Historic cocaine prices: This is what a long-term trend looks like.
Investors’ Business Daily (circulation 210,708) called me out in an editorial last week, apparently for having the gall to question Bush administration claims that they’ve “turned a corner” in the drug war.
At the Center for International Policy’s Colombia Program, analyst Adam Isacson argued that the progress wasn’t real because new drug lords always replace the old: “My fear is, even if Mexico is quite successful at taking down the Sinaloa, Gulf and Tijuana cartels, something is going to replace them. That’s been the history of the drug war,” he told the L.A. Times.
Other groups, like the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Drug Policy Alliance, all make the same defeatist claims about winning the war on drugs in the press and in studies.
Not surprisingly, many of these groups are funded by left-wing billionaire and Democratic Party influence George Soros, who’s made no secret of his opposition to the drug war. They form an unofficial network of NGOs that shape the news.
That’s a big reason why this victory is so muted in the press.
Apparently, had it not been for the work of nefarious, Soros-backed groups like CIP, the U.S. media would have spent last week celebrating the drug-war equivalent of D-Day. (The blog of the White House Drug Czar’s office linked to this piece, calling it a “great editorial.”)
Two points here, one minor, one major.
The minor point: The Open Society Institute, founded by George Soros, has supported CIP’s work monitoring military aid to Latin America. OSI funding supports the revamped website that I’ve been going on about lately, as well as two recent reports (PDF and PDF) on military assistance to the region. However, OSI has not supported any of CIP’s drug-policy work, nor our Colombia work. Our opinions and analyses of U.S. drug policy’s effectiveness are not products of OSI funding.
The major point: A periodical with a name like Investor’s Business Daily no doubt intends to guide investors’ decisions about what to do with their money. Surely, then, the editors of IBD are familiar with short-term hiccups and long-term trends. The U.S. stock market and U.S. housing prices have their ups and downs, for instance, but over the course of decades both have outperformed almost any other investment category.
Similarly, the street price of U.S. cocaine has had its ups and downs since measurements were first attempted in the early 1980s. But the overall trend has been downward, inexorably downward, as a failing U.S. approach to drugs helped make the stuff more plentiful.
When stock prices fell in the early 2000s, did the Investor’s Business Daily decide that a tipping point had been reached, and that it was time to abandon the stock market? When the real estate bubble burst last year, did the IBD conclude that a fatal corner had been turned, and that the U.S. housing market would never recover?
Of course not. Why, then, would the editors of IBD be convinced that a short-term spike in cocaine prices – similar to others measured in the past, and apparently due to a change in Mexican government tactics – indicates a “light at the end of the tunnel” in the drug war?
If the Investor’s Business Daily can’t tell a short-term spike from a long-term trend, can we trust its investment advice?