Why Wall Street loves the War on Drugs


The raid on Oaksterdam has just about everyone in local politics engaging in a little head-scratching: What possible reason would the Obama administration have to crack down on medical marijuana in an election year? How does it help the president, who will be facing an unsettled and angry electorate in a still-tough economy, to alienate the pot smoking liberals of the world, who were at one point among his most loyal constituents?

What a fucking idiot.

Here's what make it worse: I don't think anyone at Goldman Sachs talked to the White House about this, but the 1 percent clearly have a lot to gain from the drug war.

And it has nothing to do with drugs.

Let's be logical here. There's only one possible way to increase economic equality in this country, and it involves government intervention. With union membership at a fraction of what it once was, government is the only institution with the power these days to enforce income redistribution. The wealthy have to be forced to pay higher taxes, and that money has to be spent on public education, affordable housing, economic development, public-sector-driven job creation and other programs that are proven to narrow the wealth gap.

But that's tricky, since the Right has done such an effective job (with the help of corrupt politicians of every stripe, including liberals) of making Americans mistrust government. How do you get people to vote for higher taxes when they think the money's going to be wasted on pointless wars and crony contracts -- and on sending federal agents to roust pot clubs?

The two factors that most accounted for the fall of economic liberalism in the 1960s were Vietnam and pot. My parents generation saw the government as the nation's leaders who got us out of the Great Depression and won World War II. My generation saw government as the assholes who were sending us to die in Southeast Asia and putting us in jail for smoking weed. That's why when Ronald Reagan announced that "government is not the solution, it's the problem," so many of my peers nodded (through the haze) and said: Right on.

There are more progressives in the Bay Area today who distrust and dislike the federal government than there were before the raids began. We're going back to the days when "the feds" became a dirty word. And it's undermining everything that Obama is tyring to do with the economy.

Yeah, Wall Street, which is trying to get rid of pesky regulations, loves this -- if you hate the feds in Oaksterdam, it's hard to love them at the IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission. That's what the 1 percent relies on. And it's working.