So, what are some of the results that Walters is crowing mightily about? While 90%, give or take, of the cocaine that enters this country comes from Mexico, interdiction efforts have disrupted the flow enough to drive prices up in thirty-seven cities across the nation. The price jump is reported to range from 24% to nearly double in some cities. Okay, let me get this straight. Thirty-seven cities, out of thousands of cities, is considered the best results of the last twenty years? Sounds like typical war on drugs mathematics- high on optimism and low on return. Besides the numbers not exactly playing to Walters' favor, there is the train of thought that increased prices will just increase pressure in the clandestine drug market, leading to increased efforts to get it, at least in thirty-seven select cities. I'm sure any potential increase in the crime rate will make the irony involved somehow worth it.
Another key point in Walters' happy news was his statement that fewer American workers are producing positive drug test results, in addition to fewer cocaine-related hospital admissions. More ado about nothing. While fewer hospital admission can invariably reduce peripheral spending linked to the war on drugs, and fewer workers testing positive for drugs will undoubtedly help employers sleep better at night, it misses two two other obvious points to consider. Interdiction may be helping but the reality is people are simply growing more functional and using smarter. I have said for years that potheads are among the most cost-efficient employees out there. They hate switching jobs, due to often having to test for a new job, and they are among the safest, because workers' comp always drug tests for an on-the-job accident. That right there is more realistic and believable than possibly anything John Walters has said since taking charge at the ODCP.
You may consider Walters a little foolish, as he beams like Don Quixote charging a windmill, but at least he is a humble man, our drug czar, sharing some of the credit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Out of the world leaders battling a major war on drugs, only Calderon seems to be the one willing to put up some serious, and realistic, effort to combat trafficking, sending 25,000 police officers and army personnel to the areas hit hardest by drug violence. Not that sending 25,000 U.S troops to our borders would do much good, seeing as how the DEA, Customs, Border Patrol, ATF, U.S. Marshal's office, Coast Guard, Homeland Security can't coordinate and make a dent in any drug traffic, let alone the scratch to the iceberg Walters is celebrating.
Walters issued his remarks as the United States and Mexico are kicking around the details of an aid package estimated up to $1 billion to help Mexico fight the drug trade. What kind of success can we expect for this $1 billion, the kind John Walters is promoting, or something someone could be proud of with a straight face? Walters says the challenge is sustaining the results for the long term, but that seems to be casting an impossibly large shadow over the challenge of actually producing some results.