT
    RobertF64 saidI think "legalize drugs" people are oblivious to the impact of drunk driving.

    Until we can demonstrate the ability to control a 5,000LB vehicle and not kill someone while high on weed, nothing will change.

    Never mind that we kill people every day with the same situation and the person is either stupid or distracted.



    We already have a solution on the books for your concern: it's called impaired driving. It doesn't specify what you're impaired by but the effect of driving impaired and there's no reason why this would change.

    In the meantime we are seeing increased incidences of no-knock entries, not to mention the petty theft or even violent crime in pursuit of securing contraband. We still let people drink - and here are the stats on drunk driving:

    http://www.centurycouncil.org/drunk-driving/statistics
    AIDF-Rates.gif

    An estimate of up to 20% of inmates in the US are there because of drug related offenses. Think of the savings here alone - let alone the broken families (though perhaps I should have lead with that?) given that many are here because of prohibition.
  • danielvn

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    Nov 13, 2011 1:40 PM GMT
    To riddler78: Think before you say something more silly: If all drugs were legalized, criminals in your neighborhood/area would be walking around High and doing whatever God knows to whoever they see on the street. What if one of your friends, relatives, loved ones, got shot just because of this ^^
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    Nov 13, 2011 1:41 PM GMT
    suedeheadscot saidThis is weird - there was a book out by a couple of economists a while back called Freakonomics who said that the drop in crime was actually due the abortion rate being introduced, not the tumbling price of cocaine dropping!


    As it turns out this was the one big error in their book (and I'm a big fan of their work):
    http://www.isteve.com/freakonomics_fiasco.htm

    Here is the response listed acknowledging the error:
    http://www.freakonomics.com/2005/11/28/everything-in-freakonomics-is-wrong/
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    Nov 13, 2011 1:44 PM GMT
    danielvn saidTo riddler78: Think before you say something more silly: If all drugs were legalized, criminals in your neighborhood/area would be walking around High and doing whatever God knows to whoever they see on the street. What if one of your friends, relatives, loved ones, got shot just because of this ^^


    Lol - Seriously? As opposed to being drunk or on marijuana? Doing things while drunk? Think before *you* say something silly.

    Having been around people who have done cocaine and marijuana, I think I'll take my chances. Are you saying that if it's legalized you'll immediately run out and buy drugs to get high? Besides aren't you in university? Do you often see people on campus being shot because they've been doing illicit drugs?
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    Dec 04, 2011 6:20 AM GMT
    we do that they'll just invent some thing new
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    Dec 04, 2011 6:26 AM GMT
    riddler78 said
    danielvn saidTo riddler78: Think before you say something more silly: If all drugs were legalized, criminals in your neighborhood/area would be walking around High and doing whatever God knows to whoever they see on the street. What if one of your friends, relatives, loved ones, got shot just because of this ^^


    Lol - Seriously? As opposed to being drunk or on marijuana? Doing things while drunk? Think before *you* say something silly.

    Having been around people who have done cocaine and marijuana, I think I'll take my chances. Are you saying that if it's legalized you'll immediately run out and buy drugs to get high? Besides aren't you in university? Do you often see people on campus being shot because they've been doing illicit drugs?

    lol things like cocaine, meth, crack and heroin are HIGHLY addictive...i dont see how you can put them in the same category as smoking weed or drinking alcohol. You dont think the streets would be dangerous with a bunch of crackheads and heroin addicts?
  • CuriousJockAZ

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    Dec 04, 2011 6:57 AM GMT
    danielvn saidTo riddler78: Think before you say something more silly: If all drugs were legalized, criminals in your neighborhood/area would be walking around High and doing whatever God knows to whoever they see on the street.


    Isn't that what they are doing anyway? The criminals can still get the drugs. It's not like we have ever been winning "The War On Drugs". All it has succeeded in doing is cram our prisons full of convicted criminals found guilty of drug crimes.
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    Dec 05, 2011 8:16 AM GMT
    ZennedDaFuckOut said
    riddler78 said
    danielvn saidTo riddler78: Think before you say something more silly: If all drugs were legalized, criminals in your neighborhood/area would be walking around High and doing whatever God knows to whoever they see on the street. What if one of your friends, relatives, loved ones, got shot just because of this ^^


    Lol - Seriously? As opposed to being drunk or on marijuana? Doing things while drunk? Think before *you* say something silly.

