The War America Can't Win

Essay by Jim VinsonCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 1996

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The War America Can't Win

In this country, we are locked in war we simply cannot win. We strive to protect over 10,000 miles of border, against enemies who are driven by the lure of an obscene profit. We have fought this a version of this war before, and we lost that one. All that has really resulted from this war is the overcrowding of prisons, the expansion of law enforcements ability to encroach on the personal lives of ordinary citizens, and paranoia and distrust. If its not obvious already, I am referring to the war on drugs.

As time goes on, it becomes more and more evident that the war on drugs is as useless as prohibition was almost 80 years ago. Now it has become a point of pride for our elected officials, who use the war as a reelection tool. To study this problem, I visited government web pages for statistics and facts dealing with the war, and was surprised what I found.

To most people the fiscal reasons for ending the war are the most convincing. For example, it costs over $30,000 per year to house a prisoner - this does not include processing and legal fees, only the actual prison costs - food, water, electricity and guards. There are over 1.5 million non-violent drug law offenders in prison right now, and this number is increasing daily. That means we are spending a minimum of $45 billion per year keeping former tax-paying citizens, most of whom had jobs and were contributing to the economy in some way, locked up with murderers and rapists. When these people get out of jail, they will have criminal records, which will make it nearly impossible to get a decent job, and a grudge against the government and society in...