As has been noted, the unpaid War Debt
of the USA
had been determined by the experts to have topped $6 Trillion (capital 'T' intended) by mid 2011, likely surpassing $7 Trillion before the end of 2013, and continuing to rise with no end in sight. But all of those wasted dollars do not take into account a single cent of another War Debt -- that of the War on Drugs
. The annual taxpayer-borne cost of the War on Drugs is an inflation-adjusted $88 Billion dollars per year as of 2013. And this is America's longest running war (other than, perhaps, the Cold War
, though even that is not far from being eclipsed).
Remember that the War on Drugs was declared by Richard Nixon
in 1971, and has been carried over by every President since. That's forty-two years of wiretaps
and paying for boots on the ground to kick doors in, and filling prison cells with potheads and poor people from bad neighborhoods, while Wall Street
bankers snort coke off hookers' asses with impunity. It is forty-two years of an abject failure to distinguish between different classes of 'controlled substances
,' failure to rationally recognize the comparatively harmless ones, and failure to focus on actual treatment of addiction
to the most harmful ones. And worse yet, it is as well forty-two years of failing to actually prevent people from using the comparative minority of drugs which are truly dangerous.
Of that $88 Billion yearly price tag, about half is from actual government dollars laid out for drug enforcement personnel and equipment, monitoring activities, and (naturally) holding cells, courtroom trials, a massive private prison-industrial complex which is raking in the dough, the whole system of probation and parole and making sure Johnny-had-a-joint-once doesn't get to vote
or own a gun
or hold a decent job. The other half is lost revenues (although Colorado
are just now beginning to eke out a sliver of that); it is well worn knowledge that drug transactions, driven up in price by their very illegality, do not result in the imposition of any sales tax to offset the costs of our ineffective preventative measures. If only, if only there were some model to which we could turn to see how revenue could be gained by the social consumption of substances with perhaps some mind-altering property, perhaps even some addictive quality for some, perhaps in a liquid form
.... or perhaps, simply lit up and inhaled no differently than much of what is banned
Year in and year out these heavy costs do fluctuate. But if the modern cost calculation is projected back to the declaration of war, then we are speaking of $3.696 Trillion dollars of Drug War debt now being carried on the back of the beleaguered, overtaxed American citizen. Now, put that together with the $7 Trillion in War Debt, and add the $450 billion of the national debt derived purely from interest on the debt which keeps rolling itself over while we continue to throw money at 'War' efforts, and you surpass $11 Trillion dollars, or virtually all of the $12.2 Trillion in the publicly held portion of the entire National Debt
of the USA (the total National Debt is something over $17 Trillion, but $5 Trillion of that is 'intergovernmental,' which is simply money which the government, on paper, owes to itself). And so, in the starkest terms, America's War Debt (including our War-on-Drugs Debt as about a third of the total) IS America's National Debt!!
And on a last note, these costs, these massive amounts of money being tossed about conversationally above, represent only
the governmental cost. They do not touch, at all, the general societal cost of millions of lives broken by arrest records and time spent in prison for victimless crimes, nor the cost to individuals in terms of personal safety and security and peace of mind lost when, in the name of bad policy, our streets are turned into a war zone.