    Having been around people who have done cocaine and marijuana, I think I'll take my chances. Are you saying that if it's legalized you'll immediately run out and buy drugs to get high? Besides aren't you in university? Do you often see people on campus being shot because they've been doing illicit drugs?

    lol things like cocaine, meth, crack and heroin are HIGHLY addictive...i dont see how you can put them in the same category as smoking weed or drinking alcohol. You dont think the streets would be dangerous with a bunch of crackheads and heroin addicts?


    I'm curious, how "highly" addictive are they? You do realize of course there is also a cost to making them illegal. Understanding that prohibition just drives such activities underground, increases the incentive for violent crime and also increases the cost of policing, is the policy worth the cost? This artificial world of crime also has considerable costs and consequences - but what's the benefit? Have you looked at the actual numbers?

    http://www.drdouggreen.com/wp-content/Tipping-Point.pdf
    "Cocaine and heroin seem to be less sticky as smaller percentages of those who try these drugs become addicted. (0.9% of those who try cocaine become regular users.)" (taken from Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point).
  • MikemikeMike

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    Dec 05, 2011 8:39 AM GMT
    riddler78 said
    RobertF64 saidI think "legalize drugs" people are oblivious to the impact of drunk driving.

    Until we can demonstrate the ability to control a 5,000LB vehicle and not kill someone while high on weed, nothing will change.

    Never mind that we kill people every day with the same situation and the person is either stupid or distracted.



    We already have a solution on the books for your concern: it's called impaired driving. It doesn't specify what you're impaired by but the effect of driving impaired and there's no reason why this would change.

    In the meantime we are seeing increased incidences of no-knock entries, not to mention the petty theft or even violent crime in pursuit of securing contraband. We still let people drink - and here are the stats on drunk driving:

    http://www.centurycouncil.org/drunk-driving/statistics
    AIDF-Rates.gif

    An estimate of up to 20% of inmates in the US are there because of drug related offenses. Think of the savings here alone - let alone the broken families (though perhaps I should have lead with that?) given that many are here because of prohibition.


    My first cousin is a police officer. The number of drunk driving deaths went down due to the increased penaties and police roadside stops, also the massive anti drunk driving ads.icon_idea.gif My friends and family always use the designated driver rule or they just don't drive. Most of my family doesn't drink alcohol at all.
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    Dec 05, 2011 8:42 AM GMT
    Cocaine? Really? I'm gonna say no. But don't judge the street walkers. Crack is the base form of coke. I can't believe I know this.
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    Dec 05, 2011 8:44 AM GMT
    I am so gonna catch hell. Christians to the front of the line. Republicans first...stand in order of height .
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    Dec 05, 2011 8:45 AM GMT
    If my Grandmother sees this ...I'm a dead man. I did not inhale in Berlin when the wall came down.
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    Dec 05, 2011 8:47 AM GMT
    and I have the asbestos laced concrete from the cold war to prove it.
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    Dec 05, 2011 9:06 AM GMT
    MikemikeMike said
    riddler78 said
    RobertF64 saidI think "legalize drugs" people are oblivious to the impact of drunk driving.

    Until we can demonstrate the ability to control a 5,000LB vehicle and not kill someone while high on weed, nothing will change.

    Never mind that we kill people every day with the same situation and the person is either stupid or distracted.



    We already have a solution on the books for your concern: it's called impaired driving. It doesn't specify what you're impaired by but the effect of driving impaired and there's no reason why this would change.

    In the meantime we are seeing increased incidences of no-knock entries, not to mention the petty theft or even violent crime in pursuit of securing contraband. We still let people drink - and here are the stats on drunk driving:

    http://www.centurycouncil.org/drunk-driving/statistics
    AIDF-Rates.gif

    An estimate of up to 20% of inmates in the US are there because of drug related offenses. Think of the savings here alone - let alone the broken families (though perhaps I should have lead with that?) given that many are here because of prohibition.


    My first cousin is a police officer. The number of drunk driving deaths went down due to the increased penaties and police roadside stops, also the massive anti drunk driving ads.icon_idea.gif My friends and family always use the designated driver rule or they just don't drive. Most of my family doesn't drink alcohol at all.


    The actual underlying data suggests otherwise - but just to be clear - I'm not saying that we should allow drunk driving per se - I am saying that we should penalize (rigorously) reckless driving - which is in fact the real issue.