If you Google “Mexican Drug Violence,” you’ll find over 4 million hits. The headlines on the first page tell a grim story:
• Mexico’s drug violence epidemic moving closer to capital . . . dallasnews.com – The spread raises fresh concerns that Mexico’s new administration is unable to combat the drug cartels.
• Mexico drug wars; graphic pictures . . . . http://www.telegraph.co.uk . . . . Mexican authorities have turned to bizarre rituals including voodoo as they attempt to win the …
• At least 26 dead in latest round of Mexican drug violence. http://www.rawstory.com – At least 26 people were killed in Mexico in the past 24 hours in apparent drug-related crimes . . . .
• LA Times (“Mexico Scrambles as Violence Threatens Tourism Zones”) the violence that has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives since December 2006.
The Mexican drug war kills lots of Mexicans. Most are members of drug gangs. Many are ordinary people caught in the crossfire or subjected to extortion by the gangs or the Mexican police.
If 70,000 Mexicans lost their lives to the drug war in six years, that’s over 10,000 killed per year.
Over the last decade, the recent Middle East wars have killed about 630 Americans per year, while the Mexican drug war has killed over 10,000 per year. By that measure, the Mexican drug war is 15 times as deadly as America’s excursions into the Middle East.
Seems serious, no? But from the Mexican government’s perspective, the real problem is not that 70,000 peons have died. The real problem is that the drug war is interfering with commerce.
According to the LA Times (“Mexico Scrambles as Violence Threatens Tourism Zones”),
“As deadly violence that has haunted Mexico for years threatens tourist zones, government officials and trade executives are scrambling for ways to minimize damage to an industry that is a top income-earner and employer.
The LATimes also reports in “Mexican towns, once frozen with fear, now frozen in time” that,
“In Guerrero state, drug criminals who terrorized farming communities have left a cluster of more than 20 ghost pueblos, abandoned towns from which residents fled . . . . More than 1.6 million Mexicans left their homes because of drug violence from 2006 to 2011 . . . . All of this is due to organized crime.”
Tourism is off. Farmers are leaving their farms. Villages are being abandoned. Some cities are suffering economic downturn because people are simply afraid to go out on the streets to eat in a restaurant and risk being killed in gangland crossfire
It’s one thing to whack some peons, but when the drug smugglers start to impact Mexican commerce, something’s got to be done.
The first step in solving any problem is to properly diagnose the problem and its causes.
What causes Mexican drug violence?
Mexican politicians like to blame Mexican drug violence on two causes: 1) American drug prohibitions; and 2) American abundance of firearms. Let’s examine:
1) American Drug Laws.
Because drug smuggling includes the risks of being jailed, shot at and possibly killed, it qualifies as “hard, dangerous work”.
So, why, would anyone engage in the “hard, dangerous work” of drug smuggling?
For the money, of course. The smugglers deem the risk (of being shot, killed, jailed) as worth the reward (big bucks).
And why are smuggled drugs so profitable? After all, marijuana (often called “weed”) is, in fact, just a “weed”—a plant. Cocaine is a distillation of chemicals found in an ordinary cocoa plant. Opium and heroin are derived from poppies. None of these plants are exotic. None are particularly hard to grow or in short supply. So why are they or their ingredients so valuable and therefore profitable—at least in the US?
Because they’re prohibited by law in the US.
What’s the price of marijuana in countries where its use is legal or generally tolerated? A fraction of the price in the US where marijuana use is prohibited by law. What’s the price of cocaine in Colombia where cocoa trees flourish? A fraction of the price in the US where cocaine is prohibited by law. What’s the price of opium in Afghanistan where poppy fields flourish? A fraction of the price in the US where opium is prohibited by law.
The profit potential in drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and opium is huge in the US precisely because the US government has passed laws to make them illegal. If drugs were legalized, the profit potential would evaporate and no sane man or organization would engage in the hard, dangerous work of driving tunnels under the Mexican-US border. If drugs were legalized, the amount of violence associated with “drugs” (actually, with “drug profits”) would also vaporize. (How many people are killed each year for a legal carton of cigarettes or a legal six-pack of beer?)
The major addictive ingredient in all “illegal drugs” is exorbitant profits. If those drugs were legalized, their enormous profit potential disappears and so does the incentive to smuggle and, often, even use drugs.
