Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Solution To Our Economic Crisis

A while back I wrote an article, called By The Numbers, about the number of people in our country who are criminals because of our current drug laws. I pointed out that if the DEA and other law enforcement officials were really doing their jobs, we could easily put 5, maybe as many as 10, percent of our population behind bars. At that time it didn’t occur to me what the economic implications of that might be. And now, as our country is sliding deeper into the pit of economic despair, suddenly it’s all become clear to me. This could be the solution to all of our problems.

First, let’s look at what would happen to employment opportunities if say 5 percent of our population were convicted and incarcerated for possession of marijuana, as they should be. They are, after all, criminals. Assuming most of these new convicts were previously employed, it would mean that there would be immediate openings in about 1 of 20 jobs. And these would not all be minimum-wage, entry-level jobs. No sir. Marijuana smokers come from all socioeconomic levels, so there would be vacancies from corporate CEOs all the way down to fast-food counter people. The current unemployment rate is around 6 percent, so that alone would almost wipe out our unemployment problem. Assuming we could find qualified, non-incarcerated people to fill all those jobs.

And then there’s that sudden increase of around 15 million new convicts. New prisons would have to be built. Lots of them. And guards would have to be hired. And let’s not forget all the support industries needed to provide for all of the prisoners’ needs. Why it would be a golden age for the private prison industry. It would surely mark the end of unemployment as we know it. And just think of the other, more indirect benefits. Traffic will be lighter, lines will be shorter, and schools will be less crowded. Getting front row-seats at major concerts will never have been easier.

Of course there would probably be some minor inconveniences us law-abiding folks would have to endure. Taxes would probably have to go up to pay for the people in prison. But what would you expect with 1 in 20 people being supported by the state. Sure there would be fewer students in institutions of higher learning, but the faculties would be greatly reduced as well, so it should work out. And we may no longer lead the world in computer technology, with a lot of our top talent out of the picture, but there’s always the cheap knock-off business. And I’m afraid the entertainment industry would probably grind to a halt. But that’s OK, since those of us on the outside don’t really want to watch all that pro-drug propaganda anyway. Now that I think about it, there probably isn’t any industry that would be untouched, except perhaps the clergy. But they have other problems to deal with.

So, you’re probably saying to yourself, it sounds like there’s really no downside. But how are we going to accomplish our goal of sniffing out, arresting, and imprisoning every single one of the regular marijuana-smoking criminals in our country? I mean our law enforcement officials are already stretched to the limit already, aren’t they? Again, where there’s a problem there’s a solution. Yet another industry where employment opportunities will skyrocket. But even with lots more police, how can we possibly catch these people, what with them tending to keep a low profile and all? I mean you can’t just go house to house and search everyone, can you? Why not? Since when has the Constitution stood in the way of accomplishing something really important? Not in my lifetime it hasn’t. If it had, we wouldn’t have all these criminals running around in the first place.

And really, that’s all just a start. Once we get all the regular marijuana users safely locked away, there’s the occasional and even the one-time users we still have to worry about running around free on our streets. Occasionally breaking the law is still breaking the law. According to most estimates, somewhere in the neighborhood of half the adults in this country have used marijuana at least once. That’s right, 1 out of every 2 people in this country is a fugitive at large. If we could pull off apprehending and incarcerating all of these dangerous criminals, we wouldn’t have to worry about anything other than the prison industry ever again. Half the population would be behind bars, and the other half would be guarding and taking care of them. It would be a new era of unheard-of prosperity. And our streets would be safe once again (or for the first time). Well except for the murderers and such. With all that effort devoted to dangerous drug users, a few other criminals might just slip through the cracks. Seems like a fair trade. Do you think it’s too late to reconsider that economic stimulus package?

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