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Businessweek Archives

America's "Disastrous" Drug Policy

Readers Report

America's "Disastrous" Drug Policy

Thank you for having the courage to print "To beat Colombia's guerrillas, legalize drugs in the U.S." (Economic Viewpoint, Mar. 13). Drug Czar Barry McCaffery has said we can't incarcerate our way out of our drug problem, but no one in the business of "controlling" drugs has had the intelligence or courage to complete the logic: If you want to destroy an industry, destroy the basis for its profitability.

The real question is why, in the most powerful capitalist country on the planet, are we unwilling to apply simple capitalist principles to solve this problem? A cynic might point out the millions of dollars that law-enforcement agencies receive from drug-related civil asset forfeiture, or the billions of dollars in income that our current strategy creates for companies in the prison and drug-testing industries, to name just a few. The drug cartels aren't the only ones that will suffer economically if we legalize drugs.

Alan Mason

Aguanga, Calif.

My compliments to Robert Barro for suggesting that we end the chaos in Colombia by decriminalizing drugs. The destruction of another country's economy and society is only one consequence of the drug war. There are others, equally serious and of more proximate interest to Americans: the overcrowding of our courts and prisons, the corruption of our law-enforcement officials, a frightening escalation of crime and violence, and the trampling of our constitutional rights, through:

-- Asset forfeiture (seizing Americans' property on merely the suspicion of a crime)

-- Threats to free speech (such as the government's recently revealed manipulation of TV scripts or its threat to arrest any doctor who even mentioned medical marijuana to a patient)

-- Gross violations of privacy, including the very kind of "unwarranted search and seizure" tactics that drove our founders to revolution.

No one wants kids using--or adults abusing--drugs. But there are viable and constructive alternatives to a policy that is clearly not working.

Alan M. Perlman

Highland Park, Ill.Return to top

What's behind the Exodus at AT&T

Not all managers at AT&T will receive stock options. According to an AT&T publication, only a select group of pre-identified managers will be afforded the opportunity to acquire them ("The talent drain at AT&T," Information Technology, Mar. 13).

Also, 53% of the folks at AT&T are not confident in AT&T management. If they were, the mass exodus would not be taking place. Not a workday goes by when I don't receive an e-mail saying another high-level management person has left.

The departures aren't confined to the upper echelons. Each day, I hear about lower-level management people leaving as well. With the departures, the work is being passed to those who have decided to stay. In sum, with the mass departures of many talented folks, the loss of key benefits and the increase in workload have not convinced several managers that CEO C. Michael Armstrong is taking AT&T in the right direction.

Terry Heiser

AT&T Manager

Livermore, Calif.Return to top

The California Primary Isn't What It Seems

"The case for open primaries" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Mar. 13) was dead-on. As a relatively new California resident, I am appalled by the scam being perpetrated against the voters here. As author Lorraine Woellert points out, there are two rules working in concert to keep the election in the hands of the power brokers: The first is the pseudo-open primary, which isn't really open when you consider that only the votes of the party itself will be counted for selection of the candidate. And the second is the winner-take-all policy. With 162 delegates, that means it is feasible that Bush will walk away with at least 81 delegates who did not vote for him. If this doesn't smell of the old Chicago/Daley/party-boss politics, I don't know what does.

It's interesting that on this ballot there is also a proposal to put "none of the above" on California ballots in the future. Those in support of it say it will help decrease apathy and increase voter turnout. Before they go after new voters, how about making the ones who are voting count first?

Vernon E. Snyder

San DiegoReturn to top

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