Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Becker and Murphy on drugs

You know what I mean ... their quite sober piece in the WSJ lays out the case for relatively modest reform, mainly just decriminalization of possession.

Though the competition is fierce, the war on drugs would surely be on most short lists of "worst policy disaster ever".

1 comment:

David Barker said...

Suppose there is a correlation between drug use and general criminality, particularly when drugs are illegal. Drug use is observable at young ages, while general criminality is not.

If we arrest all young drug users and lock them up for 15 years, crime will be reduced. Of course, there will also be a lot of type I error, but the value of the policy depends on our loss function for type I vs. type II error. The revealed preference of U.S. society is in favor of locking up a lot of innocent people in order to prevent crime.

Given an inefficient government monopoly on law enforcement, and a high cost of crime, this preference is not obviously irrational.