Date: April 17, 2007
Subject: Your tax dollars at work
Remember those road signs that mark road construction projects in an attempt to show taxpayers that they are getting their money's worth?
As you are calculating your tax return and perhaps writing checks to the taxman, the state treasury, or your local municipality, we thought we would pull a few numbers together from our 180,000 article collection about drug policy, and ask this simple question: are you getting your money's worth?
While reading this list, please keep three important points important points in mind:
* Drug prohibition costs far more than harm reduction alternatives.
The per-person price of treatment is about one third of incarceration.
* Listing these costs ignores the revenue that might be generated by taxing what are now illegal drugs, especially cannabis. Not only would governmental bodies not incur the prohibition-related expenditures of arresting non-violent cannabis users, they would also benefit from the revenue boost that results from sales and other taxes.
* Our large collection of newspaper, magazine, and Web articles on all aspects of drug policy make this list possible. As you are writing your tax checks, why not also make one out to DrugSense or visit www.DrugSense.org/donate to make a donation online? If we keep condemning the enormous costs associated with the drug war, eventually public officials will "get it" and demand sensible, compassionate, AND cost-effective solutions.
Now, here is our dubious list of drug war expenditures from the last two tax years. Your tax dollars at work:
* Executing the War on Drugs. According to White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the official cost of the drug war in the United States is $148.62 BILLION per year.
* Eradicating Colombian Cocaine. Designed to eradicate Colombia's coca crop before it is processed into cocaine, the $4.7 BILLION Plan Colombia has made the U.S. Embassy in Bogota the second largest U.S. diplomatic mission in the world. It employs 2,000 people, fields 20 aircraft to carry out daily spray missions, and utilizes 71 U.S. helicopters to protect the army and police units as they clear the target areas of coca farmers, guerilla forces, and traffickers.
* Eradicating Afghanistan Opium. The U.S. government spends about $3 BILLION per year attempting to eradicate the poppy crop in Afghanistan even though the Kennedy School of Government concluded that annual purchases of wheat from these same fields at triple the world price would cost less.
* Imprisoning Cannabis Users. Currently, one in eight inmates incarcerated for drug crimes is behind bars for cannabis, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1 BILLION per year.
* Building Prisons. Texas Department of Criminal Justice has proposed the construction of three new prisons to house a total of 5,000 prisoners, incurring $440 MILLION in building costs, plus an additional $72 MILLION a year to operate them the facilities.
* Influencing the Media. The $25 MILLION "Above the Influence" anti-drug media campaign represents the latest rendition of the $120 MILLION in advertising spent annually by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v05/n921/a07.html and www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v05/n1722/a05.html
* Incarcerating Women. The number of incarcerated women has grown an astounding 592 percent since 1997 to over 85,000 prisoners in 2001, with more convicted for drug-related crimes than for any other offense. The cost of incarcerating one woman equals about $30,000 a year, with an additional $30,000 incurred to place her children in foster care. All told, this sums to about $5.1 BILLION per year.
If you think that your tax dollars could be better spent, then perhaps its time to change drug policy. Please start by making sure that numbers like these make their way to public officials. We have created a handy flyer for you to download and print, www.drugsense.org/flyers/taxatwork.pdf Then, donate to DrugSense to make sure that these excesses continue to be documented.
Donating is quick and easy. Just visit this link: www.drugsense.org/donate. Online donations are private and secure. Since DrugSense is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization, your donation is tax deductible.
Checks can also be made payable to DrugSense and mailed to:
14252 Culver Dr #328
Irvine, CA 92604-0326
Due to the generosity of a long time DrugSense funder we have again secured a matching funds grant! This means that anything you contribute right NOW to DrugSense will be matched, thus doubling the effective amount of your contribution.
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Remember, it's not what others do; it's what we all do together that makes a difference.
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