Saturday, May 29, 2010


In a recent essay in America (May 24, 2010, p. 16), former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph Califano writes:

Consider these three facts: We in the United States make up 5 percent of the world’s population. We consume 66 percent of the world’s illegal drugs. We incarcerate 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

This is a terrifying statement about our culture. It says that the simple declaration of an action or an object as illegal is not “The Answer” to eliminating it from our lives. It reminds us of the truth (presented so humorously by Fr. Guido Sarducci in his 5-Minute University) that economics is all about supply and demand. If there is a demand, there will be a supply.

It is why there are drug wars and drug lords, in Mexico, in Colombia, in Afghanistan, in the United States. Too many people see no other way to make money, and they want to be part of the supply for America’s demands, and they take enormous risks (and often act with enormous brutality) to satisfy those cravings and make that money.

Perhaps this suggests that the “War On Drugs” has been focusing on the wrong enemy…


  1. Father, what are you alluding to with the suggestion made that the 'War on Drugs' has been focusing on the wrong enemy. Incarcerations of users and suppliers go on; even while in jail, prisoners have outside contacts with suppliers to reap more $$; countless humans lead impoverished lives, here and worldwide; yes, we are a spiritually bereft nation; churches have been closing because of poor attendance;
    politically, we vote or omit voting and often know little about those we put in charge of our government, even tho we are still free to do so; what then are you alluding to and what else needs to be addressed?

  2. I mean we're focusing on the "supply" side of the equation when perhaps we need more attention to eliminating the "demand" side-- who would bother selling a product that no one wants?

  3. Isn't that too simplistic, considering the apparent paralysis of us humans to seek out alternatives to the products offered?

  4. I didn't say the solution would be easy-- but the alternative hasn't worked, isn't working, and (I suggest) will not work. If there's a demand, there will be folks to supply.