A featured post today on the Huffington Post blog by Josh Sugarmann ask Crime is Back -- How Long Can We Avoid Talking About It? The author, referring to an article in yesterday's Washington Post predicts that crime will make it to back to the front burner in the nation's political agenda. One of the causes is the rise, after a lengthy drop in the number of young males in the population. The Plank, a blog published by The New Republic magazine, also predicts today that crime will figure more prominently in 2008 than in other recent political campaign seasons. That scares me. When crime becomes a political issue, reason and creativity tend to go out the window in favor of tough talk and slogans. The heinous mandatory minimums -- the laws that got Weldon Angelos 55 years, to pick just one case -- were the result of politicos focusing on crime. I seriously doubt that Sugarmann favors that kind of sentencing, aligned as he is with the liberal left. That said, the collective "we" have been avoiding talking one of the most important causes of crime, perhaps the most important, since long before the recent years' crime drop even began: drug prohibition. So long as drugs are illegal, young males (and others) will get recruited by the illicit drug trade, will possess guns as a part of that, and will carry the guns wherever they go. Sometimes they'll use them. Whether crime rises or drops, the violence rate in our society and around the world is dramatically greater than it would be if drugs were legal. All the money that people spend on illicit drugs, hundreds of billions of dollars per year, are going into the criminal underground because of the drug laws. How could that not have a serious increasing effect on violent crime? How much longer can we avoid talking about that? Having mentioned the Huffington Post and the New Republic, I'll point that out that Post published Arianna Huffington is herself a longtime opponent of the drug war, as is New Republic Senior Editor Andrew Sullivan. Whatever else should be done about crime, prohibition must get addressed. A conversation about violence that omits the issue of the drug laws is incomplete.
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