Mexican gangs aren’t fighting among themselves and with the Mexican police so they can get high. They’re fighting for control of the $13 billion market for trafficking drugs into the US.
America’s legal prohibitions against such drugs is the cornerstone and cause for their profitability and also for the resulting violence as gangs fight for those profits.
Thus, America’s drug prohibition laws are correctly viewed as a major cause for the drug war violence in Mexico.
2) American Firearms
Mexicans have a constitutional right to have firearms. However, one report claims that there’s only one gun store in all of Mexico (in Mexico City), and the bureaucratic and administrative process of actually acquiring a firearm is virtually “impossible” to negotiate. The net result of Mexican gun control laws is that the Mexican people are almost completely without modern firearms.
In a recent report on “U.S.-Mexican Cooperation,” the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) wrote, “The United States supplies 90% of the weapons that are confiscated in Mexico, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.”
Another CFR report claims that 95% of all cocaine smuggled into the US flows through Mexico.
Thus, Mexico smuggles 95% of all cocaine into the US—where cocaine is prohibited by law. And America smuggles 90% of all firearms into Mexico—when gun ownership is prohibited by law. America smuggles guns into countries where they’re illegal—and therefore highly profitable. Other countries smuggle drugs into the US where those drugs are illegal—and therefore highly profitable.
If it weren’t for the Mexican and US government’s prohibitions on drugs and guns, we wouldn’t see the drug wars, gun wars or organized smuggling between Mexico and the US. Both governments’ prohibitions on drugs and firearms cause those items to become particularly profitable and then grounds for violent struggles to capture those profits. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the fundamental cause of drug violence in the US and gun violence in Mexico is each nation’s government’s legal prohibitions.
Look at the story of U.S. alcohol prohibition in the “Roaring Twenties”. That prohibition resulted in huge profits in alcohol, and huge violence as gangs fought to control the alcohol market—same thing as today’s drug control and gun control laws. When the prohibition laws were repealed, the huge profits in alcohol disappeared and the violence ended. That’s proof that it wasn’t the alcohol that caused the violence. It was the prohibition laws that caused the violence organized crime.
Nevertheless, it’s fashionable for Mexican politicians to blame the 70,000 deaths caused by the Mexican drug wars on: 1) American drug laws; and 2) American gun laws.
3. A third cause?
I suggest that there may be a third cause for Mexican violence: Mexican Gun Control
Just as American prohibition on drugs makes drugs enormously profitable in the US, Mexico’s prohibition on arms makes firearms enormously profitable in Mexico.
Could it be that Mexico’s gun control policies are as responsible for guns being highly profitable in Mexico just as Obama’s gun control threats have been responsible for spurring increased demand and higher prices for guns in the US? Absolutely.
More importantly, could it be that because they’re unarmed, the Mexican people are forced to not only abandon farms, villages and towns, but even parts of their economy? Could the “organized crime” that plagues Mexico have grown to become so large and so “organized” if the Mexican people had sufficient firearms to fight the criminals?
The Mexican government—especially the police—are corrupt from top to bottom. The “mordida” (the “little bite”; a bribe) is a Mexican institution. Mexican drug smugglers could not exist without the support of the corrupt government officials who are more interested in receiving bribes than dispensing justice.
As a result, there are two gangs in Mexico: the government and the drug smugglers. Both of these gangs are armed. Both gangs seek to exploit the unarmed Mexican people.
The drug-smuggler-gang won’t protect the people and neither will the government-gang. Both gangs are bent on robbing the people. When we see the government-gang fighting the drug-smuggler-gang we are watching a struggle that’s morally identical to a turf war between the Bloods and the Crips.
So, given that both gangs exist only to exploit the people, who will truly protect the people except for the people, themselves? And how can the Mexican people protect themselves against either of the gangs that are armed, if the people are disarmed? Without their own firearms, the Mexican people will be robbed and exploited by one or the other of the two gangs who still have firearms.
Mexican gun control is at least partially responsible for the rise Mexican Drug War. If they people had adequate access to firearms, they could do what their government has largely refused to do: shoot or at least intimidate the drug smugglers.
Without firearms, the Mexican people cannot expect to avoid being robbed and therefore have no effective right to private property
The right to own private property
I believe that the essential feature of any prosperous economy is the right to own private property. If I work hard, I can acquire my own land, home, automobile, etc., and hold those items as private property to the exclusion of all others. Therefore, in a society where we can all own and hold our own private property, almost all of us are motivated to work hard. The result is usually a maximum of whatever prosperity is possible for a nation, given its level of natural resources, education, etc.
But what happens to the prosperity of a nation where there’s no right to private property? What is your incentive to work hard if you won’t personally receive the benefits of your labor? The only persons who have an incentive to work in a society that doesn’t guarantee the right of private property are government officials and employees who are motivated to work hard in order to control and exploit the property earned by the vast majority of the people. Without a right to private property, the fundamental “work” is not production, but institutionalized theft.
The former Soviet Union operated a collectivist society which denied the right to private property. Result? The people of that society refused to work hard. Instead, they joked: “They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.” Eventually, the Soviet Union collapsed and ceased to exist. Much of the reason for that collapse was a system of government that denied the right to private property and thus denied the people a legitimate incentive to work hard.
• I can’t prove it, but I believe that the right to keep and bear arms is essential to a nation’s prosperity.
Because, being shot takes all the fun out of theft. So long as I have a weapon, robbers—including the government—are much less likely to steal my private property. On the other hand, once a man or a nation is disarmed, it’s so much easier for government to steal his wealth and his labor. (Look at Mexico. Whole communities are being abandoned, at least in part because the people are disarmed.)
We can look back at history to see how many governments imposed gun control that didn’t then rob or even kill its own people. If we do, we’ll see a strong correlation between gun control and 1) high taxes (theft), 2) denial of the right to private property (theft), and 3) a fundamental conflict between those who are in the government and those who are not.
Those who want prosperity but think they can have it without the right to private property, are ignoramuses and fools. Those who think that the right to private property doesn’t ultimately depend on the right and duty to “privately” and “personally” defend your private property from robbers and government, are ignoramuses and fools. Those who think they can adequately defend their private property against robbers and government without the right to keep and bear arms are ignoramuses and fools who’d surrender their own prosperity and that of their neighbors based on an irrational fear of arms.
• Look at Mexico. Mexico has gun control and 70,000 deaths by guns in the past six years—about 11,000 homicides per year. America also has about 11,000 homicides by guns each year. But America’s population is almost three times that of Mexico’s. Thus, Mexico—with strict gun control—has almost three times the rate of gun-murders as the US. And, despite our government’s best efforts, the US still has a much higher standard of living ($50,000 per capita annual income) than Mexico’s ($15,300 per capita annual income).
The comparison between the US (with the right to keep and bear arms) and Mexico (with strict gun control) is not an aberration. Jews For the Preservation of Firearms reports that after gun control was established:
1) the Ottoman Empire (1915-1917) killed over 1 million Armenians in two years (500,000+/year);
2) the Soviet Union killed 20 million of their own people between 1929 and 1945 (over 1 million killed per year);
3) Nazi Germany (1933-1945) murdered 20 million civilians—almost 2 million per year;
4) Nationalist China (1927-1949) killed 10 million—almost 500,000 per year;
5) Not to be outdone, Red China executed between 20 and 35 million civilians during 16 years in three separate purges between 1949 and 1976—perhaps as many as 2 million per year during each year of the various purges.
Similar results can be found in smaller nations like Guatemala, Uganda, Cambodia, and Rwanda. Not one of the nations opting for gun control recognized private property rights. Not one of the nations opting for gun control achieved prosperity while gun control was in effect.
According to political scientist political scientist R. J. Rummel, “In the 20th century, democide [murder of civilians by their own government] passed war as the leading cause of non-natural death.”
Get that? According to Mr. Rummel, during the 20th century, more people were murdered by their own government than were killed by a foreign government in the midst of a genuine war.
Virtually all of these two hundred million deaths of civilians by their own governments came after the people had been sufficiently stupid and/or self-destructive to agree to surrender their arms to their government.
Simply put, if Mr. Rummel’s studies are correct, gun control caused more deaths in the 20th century than war.
Think international war is bad?
Domestic gun control is worse.
The 2nd Amendment was intended to protect us against our own government. It doesn’t only protect our freedoms and our lives—it also protects our right to private property, our prosperity and standard of living.
Lose your guns; lose your private property; lose your personal and national prosperity; and, maybe, lose your life. Bet on it.
No one really wants you disarmed except the gangs (private or governmental) who plan to rob you.