Monday, April 09, 2012

Measuring the drug war

Tyler Cowen argues that Mexico is winning the drug war because it is experiencing economic growth.

If Mexico keeps on getting richer, and the drug lords keep on killing each other, eventually Mexico will win.  Think rates of return, or think of government revenue as rising over time.  I’m not saying the drug problem will ever disappear there.

I don't believe I've ever seen success defined in this way, and I don't understand the causal logic. Economic growth leads to more government revenue, which leads to...what? More resources to fight the drug war? Maybe, though right now the problem seems more about strategy than funding per se.


RGS 7:30 PM  

Mexico won't "win" the drug war. Rather, drug trafficking will find another flow pattern. That is likely to happen regardless of Mexico's economic rate. Drug traffickers are business people. As expenses rise (violence is expensive), they seek alternatives. The shift is going towards Central America & Dominican Republic right now. Locals in Mexico who have engaged in drug trafficking will have to find alternative employment, which economic growth would help.

I am surprised that Cowen is thinking in terms of nation-states. Drug trafficking is a globalized business. As long as demand remains, the supply will continue; what countries provide which aspects of the supply chain, though, varies.

pc 4:25 PM  

Interesting that you should mention it, I made a similar point more long-windedly today.

KevinJ 10:50 PM  

RGS is correct. Historically, it's quite easy to see the trends in drug trafficking develop regionally and even globally. What was once a huge problem for the Caribbean shifted elsewhere. The difficult thing is to get national actors to coordinate in a comprehensive manner region-wide. Although Central America has been taking some solid steps, I'm somewhat nonplussed by the legalization argument in this particular case. That makes sense in a country that has high rates of drug consumption, but not necessarily trafficking. Unfortunately, one of the byproducts of the shift to Central America is that now countries like El Salvador have turned into consuming countries.

That being said, I, of course, have no real solutions to offer.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP