Calderón Meets Friedman on Drugs

The Wall Street Journal published on Saturday an interview by Bret Stephens with Felipe Calderón. This is what the outgoing Mexican president had to say about the economic dynamics of fighting the supply of drugs to the United States:

“If the price goes up [thanks largely to interdiction efforts] and the demand is the same, you will increase profits so you are creating more incentives for participants in the market. And it’s clearly a textbook case of an unstable economic system in which the more successful you are, the more criminals you are creating.”

Stephens added, “The war on drugs, in other words, ineluctably breeds its own enemies. Milton Friedman would have agreed.”

It seems pretty clear by now that Calderón acknowledges drug legalization is the only sensible alternative to the mayhem in his country, which has cost the lives of almost 60,000 people in the last 6 years. In his final speech to the UN General Assembly, Calderón once again encouraged the United States to explore all the alternatives, “including the market alternatives,” to deal with drug consumption.

Unfortunately, unlike Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina, Calderón could never muster the courage to openly favor drug legalization. It’s up to his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, to defend the interests of the Mexican people by pressing Washington to have a meaningful debate on ending the war on drugs.