America’s Illegal Drug Complex: Another Capitalist Racket

via David Rosen (Counterpunch):

American capitalism consists of a constellation of rackets.  The Occupy Wall Street movement has focused a spotlight on the banking and financial-services racket.  Others have exposed the military-industrial complex, the extraction industries, the insurance, pharmaceutical and healthcare system, the agriculture and food combine and the communications trust.

Each racket is distinguished by the self-serving, intimate interrelation of private corporate interests and the public government, whether at the federal, state or local level.  Each racket consist of a host of distinct businesses elements, organized through both vertical and horizontal operations, no matter whether the business is conducted “legally” or not.  Each is charged with maximizing profit.

Rackets succeed by enabling private corporations to exploit the power and wealth of the public trough, the state.  Rackets do this in different ways, combining direct contracts, subsidies and tax breaks that further engorge the corporate bottom line.

One racket involves direct federal contracts to private companies, often with cost-plus agreements; in 2010, an estimated $180 billion went to the top 20 contractors.  This is the model of the military-industrial complex.

A second racket is characterized by the transfer or “externalization” of the social costs associated with a company’s product to consumers and taxpayers.  This is most evident in role of government subsidies and lax breaks associated with the (indirect) health-related costs that underwrite the extraction (e.g., air & water pollution) and food (e.g., obesity) industries.

A third type of racket involves the use of the legal system to maximize private gain and exemplified by the prison-industrial complex.  The criminalization of “illegal” drug taking as an unacceptable practice, like alcohol during Prohibition, has enabled many third parties, including government agencies, banks and private contractors, to profit from other people’s suffering.

Shedding moral pretenses, one needs to look at the illegal drug business in America as just another capitalist racket.   No better, no worse.  The street dope dealer is just another version of the day stock trader, the only difference is their legal status, although their social status, clothing and marketing message might be the same.

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Read the rest of the article at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/11/america%E2%80%99s-illegal-drug-complex/print