The Washington Times reports: “Cigarette smuggling costs the United States more than $1 billion in lost revenue every year, while pumping incredible profits into criminal organizations,” Michael Garcia, assistant secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said late last month. Cigarette smuggling in the United States also has been linked to international terrorist groups. Last year, FBI and ATF agents broke a smuggling ring operating out of the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Cattaraugus reservation in New York. From 1996 until last year, the group funneled some of the $2 million in illegal profits to Hezbollah’s “orphans of martyrs” program, which benefits families of Hezbollah terrorist killed while committing acts of terror.
If it’s this profitable to clear $1.25 on avoided taxes on a pack of smokes, imagine how much more is realized by a kilo of marijuana, or cocaine. Especially considering that it’s actually less work to grow the marijuana than it is to buy and transport the cigarettes. I had some friends who harvested two kilos of high quality marijuana one year from their basement botany project – they didn’t realize any profit out of it, however, as they spent the next six months absolutely stoned out of their gourds.
Of course, the Federal government finds useful the ability to scare people into sacrificing their rights – or more to the point, what they think is their dangerous neighbor’s rights – in order to justify continuing this charade. Never mind that the results are predictably negative and the unintended consequences are uniformly hideous. Because, of course, if we don’t have the government to threaten us with asset forfeiture and jail, we’ll all be addicted to smack, ice and the devil weed within days, if not hours. Never mind that the public schools are the pushers nowadays – so many people are on legal drugs these days that the War on Drugs is increasingly beginning to resemble a war to defend the pharmaceutical industry against competition.
This is also a death blow – as if one should be needed – against the notion of static tax models. People alter their behavior much more readily than most people realize, and the legality or illegality of an action seldom enters into the equation. That’s why totalitarian states have to kill people – people control often boils down to a binary issue. They’re only perfectly predictable when they’re dead.